Being French and a long-time California resident (25+ years), I’m often asked about my opinion on the differences in culture, style, food, people. There are obvious differences, plenty of stereotypes, many of which are true. But at the core, both view themselves as “effortless” and take a lot of pride in this.
So much of this culture can be learned in how people dress themselves, how they carefully (or uncarefully) consider fabric, shape, color in order to be perceived a certain way by the world. Being part of both cultures, here’s my simplified version of how each approaches style.
On French Style
French style is mostly bourgeois, I call it “French preppy.” The majority of people in Paris wear navy blue, black, grey, and neutral colors. No one wants to draw too much attention to their outfit but will take a compliment for it all day. It’s very coordinated, it’s understated. It’s not funky. You don’t need a big Vuitton logo to show you have style. The beauty is in the details. You can always rely on French style because it’s so timeless.
People tend to wear more fitted clothing. They still like their skinny jeans and men will most always wear a fitter t-shirt. For example, I’d buy an XL when I am a large, but they will buy a medium when they are a large.
But they also approach style and fashion in a very sophisticated way — fashion meaning “brands” and style meaning knowing what to wear for your body and what suits you. In Paris, people go between fashion and style effortlessly.
On Californian Style
The relationship between fashion and style is newer in California. There’s a lot of enthusiasm in it but it’s also really laid back.
In California, you dress to play sports or go to the beach. There’s no street that’s your stage (unless you’re going out at night) so it’s casual. Sneakers, shorts, t-shirt and you’re good.
Photography by Shaughn and John
But LA has also always had its own style and has been quietly influencing the world with skate, surf, and music culture. When I moved here in 1995, people wore either surf-wear, goth or hip-hop clothing. Now it’s all mixed up. The skateboarder is wearing a Gucci shirt. More recently, California has been on another level with fashion.
On His French-Californian Style
As a French person coming to Southern California, I’ve learned to respect the sun. I had to learn to unlayer. Because there’s less layers to play with, you approach style differently. I approach fashion with a French philosophy as my foundation and adjust it to a California lifestyle. I still lean towards more “French” colors like black, navy blue, and dark browns but I mix it with a California silhouette, which in my opinion, is a loose, baggier fit. It feels better when it's hot to not have tight clothing clinging on.
There are a lot of obvious differences between French and California style but the one similarity is that they both are effortless. In France, “effortless” is uncomplicated, classic. In California, “effortless” is comfortable, casual. There are many ways that combining these two tastes emerge, but the result is always approachable and beautiful.