Small Talk

WHY ARE FRENCH CHILDREN SO CHIC?

 

We asked mother of five and founder of the Net-A-Porter of childrenswear, Nathalie Genty why French children are just so chic

 

French children don’t throw food, their mums don’t get fat and they never dress badly. The first I have yet to witness (but cannot completely vouch for); the second, well, oh to be a French maman; while the third is an irrefutable fact.

At a recent store launch teeming with French children of all ages, I found myself staring at their classic coats, navy cashmere knits, well-cut jeans and stylish black boots. They sat patiently waiting for the balloon lady to make another creation while my little treasure, mouth packed with chocolate brownie, popped hers and shouted for another one. While there were enfants aplenty, none of them were terrible.

Image courtesy of Melijoe: Nathalie Genty and her daughter at home in France

In France Melijoe is the leading online fashion and lifestyle destination for discerning parents and is now shipping to the UK. I asked its founder Nathalie Genty, a mother of five, whose eye for style has led to followers from Jessica Alba to Olivia Chantecaille, for her thoughts on why they are so well behaved.

“I think it’s fair to say that there are well behaved (and more mischievous!) children everywhere you go, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why French children are perceived to be “better” behaved,” she said. “From my personal experience, I would say that French parents are not shy to enforce rules and call their children out on bad behaviour. There’s no ‘French’ way of parenting though, I think all parents all over the world do the best they can.”

One day I will find the time to emulate French discipline. Until then, I will focus on emulating their wardrobes. Here is Nathalie’s masterclass on dressing your child the French way.

 

Image: Chloe spring/summer 2018 collection available on melijoe.com

LESSON 1: A French child’s wardrobe is as important as their parent’s

“The way our children dress is just as important as our own sense of style. The art is in understatement; the French tend to keep it simple, and this is reflected in how we dress our children. There’s no real secret, but if in doubt, opt for neutral colours as they’ll be appropriate all year around, even when seasons (and tastes) change.”

 

LESSON 2: Lay the foundations

“A smart coat can dress up any outfit; a trench coat is incredibly versatile and easily layered up in the colder months, a down and feather jacket (Yves Salomon, Moncler or Stella) or a smart wool coat (Burberry) are staples for any occasion. For a touch of luxury, it’s worth investing in a good quality knit – cashmere is super-soft on the skin and can be worn from autumn through to the end of spring. Other essentials include Petit Bateau vests or T-shirts to wear under their clothes in the colder months; rain boots (Aigle), Molo or Bonpoint leggings and a pair of Stan Smiths.”

 

Image: Balmain spring/summer 2018 collection available on Melijoe.com


LESSON 3: Quality is everything

“I believe that quality is as important as design, as this is what will last; it’s definitely worth taking the time to choose clothing that is cut well, in a good fabric. As a mother of five, my kids have certainly had hand-me-downs, and I’ve loved getting outfits back out and seeing them enjoyed all over again.”

 

LESSON 4: Individuality is championed

“I really believe in mixing up styles and brands, and dressing children according to their personality. We should champion the individuality of our young ones, and play with fashion. That’s what I love and what is at the heart of Melijoe. It’s not about the money you spend, it’s all about the style. We will mix a Gucci dress with a pair of Converse. I always dress children according to their personalities and I would say my older kids have taken this approach as they start to pick out their own outfits. My favourite brands are those which keep it simple but with a little rock’n’roll edge. I love Molo – they have such cute tropical prints this spring/summer – Gucci accessories, Stella McCartney Kids, Scotch and Soda and Chloé boho pieces. Bonpoint is always a good idea for the smaller ones.”

 

Image: Chloe spring/summer 2018 collection available on Melijoe.com

 

LESSON 5: French children follow their parents’ lead not the trends

“I have five kids and they are like me, they mix-and-match brands, wearing clothes they know suit them. For example, Parisian children will wear a Gucci or Chloé dress with a Levi’s denim jacket and pair of converse. We also avoid traditionally dressing girls in pink and boys in blue – instead opting for our usual more understated style.”

 

LESSON 6: Mini-me? Mais non.

“We love to sell some mini versions of iconic pieces but matching the child’s outfit to the parents’ look is too much for Melijoe. The Parisian take on mini-me dressing is more about mixing an iconic designer piece with more comfortable, everyday items rather than a head-to-toe designer look.”

 

Image: Zadig & Voltaire spring/summer 2018 collection available on Melijoe.com

 

LESSON 7: Logos are never de rigueur

“French parents tend to avoid logos, but we like to play with colour when it comes to prints and exciting materials. Quality and fit should be well considered. When doing the buy for Melijoe, each item is selected with the greatest care in terms of the cut and material, like I would for my own children. I love the prints of Stella McCartney Kids, Molo, Little Marc Jacobs and Mini Rodini, a new brand on Melijoe, for SS18. Red and pink are a major trend this summer. Rykiel, Agnes B, Dolce & Gabbana have very strong pieces too.”


LESSON 8:
And never forget accessories

“Accessories should be playful and comfortable and are a great expression of individuality. We just received Chloé and Stella McCartney kids eyewear! They will definitely add something to a look! Also shoes are really important as they finish the look and can really make an outfit, for example swap trainers for Derbies to elevate a casual look from playschool to party!”

Image: Zadig & Voltaire spring/summer 2018 collection available at Melijoe.com

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