Parisian style has arguably been pored over more than any other. The artful insouciance of French women has served as inspiration for many of us who have woken up not knowing what to wear. Of course, the truth is it all comes down to attitude - it might have taken an age to create your perfectly messy hair or to find a navy jumper that is oversized without being too big - but it should look effortless, even if it wasn't. French style is about having a uniform, and sticking to it, where understatedness and restraint are the stars of the show. It isn't the most creative of looks, but it's enviable in its timelessness and apparent ease. Here, we look at the women who have made French chic one of the most famous terms in fashion history.
It’s difficult to imagine what the fashion landscape would look like without Coco Chanel. If one of the prerequisites of French style is comfort and freedom of movement, Chanel was a pioneer, liberating women from the corseted silhouettes of old. It was she who – through both her eponymous brand and personal style – introduced a more relaxed, sporty femininity. The designer herself was a keen sportswoman (she loved sailing and horse-riding), and wanted to wear clothes she could move in, spanning trousers, slouchy breton tops and fisherman knits. Just one look at this picture of her taken in 1930 in a timelessly elegant ensemble proves how ahead of the game she was.