Why is This Street Style Image Everywhere?

Paris Fashion Week Street Style

Out of the many street style images from fashion month, I keep seeing this particular photo. I first noticed it on Amanda Brook’s blog I Love Your Style. Brooks included the image in a roundup of her favorite fashion month street style, which was void of the razzmatazz we’ve come to know (and maybe despise?) during fashion month. She writes, “While looking back at fashion month street style photos this week, my new perspective was cemented. Any one can be noticed wearing the brightest, shortest, furriest, most printed, most clashing, most outrageous outfit one dares to wear, but more interesting to me are the girls that do the most with the least.”

Then I spotted it on Jayne Min’s Stop it Right Now blog. She also included the outfit in a collection of fashion month street style images. “There’s this perfect mix of classic + quirk + effortlessness + comfort to all these ladies, and each one still manages to come across feminine, but in the most un-saccharine way,” she writes.

Something about this photo is resonating with people, well people who care about style. It could be a backlash to the “peacocking,” but for me, it speaks to something bigger than being annoyed by fashion week attendees and their outlandish, gifted get-ups. I presume this woman is French, and at the heart of it, many non-French women want to be French or at the very least dress like they are French. French women posses a level of restraint, whether that relates to the number of croissants they consume or their beautiful wardrobes, that’s intrinsically un-American. Side note: There’s a reason why this book, this book, and this Tumblr exist. But in addition to that, we are having a minimal moment in fashion, which obviously percolates into style. We have been for the past few seasons (you can thank Phoebe Philo for that). Contrary to the hordes of women dressed like caricatures of themselves during fashion week, being toned down feels fresh. The overdone, fussy look is dated. This street style image represents that.

So what does that mean for a print and pattern loving girl like myself? I’m not French, nor do I want to be. I’m perfectly fine being a black girl from Virginia, and I love print, pattern, and color far too much. But who doesn’t want to look amazing yet effortless all the time? I’ve grappled with minimalist vs. maximalist dressing for the past year or so. At one point I looked at my wardrobe, and while it was full of print, color, and great pieces I love to wear, it almost felt overwhelming. Instead of seeing the beauty in its bounty of color and pattern, it felt like it was lacking something. Where were my classic basics? Where were the items to temper this wardrobe? Since then, I’ve been on a mission to invest in those pieces and while I haven’t lost who I am inherently, there’s something appealing about having a pared down, mostly neutral, utilitarian wardrobe that expedites getting dressed in the morning.

Minimal doesn’t mean boring. In fact, anyone, no matter what their style is, can learn something from the tenets of minimal dressing, which are beautifully displayed in this street style photo. For example, when in doubt, choose black. It’s slimming, matches everything, and makes clothes look more expensive. Also, make sure that your clothes fit you well. As Christina Kolbe said in her style profile, “It’s not hard to look chic and put together if your clothes fit you well.” Additionally, being comfortable in your clothes makes you feel confident, which is step one in looking stylish. The subject has injected ease and personality into a classic two piece suit by wearing high top Converse sneakers. This photo has gained so much traction because she is dressing for herself, not the street style paparazzi, and that’s what style is about. I’ve posted this quote before, but it feels so appropriate to end this with words of wisdom from French model turned author Inès de La Fressange: “Sensuality doesn’t come from heels – especially if you can’t walk in them. It’s like a beautiful woman who has the perfect hair and makeup but doesn’t smile. You should dress to feel good, not show off. It takes life to learn that.” The woman in this image has definitely learned that.

Photo courtesy of Vogue.

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