A fresh take on vintage Parisian style: 5 Fashion tips from style icon Jane Birkin

Renaud Petit
4 min readMay 26, 2018
Jane birkin - credit - Stephan C Archetti — 1966

Jane Birkin is one of those involuntary fashion icons whose style survives under all circumstances. Since the 60’s, the Franco-British actress has been materializing the typical Parisian style, exhibiting a high sense of class, assurance and a hint of provocation.

It is hard to encapsulate what makes her style so cool and the incarnation of the French effortless chic of the 60’s (just like no one is yet able to define what makes elegance or what is the famous French “je ne sais quoi”). What remains mysterious and fascinating about her style is that it is a true paradox: it is overly detached, terribly impetuous and yet the epitome of romantic.

Still, we can agree on the fact that the originality of Jane Birkin lies in her style’s being a very well-balanced mix of 3 main influences: Hippie chic, Tomboy style and Candid femininity.

Being humble, we are probably not going to unveil the secret of her style and define what truly makes it. Chances are Jane Birkin (and her stylists) do not have a clue what it is either. But upon this finding, it is possible to revisit her style based on a handful of emblematic looks from which we can pick out general fashion guidelines.

So, here are 5 main ideas that may help get close to the style of Jane Birkin, without copying it but taking serious inspiration from her own artistic visions and personality. (By the way, don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about the “basket bag” stuff. Let’s be honest, it looks great and fun and I too love the blodness but no one is ever going to reproduce that…)

1. All-white looks

Jane Birkin — credit — Rex Features

White is the colour of chic and elegance. All-white outfits are pretty daring and yet extremely effortless. Any white top paired with anything just as white will do and look stunningly chic. For it is that easy to pull a great all-white look, a good idea is to push the nonchalance as far as possible with a plain white tank top and a pair of loose white trousers. An oversized white shirt will also look great.

2. See-through dresses

Jane Birkin — 1969

Worn the Jane Birkin style, a naked dress looks nothing provocative or scandalous. The secret to it is to pick a very basic unadorned piece and pair it with just the minimum. Don’t overdo it, no crazy hairstyle, no crazy accessories.

3. Blazers

Jane Birkin— 1972

Blazers are always kept opened. They obviously make for boyish styles if paired with a loose white tee-shirt but can also look more original if thrown over a very feminine V-neck top or an unbuttoned shirt. The secret to wearing a masculine blazer is to be unafraid of displaying some skin.

4. Sequins

Jane Brkin — crédit — Bertrand Rindoff Petrof — 1981

Sequins are overly chic and are awfully hard to wear outside of parties but it is also important to mention evening-wear. Traditional sequin dresses may look a bit old-school (not to say old-fashioned). Jane Birkin plays it cool by wearing short sequin dresses only. So far, it has remained an effective trick to spice up a beautiful but easily over-the-top classic.

5. Satin blouses

Jane Birkin — crédit — Bertrand Rindoff Petrof — 1981

The satin blouse truly is a Parisian night-time favourite. The best thing about it is that it does not look too vintage or formal. Actually, it all depends on the situation.

In the end, apart from specific cocktail dresses, Jane Birkin’s style almost always revolves around lightness / casualness, ultra-feminine fluidity and volumes enveloped in mannish tailoring.

The 60’s still manage to convey a sense of avant-garde and create a perfectly youthful spirit. And for it is 100% French boldness and feminine innocence, this style simply cannot get old.



Renaud Petit

Paris-based journalist whose work focuses on tackling the fashion industry’s social and environmental issues. https://renaudpetit.com/mes-publications/