Category Archives: Style

Long Beach Wall Crawl

February 13, 2017

Long Beach is having a bit of a renaissance and with Valentine’s Day on the horizon it seemed like the right time to show a little love. Mitch Maher and I set out to explore the best walls in Long Beach this past weekend. I wore outfits in black, white, and navy while he played the role of art director and photographer.

The result is a love letter to our fair city in digital form, i.e. the Long Beach Wall Crawl complete with artist recognition and locations so you too can spend a couple hours taking in this beautiful art. A big merci to POW! WOW! Long Beach for bringing these artists to our hometown!

Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com

James Jean Mural
The Varden Hotel
335 Pacific Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802

Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com
Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com

Gail Werner Mural
Super Suds
250 Alamitos Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802

Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com

James Haunt Mural
La Bodega #1 Market
6001 Atlantic Avenue
Long Beach, CA, 90805

Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com

Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com

Sarah Joncas Mural
Toxic Toast Records
757 Pine Ave
Long Beach, CA 90813

Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com
Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com

Hitotzuki Mural
Intertrend Communications
228 E Broadway
Long Beach, CA 90802

Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com
Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com

123KLAN and SLICK Mural
The Liberty
435 Alamitos Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802

Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com

Dragon76 Mural
East 1st Street and Alamo Court
Long Beach, CA, 90802

Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com
Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com

Tristan Eaton Mural
The Varden Hotel
335 Pacific Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802

Long Beach Wall Crawl | modernfrenchblog.com

Brendan the Blob and Evah Fan Mural
Toxic Toast Records
757 Pine Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90813

P.S. Learn more about Long Beach in The Unofficial Guide to Long Beach. If you pay your talented friends in wine, then this is a great place to start.

Modern French Wardrobe for Fall and Winter

September 27, 2016

Modern French Wardrobe for Fall and Winter | modernfrenchblog.com

French Girl style is a thing. Believe me, I’ve read every single article, blog post, and book about it. It’s the striped shirt, ballet flats, and trench coat all wrapped up in a little bit of je ne sais quoi.

However, French Girl style may not be a real thing. See, my French girlfriends have styles that are wildly different and I have yet to see one of them dressed exactly like this. Maybe all these perfectly Parisian pieces are just for French wannabes like me?

Whatever the case, this is what I’ll be wearing in the fall and winter. You’ll see a bunch of classic cuts in white and black (so much black). The neutral color palette allows for mixing and matching so getting dressed in the morning is easy breezy.

Most of my clothes come from J Crew, Madewell, Banana Republic, Gap and Uniqlo, but every once in a while I splurge for something big like the Reed Krakoff Atlantique bag or that pair of Chelsea boots in the finest, butteriest leather. It’s the perfect mix of high and low, which is a trick of stylish women everywhere.

Enough musings on French Girl style, let’s get to the heart of what is actually hanging in my closet.

11 Tops: Black tee, white tee, light blue button-up, white button-up, black silk button-up, white long-sleeved tee, black long-sleeve tee, white blouse, black sweater, gray sweater, and striped long-sleeved tee.

6 Jackets and Coats: Navy pea coat, navy cropped trench coat, collarless light down jacket (a great layer under any of the other coats!), black leather motorcycle jacket, black wool toggle coat, and trench coat.

3 Dresses: Long-sleeved black dress, black button-up dress, and black tee dress. Full disclosure: I have a three dresses that aren’t pictured here including a super cute dress from the Gap x Vena Cava collection a few years back.

7 Bottoms: Black pleated pleather skirt, black skirt with flared hem, black a-line skirt, black wool skirt, black slacks, dark denim skinny jeans, and black skinny jeans.

8 Shoes: Black patent pumps, silver pumps, black high heels, red ballet flats, black booties, black Chelsea boots, black kitten heel pumps, and black ballet flats.

Accessories: Cat-eye sunglasses, black aviator glasses, black structured purse, black envelope clutch, black beanie, camel scarf, and gray scarf. I also have two pairs black tights (one matte and the other opaque) and a small collection of jewelry that are not shown here.

P.S. How to dress like a French Girl in the spring and summer and five ways to dress like the French.

Five Ways to Dress Like a French Girl

June 7, 2016

Dressing Like a French Girl | modernfrenchblog.com

Everything I know about dressing like a French Girl I learned from a French Guy.

See, last fall I was getting ready for our trip back to France and the pressure to be chic was real. So, I went on a shopping spree and came home with a ton of shopping bags.

Giddy with excitement, I rushed to try on my new clothes and walked out to show my husband. It was then that I realized we were dressed almost exactly alike and I had, apparently, learned a few things about French style from him.

Build a Foundation of Basics

First things first, you need to build up your basics so that you have great foundation. You’ve likely seen or read an article about the basics of a French wardrobe. It usually includes a list with the perfect white tee, a black blazer, a striped top, and ballet flats among other things.

One look at what I keep in my closet and you can see that I’ve taken a lot of those lists to heart. While these basics definitely work for me, I urge you to figure out what fits your lifestyle and your taste. The key here is to buy what you really love. If black and white isn’t really your thing, your color palette can be gray, army green, and pink. Or maybe you walk a lot so flats make more sense than sky-high heels.

Once you have this foundation, it makes getting dressed infinitely easier because you have a bunch of individual pieces that you can combine into an infinite number of outfits.

Shop Less and Shop Strategically

When the French go shopping, they typically go with a purpose such as replacing a worn-out item or buying something for a special event.

For example, if Arnaud has a pair of jeans that are starting to look ratty, then he’ll say au revoir and buy a new pair. Summer wedding coming up? He’ll get a fancy suit jacket to dress up other items that he already owns.

Similar to the One In, One Out rule, this style of shopping ensures that you always have space in your closet. It also keeps you from “just browsing” and spending money on something cheap or trendy that you don’t really want. Not that I’m guilty of that…but then I’m not 100% French yet.

Know When to Invest

The French always seem to know when to invest in clothing and Arnaud certainly isn’t an exception. He doesn’t spend much on the plain tees, jeans, and other everyday basics that make the foundation of his wardrobe.

But the fancy suit jacket I mentioned above? That was an investment piece. He also splurges on leather boots, designer sneakers, and dress shoes because the man loves his footwear. Other items that land in the investment category include clothing for colder weather and fancy occasions.

The key with these types of pieces is that you should only purchase them few and far between. Arnaud may love shoes but he doesn’t own a million pairs, and he only has a few coats and winter jackets. Most importantly, investing every once in a while usually means you will be spending less and therefore have more money for wine (huzzah!).

The Art of Repetition

When we first got married, I was surprised that my French husband would wear the same outfit whenever we went out. He’d put on a denim button-up shirt, black fitted slacks, and black leather boots. Every. Single. Time.

This was shocking for an American who was taught to buy a new outfit for every occasion, but the art of repetition is ingrained in the French. Just think about Carine Roitfeld and her winning combination of a silk blouse, pencil skirt, and sky-high heels. Or try to imagine Emmanuelle Alt in anything but skinny jeans (I know, it’s hard).

The French wear these uniforms because they know it’s flattering and makes them look good. They also wear it with confidence and have zero regrets about repeating an outfit. And when you think about it, why would anyone ever apologize for looking good?

Rules are Made to Be Broken

If this is all starting to feel a bit limiting, you will probably appreciate this next tip. Rules are great and all, but go ahead a break one every once in a while.

Only wear neutral colors? Buy the bright yellow sweater. Tend to stick to vintage styles? Go for something in a super modern cut. Shake it up and do something different, because in the end fashion should be fun.

Conclusion

French Girls are effortlessly chic, but now that we’ve cracked the code you can be just like them. A quick recap on what we’ve learned:

• Build up the basics in your closet so that you have a great foundation with which to work.
• Try to shop with a purpose and hone in on what you really need.
• Know that it’s okay to make an investment and spend money on a special item.
• Learn the art of repetition and don’t shy away from creating a uniform.
• Break the rules! Life is too short to be super serious about your clothing.

Zat ees eet! Now that you’re armed with the rules of French style (and also have the power to break them), you can dress with ease and go out into the world as a stylish woman. Just don’t tell everyone that we learn all of this from a Frenchman. That will be our petit secret!

What’s in My French Girl Bag

May 24, 2016

What's in My French Girl Bag | modernfrenchblog.com

Just like a good a French Girl, the stuff I keep in my bag is practical yet stylish. A leather wallet with no logo, wear-everywhere sunglasses, some chapstick, travel-sized perfume in a signature scent, and a few other essentials in black, bien sûr.

Clockwise from top left: Keys with Black Tassel Keychain, Muji Pen, J.Crew Ryan Sunglasses in Black, Moleskin NotebookBlack Leather Wallet, Reed Krakoff Atlantique Bag in Black, Burt’s Bee Chapstick in Honey, Daisy Rollerball Perfume, iPhone with Metallic Case

Modern French Wardrobe for Spring and Summer

March 22, 2016

Modern French Wardrobe for Spring and Summer | modernfrenchblog.com

Wardrobes are a big deal these days.

From the Capsule Wardrobe, Project 333, and the minimalist approach to the 5-Piece French Wardrobe—which is not to be confused with the 10-Piece Wardrobe—and the Kon-Mari Method, there are a million different ways to strategically dress yourself and deal with the contents of your closet.

Allow me to introduce the Modern French Wardrobe, which is less about rules and restrictions and more about what I actually have hanging in my own closet.

These 42-odd pieces will take me through spring and summer. By mixing and matching, I can create outfits for all sorts of occasions. This is partly due to some level of creativity but also because I’ve resigned to looking the same wherever I go.

My style is modern yet timeless. I rely heavily on neutrals and quite obviously have a penchant for black. Since I often end up wearing pieces for years at a time, I opt for classic cuts and invest in high-quality garments whenever I can.

Without further ado, here’s the list! It doesn’t include sleepwear, swimwear, or work out gear, but everything else is hanging in my closet right at this moment (or will be soon…I’m looking at you, white jeans!).

11 Tops: Black drapey tank, black tee, white tee, striped tee, black silk button-up (with the sleeves rolled up!), black tank top, white tank top, creme colored blouse, and a chambray button-up.

3 Sweaters: Black sweater, camel sweater, and black cardigan.

3 Jackets: Dark denim jacket, cropped trench coat, and black leather motorcycle jacket.

5 Dresses: Black crepe dress, black dress with flared skirt, black romper, white dress with embroidery detail, and black tee dress.

7 Bottoms: Black a-line skirt, black skirt with flared hem, light denim shorts, dark denim shorts, dark denim jeans, black jeans, and white jeans.

8 Shoes: Black patent pumps, silver pumps, black high heels, gold high heels, black sandals, nude sandals, white sneakers, and black ballet flats.

7 Accessories: Cat-eye sunglasses, black aviators, black structured purse, black envelope clutch, black Panama hat, black tote bag, and straw tote bag. Plus, I have a small collection of jewelry and a few lightweight scarves that are not shown here.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated on September 13, 2016.

How to Pack for France in the Winter

December 15, 2015

How to Pack for France in the Winter | modernfrenchblog.com

The first time we went to the France in the winter I made a rookie mistake and didn’t pack very well. In my own defense, I’m Californian and was totally unaware of what a real winter entails. With only a thin coat, no knowledge of layering, and boots that had me slipping all over the ice, I was freezing and uncomfortable. That is, until my mother-in-law came to the rescue and clothed me in all of Arnaud’s old winter clothes. While I wasn’t exactly the picture of chic, I was finally warm and that was all that mattered.

Cut to a couple of years later: Winter was coming and we were planning another trip to France. Since I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice, I did a ridiculous amount of online research and crazy girl list making. I even took notes during the trip on what was necessary and what I had missed. So, below are the fruits of my OCD labor: A list of things that will allow you to weather the elements while also looking pretty and put-together.

Row 1
Button-Up Shirt: Wearing a button-up makes you feel instantly polished, especially when you tuck only the front part of your shirt in à la Emmanuelle Alt.
Striped Tee: Of course, you can’t go to France without a striped tee. Feel free to accessorize with a beret and baguette under your arm.
Long-sleeve Tees: Great for wearing alone or layering under the sweater or button-up for extra warmth. I picked up these Supima cotton tees at Uniqlo in black and white (of course).

Row 2
Pea Coat: A classic and (most importantly) warm winter coat. This wool pea coat makes a casual outfit more pulled-together but also goes well with your dressier outfits.
Wool Sweater: Chic but functional aka everything I want in a piece of clothing. I swear by the Tippi and Tilly sweaters from J Crew in merino wool.
Silk Blouse: The French are known for classic pieces in understated colors and luxurious fabrics. So, pick up a silk blouse from Everlane, Cuyana, or Equipment in a neutral color and you’ll fit right in.
Wool Skirt: This skirt is another J Crew find (long live Jenna Lyons!). Pair it with any of the tops and be sure to wear those black tights underneath.

Row 3
Shift Dress: Another piece that easily transitions from day to night depending on your accessories. Case in point, I wore this while walking around a cobblestone city and then later on at a wedding.
Skinny Jeans: Black denim and dark denim. I wear them all the time in regular life and wore them just as much in travel life. Essential!
Structured Purse: I like my purses structured, lady-like, and on the small to medium size. Be wary of taking a big purse. They get heavy really quick, which could make the straps cut into your shoulder. Ouch.
Ultra Thin Jacket: The best winter advice I ever received was to pick up one of these from Uniqlo. It easily fits underneath a coat and is so incredibly warm. Plus, it packs up into it’s own little pouch!
iPhone: Probably one of the most important things on this list for reasons I don’t really have to explain. Download some fun wallpaper for your iPhone for free like this “Oh la la” one from ban.do.

Row 4
Toiletry Bag: Stock up on small versions of everything at Target or pour your favorites into little bottles. You can also stash your make-up here or put it in a Ziploc bag in your purse for the flight.
Simple Jewelry: Leave the diamonds at home and take a few simple pieces. One pair of earrings, a hefty watch, and a delicate silver bangle worked well for me.
Cashmere Scarf: Something nice and warm to wrap around your neck or use as a blanket when you are traveling. I suggest a light gray, beige, or something colorful to contrast with all that navy and black.
Mini Steamer: How did I not know about this magical little device before? My Little Steamer (available on Amazon or at Bed Bath and Beyond) is a total lifesaver. Au revoir wrinkles!

Row 5
Bras & Underwear: Pack two bras (in black and nude) and enough undies to last you halfway through the trip (so seven pairs for two-weeks). I love these lacey thongs because they are
très sexy and don’t take up a lot of room in the suitcase.
Flat Boots: Have you ever walked to the Eiffel Tower in excruciating pain because you were wearing high heel boots? I sure have and after that one experience, never again! I got this pair of flat boots from Lacoste (10 French points for me, wee!), but there are Chelsea boots everywhere this season that are just as cute.
Ballet Flats: Again, flats are a French girl’s best friend. I wore these for dressier occasions (like a fancy dinner or with the black dress for the wedding) and reserved the flat boots for days full of walking.

Not Pictured
Pajamas: I won’t judge you for wearing a slubby tee and yoga pants (because that’s what I do). But one day I will buy a pretty pajama set that screams chic AND sleep.
Beanie & Leather Gloves: Two essential items that keep you warm and can easily be stashed in your purse if you don’t need them. Win win!
Tights: Wear the tights under the skirt or dress and if it gets cold enough you can wear them under your jeans. My favorite is a black matte pair by Hue, but all zee French girls were wearing black tights that were semi see-through.
Socks: Don’t forget a variety of socks in (you guessed it) black. I pack the same number of pairs of socks as I do undies and then wash them halfway through.