THE FIRST LADY OF FRANCE doesn’t care much for titles. In fact, as she told Vogue, “I don’t feel like a First Lady. That’s the translation of an American expression, and I don’t like anything about it,” she explained. “I don’t feel like the first or the last, or a lady. I am Brigitte Macron!” Gotta respect that, and although her wardrobe is filled with Louis Vuitton, Balmain and Dior, she doesn’t have the need to hashtag what she’s wearing. We’ll forgive her her terrific legs (what, us envious?). We admire her confidence and style. So, let’s talk about that: She may have lessons for the rest of us.
JANET: That cornflower blue Louis Vuitton skirt suit (see above) she wore to her husband’s inaugural was the first time a lot of us spotted those toned gams. The woman understands her assets and spotlights them, age be damned. That color works well for blondes but it’s also a fave of mine, whose coloring is nothing like hers.
NANCY: They do say the legs are the last thing to go! A friend of mine, in Macron’s age cohort, thinks Macron, 64, wears her skirts too short for her age. Maybe. But if I had a pair like that, everyone would know it! Honestly, it’s a handsome suit, quite severe and military in construction—it might look dowdy if the skirt were longer. What with this suit and the Ralph Lauren number Melania Trump wore to the American inauguration, I’m hoping to see more of this soft, flattering blue.
KATHY: As a matter of fact, do an image search of Macron and you’ll see her in that same blue a number of times. She’s chosen it for jackets, sweaters and shirts. And why not? It’s so pretty and feminine. But she clearly shies away from frou-frou so the blue never looks too-too.
NANCY: Here’s that jacket again, this time in white. There’s a lesson here for all of us: Go with what works for you. Here’s a woman who is being photographed on an almost daily basis, but she’s not afraid to repeat a style she likes. Most of us can’t afford the exquisite tailoring of Vuitton, but we can adapt the idea.
JANET: The structured, double-breasted military-style jacket is a classic and flatters her petite frame. The bright white hue lights up her face and is an elegant contrast to her husband’s navy blue jacket and tie. Note well: a good strategy for political photo opps and, note to self, family portraits. Remember how well the Obamas coordinated?
KATHY: And no obvious jewelry. A woman after my own heart. It’s just too much trouble to put on a bunch of beads and bracelets. Of course, if we were talking about diamonds and gold I might feel differently. The eye goes to the clean lines and precise tailoring with no baubles fighting for attention.
JANET: To meet pop star Rihanna, Macron dons a white jacket with silver buttons again, but this time it’s single-breasted, boxy and with three-quarter sleeves. To offset the masculine look of the jacket, she pairs it with faded blue skinny jeans and coordinating suede stilettos. A first lady in jeans? Yes, if you’re Brigitte Macron.
NANCY: Yes, but I think a lot of us have realized that jeans look cool and tailored when worn with a cool jacket and heels (but oh, my aching instep, I couldn’t do those!). And it makes sense that someone promoting the French style industry would show ways of making traditional fashion modern.
KATHY: The jacket is wonderful. I’d love to have it myself. And pairing it with jeans is cool, but I just have to get this off my chest. I don’t think skinny jeans look good on anyone, and in Macron’s case they emphasize how truly tiny her legs are. And not in a good way. She looks like a toothpick. Plus, I dislike the way skinny jeans wrinkle behind the knees and bunch at the top of the thighs. So, shoot me.
NANCY: Well, I can’t in good conscience disagree. . . .
JANET: If anyone can wear skinny jeans, it’s Macron. I don’t mind the wrinkles.
JANET: The 47-year-old Melania Trump in a stunning but demure red Christian Dior skirt suit and matching red pumps looks prim and textbook-proper (dare I say dowdy?) next to France’s first lady, almost two decades her senior, in a mod-inspired, zippered short shift by Louis Vuitton and blue suede heels.
NANCY: Trump’s people made sure she paid homage to one of France’s historic design houses, but Macron eclipsed that look, I think, with a dress that owed a lot to 1960s Courrèges. I think any modern woman of a certain age could wear the white Vuitton number, perhaps a little longer in the skirt. The sleeves wouldn’t have to be that short either, but part of what makes the look so young and fresh is that they don’t reach all the way to the wrist. Something to think about. And with only white above, you don’t have to (or want to) get match-matchy with bag or shoes.
JANET: I would have been tempted to go for a more neutral pair of pumps, but that would have been the much more conservative choice.
KATHY: This dress just looks so easy. Again, what appeals to me about Macron’s choices is the simplicity. Her clothes actually look like they are comfortable to wear.
JANET: But not those skinny pants, right??
JANET: Macron favors sharp, sculptural pieces, such as this shoulder-padded Alexandre Vauthier blazer. She’s a poster girl for French style in her blazers, above-the-knee skirts and dresses and jeans—a power wardrobe that supports the French fashion industry and has led to what WWD calls “Brigitte Mania.”
NANCY: I think we all know this, but this military-style jacket again showcases the power of tailoring—the nipped-in waist, the vertical march of brass buttons, these things give a woman a lot to work with, making anyone look as if she’s standing tall! And look at the sleeves: The jacket is not as trad as it appears at first blush, not with those sleeves drifting all the way down to her knuckles. And what’s she wearing underneath? Who cares? The red jacket gets all the eyeballs; the shirt and pants are just the backdrop. (That’s another lesson we keep learning: Spend on the one piece that will make staples fade into the background. The Vauthier blazer is still available, in black, on sale for $1,368 at farfetch.com.)
KATHY: I’m getting out my credit card. Black works too. Although the red is a smashing splash of color, and blonds do look swell in red. Plus I’m a huge fan of shoulder pads. This jacket would look wonderful with jeans too. Just not skinny ones.
JANET: The wide-cut shoulders of this color-block tunic give Macron a strong silhouette that contrasts with her slender legs. She understands the power of details, her wide silver cuff and earrings echoing the clasp on her tunic.
NANCY: This is my least favorite of Macron’s looks. I like the idea of the color-blocking, a look any of us could adapt (perhaps with the aid of a tailor); it harks back to my Courrèges and Mary Quant days. And I know it’s incredibly chic. But it somehow makes me nervous, like you have to have real savoir faire to pull it off. Of course, Macron has that in spades, but I don’t know that it would translate for me.
KATHY: I bow to Nancy on most things fashion, but on this tunic we disagree. It’s one of my favorites. A departure from her military look that’s all sleek and smart. I like the drama of the geometry, the planes and angles. And she wears it with such ease.
JANET: It’s still tailored but it’s softer and works for evening with just the addition of simple jewelry. —My Little Bird staff