With her Ally McBeal skirt suits, Manhattan blow-dries, tight trousers and regulation stilettos, Brigitte Macron is certainly one of the sleekest political spouses – and yet her well-heeled look is not particularly Parisian. In fact, it feels closer to how foreigners imagine French women look than how they actually do.
Not that this is a bad thing – Macron’s seemingly rain and wind-resistant blonde bob and Cote d’Azur perma-tan ensure she photographs well, and endless column inches in France are dedicated to how she achieves both (according to Marie Claire the former comes from hairspray and plenty of extensions).
One of the reasons people even remark upon her outfits is because in Paris nobody wants to look as though they’ve tried too hard. “It’s the unspoken rule,” says Paris-based designer and boutique owner Lola Rykiel, granddaughter of fashion legend Sonia. “Never look like you’ve spent hours staring at yourself in the mirror, even if that’s exactly what you’ve been doing. It’s about casually pulling together a subtle but amazing outfit – and it’s this that foreigners are fascinated by, but perhaps also sometimes get wrong when they’re trying to look stereotypically French.”
The irony is that French women put far more effort into their appearance than any one else. But the Parisian uniform in particular is largely understated and made up of pieces like skinny jeans, well-cut coats, neck-tie blouses and expensive jumpers. All this is worn with not much obvious make-up bar a smudge of eyeliner, and hair in a messy long bob or bun. The easiest shorthand is probably Camille Cottin’s character, Andrea, in Call My Agent, who wears a roster of silk shirts, black capes, fitted jeans and heeled boots.
Like Andrea, Macron sticks to clothes that suit her – but she has never made any pretence of being effortless, and in some ways that makes her a breath of fresh air in a city obsessed with nonchalance. “I always put a lot of effort into the way I present myself: just ask my children or my students,” Macron has said in the past. Perhaps part of what appeals is how – at the age of 69 – she seems particularly comfortable in her high but walkable pumps and above-the-knee skirts. That’s French to the core.
Interestingly, for this campaign round, Macron’s style has changed slightly: her hemlines have been longer, her heels slightly lower and the colours she’s worn more muted. The result was plenty of khaki jackets and navy suits.
According to an article published in Paris Match, some of this shift is down to a group of her closest friends who suggested to her that it was time to stop dressing like a Barbie doll. Apparently what they meant was less pink and fewer minis.
I wonder if they mentioned the high-necked military jackets Brigitte Macron is also fond of – jackets that one journalist on Twitter said reminded her of the now defunct Tammy Girl store, which sold an array of shiny, box-shaped designs in the Noughties. This Noughties silhouette does of course make her particularly fashionable in 2022; fitting, really, because as First Lady of France, she is an important figurehead in a country that takes clothes very seriously (and makes over £10 billion a year from selling them). And Macron, more than anyone, knows how important her appearance is. “I’m really into fashion,” she has said. “And there is this fascination the world over with what French women wear.” French women in general, but also Macron specifically...
The Daily Telegraph