With winter just around the corner, my current wish-lists are made up of cosy cable knits, ribbed polo necks and cashmere sweaters—basically anything that will prevent those icy chills. But big chunky jumpers and thicker layers aren’t always easy to pull off and I don’t want to end up looking like 1: a yeti, 2: the Marshmallow man in Ghostbusters or 3: Joey in that scene from Friends when he wears all of his clothes.
When it comes to knitwear, the French seem to have a knack of making it look more stylish than most. Perhaps it’s the way they style it, or the way it falls nonchalantly (or is it effortlessly) off their shoulders, whichever it is there is a thing or two to be learned. After all, French women are single-handedly responsible for making the cardigan sexy, despite it being invented in the 19th century by the Earl of Cardigan, who was obviously a man and a Brit. Here are my top tips on donning heavier layers that I’ve borrowed from the French, so you can stay warm, whilst not sacrificing on style.
It’s all about balance—if you’re wearing an over-sized jumper, wear slim trousers—unless you’ve purposely gone for the over-sized look of course. But I’d advise you to wear it the French way (as you’ll see at the likes of BA&SH) and throw jumpers over a skirt or dress and cinch it in at the waist with a belt.
Cardigans aren’t new, so what did iconic, Parisian-born brand Sézane do? They turned it around so that the buttons go down the back. Genius. It perfectly offers just the right amount of je ne sais quoi, whilst not giving too much away. And there are now jumpers that have been specifically designed to show off your back with pretty detailing.
The French are traditionally not ones to play with colour and pattern, so the textured, cable knit or sweater with a knitted embellishment is a safer, chicer option.
Despite a reputation for being more open and free about their bodies, the French never show off too much at the same time (unless it’s summer and seriously hot) – i.e. it’s either legs or cleavage and rarely both. One common Parisian outfit is to wear heavier layers on top, with a short skirt. Team with a pair of long boots so you can hide your favourite slipper socks inside to keep your feet warm.
The cardigan has made a huge comeback in recent years, but you only have to watch Brigitte Bardot films or Inst-stalk Parisian It-Girls Jeanne Damas and Sabina Socol, to see why. If you want to dress French, get a cardy and make it cropped.
Next up, see the 4 items I exclusively wear with jeans.