Terra: French Style
Maybe it’s a stereotype to say that the French are fashionable. Not all of them are. There are of course your average Joe’s who just wear jeans and tees all the time. The difference for me was that a larger amount of the population had higher fashion and/or beauty standards than the population in the United States. When Americans dress up they get noticed or they have some high air about them. When French people dress up they look normal and probably go unnoticed.
There is just a higher standard for presenting yourself in France. I remember being in high school in the states and seeing more than one student wearing pajamas on a daily basis. While I was in French high school I took a moment to just imagine the same situation. The only possible outcomes would be scoffing at the person or looking at them in amazement like he/she was an alien.
Most men will wear scarves and women will even more often. The women have a certain effortlessness to the way they wear clothes and jewelry. A French woman will pick tiny lace-like golden necklaces that will fall perfectly on her skin and make such sweet subtle statements like that of an innocent kiss. To me, French women so often looked like pictures in a magazine. They look comfortable and yet still very put together. Their clothes never look too washed, faded, or pill-y. The French pick clothes they can go most places in and they will still be appropriate.
Men always wear watches that will make only slightly bold statements but are never over the top or flashy. On the other hand they are also never worried something will make them look too feminine. They are confident in their masculinity and don’t let their clothes define them and I really have come to respect that. All the boys in my host family wore nice sweaters, scarves, and watches. To an American they would probably look like they just got back from picture day—but every day. Casual articles of clothing like sweatpants and athletic shorts are for playing sports in and nothing else. Shoes are worn inside and always kept clean.
It might sound very different from the U.S. standards of fashion but it is really an interesting cultural thing to observe. A great upside is my French exchange students would take me shopping and give me great feedback on what looked good on me.