10 Rules For Grown-Up Style, From A French Stylist

As a self-proclaimed ‘image consultant’, Vanessa Clavier knows a thing or two about good style. Here, she shares her best fashion advice – from the brands worth knowing to the ways to make your wardrobe work hard for you, here are the rules she lives by…
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There’s no need to define your style. Personally, I never wanted to pigeonhole my own style –  instead, I see how I feel in the moment and trust my instincts. Most of my inspiration comes from the 70s – men and women like Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg for example – the ‘less is more’ attitude is very me. Remember, style is about more than just the clothes you wear – it’s a way of life.

Try to avoid impulse purchases. If you’re feeling uninspired by your wardrobe, instead of buying five new things, reassess what you already have, what you love and decide what you want to introduce. Building a great wardrobe isn’t about succumbing to the trends of the moment – it’s about making purchases that you’ve thought through and reflected on properly.

On that note, don’t be a slave to trends. I don’t buy into all of them; instead, find a couple of strong accessories, like a bag or a shoe, which will keep your outfits looking contemporary, yet still feel authentic to your personal style. For example, I’m loving platform boots right now. They’re very easy to style with pieces I already own, but they also put an on-trend twist on most of my outfits.

A combination of the masculine and feminine always makes me feel powerful.

Have a couple of fail-safe outfits you feel great in. We all have those days when we feel like we don’t know what to wear but having a couple of looks  in the back of your mind will ensure you can pull something together at the last minute. For me, that’s usually a masculine suit mixed with some feminine pieces, or great jeans, a tee and a blazer with some chunky jewellery and killer heels. I hate feeling too ‘dressed up’ and a combination of the masculine and feminine always makes me feel powerful. Find out what works for you and make those outfits your go-to on those ‘off’ days.

Invest in the foundations of your wardrobe. Ensuring your staple pieces are good quality and fit well will make your outfits feel more current. These are things like a trench coat, a long wool coat, boots and trainers, as well as cashmere jumpers in either fine or chunky knits. Max Mara, AMI, Acne Studios and Celine all have good options, and you can’t beat a pair of Converse when it comes to trainers. Gucci is another of my favourite brands for grown-up chic, but trust me when I say their children’s collection is worth a look – you can often find a good bag for a fraction of the price. Of course, I love the high street, too: I have pieces from Zara, H&M and Mango which I mix with my investment pieces.


A good bag will make any outfit look cooler. I love Celine – both for the quality and their look –both understated and statement, I usually find myself coming back to them year after year. You don’t have to spend a fortune, though – I love a basket bag – they’re perfect for giving a smarter outfit a more relaxed and quirky feel.

Jewellery is as important as your clothes. The devil really is in the details, so a necklace here and a ring there can make all the difference to your look. The pieces I wear most are long necklaces, both chunky and fine, and earrings. I love using jewellery to enhance a simple white tee and jeans combo, and also to reflect my mood – a good statement piece can be such a gamechanger.

Invest in the foundations of your wardrobe. Ensuring your staple pieces are good quality and fit well will make your outfits feel more current.

Trial and error is the only way to find the perfect jeans. I wear denim a lot, but it’s taken me a long time to know what I like and what suits me. Don’t be restricted by preconceived ideas of what you ‘should’ be wearing jeans-wise, just find something that flatters you. My favourite is a straight leg, in either a 7/8 or long length, with a mid-wash and preferably without stretch. Mother is a brand I wear a lot and I also love Celine’s denim range – it’s quite retro-inspired yet still timeless.

Looking chic during the winter comes down to great accessories. While a good coat is a must (like a camel wool style or parka) cool footwear and maybe a hat, like a cap or a beanie, can pull everything together. I’m quite into knee high boots at the moment. They make dresses and skirts a little more winter-appropriate, but also look cool tucked into jeans.

The one piece of style advice everyone should follow is trust your gut. Be yourself and have fun with fashion. The secret to French girl style is not over-thinking it – I just know when something doesn’t feel like ‘me’. There’s no need to limit yourself – wear what makes you feel good.

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