Forget Emily In Paris, This Is The Only French Style Inspiration You Need To Pay Attention To

Style lessons from the ultimate bombshell.

Brigitte Bardot

by Laura Antonia Jordan |
Updated on

So, we now know that Emily is staying put in Paris for a little while longer. This week Netflix announced that it was renewing everyone’s favourite guilty pleasure binge-watch for a second season.

Forget about the Emily-Gabriel-Camille love triangle, what we really want to know is whether the titular heroine will manage to shake off her ‘la plouc’ rep, ditch the novelty phone caseand inherit any of Sylvie’s sophistication come the sophomore season? Hmmm. If she does fancy giving her wardrobe a bit of a Frenchover, however, we would advise Emily to look to another Parisian for inspiration: Brigitte Bardot.

Brigitte Bardot in 1966
Brigitte Bardot in 1966 ©Getty

Indisputably iconique, Bardot was born in Paris in 1934. She initially set her sights on being a ballet dancer. However, after appearing in a 1949 fashion show and magazine, she was spotted by the actor and director Roger Vadim. He went on to become her first husband (of four), and cast her in his 1956 film And God Created Woman. Before retiring in 1973 – to become an animal rights activist – she had appeared in almost 50 films, including Jean-Luc Godard’s spectacularly stylish 1963 masterpiece Le Mépris, and recorded over 60 songs.

Brigitte Bardot in Le Mépris
Brigitte Bardot in Le Mépris ©Getty

Even if your tastes are more Netflix romcom than French New Wave cinema, you will know that BB – as she is known – was born to be a bombshell. With her signature bouffant bed hair, cat-eye makeup and sulky pout (usually with a cigarette hanging out), Bardot naturally, easily inhabited her sexuality.

Bardot’s style only served to heighten her status as one of the 1960s most irresistible icons, and is as desirable today as it ever was. Her sexy-chic look had an enviably effortless quality. Sure, it’s hard to mimic, but not impossible (looking suitably moody is a good start). Just break down the components: mini skirts and shorts, streamlined tailoring and snug knits, Capri pants and ballet pumps. Knee-high boots were worn on repeat as were floppy hats.

Brigitte Bardot in 1966
Brigitte Bardot in 1966 ©Getty

The glamour is there (see her fondness with animal print coats) but it is pulled off with a laissez-faire, barefoot ease – quite literally in 1967 when she rocked up in a Rolls Royce, sans shoes, to a party thrown by her then husband Gunter Sachs at Paris’s Maxim’s restaurant. And modern brides with an aversion to frou-frou confections would be advised to check out the short and sweet gingham dress she wore to marry Jacques Charrier in 1959 (PSA: see also her friend Bianca Jagger's 1972 wedding skirt suit).

Brigitte Bardot wearing Paco Rabanne in 1969
Brigitte Bardot wearing Paco Rabanne in 1969 ©Getty

If you head has been turned by the inexplicable revival of sexy fashion this season, Bardot should be your muse. Skimpy pieces weren’t solely reserved for the South of France. The sheer Paco Rabanne dress she wore to an awards ceremony in 1969 needs to be top of your moodboard, ditto thigh-high boots and leather tailoring. Ooh la la.

Of course, the sexiest thing of all is to be yourself, which is exactly what Bardot has always done. Second to that? Reconsider that novelty phone case. Emily, we’re looking at you.


FashBack: Brigitte Bardot

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The bride wore gingham to her 1959 wedding to Jacques Charrier.

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A crushed velvet two-piece and statement necklace would look as good this party season as it did on BB in 1960.

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In Italy to film Private Life in 1961, BB wore polka dot Capri pants and ballet pumps.

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In Hampstead in 1963. Cosy dressing the Bardot way in a snug knit, velvet pants and knee-high boots.

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Filming Jean-Luc Godard's New Wave masterpiece Le Mépris in 1963.

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Find a friend and try this look yourself. Returning to Paris with Jeanne Moreau in 1965 after wrapping filming of Viva Maria.

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Keep it simple: a minimal dress and boots are all BB needed to make an impact. Here on the press tour for Viva Maria.

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Animal instincts. A zebra coat is always a good idea.

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At the LA premiere for Viva Maria, Bardot wore a maxi dress and fur coat. Chic!

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Into the patchwork trend? This is how you do it. Extra points for the floppy hat.

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A leopard print coat is always a good idea (a cigarette, less so).

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With her third husband Gunter Sachs at LAX in 1966. Bold is the woman who wears white on a trans-Atlantic flight.

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Another excellent departure look in 1966. How does she do it?

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A jumper and jeans. Groundbreaking? Non! Desirable? On BB, absolutely.

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Bardot's bombshell take on suiting (complete with tie) in Deauville with Sachs in 1967.

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Another animal print coat, this time in London in 1967.

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Barefoot glamour. Arriving at a party BB style: turn up in a Rolls Royce, leave your shoes at home.

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How are you feeling about your own plane look now? Yep, same.

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A leather waistcoat and trousers - it sounds so wrong, but it looks so good. Can't you imagine Kate Moss in this today?

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In St Tropez in 1968 Bardot nods to a more bohemian mood. This look is all about the accessories: the neck scarf, the boots, the baker boy cap and the embroidered bag.

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Major 'wow' factor. BB wore barely-there Paco Rabanne to an awards ceremony in 1969.

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Colourful stripes can be tricky territory but Bardot pulls them off with ease on this simple silhouette.

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