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sartorial season: that french countryside look [lifestyle]

a fall aesthetic for you

There is no showcase for one’s carefully crafted aesthetic quite like the fall season. Fall is when the nice little leaves fall off the nice little trees and we all get to wear our nice little outfits before giving in to the sludge of winter. With that in mind, I’m dedicating these next few articles to you, dear reader, to give some pointers for dressing this fall.

The basis of this look is both linked to cosmopolitan France and the rich tapestries of the French countryside (less gloomy than the English Moors—try pretending you’re in a Cézanne). If French city-fashion is a Parisian intellectual—drooping cigarette, roped shoulder double breasted suits, sadness—then the French countryside look is if that Parisian intellectual had a penchant for clothes that weigh more than a small child. Combine the classic items of French style but add a heritage twist to it. Put yourself in the scenery of it all; the ochre of the fields—rose red, deep river blue. This is the look for riding an old bicycle while carrying an even older book in your jacket pocket. Old clothes, old things, warm tones, and warm coffee. This is the look for writing poetry while eating an unhealthy number of cheeses and pastries.


On the clothing front, use natural colors to create unified and textured looks. Instead of a crewneck, throw on a jewel tone sweater vest or a cable-knit turtleneck. Instead of a navy blazer, throw on a wide herringbone suit and your favorite pair of boots. The clothes should be functional, warm, and have giant pockets to carry all your things. I, for one, don’t even carry a bag to class anymore—I picked up an Italian habit of just shoving my books (and sandwiches and groceries and receipts) into my blazer and coat pockets. You would also be remiss to forget the classic chore coat, the most famous garb to come from the French countryside. These are great for more casual looks and layer well over sweaters and even crew-neck shirts (go for a breton shirt for the full French experience). For outerwear when the weather really turns, go for loose fitting, unstructured coats with raglan sleeves. A double-breasted coat in this style with a belt is a great look—my preferred look in Italy. And, while partly off-theme, I can never not recommend a double-breasted camel hair polo coat which goes with everything (and even a tuxedo if you have enough panache). 

For pants I would go wide, wide, wide. It’s not only trendy (although this should never be the deciding factor in your purchases), but also very comfy and flattering. Go for high-waisted numbers in corduroy, moleskin, hardy work fabrics, and light wash denim for a more citifed air. Gray flannel trousers are also to be considered as they go with literally everything and—most importantly—are very soft. Rakishly patterned tweed pants can also fill a fun role (big sweater, big pattern, big heart) but can be difficult to match. As a general tip, make sure the patterns are of different scales. 

Shoes should be thick and hardy to match the overall landscape we’re aiming for. Think double soled shoes, work boots, rain and riding boots, plain toe derbies, and longwing brogues. A great shoe to bridge the gap in the formality spectrum of this aesthetic is the Norwegian split toe derby, which is sleek enough for casual suits but also chunky enough for casual wear. Loafers can work here but avoid anything a little too modern, so no black tassel loafers or Oxfords. A good workaround for those of you who worship black shoes is black derbies that are sleek enough to almost appear as a boot. I have no actual name for these so I’m calling them “fancy lad shoes.” 

Closing with accessories, you can’t go wrong with fun scarves in brighter colors, tweed caps (be careful or you’ll look like you run an independent brewery and use Bluetooth headsets), and ties in wool and cashmere.

I hope with this guide you can get a good start to your fall aesthetic instead of scrounging last minute for the sweater, joggers, and gray and white sneaker fit that everybody and their mother is wearing. Some final tips for the road: start drinking espresso, get concerningly into red wine, watch the complete filmography of Robert Bresson without subtitles, and actually do something about that situationship. Now go out there and bring Provence to Providence. 



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