Red, White, and Black

Whether you love the French or hate them, you have to admit they’ve got style. There’s something so utterly effortless – and yet so absolutely beautiful – about the relaxed, thrown-together glamour of French style. The messy buns, chic striped tops, and minimal makeup somehow look entirely fantastic. But don’t fret! No matter what your usual fashion personality, it’s a cinch to work some fabulously French, totally timeless pieces into your own wardrobe.

This week’s fantastic find, spotted at my favorite local thrift shop, is so divine simply because it is so completely timeless. Espadrilles are really the summer shoe across the water, and for good reason – they look darling on just about everyone, they’re unbelievably comfy, and the basic fabric upper and woven rope bottom has the kind of rustic charm that it’s hard to imagine any European town (or woman) without. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to snag a pair like this one on the cheap – and in a stellar bright red hue, no less – these classic, always-chic shoes really will complement absolutely any look in your summer wardrobe.

bright red espadrilles

Mais oui! Even you can easily pull off some chic, French-inspired footwear, like these classic espadrille wedges in a vibrant, life-affirming rouge.

Don’t let them know you work at it. From all accounts, French women take just as much pride in their appearance and feminine charms as American women do – they just like to look totally nonchalant and carefree while doing it. So what is the key to this totally laid-back, graceful, stress-free style? Good basics that will never steer you wrong. The focus is on playing up your natural assets – let your own radiant, natural, glowing self shine through, instead of covering it up with a lot of over-the-top or excessive clothing, accessories, or makeup. You can easily pull together an always-in-style French look by pairing these pretty shoes with a pair of cropped, ankle-length black pants (à la Audrey Hepburn) and a striped top with a 3-quarter-length sleeve, like those that have become so synonymous with classic French style. Here, I’ve played on that classic combination by using the same basic but always-flattering palate (black-and-white), but changing the pattern and pieces up a little to make it just a little more my own. The hounds-tooth pattern of the skirt is just as timeless as a stripe, but the larger size of the print makes this skirt feel just a bit more modern. A simple black tank with one tiny extra detail – a flirty, feminine ruffle at the neckline – keeps this look polished and ladylike, but still evokes that entirely European take on classy, elegant style for any era.

chic black and white summer outfit

Don’t think pulling off pretty, chic, continental looks isn’t for you! Even on a budget, with a few new, thrifty pieces – like these fabulous red espadrille wedges – you can instantly add a bit of ooh la la! to any basic pieces you already have in your wardrobe.

Lauren Haslett writes “Goodwill Gems,” our weekly column about everything accessories here in A Good Look. She is a lover of fabulous fashion, a trained chef and a writer.  Follow her on twitter.

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