Aloïs Guinut, author of Dress like a Parisian and Why French Women Wear Vintage, studied fashion at the prestigious Institut Français de la Mode. She has previously worked as a fashion trend forecaster and now runs her own personal shopping and style-coaching service. Aloïs has been featured in Le Figaro and the Observer and interviewed by BBC Radio 4. Here she tells us a little bit more about vintage shopping, the French style and her all important desert island items.
Explain the Parisian style in one punchy sentence
Timeless but fun
Why do you think vintage clothing is experiencing a revival and only growing in popularity every year?
I think in our globalised society people are looking for unique clothes and shopping experiences, both of which vintage clothes provide. In a world with limited resources, people are also looking for a way of shopping that’s sustainable. And what can be more sustainable than a garment that already has been produced and worn?
Top three tips for a first-time vintage shopper?
- Choose a curated vintage store where the clothes are organised, they are way less intimidating and worth the slightly higher prices.
- Be open to surprises!
- Why not try second hand in a quality consignment store if vintage clothes sound intimidating?
Can we shop vintage online and will this become an easier option? Where should I start looking?
Online is excellent for second hand clothes, high end vintage and jewellery. If you look for simple «cheap» vintage items like blouses or pretty dresses, you have a bunch of platforms where you can find vintage clothes too. But beware of prices that are sometimes too high on those (some influencers really go overboard when selling vintage). I love buying from vintage stores that I find on social media (Instagram mostly) and that I trust, or platforms dedicated to vintage and second hand I find using keywords.
In your book you debunk the ‘Six-month no wear, get rid of’ rule, why?
I have always found the “6 months no wear” rule did not make sense. Especially if you live in an occidental country where you have seasons. Sometimes there are clothes you just don’t want to wear «right now» but you still love and think you may wear again in the future. Today I’m wearing floral Converse I bought when I was still a student more than 10 years ago – I hadn’t worn them in at least 3 years but when I looked at them I found they were still pretty so I kept them. Yesterday I saw a woman with Converse on the street and just like that the appeal was back. Get rid of what doesn’t fit and won’t ever fit again, what doesn’t flatter you, what you feel you will never wear again, but you can keep some clothes you still love until the lust to wear them comes back.
You write a lot about French women taking pride in not always following trends, do you think the rest of the world is slowly following suit?
French women DO follow trends indeed, even if some pretend they don’t. Last year, I did a street interview for a podcast and had quite a few women telling me they did not pay attention to trends when they obviously where wearing the trendy stuff. The actual difference is that the French tend to follow the big «safe» trend movement instead of the micro trends that can be more ephemeral. For instance, the shift from skinny jeans to baggier ones has been widely followed here, but flashier trends like the Gucci or Balenciaga type sneakers have not been adopted as much as they have in other parts of the world. Also, most French women won’t ditch clothes when the trend goes away, the question they ask themselves when confronted with whether to keep something or not is: do I still like those clothes? Even since, obviously, the answer will be influenced by outside trends (aka the shift to larger jeans), they direct the question to their own likings rather to outsides rules.
Finally, what are your three desert island items of clothing?
Well I hope I would not be quarantined alone on this Island because it would make me very sad that no one is there to see my outfits! I like to dress for myself but I also to have a public to appreciate haha. I guess I could create my own little Wilson.
Since on an island I guess I would have taken sunscreen and survival gear, I am rather going to answer about the essentials. The clothes I could not do without are good fitting jeans, neutral coloured T-shirts and… jewellery to adorn the outfits!
Why French Women Wear Vintage is Aloïs’s latest book