How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: Suit alors! Zara sews up French Vogue chic
- You won’t catch a French fashion editor wearing a bright-pink print dress
- According to Shane Watson, her mantra is no fads, no frills, and wear it forever
- Former editor-in-chief of French Vogue, Emmanuelle Alt, who perfected what’s become the Parisian Look, has designed a collection of everyday wear for Zara
There is a rule that everyone who works in fashion accepts. French fashion editors have the best style. Not fabulous. Not edgy or breathtakingly original (that’s still the Brits).
Not bold and colourful and breezy (the Danish), but those two most overused words in the fashion lexicon — effortlessly chic. Effortless because it’s based around a few key pieces; chic because those pieces are sharp, timeless classics.
You won’t catch a French fashion editor wearing a bright-pink print dress or sequin co-ords. Her mantra is no fads, no frills, wear it for ever. And now former editor-in-chief of French Vogue, Emmanuelle Alt, who perfected what’s become the Parisian Look, has designed a collection of everyday wear for Zara.
This is very good news for us: the coolest woman in France (there may be other contenders, but none who are 55 years old with her experience) joins forces with the High Street brand you can most rely on to deliver quality, at precisely the time we’re all thinking: ‘I can’t be spending money on my wardrobe unless it’s on guaranteed wear-forever clothes’.
Former editor-in-chief of French Vogue, Emmanuelle Alt, (pictured) who perfected what’s become the Parisian Look, has designed a collection of everyday wear for Zara
It’s called Into The Classics. Of course it is! And if you admired Emmanuelle Alt in the 2000s when she was probably the most photographed woman at the shows, you’d know this capsule collection contains: A pinstripe blazer! A double-breasted mannish coat! A boyfriend shirt! Some flat three-quarter boots!
Alt cracked the ‘always works’ style formula first. In her heyday she always looked different, yet she was almost always wearing one of a handful of classic pieces. One day her trousers were black denim; one day white. One day she wore a black pea coat, the next a navy, gold-button blazer.
This collection isn’t the full unedited Alt for obvious reasons: she has spared us the skinny jeans which were her signature for years — that boat has sailed — and focused on clothes that any woman can wear, whatever her age, mixing and matching them throughout the seasons.
(If you love frocks and prints and mostly wear skirts, then this is not for you.)
The Zara collection (pictured) is called Into The Classic and features a pin-stripe blazer in navy (£119, zara.com)
The best of the bunch, for me, is the pin-stripe blazer in navy (£119, zara.com). It comes in black, too, but navy is more forgiving and there’s something very glamorous about a smart mannish navy jacket worn with jeans.
Alt would probably wear hers with wide-leg wool trousers (£59.99) or cropped jeans with a slight flare (£49.99) and one of her soft, striped cotton boyfriend shirts (£49.99).
What’s satisfying about this collection is that it doesn’t stop with a few pieces of tailoring, as Alt knows that the right T-shirt and the right skinny belt and the right pair of boots are as much a part of getting your look spot on. So she’s provided everything, down to the gold hoop earrings and zirconia chains.
Next up, I’ve got a lot of time for the short double-breasted wool-blend jacket (£149), which is a peacoat by another name and would look great over a roll neck or, if you’re pushing the boat out, one of Alt’s relaxed cashmere sweaters (£149).
PARISIAN STYLE: THE RULES
- Wear shirts a size up.
- Don cropped jeans.
- A peacoat never dates.
- Try white in winter.
She would wear hers with either high-waisted straight denim jeans (£49.99) or cropped flared white jeans (£49.99) with a flat threequarter Western boot (£189) that isn’t so cowboy (this one has a regular low heel and almond toe) that you can’t wear it with everything.
White jeans in winter and spring was one of Alt’s signature looks and, if you haven’t tried it, now might be the time: peacoat plus cropped white jeans with a mid blockheel black boot (£169) is about as Parisian chic as you can get this side of the Eurostar.
There are a few coats in this collection: I like the pale khaki soft trench (£169), but even more up my street is an elegant oversized, doublebreasted, mid-calf black coat — like an extra long, extra feminine Crombie (£229). A smart coat for life.
One of the ways Alt has always switched a look from everyday to extra glamour is with footwear, and it’s a trick we’ve copied for years: take three pairs of boots and wear them to death in rotation.
This Zara collection includes that Western boot; the stretch knee boot in black or ecru that’s just the right height and looks like it’s straight off the catwalk; and a high-heeled black suede number with a thin buckled strap.
If you got the lot you’d never need to go shopping again.
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