We at Rust & Fray are constantly highlighting the modern and exciting looks of our home city of New York, but it’s always worthwhile to check out the eternal champions of the “I woke up like this” look in the other fashion capital of the world. This is doubly true when so much of the Parisian look fits well into sustainable fashion ideas. So pour yourself a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and relax while we look at the world of sustainable French Fashion.
Cool, Comfortable, and Tailorable
The first rule of Paris level chic is that everything is about a cool attitude. This is why one of the most common tips for French fashion overall is a good pair of flats or a comfortable heel. A relaxed vibe is not something you can just pull out of a closet, but comfortable and well fitting clothes will help you stay relaxed. Constant re-adjustments, an uncomfortable bra, and aching feet are not just a formula for a cool attitude.
This overlaps with the world of sustainable fashion because fast fashion’s ready-to-wear clothing options are almost never going to fit just right. If you’re working with bunching shoulders or a dress that’s just a little too tight on the hips for comfort, you’re not really going to master the laid-back and casual attitude. This is especially true when you consider that French looks usually highlight your waist in some way. But at the same time as all this, fast fashion is of such low material quality that you’re also not going to want to invest the time and money into tailoring, if the item even is tailorable in the first place. That perfect French look will remain out of reach until you’re wearing clothes that are truly meant for you, and opting for that higher quality item that you want to keep around forever and tailor instead of the disposables is how you’re going to get there.
Speaking about quality, another key feature of the French look is to pay attention to the material quality and texture. The perfect color or interesting design is never going make a cheap polyester or rayon look like French fashion. Instead you want to always opt for fabrics like wool, silks, high quality cottons suede, cashmere, and linen, where the textile quality and the texture go hand in hand. Of course, all of these textiles I just mentioned are all natural too. Polyester, rayon, and most other synthetic fabrics are terrible for the environment, not only in their chemically heavy production but also in the creation of plastic “micro-fibers” that pollute the oceans. So opting to steer clear of synthetics is good both for the planet and your wardrobe. And as a bonus, the more environmental versions of natural textiles such as organic cotton and low-impact wool tend to need to be higher quality anyway, so in this way shopping your best french look can be doubly sustainable.
Statement, Staples, and Versatility
Finally, a hallmark of French style is mixing high and low, often with a bit of gender boundary crossing thrown in. A plain shirt with a high quality sports jacket. Jeans you won't write home about and statement flats. And of course the pinnacle french look, quickly tossed ponytail hair with a quality handbag. The French look mixes a haphazard idea as if you just grabbed a few random things when walking out the door with an overall tasteful sense of put together style. The key to achieving this is thinking about curating a wardrobe overall instead of thinking in terms of individual outfits. A particular item you see when you're shopping about may be fun, but if you can only wear it with one outfit in your wardrobe then it’s not worth it. Buying with versatility in mind means that you really will get to the point where grabbing any random items out of your closet will produce an effortlessly chic look, as well as gravitating your wardrobe to a more subtle look overall.
Of course that French type of wardrobe curating is one of the key ideas of the slow fashion world too. Fast fashion wants you to buy cheap things you’ll wear once, training you to treat shopping for clothes like a sugar rush. And that means selling a lot of clothing while churning through the earth's resources at a horrifying rate. Careful wardrobe curating and mindful shopping mean that you’ll buy clothing you’ll actually wear, and in turn opt for the higher quality products too. Taking the time to pick out versatile pieces and quality items is as important for the earth as it is for mastering the Paris street vibe.