I love American style—there’s nothing better in the world. I mean, we invented blue jeans—no one does cool like we do.
That said: I don’t object to taking style cues from other fashionable corners of the world. Like, for instance, France.
If you’re into skinny jeans, scarves, leather jackets, and a 1980s attitude toward cigarette smoking (for the record: I’m not so excited about that last one), it doesn’t get any better. And now, thanks to the miracle of the Internet, all of these brands are available chez nous, thanks to online shipping to the U.S., as well as brick-and-mortar stores in select cities (read: NYC) and availability at select retailers.
I wouldn’t say there’s a real diversity of looks, but the one the French do right—”creative office”—they get better than basically anyone on Earth.
That look is all over the French high street, but it doesn’t necessarily come cheap. The price points of this whole “high end basics” vibe, though, are very in line with the local philosophy around shopping: Buy perhaps just one or two pieces a season—but buy quality, and buy classics.
There actually is a Forever 21 in Paris—not far from the Louvre—but I’ve never seen a French person shop there. Cheap and disposable just isn’t their thing.
Here’s what to wear instead:
Wear it well: If you’re a guy who’s into his denim, you may already know of A.P.C.—we even talked about their stellar styles here—but did you know they make other clothes, too?
For the record: A.P.C. is my favorite French brand. It doesn’t come cheap, but it’s made to last, and the fits and styles are reliably durable. (Full disclosure: These are qualities that make it one my favorite purchases on eBay and at the brand’s semi-annual 50%-off-plus sample sales.) The pants and jeans have a narrow, European silhouette, but the tops generally have a more generous cut than some of the brand’s Euro equivalents—which is why I’ve focused on shirts and jackets here.
Wear it well: When I want quality, I buy Sandro. (Fact: My go-to winter coat—recently pressed into unhappy service—is Sandro.) Did I mention what a big believer I am in the idea of buy it once, wear it forever? Sandro is all basics made of absolutely top-flight fabrics and constructed to last. As for the sailor stripes: I don’t think American guys wear nearly enough sailor stripes. I acknowledge that this is a controversial position.
Surface to Air
Wear it well: Until The Kooples opens its online store (soon, they promise), my third-favorite French brand is Surface to Air. They traffic in what I like to think of as French rock ‘n’ roll, which is a bit of an impossibility but makes for some admirably attitude-driven pieces—I especially like their accessories and jackets.
What country do you find most inspirational in terms of its menswear?
If you’re traveling (to France or anywhere else!) this season, check out SG’s packing essentials.