France is seen as a very chic place, with Paris Fashion Week the jewel in the industry crown.
French women have long been considered among the best dressed in the world, with fashion houses and designers keen to have their garments on French models and actors.
You may think this means that buying clothes in France is a wonderful experience – endless shops full of beautifully crafted clothes that will flatter your every curve.
Unfortunately, it is not like that. Perhaps if your new life in France is based in Paris and you have unlimited amounts of time and money, you may agree that French fashion is the best in the world and you look and feel better than you ever have.
However, if you, like the vast majority of British expats, move to a town or village somewhere in France and have to work hard for your money, you are likely to be disappointed with the clothing on offer.
StyleAs French pen pals and exchange students have long proven, clothing for average people in France is rather different to that chosen by their UK counterparts. The cut of garments is not what we are used to and French clothing tends to focus on zips, tassels and ribbons. It is also common for French clothes to be more fitted and lower cut, so be sure to try on clothes so you know you are happy with the cut.
SizeSizing is also different in France, although if you have shopped at a European clothes store in the UK you may be aware of it. Even so, because the cuts tend to be more fitted, you may find that the size you took in the UK is no longer big enough. This can be rather depressing, although the clothes sizes in the UK are underestimated in order to massage the egos of our growing waistlines. French women are rarely overweight, so the sizes are true to the measurements.
CostYou may also consider even average French clothing to be more expensive. This is more likely to be because the cost of clothing in the UK has reduced in real terms as more and more low-cost clothing shops have their garments mass-produced in Asia. In the UK we are now used to seeing t-shirts for five pounds or less, with shoes available for around twenty pounds in many shops.
This is not the case in France – here, even non-designer t-shirts are around forty euros, with average shoes costing upwards of seventy euros. Unfortunately, this does not mean that the clothes are better quality, although it is likely that they are produced under conditions that are more favourable for the workers.