If I had to pick one look to rock for the rest of my life, it would be fashion from Paris in the late fifties/early sixties, encapsulated in the Nouvelle Vague/French New Wave films of Éric Rohmer, François Truffaut, and Jean-Luc Godard, among others. (I also adore the clothes in Hitchcock films, but I'll save that for another post.) I pick up vintage pieces from this era occasionally, and also seem to gravitate toward the silhouettes and shapes when I find them in contemporary pieces.
If I had to describe this slice of fashion, I'd speak about how it holds opposites in tension—like martial elements (for example, those Breton stripes, borrowed from the French navy) against vulnerable details like a lace chemise showing; playful, childlike elements (like schoolgirl saddle shoes or a bow in the hair) against adult details like curve-hugging trenches and dresses; and structured elements like knife-pleated skirts against softer, seemingly artless, disordered details like an unbuttoned and askew blouse or messy hair. The depth that's created by opposites held in tension is really fascinating, and while the looks always radiate youthful independence and adventure, they're held in check by pieces that firmly pin their exuberance to something classic and enduring.
Jean Seberg looking gorgeous in Breton stripes and a jaunty hat.
French New Wave muse Anna Karina, working a trench and plaid skirt (and not much at all).
J. Crew is offering some twists on French New Wave fashion right now.
When I pull inspiration from this era, I find myself reaching for light beige, closed-toe pumps with a sturdy heel, trench coats, pleated skirts, silk blouses, men's collared shirts (a white collared shirt, unbuttoned, with a killer necklace and cigarette pants is perfect for almost every occasion), long necklaces with a simple pendant at the end, tailored knee-length dresses, ballet flats and striped shirts. I'm cheered by seeing these things hit mass retail, because maybe it means that the shapeless, short dresses that have been kicking around for the last few years are finally on their way out.