Jane Birkin is the Englishwoman who went on to become the ultimate Parisienne. One can still see the influence she holds on contemporary Frenchwomen, from the popularity of the blunt fringe, to the perfectly worn in denim, to the penchant for straw handbags.
How could a woman not want to take sartorial tips from Ms. Birkin? Her style from the 1960s to 1980s was perfectly laissez-faire, yet always fun and sensual. It also oozed confidence (one couldn’t wear miniskirts so short without it!)
If you too fancy channeling Jane, I’d recommend picking up a few of the following.
From the 1980s onwards Jane was frequently photographed wearing a pair of Bensimon sneakers – shoelaces optional. White, olive green, and navy were her colours of choice for these army surplus-inspired shoes, which are frequently seen on the feet of Parisians today, and sold everywhere from upscale shoe stores to Monoprix.
While more well known for her daring sartorial choices and love affair with Serge Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin has been an ardent political activist for decades. In the 1990s she began to become more hands-on, including trips to the likes of Bosnia during the Balkan Wars, and her wardrobe grew to match. Since then she’s been seen again and again wearing army trousers around the streets of Paris.
In the 1960s Jane donned plenty of shockingly short skirts and dresses, including the iconic black one she wore in La Piscine. The elbow length, perfectly-fitted frock is timeless, and appears again in again in stores today.
How could one forget the dazzling floor-length blue number that Jane wore in a live performance of Lolita Go Home? The backless number was stunning. Sequins can sometimes seem a bit try-hard, but when paired with minimal makeup and fuss-free hair, it looks perfectly relaxed and refreshing.
‘Jane Birkin’ and ‘denim’ are near-synonymous, with bellbottoms being her fit of choice in the 1960s and ‘70s. She favoured them for their practicality, and it showed: She was frequently seen wearing lived-in pairs with a raw hem or patches.
Red Patent Leather Heels
In her younger years Jane was often seen pairing more wholesome items such as some slacks and a peasant blouse with red patent leather heels. The contrast was unexpected and flirtatious without trying too hard.
Since popping into the public eye in Blowup, Jane was seen with a wicker basket attached to her arm. The one she carried in the 1960s and 1970s was a Portuguese fishing basket with a detachable lid. After her ex-husband Jacques Doillon ran over her infamous basket with his car, it was replaced with more typical picnic baskets and straw shopping bags.
You can find a number of doppelgangers of her original basket on Etsy, while replicas of her later bags can be found just about anywhere.