When in Paris, do as the Parisians do.

Paris.pngHere’s a fact: anyone with a few million pounds in their bank account can stroll into Selfridges and become Fashionable with a capital F. But here’s another fact: very few people—substantial bank account or not— can be considered people of genuine style.

When you have a quick scroll through Instagram or check out any of the multitudes of fashion blogs that exist today – you’re inundated with people clutching onto the latest trends in a dizzying attempt to keep up with the times. And that, ironically, results in hordes of beautiful, talented young men and women looking, well, exactly like everyone else. These types of people are not the genuinely stylish people with whom we should take our fashion inspiration from.

And that’s why I like Paris.

It’s home to the Eiffel Tower,The Palace of Versailles, The Champs Elysees and and has birthed some of the worlds most stylish people – including Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld. But the people of Paris (and France at large) arguably possess the best knack for fashion I’ve seen in all my travels.

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I’ve been fortunate to have visited France a few times, and I’m consistently reminded of how much I just love the way French men and women dress. I love how the French flirt with androgyny and embrace the elegance of simple sophistication. Perhaps it was ever since my first visit to Paris in grade 6 that my fashion choices have been precast today, but over the years my observations of French women’s style have definitely been a catalyst for my own very personal style.

Here are a few reasons why I like the way the French do Fashion:

– Trends –

Echoing the previous point, French people are not slaves to short-lived, high frequency fads such as trends.

In London – you’re so aware of trends because the moment something becomes ‘on trend’ – every second girl or guy is wearing it. I don’t have an issue with that – but what I like about France is that the French tend to stick to timeless, well-cut pieces that are classics.

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I also love French architecture. We passed this building on the way to The Louvre – it’s part of the Grand Palais. C’est magnifique!

In a 2014 Vogue research analysis of French Ready-to-Wear style, it was not only revealed that French women aren’t slaves to seasonal trends, but it also proved that they found style inspiration from the streets — not magazines or TV.. I love that.

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My stylish travel buddy, Indigo.We loved spotting the differences/similarities between the French and English cultures.

– Simplicity – 

It’s as simple as that.

They eat simply, they drink simply and their attitude towards fashion is – beautifully – simple. They don’t try so hard to adorn and embellish things the way us English naturally do – they stick to what they know and they stick to the essentials. This is where the true allure of “Frenchness” lies.

In today’s consumerist culture we are constantly bombarded with a kaleidoscope of aspirations; we need to keep up with the Joneses – to look this way or act that way, to have certain beliefs and portray certain strengths. And then the French culture comes in as a breath of Fresch air (oh you’re quick if you got that.. 😉 ) and they seem simply immune from the assault of Western Culture – somewhat virginised in their approach to style and free of all 21st Century pressures.

It’s as if the French take the modern day fashion world with a large pinch of salt (because, obviously their food wouldn’t be the same without salt) and instead have simplified their approach to encompass a more authentic and “chic” style that has no Westernised frills and tassels.

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Ile De La Cite – my favourite nook of Paris. Dressed in black – all day, everyday

 – Femininity – 

This is personally a point that resonates most with me. I must admit, and I know a few readers will condemn me for saying this as it’s a modern day society etc etc – but I think women are to embrace being just that – women.

I am not a feminist. At all.

Even though I believe in gender equality, I appreciate that men and women are just different. And they should dress differently, too. I like men to wear the pants! And while I love a wardrobe that has a slight flirtation with androgyny – I think women look best when they dress femininely.

Androgynous femininity is one of the core elements of a French Girl’s wardrobe and is the perfect interplay of masculine and feminine.That is why the French style is so alluring and interesting and captivating. Androgynous femininity is somewhat of a genius style that the French have mastered.

Perhaps it all began with Coco Chanel, who revolutionised the female wardrobe by incorporating the relaxed styles of menswear into her designs for women.

Having said that, I know this is a contentious topic in today’s climate but I’d love to hear your opinion. Comment below and let me know your thoughts!

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I bought this (super cheap!) off the shoulder top on sale from Boohoo a while ago.

 – Basics – 

Parisians have a penchant for good quality basics. I’m talking about crisp white collared shirts, black trousers, trench coats, the perfect tee, black leather loafers, soft cashmere sweaters and a great pair of jeans. And let’s not forget a black blazer.

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My favourite black blazer these days is a military-inspired one from Zara. It reminds me of my dads school blazer.

 – Perfectly Imperfect – 

Perfection is boring and the French are easily bored.  They don’t want to look perfect, and I love that.

Where the English are constantly searching for some objective level of perfected beauty, French women pointedly optimise their own level of attractiveness – and this lends itself to a perfectly imperfect appearance.

The biggest fashion faux pas in France is looking like you tried too hard.

Don’t take your self (or your style) too seriously in France and you will fit right in.

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These jeans are my perfectly imperfect wardrobe essential 😉

What is your favourite thing about French Fashion? Comment below and let me know, I love to read everyone’s messages and comments.

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HH xx

Blurred Lines

Gay or straight? I can’t tell…

Is a person’s sexuality something that can be defined by their choice of clothing? I’m not so sure anymore.

Cape Town is renowned for being one of the most stylish capitals in the world and this has beckoned the age of metrosexual men in our city.

“Metrosexuality” was first coined by Mark Simpson, who defined the concept as “the single young man with a high disposable income, living or working in the city (because that’s where all the best shops are)”. 

Masculinity in South Africa has matured into an urbanised and groomed affair through the country’s ever-growing relationship with European and American fashion connections. The fashions that were once considered to be too “homosexual” for most men to wear have become intertwined into the everyday wardrobe of the ordinary heterosexual man.

This is because the media have profoundly impacted our ideas of masculinity and femininity and sexuality itself through its ‘skin-deep’ coverage of it. Magazines like GQ, Men’s Health, Esquire and FHM encourage a sense of vanity and narcissism in men. The media’s bombardment of advertising that tells men how to look their leanest, attract the most sexual partners or attain their goal weight commands the average man to value a sense of grooming and egotism.  Television shows like Queer Eve for the Straight Guy, Will and Grace and Queer as Folk signal a social freedom for men to exist as a feminine male and show that cultural attitudes towards masculinity have changed dramatically.

According to Connell, Hegemonic masculinity embodies the currently accepted answer to the problem of the legitimacy of patriarchy, which guarantees the dominant position of men and the subordination of women” (2009, Gender: in world perspective). Traditional masculine norms consisted of restricted emotions, pursuit of achievement and status, self-reliance, aggression and avoidance of any sense of femininity. But this doesn’t seem to be the case now!

The rise of feminism and women’s-rights movements has impacted gender roles in society and this may be a reason for the effeminacy of men. This radical shift in gender roles in society is seen through the clothing choices of men.

I recently spoke about this to Daniel Geldenhuys, Editor in Chief of Varsity Style magazine, and he agreed that metrosexuality is ever-growing in our city. According to Daniel, you see the most extreme cases of metrosexuality in the CBD of Cape Town. However, he argues that “you must never stereotype. Just because some guys look gay, it doesn’t mean that they are.” Daniel claims that Hiddingh is the best example of this; “almost every guy on Hiddingh campus would be judged as gay by what they wear. But trust me, that’s not the case”.

Daniel is what I consider to be a “metrosexual”; his hair is always perfect, his clothes are always stylishly co-ordinated, he takes care of himself and he is the kind of person that you notice from a mile away.

“Brands matter a lot to me; I will not buy something from Chinatown. I only like to really wear Topshop, Cotton On and Country Road” admits Daniel. This gave me a rare  gay-guys perspective that agreed with my suspicions.

Barbara fouri, sub-editor of Varsity Style, agrees that being image-conscious and men’s attention to what they look like has become a mainstream thing. “My boyfriend has a comb-over and his hair has to be perfectly styled everyday but he’s not gay, duh”!

Male narcissism is here and we better become used to it.

According to Barbara, “men have always been vain; they just haven’t always expressed it until recently”. 

I agree with Barbara completely; gone are the days where the men were brutal in combat or slaved in the mills on their farms. Unless you’re living in Jamaica (which is, according to TIME magazine, the most homophobic place on earth), there is nothing stopping men from their effeminacy.

Every year, Androgyny is always present in some designers’ collections in fashion week. But as the Spring ’14 menswear fashion shows started in London last week; I was shocked at the realisation that Androgyny has re-awoken from its deep sleep since the 90’s.

I was shocked in my seat when I watched J.W. Anderson’s menswear Spring ’14 collection because he took the concept of metrosexuality to a completely new level.  Anderson surprised audiences with his version of the male halter-neck top (yes, you heard correctly!) that was a black less top and was made out of a semi-sheer and floral patterned material. When I watched this I had a sudden urge to ask someone: “is this real?” Surely not! But I think that Anderson took the concept of metrosexuality to the extreme and that this is not an accurate depiction of what I have discussed above.

The fact that men can now care about their clothes, spend money and time on their appearance and not be gay is something of a new concept. Men wear Skinny Jeans, Man-bags, pink shirts, Harem pants and get their ears pierced and this is a testament to such transformation in fashion. Cape Town certainly appears to have welcomed this notion of new masculinity.

Behold the metrosexual man; pampered by women, technology and clothes!

 

 

 

More links that I highly recommend on this subject:

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20130624-will-men-wear-skirts-and-lace

http://www.firstclassfashionista.com/archives/61026 = First class Fashionista: Masculine fashion goes feminine

http://makehoustongreat.com/2012/06/09/10-examples-of-how-men-are-becoming-like-women/ = a very amusing pictorial on how men are becoming more feminine

http://vadamagazine.com/02/02/2013/fashion/dude-look-like-a-lady = Dude Look Like A lady, Vada Magazine

http://www.menstylefashion.com/mens-fashion-has-it-gone-too-feminine-2012/ = Feminine men’s fashion: has it gone too far?