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A Fashion Girl's Guide to Speaking French

Because having a wide vocabulary is très chic.
A Fashion Girl's Guide to Speaking French Because having a wide vocabulary is très chic.

Hello, fashion girls—ugh, we mean, bonjour! It's a well-known fact that Paris is the fashion capital of the world and the city of love (read: love for clothes, bags, shoes, and all things fashion). It has been the lieu de naissance of excellent fashion houses—institutions, for that matter—where fine RTW and couture pieces are crafted to perfection. As an effect of such strong heritage and culture, a lot of common fashion terms used almost everywhere around the world are in French.

Herewith, a crash course on these de rigueur terms:

Atelier

-workshop or studio

How to use it in a sentence: "Karl Lagerfeld presented the Chanel F/W 2016 couture collection in an atelier setting with the skilled seamstresses at work in the background."

Couturier

-fashion designer

How to use it in a sentence: "If you want to be a successful couturier, you should consider going to a fashion school."

À la mode

-in fashion

How to use it in a sentence: "Well, it seems like off-the-shoulder tops are still à la mode!"

Haute couture

-handmade or custom-made clothing 

How to use it in a sentence: "It was amazing seeing every little detail of all the haute couture clothing at the Lanvin exhibit in Paris!"

ILLUSTRATION Gab Gutierrez

Les vêtements

-clothing

How to use it in a sentence: "Shopping for vêtements is probably the ultimate stress reliever."

Avant garde

-experimental; unusual; unconventional

How to use it in a sentence: "John Galliano's avante garde designs for Dior gave an eccentric edge to the legendary fashion house."

Les saisons 

Seasons (Because you can't refer to your favorite designs without knowing which collection it came from!)

  • Le printemps: spring
  • L'été: summer
  • L'automne: fall
  • L'hiver: winter

Je ne sais quoi

-Google this phrase and you'll see the definition: "a quality that cannot be described or named easily." Yup, this is why we envy French girls—they have a certain kind of cool!

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How to use it in a sentence: "Most will agree that Jane Birkin is an underrated It girl with je ne sais quoi."

ILLUSTRATION Gab Gutierrez

Trompe l'oeil

-This literally means "trick of the eye." In fashion, it is used to describe items with seemingly real designs.

How to use it in a sentence: "Have you seen Gucci's trompe l'oeil dresses? I thought those sequined bows were real!"

De rigueur

-required in order to be fashionable

How to use it in a sentence: "Iris Apfel is living proof that a good sense of style will always be de rigueur. No one likes a clothing horse!"

Pièce de résistance

-the most remarkable feature 

How to use it in a sentence: "The pièce de résistance of her effortlessly cool outfit are clearly those killer white sneakers."

Très jolie

-a common French phrase meaning “very pretty”

How to use it in a sentence: "Elie Saab’s latest kids’ collection was très jolie!"

Got all that? Now go brush up on your français. Bonne journée! 

Gifs and illustrations by Gab Gutierrez

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