Jeanne Damas is the Epitome of “French Girl Cool”

As is her clothing line Rouje


American women always talk about French women as if they are mythical, but the more I think about what differentiates us, the more I feel like the American pursuit is born entirely out of a frustration with our own relationship to beauty and style. It seems like we are much harder on ourselves about that which constitutes being beautiful than the French are. We seek effortlessness but make a big deal out of finding it. We almost always want to appear casual, like we’ve just thrown ourselves together, but are profoundly formal about constructing this persona. Jeanne Damas — French actress, prolific Instagram poster and newly-minted fashion designer — agrees. When I asked her why she thinks American girls are always trying to emulate French girls, she quipped quickly, “It’s due to the beauty of Paris and our natural Parisian style.”

Jeanne Damas Rouge May 2017 Man Repeller1.0 (4 of 10)

Rouje Yves Blouse, Levi’s jeans, Saint Laurent shoes, Dragon handbag



There really is an air of unaffected instinct (she calls espadrilles her foolproof styling trick — espadrilles!) about the way she dresses.

She knows exactly what suits her and does not deviate from that. Her clothing line, Rouje, seems to reflect this ethos with a limited supply of silhouettes (do you really need more than a single dress, top or pant style if you know they look good on you?) rendered in manifold prints. “I wanted to create my perfect wardrobe every season,”  she said of launching last summer, citing the Gabin dress and all of the denim as her favorite pieces from the collection.

Jeanne Damas Rouge May 2017 Man Repeller1.0 (15 of 18)

Rouje Gabin dress, Castañer espadrilles, Dragon handbag

But a perfect wardrobe does not distinguish day clothes from night clothes; on the key difference between how Americans dress and the way the French do, “The American girl is casual during the day and sophisticated at night. The French girl dresses for both, day and night.” The three key things she thinks every woman should own are a wrap dress, a men’s cashmere sweater and a pair of boots.

But what does this mean for a woman’s beauty routine? “I only wear red lipstick, every day nothing else,” Damas said. “MAC’s Russian Red or Ruby Woo.” When prodded about the other products she uses (Nuxe moisturizer and Leonor Greyl shampoo exclusively), she pointed towards the bags under my eyes and said, “I love those,” as if they were genuinely designer. “It is so cute, the blue patches under the eye, I wish I had them.” I told her I’d be happy to give them to her and she seemed eager to take them, which is when I realized I’ve had it wrong all this time.

Jeanne Damas Rouge May 2017 Man Repeller1.0 (8 of 18)

Rouje Lucien top, vintage blazer, Levi’s jeans, Vanessa Seward shoes and handbag

The mythical beauty of being French has very little to do with the effort you put in, or the casual outcome you put out — what makes us (me?) so different is resistance. Resisting what is natural — the bags under my eyes, the lines on my forehead — and trying to eradicate it.

Which leads me to this question: Is it possible that all it takes to be more French is to stop giving a fuck? It’s worth a try.

Photos by Edith Young. 

Get more Fashion ?
  • Hilary

    Cue me going all gooey-heart-eyes anytime there’s a Jeanne Damas feature on any website. She’s just so cool.

    Also, love everything you wrote here, Leandra!

  • Buying everything from Rouje immediately. What I love about French style is that women find ways to flatter their figures in non-obvious ways. A slightly-too-short jean, a loose shirt, wrinkles, a vintage t-shirt…it all exudes confidence and sexiness from the inside out, rather than outside in.

    • Cristina

      That is so true. They probably get a good laugh out of America and our waist trainers and spanx. Don’t change your body to fit your clothes, wear clothes that fit your body!

  • Cynthia Schoonover

    I’ve always worn styles which suit me. If something works for me, I have it in several colors. Great post which encourages everyone to be themselves.

  • Isabella

    “We almost always want to appear casual, like we’ve just thrown ourselves together, but are profoundly formal about constructing this persona.”
    OKAY just drag me

  • Megan

    I love how French Girl Style remains so authentic and genuine even despite being sort of a huge cliche. Also, I have major dark circles and it was only when I realised that I found them attractive on other people that I stopped being quite so self-conscious about it.

    • Cristina

      They’re also so timeless and classic. Not so into trendy like America. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a French woman in a latex bodycon dress ala Kim K. And if I did, I would be like what is she wearing?! lol

      • Cecilia

        Haha, this simply means you’ve never been to France…

        As a born and raised in Paris girl, I also think it is sad for all form of media to classify french girls as “white parisian je ne sais quoi ladies” since :
        a) I’m black and no matter how parisian I am, I’ll never be referred to as “the Parisian” without any addendum. (Not everyone in Paris is white but I guess it has to remain a secret)
        b) there are a lot a big cities in France but the problem is that the main way people living outside Paris are shown is stupid, ennoying and loud (check TV shows like “Les Marsellais à Miami” or “Les Ch’tis à Mykonos” – yes they’re french)
        c) seriously there are a lot of girls that use too much make up, wear see-through leggings as pants and are classless… like everywhere I guess
        d)a lot of people is trying to get trendy af wearing the exact same piece from h&m copying that outfit they saw on Instagram (eh, what do you want, globalisation made the job) (I work at h&m, this is just my insider viewpoint given the number of girls coming to me looking for a piece they saw online)

        I have to agree that in general you’ll see more natural and simple women that in other countries of Europe but come on, this simplicity is beyond the frenchness. In a lot of small villages I saw (mostly in Italia tbh) women were all so elegant, simple and beautiful wearing a wrap dress, espadrilles and lipsticks. Jeanne Damas didn’t create what she praises, she’s just selling the european-mediterranean culture.

        I’m not against Jeanne Damas, I do love her style and she seems really nice but SHE’S the trend now. It’s true I’ve never seen that much “jane birkin basket” or espadrilles that after she made them her go-to basics.

        I often wonder how will evolve the brand (and therefore her public image), are they gonna bet and stay still on the effortless chic ? After creating your basic wardrobe at one time you realise you have all that suits you, how do you reinvent yourself ?

        I’m really looking forward to the following collections since I feel like similar shapes have already been used for different collections (ex : Blouse Leon and BlouseYasmine/ Veste Isabelle and Veste Marius)


        • Maria

          I have seen both black and white women in France and they were equally chic in my opinion..
          I live in Italy and honestly I think that the french style is a real thing…maybe if you live there it’s not something new for you or you don’t have the same perception like that of a stranger
          Also the most maked up girl were less and less trashy as some girls it’s common to see here in Italy

          Seriously…I’m talking about super mini skirt and thigh highs, dark lipstick, exaggerated
          eyebrows…super high heels..I have never seen something like this in France, even if there are different elegance levels in France, there are some uber-chic women and less elegant ones, but every french girl or women always have some cute style detail
          but I supposed it’s also due to the fact that french brands are often very chic and cute, so it’s easy to be chic in France

          • Maria

            *less trashy than

  • Cristina

    I wouldn’t say I looove my dark circles. But, I don’t hate them. I tried caking makeup on and doing a full face to mask them, but it doesn’t. I recently started using Glossier Concealer (not a plug, just an actual user) and I love the way it just, brightens them. But you can still see them. And I feel like myself. I think just not giving a f**k is a great way to think about it. I feel like even our version of NGAF requires a lot of work. Perfectly tousled hair to look like we just woke up. Jeans that cost wayyyy toooo much money to look like we’ve lived in them for years. That whole Coachella hipster vintage Insta-vibe making it look like you are wearing all your moms old stuff but really that belt cost $200. It’s a lot of work. I vow to stop GAF starting next week. Haha.

    • Kayla Sweeney

      I totally agree re: Glossier concealer!

  • Molly D

    When I succumb to the stress that I need more more more to look and feel good I’m not kidding I think of Jeanne. For me, success with less > less stress. This applies to like 2398346 other things in life too which the French consistently house. I plan to wear my Rouje dress pretty much every single day this summer.

  • Lou

    This article is weirdly fawning. I love Rouje, have bought stuff from there and it’s great quality and chic as all hell. But Jeanne Damas doesn’t have a trace of “natural” bags under her eyes, lines on her forehead, etc etc. But she–just by virtue of being French–is an example of how to embrace our own imperfections? It’s bizarre.

    • Kattigans

      Since you’ve ordered from Rouje, could you give some context around sizing for what you’ve ordered? I’m 5’10” usually a 24 or 25 in jeans (sometimes a 26 depending on brand like Frame denim). For tops I’m an xs/small depending on style and desired fit. They say on their site their model is 5’6″ and so I’m just trying to gauge if their skirts/short dresses would be crazy short on me.

      • eizhowa

        Don’t they have a size chart per item that describes the length of each skirt/dress?

        • Kattigans

          I only saw a size conversion chart, but not a real break down of measurements. Just 36 means 2 in American sizing, etc. They do have stats on the model but only her height and what size she’s wearing.

          • kim

            If you go to the individual item page there’s a link “Size guide” underneath where you select the item size. When you click on it you get a general size chart and if you scroll down a little bit (as the image is large) you will get the actual measurements of the item.

    • Rachel

      I find more and more that the main qualification for posessing that imperfect-perfect effortless french girl thing is to already be thin, white, and have good skin. Which is to say, it’s basically very tantalizing bullshit.

  • Mya Patel

    dammit. she makes it sound so easy. my need to be flawlessly effortlessly casual is one huge ass oxymoron seemingly. crap.

  • kaitlin davis

    I had a dream about wearing a pinstripe suit jacket/blazer with jeans and here it is!

  • Amelia

    I do really like her. But not because she’s French. Just because I think she’s cool and has amazing style.

  • gracesface

    will we be getting an update on laura the french girl anytime soon?

  • Pandora Sykes

    I kind of wonder if its a European thing, because I also love your eye bags and British people also have such a sporadic/rare relationship with mascara

    • Pandora Sykes

      Also, tho, I have a rule, called: What Would Clemence Do? After Clemence Poesy. It informs every blazer-buying decision

      • Elizabeth Tamkin

        That is fantastic

    • People in Berlin don’t know what mascara is

    • Hannak

      I actually had the impression that British ladies tend to wear pretty heavy make-up? In comparison to German girls anyway, maybe it depends who you compare them to… I definitely agree with Clairette about mascara-free Berlin!

      • Pandora Sykes

        Well, not in my experience – but I can’t speak for my entire nation!

      • p’lay

        in all nordic countries they tend to not wear so much makeup and honestly I think that nordic women have generally strong and at the same time ethereal features, such as saturated blue or green eyes, natural blonde hair, freckles, regular features, delicate skin… they don’t need so much make up in my opinion

  • me

    I want to be French: not just because the girls look so casually cool, but because their country just elected a leader who inspires hope vice perpetuates fear.

    ~Vive la France

  • Kattigans

    Espadriles are chic as hell (and now officially in my shopping cart)! I’m so happy for this piece bc it really reminds me so much of the staples that my Spanish stepmother would wear year round and dress in. Classic looking jeans, espadrilles in spring/summer months, and great tailored blouses. She also was a huge advocate for a mens style cashmere sweater.

  • am4

    How often is someone glorified as an ‘effortlessly’ cool and beautiful French Girl that isn’t conventionally attractive, e.g. thin, white, with perfect skin? Look at Clemence Poesy, Caroline de Maigret, Vanessa Paradis, Jane Birkin, Audrey Tautou, Jeanne Damas, Emanuelle Alt, etc. It’s pretty easy for Jeanne Damas to say that she thinks eyebags are ‘cute’ when she doesn’t have them…

    • Kattigans

      Upvote x100

    • eizhowa

      Look at some of her videos at Youtube and you will see that she most definitely have them, at least sometimes.

    • sin_plomo

      While I wholeheartedly agree, Jane Birkin is English.

      • Alexa M

        Good point, although she’s pretty frequently referred to as being a French Girl

  • M. Catastrophe

    Am I the only one tired with the whole French girl thing? Dont get me wrong, im half French myself – Spanish the other half. But I think that selling espadrilles at 100 € defies the whole concept of a laidback style. it is a typically Mediterranean shoe (not even exclusively French) to work in the countryside. I swear the most beautiful and authentic ones I own were about 7 € in a street market of Madrid. This is like taking a vague idea of Frenchness and making a cartoon out of it (pretty much as transforming pain perdu into French toasts). americans, stop calling French anything remotely alluring even if its connections with the real France are non existent!
    Ah, i do love jeanne and her style, but for reasons other than her being French. How chauvinistic would that be from me?

    • Kattigans

      I agree! My stepmother is from Madrid and the way she dresses is a lot like this. Really think this style and attitude represents a lot of what’s common for Mediterranean/Southern euro women. Most young girls I know in Spain only really wear lipstick and maybe mascara. They are much more put together in their every day dress. Just look nice and clean on a daily basis. Their casual and night time looks aren’t too different than each other unless they go to a club. Euro culture especially in bigger cities is much more centered around looking put together in a way that most Americans don’t practice. It’s really fascinating to me.

    • chris

      Yes!! Thanks for saying it. I’ve traveled to several different countries where I’ve seen some of the most incredible effortless style that wasn’t draped on a tall, thin, white woman. It would be nice to see features on women from the likes of Istanbul, Mexico City, Cape Town, Seoul, Lima, Manila, etc. Too much beauty and diversity in this world to be perpetually hung up on “the effortless French girl.”

      • Senka

        Have been to Tstanbul many times in last couple of years, and yes, there are plenty of beautiful fashionable women there. But those who are into fashion, unfortunately or not, pretty much fit the “thin white woman” trope. Take Ece Sukan or Ceylan Atinc as example. I say unfortunately because I’d like to see a bit more diversity too. There are plenty of hipster neighborhoods with artistic dressers though.
        Hijab is getting more popular among younger girs too, I’d say every year, which I guess is a cultural shift, but it’s cool to see some creative solutions in that type of fashion too.

      • eizhowa

        Depending on where you are from, Jeanne would not be considered “white”. She is very exotic seen from my corner of the world.

        • Senka

          Am I rude if I ask which corner of the world? I ask, because I was born and raised in south eastern Europe and have always considered my self white. I do have some mediterranean admixture going on, but most those around me here are quite white/light brunette etc. My ex boyfriend, a Jewish American (he didn’t think of himself as white either but simply Jewish) informed me that in US I would probably not be considered white, because I’m balkan, and not just me with dark brown hair, brows, eyes, but even my blonde Slavic compatriots. I don’t exactly get that, since we are, and so is Jeanne, most definitely Caucasian, should one check genetic researh.

          • Ivana Ivanova

            Do you live in Eastern Europe now? I live in the US but I’m from Bulgaria, and in the context of being an immigrant, I don’t really feel “white” (although I am). I don’t really fit in with Anglo-Saxon American culture, and being an immigrant in the US is conflated with being non-white, so I don’t feel entirely “white”. That being said, I am white (although I do get asked where I’m from, so I guess I probably have some “ethnic” features, which honestly makes me so uncomfortable) and I speak English well, so I definitely benefit from that. The point is, race is very complicated and fluid, so I understand what your bf meant. However, I really don’t see how Jeanne could be not white.

          • Senka

            Yes, born, raised and still live in Bosnia. I guess being Balkan is a thing of it’s own. A coworker and a friend of mine recently married a Bulgarian, and the culture seems pretty similar. Language, although different is perfectly understandable to anyone speaking Serbocroatian. Like you said, whiteness in US has to do with being of Anglo-Saxon or Germanic descent, whereas here it’s more about simply being caucasian. Culturaly Balkan is a world of it’s own, and I guess to Americans we are a bit different. From our love and connection to our parents and family ties in general, to our food and our love for it, to the fact that some of us look a bit more ethnic.

          • Uki Kumiko

            The corner of the world is Argentina (Southamerica, some of you wouldn’t know)!

          • eizhowa

            +Senka Sorry for the very late reply – I still can’t fully make sense of Disqus.

            I am scandinavian 🙂 80% in my country are blue-eyed and absolutely none of us (who have lived here for centuries) have olive skin. I could tan and tan and I could never get Jeannes skin color without faking it 🙁

            I guess I put “white” in bracets, because I know she would be classified as caucasian, but she is far from as white as the whites I know and grew up with.

          • Senka

            I get that. I have some Finnish and Swedish friends, and they really are diferent kind of pale. 🙂
            Bosnia, where I am from, similar to it’s neighboring countries is strange in that sense, because even though there isn’t so much genetic diversity, there is quite a bit of hair/eyes color and even hair texture diversity here.

        • Michelle

          Jeanne looks exotic to me. I’m first generation Australian and my family are Danish. In my family we are blonde headed with blue eyes. Dark hair/ eyes and tanned skin is exotic in my world 🙂

    • Ana Dengucho

      As a Portuguese-Spanish girl who has lived her entire life in southern Europe (portugal, spain and currently italy) there’s actually nothing uniquely french about her. She dresses exactly like my grandmothers, my mother, my aunts, my friends and even myself. What differentiates her style is that she is able to afford incredibly expensive brands that are inspired by traditional ways of dressing and reap different folklore elements of south European culture, elevating them to something aspirational, and marketable.
      Frankly, this is a bit disconcerting, considering that not all French women dress alike and this notion is encapsulating them into a white-upper class-caviar gauche bubble, that does not represent well the diversity within french culture.

      • Alice

        I’m really happy there’s not mystical portuguese girls for me to compare myself too. That makes being short and not super thin a bit easier.

        • Ana Dengucho

          Yes! 5ft girl here!

          • Alice

            I’m barely over 5ft! Hello fellow shorty!

      • Bea

        I am from Madrid and I agree 100% with your comment.

      • It’s somewhat the same in the UK, around the world there is this whole fair maiden in punk clothes concept but there have been so many trends come and go on the ground it is hilarious.

    • Pandora Sykes

      I see what you mean about commodification of culture – it isn’t chauvinism, though.

  • Néo Bourgeois — Montecito

    She’s okay looking, kinda has that broke Romainville girl thing going on, prefer Lou Doillon’s style in fact, its off beat, irregular yet totally top shelf and refined, I mean her mom is Jane Birkin, of course I’m right. Jane Birkin is the archetypal style of all French ladies.

    • SlavicSalsa

      You’re right about Jane Birkin, which is why I always find it so amusing that she’s not even French.

  • Kay Nguyen

    I love French Girl style is much! It’s effortless yet so elegant, it’s truly a classic <3

  • I think that the key to “effortless” French style is just finding a uniform and sticking to it. When you know what you feel good in, what you feel comfortable in, and don’t have to think about it, THAT is the feeling that translates to being chic. I am French/American (grew up in the States but my family is from Paris) and my aunt essentially just picks one outfit for the week and re-wears it several days in a row and she looks like a classic, chic Parisian woman.

  • Senka

    It’s not just French girl thing, I’d say it’s French people thing. One thing I notice about Parisians, from ladies in their seventies to the infants barely walking, is that they dress in clothes that are timeless and at least look like they are well made and good quality. Cut and fit matters. So does the fabric. I remember seeing moms with small children in real little tweed jackets and corduroy pants, in beiges and grays. They learn to dress and appreciate clothes from young age. Also, it’s hard to generalize, but especially among middle class urban people it looks like the “less is more” phylosophy works for them. A great quality coat in good fabric will work and look amazing for years. I noticed women wearing clothes that fit them really well, and looked amazing, that was impossible to put into a particular year or even decade, and that’s what I loved.

  • JBrags

    Of course all the Americans are quick to jump on dissing the French girl. They’ll find any reason to if she’s not American.

  • Adèle Hubin

    OK s

  • Leandra, I think you already are the Frenchiest American here 🙂
    First you do know _some_ French !
    Second, you don’t wear make-up (please don’t change that) which already makes you appear effortless next to over doneAmericans !
    Third, you’re company is called Man Reppeler. How more ‘not giving a fuck’ can you be ??? !

  • Jennifer

    Well, this is a tired topic.

  • KD

    On the one hand, I like her style and think she has a knack for choosing and wearing beautiful things. However, if you spend any time in France you will quickly see that whatever is considered “chic” at the moment is replicated by every (thin) woman to the point of parody. Walking down the street there you cannot throw a rock without hitting 3 women in identical outfits. These days clicking around instagram profiles of young French women is sufficient. Of course it carries a certain allure and I can’t fault people for responding to it. But the idea that you can find one “perfect” look for you that never changes is a white whale of a crusade that is both fruitless and just another way to keep us unsatisfied with what we have and who we are. Because let’s be honest – plunging necklines paired with mom jeans is a silhouette that would only be applauded on someone who looks like Jeanne. If I could even fit into her clothing line, which I cannot as it only goes up to a FR40 (a topic that deserves its own post), I’m not sure if I would first be called déclassé for my cleavage and laughed at for my FUPA. That’s if I were not first arrested for indecent exposure.
    I’m thankful others have commented on the ridiculousness of continuing to elevate and propagate the myth that French women don’t spend time, money, or effort on their beauty routines or, as an even grosser corollary, their diets. I have followed Jeanne since her micro blogging days and can say with near certainty that she has already intervened medically to change certain things about her appearance, so for her to say she only wears lipstick and loves dark circles is disingenuous to say the least.

    • Kittybat

      I’m curious, what do you think she’s had done?

      I agree many parisian girls dress identical to each other, but so do many NY girls. I think the thing about Jeanne is that she makes it look best out of all of them. I do understand your frustration that the sizes from the line are limited and that topic does indeed deserve its’ own post.

      I’m only curious to what you think she’s gotten done because I’ve met her in person and she is as lovely and natural as one can hope. And very sweet as well.

  • gwendomouse

    I always find French style rather boring and unoriginal, often conservative to the point of tweeness. The photos prove my point. Blue jeans and a little blouse, plus an expensive handbag? Never in the history of dressing did anyone come up with that combo, until we had this lovely French woman to enlighten us. Same goes for a mush-cloured wrap dress, or a second-hand – oh, excuse me: vintage – pinstripe blazer.
    I think the reputation of stylishness that French women have is left over from 19th, or even 18th century, when the royal French courts really dictated the fashion around the western world, and the cuturiers of the 1950s. Now, there’s not much creativity left.
    And why do the so-called style icons all have identical long straight brown hair with a little semi-fringe?

  • Emmanuelle

    As a French black girl and non-parisian – I’m from Bordeaux, South West of France – I am really tired to see this glorified image of the French girl. It has been used so much that to me it is almost turning into a cliché. I don’t have anything against Jeanne Damas, but I just feel she hasn’t invented anything and borrows a lot to Jane Birkin.

    France is diverse and I wish I could see features about French women and style really embodying our diversity. Jeanne Damas, Caroline de Maigret, Inès de la Fressange etc…it has become so redundant to see them over and over.

    I wouldn’t mind reading a piece where you ask different French girls with different backgrounds how they feel about French style rather than having X cliché about X French it-girl. I think it would make more sense and show the how diverse we are.

    • Kattigans

      Man Repeller: Please do this! Content surrounding this topic would be fascinating and eye opening.

    • Jackie @ Kleiden drew

      Hear hear!! One of my BIGGEST pet peeves whenever I see any content provider mention French Girl. You know exactly which hue you’re going to see. It’s optically wrong and narrow minded. There are dark chocolate, cafe au lait and colors, styles, shapes and sizes in between. You have the skills and brains MR – get on this and lead the charge ahead of Vogue, In the Cut, etc.

    • Sonia Warris

      SAME ! I’m in !

  • Keyshae Robinson

    I agree with many of the comments here. This obsession with “French Chic” style is becoming old. Most of praise is given to thin, white women that rock wispy bangs. Not really much diversity in the whole look.

  • alexa11221

    It’s worked for me 😉

  • cece

    I am French and am so f-ing exhausted of this whole FRENCH thing. There is no such thing as the “French” woman. We are all different sizes, colours and shapes and this girl up there is just one of them – if you really want to categorize her then maybe rephrase, she is the typical “Parisienne” from a bourgeois upbringing. Thanks, Au revoir.

  • Maria

    I know very well french women and France, maybe it’s true that their style is often predictable and repetitive, but globally I suppose that american special love for this fresh casual style is also a reaction to the trashy looks we all see all around Instagram and the other socials..

    I mean… aaaaaaall these festival-rainbow hairs-ripped denim-dirty hairt-lot of jewelry-lot of makeup- dark plumped lips-fake lashes and so on…

    well maybe it’s not anything really -wow-, but seeing Rouje or Jeanne’s style is something sooo refreshing

  • i love the effortless french girl style but feel more should be written about other countries as well!

  • M

    That comment about the bags under her eyes was such a quintessential cunty french comment.

    She wasn’t complimenting her, she was making a dig. How is no one calling her out?