P1100781 2What to wear? If the photos of Parisian fashions seem too crazy, take some cues from the more laid-back south of France. On some outings to Toulouse and Montpellier, a few trends were evident.

While I usually use only my own photos, it was next to impossible. Either I photograph or I shop. As I was with a very chic friend who wanted to shop, there was a limit to how much I could stop for photos, especially since I have an ancient point-and-shoot camera whose shutter works when it decides to. (New phone with decent camera on order!)

However, please note in the top photo, taken in Montpellier, the color. An orange coat, a red coat, and a woman in a bright yellow coat with yellow tights.

I’m disappointed I didn’t get her two-tone shoes–black and beige.

I did stop a woman at the market. I was with the same friend, who told me, “THAT’S how you should dress,” pointing to an extremely elegant woman buying vegetables. She really was stunning. I went up and asked to take her picture. She demurred, then agreed as long as I cropped off her face. I showed her the photo afterward to make sure she was OK with it.

We got to talking, and it turned out she was 82!!!! I would have guessed 60-something, and maybe less from farther away. She walked like a dancer, with perfect posture. Tall, slim, with a great haircut and just-right makeup–enough to not look faded, not so much as to look painted. I have seen her from time to time since, and she is unfailingly elegant.

I liked the pink shoes. Her socks matched her sweater. I wouldn’t have thought to pair pink with this burnt-orange/brown.

As I don’t always have time to talk for 15 minutes for every photo, I sometimes snap from behind, to get the idea of the outfit without someone’s face. But too often people cross in front, and it’s hard to focus….

So I took some photos from a few popular retailers that one sees around French cities. I link to their sites as a thank you for using the photos. I don’t get anything from it and they aren’t advertising. Any advertisers you see here are thrown in automatically by WordPress to make up for me using the free version and I don’t get anything from them nor even know who they are.

We must admit a picture is sometimes worth a thousand words. So here are the main trends I saw:

The fanny pack as bandolier.

bershka big sweater

Mostly spotted on men, but I did see it on a few women. It was far more common in Montpellier, where everybody seems to be under age 25, than in Toulouse. I have seen it only once in Carcassonne, which someone once described to me as “une ville mémère”–granny town. In Montpellier, I saw a woman whose fanny pack/bandolier had a metal chain strap like a Chanel bag. Go figure.

Bershka fanny pack
Similar metal strap. Here.

Tucked in.

pimkie sweater
With not-incredibly-tight jeans. Cut off the doo-dads. Here.

Untucked is over. Men and women alike wore their tops tucked in–all the way around. Not the fake tucked-in-front, out-in-back move. That is so 2015, Jenna Lyons.

Bershka paperbag sweater
Here. That paperbag-waist.

Again and again I saw young women with enormous, chunky sweaters tucked into their trousers or jeans. The sweaters weren’t cropped–that would have been a boxy shape on top. The trend was to create billows of material just above the waist.

Bershka silhouette
Loose jeans. But with the sweater tucked all around. Here.

My fashionable friend explained that it was about the silhouette–you can’t have a big top and looser bottoms without defining the waist, otherwise it just looks sloppy.

High waists are back.

bershka paperbag
Corduroy is everywhere, too. Pants, skirts, jackets. It’s the ’70s! This is the infamous “carrot” cut, with a very voluminous tucked top. Like Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally.”

I have heard this routinely ever since waistlines started to descend in the late 1990s. It seems to be true this time. Those big sweaters are tucked into high-waist pants or jeans, and cinched tightly with belts. Self-belts that match trousers are OK, but with jeans you need a brown leather belt that’s way too long and you loop the extra end around artfully.

Also, the jeans can be oversize mom/boyfriend cut, preferably large enough to create a paperbag effect when you cinch that belt.

You don’t have to wear jeans.

jennyfer 2

Lots of very young women and teens were wearing pinstripe and plaid (glen or tattersall) trousers. If the pants had wide legs, they were cropped. Otherwise, the “carrot” shape with tapered ankles was common.

(No idea why this photo is so small!)


The ugly shoe has arrived.

bershka bandolier jeans shoes
This hits so many trends (minus the oversize sweater): loose jeans, bandolier fanny pack–in CORDUROY–and ugly shoes. Here.

However, the uglier the shoe, the prettier the person, otherwise it backfires (which we also saw). That rules out ugly shoes for me.

Wool coats.

Also: smooth hair. Neither straightened nor “beach waves” nor messy. Very pretty hair–like Ariana Grande’s but shorter.

Lots of camel, with men and women alike wearing a very simple, classic beltless model. Also bathrobe versions in gray and olive green.

Have you seen any of these trends where you live? Would you wear them?

Also: check out this great video from Oui in France of what goes on in a French bakery. Good thing we can’t smell it. I would eat all the bread.

43 thoughts on “South of France Fashion

  1. The thing about what most people think of “French fashion” is that the most photographed women (especially during Paris Fashion Week) are not French. The goal is to be photographed by a street photographer, so the more outrageous the better. The farther you go away from les Champs-Élysées, the more you see people dressed as in your photos. Parisian women, as a rule, dress rather conservatively.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What I found interesting was that the young women in Toulouse and Montpellier, which are about 3 hours’ drive apart (close but not to the point where you’d go back and forth all the time), wore similar trends–the fully tucked big sweater, for example–that are not quite as presented by the clothing stores. So the fashions on sale are almost global these days, but there were tweaks, and in these two cities the young women were choosing many of the same tweaks.


  2. Thanks for this update! So interesting to see the bright colors, wonder if that’s more prevalent in the South of France than in Paris? (Though I have seen many women wearing brighter tights in Paris on past trips.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting post…I love all the different styles, not that I would wear some of them, but I still like them. Having smooth hair is not something I’ve every been able to achieve. I have naturally curly hair and it’s red….lol….think the red head girl in Peanuts…lol. I wear my hair short, because that seems to be the only way to keep my hair from dominating my features (I’m small boned). I do love trying new styles in clothes though as long as they don’t make me “disappear”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw a woman in a mustard moto jacket with the coolest (short) chevron-striped multicolor skirt, but I didn’t manage to catch up to photograph her. Mustard is definitely in every store.


  4. My eye is still trying to adjust to high waisted everything, and I’m just now wearing mid-rise after years of low! What I saw in London was just like what you feature here as far as casual wear. I can’t stand cropped and boxy tops – so it doesn’t look pretty to me at all. For awhile now in these parts, the ’90’s and grunge resurgence has been strong. Floral print rayon dresses that I never imagined would surface again are coveted. The ugly shoe thing though is not something I see in Chicagoland – still a land of sexy ankle boots. Fun post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I haven’t seen the whole prairie dress look, not even in stores. This summer there were lots of short, very large and loose floral dresses that looked like long tunics where the woman forgot the pants. Now, I see lots of long, ’70s-style midi dresses with ’70s-style stripes (kind of like what Melania wore in Africa) and even the colors.


  5. THANK YOU for the UPDATE!I had heard high waists are BACK!THANK GOD!
    I like the sweater tucked in on the THIN YOUNG GALS……….not so sure on moi!
    82!!!Her skin was GREAT!
    YOU MUST STOP HER and have a coffee and INTERVIEW HER!!!!!!!
    WHAT products has she been using for the past 30 years!
    How can she stand so TALL and STRAIGHT!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I want to interrogate/interview her about her skin care. I saw her at the strawberry stand, where I’m on first-name basis with the strawberry seller–that seemed to reassure her that I wasn’t a complete wacko. Just a partial wacko.


  6. More, more please. Aix is our go to for style. Black, and more black with coloured tights. Shawls, scarves…red, orange, hair….and lots of black. Camel and black. The men just as elegant as the women. At home I’m considered tiny! In France I’m just a normal size….
    Yes, more please…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Black is great–easy, works everywhere, looks dressy–and certainly it accounts for 80% or more of my wardrobe (with beige for the rest). But I’m so glad there are people more adventurous than I am with color. I love it on everybody else.


  7. I try to channel French style and fail miserably.
    My default outfit is essentially the same as it was forty years ago or more. I keep reminding myself that mutton should be more conservative, but I see all these ladies way older than wearing what they damn well want, so I will to.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Paperbag waists are horrible, hard to manage and never look neat. But the good news is that if you save your old clothes long enough they come back into style! (Mom jeans, here I come.)
    I thought I was being wild and trendy by buying some dark brown tights recently, but … yellow!!! Oh my. Love all those pictures, and the variety of choices.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great photos. But where do they hide the blubber? Seriously. I don’t dare tuck a big sweater into a paperbag waist. Some nice stuff there, though. I see a couple of pieces I’d love to try.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The beautiful lady in black & beige!!! Wow, I don’t need to see her face to see her beauty! This is how I wish to dress myself! Such elegance!

    I have gotten into quite a bad habit of not putting much effort into my appearance in recent years, and I’m a bit ashamed, to say the least! As I’ve gotten older, I have become discouraged and very exhausted, so that extra effort is sometimes too much… Very sadly! I love classy, effortless looking clothing, but I also am all about comfort, so I tend to choose things that are very loose and casual, and therefore forfeit looking put together or even nice! I need to dig myself out of this rut and put some care into my appearance!

    As far as fashion goes, I’m not one for following it, I don’t buy things because they are “in” or trendy, I have a very classic taste. I think people should dress the way they love and wear what makes them feel good and not choose things ‘just’ because someone in a magazine says it is all the rage. Neither do I think there is anything wrong with being trendy or buying the latest thing on the runways, but wear something because you love it, not because everyone else is wearing it! That is just my personal opinion c:

    Btw, I love your posts, and your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While some clothes project their power by acting like armor and being rather uptight (men’s suits, the fabulous dresses of the Claire Underwood character on House of Cards), nobody looks classy in clothes that are too uncomfortable. You can’t be elegant if you can’t move without tugging at your clothes. It’s possible to dress in comfortable pieces that also look great. Just adding a scarf can make a difference. Note the full, pleated skirt of the fabulous woman in black and beige. Quite comfortable and good for easy movement, yet very classy. That said, I am writing this while wearing old velvet yoga pants and a (beloved) sweatshirt full of holes. But I haven’t set foot outside–even to go for a walk in the park, I would change into something nicer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good point!! I really should put more thought into how to dress classy, yet comfortable! It certainly would be worth the time and effort to find some key pieces that would allow for this!

        LoL… I have on comfy old, perfectly worn pajama bottoms and a very soft slouchy “Kentucky” sweatshirt! I also would not dare be seen this way, and am indulging myself due to being sick in bed… which is also why I get to spend so much time online browsing and perusing all your posts…haha! Being sick does have it’s advantages at moments! ;D

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Totally agree with you on these trends. The tucked sweater is really the thing I saw in France too as well as the turn away from jeans and to plaid or other materials. They all look so effortlessly fashionable in my opinion, something I would like to emulate haha! Enjoyed reading this post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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