Style Inspiration: Les Gamines - une femme d'un certain âge

Style Inspiration: Les Gamines

Gamine: Classic & Modern

I like to browse through Net-A-Porter for styling inspiration, and loved seeing Charlotte Gainsbourg in this week’s “The Edit” (their weekly e-zine). I’ve always adored what’s often referred to as “gamine” style, originally exemplified by Audrey Hepburn in “Sabrina” and “Funny Face” (featuring the now-iconic dance number in the smoky bar), and Jean Seberg in “Un Coup de Foudre.” The images of Gainsbourg in this article bring a modern (and ageless) sensibility to a classic gamine look.

While often including some masculine elements, the true gamine look is to my eye more feminine, just a little softer than a straight-up tomboy, sporty or menswear style. For a long time, I thought that this style was exclusively for the young and very svelte. And maybe in the most literal of Audrey-esque interpretations, it is. But those of us with curves or more than a few grey hairs can learn from and incorporate some of the best elements of la mode gamine. 

You don’t HAVE to wear a striped shirt, but it doesn’t hurt…

What’s not to love, anyway?

It’s comfortable. No need to squeeze yourself into stiff fabrics or body-con styles that require shapewear. Especially with today’s fabrics with a bit of stretch, you can find slim pants that still allow you to move, bend and sit. Soft sweaters or blouses, low-heeled or flat shoes…nothing that constricts or constrains.

It’s versatile. With a few tweaks and thoughtful accessorizing, you can go from weekend to office to evening.

It’s classic but modern. Does a pair of slim pants ever really go out of style? Or a perfect cashmere sweater? Yes, hemlines and cuts may change, but this look relies on simple classic items that are almost always available in some form, and can often be updated with a fresh accessory to look totally modern.

It’s elegance without fussiness. In fact, anything too frou-frou or stiff or overwrought will ruin the effect. It’s meant to be fresh and uncomplicated. Done right, this look can hit that perfect balance of polished and insouciant, which leads to…

It’s quintessentially French. The simplicity, reliance on a few good core pieces, the mix of masculine and feminine elements, the absence of anything overdone…it’s everything we admire about French style.

Are you inspired by gamine style? Have you found ways to incorporate into your wardrobe?

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Image sources: Top, Pinterest and Net-A-Porter. Bottom, Net-A-Porter, Pinterest.

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  1. August 18, 2014 / 4:43 am

    This is me right now…love the whole style!! You picked out some great shoes…I will return later today to look at them closer! Loved the post!

  2. Ellen
    August 18, 2014 / 5:34 am

    Today’s picture of you did not display, at least not on my computer. But looking through the TRY IT ON shots, that pretty much could have been shot from my closet, so if there can be such a thing as a 67 year old gamine, that must be me. I don’t have a need for all those jackets in my life, and I prefer much more contemporary jewelry, but everything else there is pretty much my day to day wardrobe…it is amusing to think there is a label for it!

    • une femme
      August 18, 2014 / 7:29 am

      Hi Ellen, I think it’s fixed now. Let me know if you’re still having trouble seeing the images.

      • Ellen
        August 19, 2014 / 5:49 am

        Yes, all there today. Thank you.

    • August 18, 2014 / 7:58 am

      Of course there is such a thing as a 67-year-old gamine, namely Charlotte’s famous mum, Jane Birkin.

      Now, whether there can be a gamine with big boobs and hips (alas, even when I was 17 and had a 20-inch-waist) is entirely another matter.

  3. August 18, 2014 / 5:35 am

    Wonderful “essential” pieces here, Une Femme. I love a gamine pixie cut (not on me) – it’s so confident.

  4. Susan
    August 18, 2014 / 5:39 am

    The photo of you did not display on my computer either.

    • une femme
      August 18, 2014 / 5:50 am

      Susan, the second photo or the first? They’re both collages. I’m seeing them both in Firefox, but only the first one in Safari. Which browser are you using?

      • Susan
        August 18, 2014 / 8:24 am

        I use Safari. It was the second photo I could not see–but can see it now!

  5. bettina
    August 18, 2014 / 6:34 am

    This is pretty much my style, but with fewer of the masculine elements. But yes, a simple top with slim pants, keeping the look neat but not too formal, soft but not sloppy, that is my style.

  6. Cecilia
    August 18, 2014 / 9:58 am

    I love this look! At 56, I’ve been trying to figure out what my style will be going forward. I have found that sheath dresses work great for me, but I also love this style. Perhaps I will have two “uniforms”.What I love is no belts. I wish I could wear the silk blouse tucked into jeans look, but I just don’t feel comfortable. Thanks for this great post!!!

  7. August 18, 2014 / 11:52 am

    Great post! And I am with you and as I don’t like a tomboy style, I do prefer the feminine version. And skirts or trousers with ballet flats rather than shoes in a men’s style.

    Lovely photos of Audrey in the bikepretty link!

    Annette | Lady of Style

  8. August 19, 2014 / 6:47 am

    Annette, that is more what I did too, when I was the age of those “examples” or younger. Of course, I was a bit of a hippie back then, but always with a more “urban boho” than patchouli style – denim somewhat-mini skirts, opaque tights in cold weather, scarves for all seasons, a béret of course and lots of black. The true gamine look didn’t suit my curves (and I don’t mean curves as a euphemism for being a bit too plump – I wasn’t at all back then).

    But alas I can’t wear ballet flats to walk any distance any more.

  9. Jean
    August 19, 2014 / 9:06 am

    Great post. My style exactly. Have worn it all my life and I am 68. I am small and slight, so many clothes overpower me. Love the blog, have read it for years, first time I have commented, this resonated so very much with me. Thanks.

  10. August 19, 2014 / 11:16 am

    I want to find skinny pants that fit around the waist too. It’s not easy. My waist and hips are not slim so I lean towards high risers. Size wise I am a 12 who always wishes she’d bought a 10 after the pants relax. The trick is finding skinny pants with a high rise that fits. Many gap open at the waist. sigh.

    • une femme
      August 19, 2014 / 6:33 pm

      California Girl, do try NYDJ for jeans, and the Eileen Fisher slim ponte knit pants.

  11. Jill
    August 19, 2014 / 7:47 pm

    Great post, I guess I have more gamine pieces in my closet than I originally thought. I do like this style a lot more than any tomboy look!

  12. sueinspain
    August 20, 2014 / 3:32 am

    Great post! For all of you over 60 ladies, I decided to splash out on a style consultation when I was in London – in the interests of research for my blog: – and guess what? I’m a Natural Gamine at the age of 66! I’m short (5′ and a bit) but not as slim as I used to be, so these styles are perfect. Now to do a bit of browsing through your links – and maybe some shopping?

  13. August 20, 2014 / 4:17 am

    Agreed wholeheartedly! And it’s timeless and classic. A Breton top and ballerina pumps can take us a long way. It’s my most reliable and most useful travel gear. Tops for gamine!

  14. Swissy
    August 21, 2014 / 6:38 am

    Replying late, but wanting to say thanks for this post. This is “my” style, bien sur! I’m 5’4″, size 6P, but needing some camouflage around the waist and tum. At 71, this look still works for me and especially for my style of life now. I appreciate your pics of some pieces that look fresh in this same genre.

  15. cindy dailey
    July 8, 2019 / 5:05 am

    Keep us posted, I love this style as well

  16. Eileen
    July 15, 2019 / 5:46 pm

    I love the gamine style as well. I am 5’5″ and 6p clothes , with a pixie hair cut. When I wear “Audrey styles” people say it suits me, so I hope to get some ideas for a 68 year old gamine, like myself. I am a spring/summer coloring, depending on who did my colors in the past. I would love to get a definitive color answer, anyone to recommend near Northern California?

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