6 Clothing Classics by French Designers

A man in a cowboy hat looking at a rack of suits.

Clothing classics by French designers. (Image: John Hain via Pixabay)

Justine Leconte is a French blogger who has an online channel that talks about style and beauty and clothing classics from the perspective of a French woman.

Many of her videos promote natural beauty, minimal makeup, understanding color to dress, understanding what fabrics to buy, how to wash clothes properly — with the environment in mind — as well as avoiding fast-fashion and owning less clothing that is well-made and lasts longer.

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Coco Chanel / La Marinière.
Coco Chanel / La Marinière. (Image: via Justine Leconte)

6 clothing classics by French designers  

1. La Marinière

You might know this classic blue stripey shirt from fashion shows by Jean Paul Gautier, who loved this pattern. The original was is 20 blue stripes on the torso and 14 on the sleeves. The long sleeve shirt started out as the uniform for the French National Marine.

The bright blue stripes were quite visible, so if you fell into the water, you would be easy to spot. Coco Chanel wore it while relaxing, and it became known as a classic piece for free spirits, adventurers, and artists.

Denimis one of the French clothing classics.
Denim (de Nîmes). (Image: via Justine Leconte)

2. Denim (de Nîmes)

It turns out Demin is a French word spelled phonetically (de Nîmes) meaning: de=from Nîmes=a city in the South of France.

3. The polo shirt

Mr. Lacoste was a tennis champion in the 1920s. He designed a sports shirt that was light and flexible, that you could unbutton to breathe, and also pull up the collar to avoid your neck getting sunburned.

Mr. Lacoste had the nickname Crocodile, based on how he played tennis, so that’s how the logo of a crocodile made its way onto his design. When he retired from tennis, he continued his clothing range, and his shirts were loved by polo players, so that is where this classic got the name “the polo shirt.”

4. The little black dress

In the 1850s, black was a color hard to come by and very hard to dye technically, so it was seen as a status symbol. Gabrielle Chanel was the first designer to have her innovative “little black dress” featured in Vogue in 1926.

She designed a very simple black dress that could theoretically fit any body size and fell just over the knee (Gabrielle Chanel thought knees were ugly and should be hidden). She made the black dress accessible to Parisians during this time.

The little black dress was revamped by Hubert de Givenchy and worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Forty-five years after the dress was designed, it sold for six times the amount. A testament to a classic black dress and good design.

5. Le bikini

Louis Réard invented the bikini, a two-piece swimsuit, after the second world war, but it was too controversial and wasn’t accepted until Brigette Bardot made it popular in the 1950s.

6. The pencil skirt

The pencil skirt was invented for the 1954 Autumn/Winter collection by Christian Dior. A piece that covers the knee, hugs the hips, and is high-waisted, it follows the legs and gets narrower toward the hem — there is a little cut at the back to make it easier for you to walk. Justine Leconte lets us know it’s an elegant piece and also suitable for work.

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