For about a year before moving to France, I was using a clothing rental service in the US because I didn’t want to continue buying clothing in different sizes.  I’ve learned from past experience that when I keep my “skinny clothes” or “fat clothes,” I usually don’t still like those styles still if I’m ever that size again!  Once I stayed in the same weight range and knew I was headed to France for a few months, I started purchasing the items that I liked the best and were most flattering; however, patterned clothing is very common in the US.  Most of the items the clothing service carried were patterned!

As a result, when I arrived in France, I certainly was not dressed like the French (in my region)!  In my experience, they tend to dress in mostly neutrals for the base (or solid colors at least), then add more color and patterns in their accessories.  Due to my clothing being mostly patterned, I was instead buying solid-colored scarves (my blue one gets the most use) and accessories.  Contrary to what many may think, the majority of the French that I see are NOT dressed in the latest “high fashion” items, although they do tend to buy high quality accessories (for example, hand bags).  They have a nice rotation of quality basics, which they pair with different accessories to make many different outfits.

I keep about 50 items in my personal rotation, although some of those are only worn in warm or cold seasons.  Every month, I replace roughly one item – have I mentioned that I pretty much hate shopping?  But, whereas I used to just throw on whatever was comfortable, a few years ago I started to care about whether I personally felt good about my clothing and how I looked in it.  I developed a “style;” however, it is constantly evolving!

A dress that I bought and loved in the US

Specifically, I noticed this week that HALF of my closet is now solid colors that are more neutral (aka not bright red) or some variation of black, white, cream, gray or combinations of those four colors.  The rest are primarily jewel tones, which I prefer and look best on me.  Slowly, all of the loud patterned items are being replaced.

It is ironic to go from avoidance of solid-colored, “boring” clothes on the rental site to shopping at the designer sales in Biarritz, passing a few stalls and thinking, “Wow, what a pattern!  Look at all of those wild colors!  It’s beautiful, but so BUSY.  Nope, pass.”  And this was after I insisted, upon arrival, that I would keep wearing my American clothes and just have a unique style because “I’m not French, so I don’t need to dress French.”  It appears that certain aspects of French culture are absorbed by osmosis, even when you’re convinced that it won’t change!

Like my personal style, fashion trends are always changing.  Even in France.  There are trends that I was told French women “never wear,” which I’ve now seen commonly worn in several larger cities (like white sneakers).  Those changes seem to spread more slowly in the countryside, but out here, I’m one of the few who dress up Monday to Thursday every week.  Until I’m certain that I’m not returning to the US, I want to keep my wardrobe compliant with a West Coast “business casual” dress code.
One thing that I’ve seen many French people do that I still cannot bring myself to do is wearing the same outfit two days in a row!  There might be small changes, but often it’s exactly the same.  In the US, this would spark speculation that you never made it home the night before . . . that doesn’t seem to be the reason here though.
Any comments on trends you’ve noticed in France?  Or French people with insight into the re-wearing of an outfit the next day?