Franco-American: How Blogs Turned a Frenchman Trad

The last in our series on sweatpants and sweatshirts is this piece, which originally ran in 2010.

* * *

How influential are blogs? Influential enough to make at least one guy from the nation that invented chic to start taking his cues from America.

French guys aren’t exactly short on style. Nor on having an air of innate superiority — possibly deserved — simply for being French. But Francis Cazal — an advertising copywriter who divides his time between Paris and Frankfurt — has spent the past year giving himself a Preppy-Ivy-Trad-Americana makeover after discovering trad blogs.

We’ve written about Cazal before, and decided to ask him about his ongoing sartorial transformation — chronicled on his blog Greensleeves to a Ground — and how his European peers respond to it.

The new photos are taken by Cazal’s usual photographer, Laurent Laporte, who runs the blog Where is the Cool? — CC

* * *

IS: How did you discover American style?

FC: I was searching the Internet and eventually found the trad blogs. Ivy-Style and Heavy Tweed Jacket were the first ones, then The Ivy league Look and The Trad, and then I discovered the TV show “Mad Men.” I started buying American-style clothes when I saw “Bullit.” The combination of turtleneck, tweed jacket and desert boots is worn so well by Steve McQueen. My first eBay item was a Harris Tweed sportcoat, since I already had chinos, desert boots and a turtleneck. So it started like that.

IS: What is the appeal of American style?

FC: It’s simple, and what I especially like is that it’s an exceptional outfit for everyday life. I like how students in the ’50s decided to wear tweed jackets with their army chinos, because it tells you they wanted to wear high-quality, long-lasting and good-looking clothes in a practical way. In France we don’t have brands like Brooks Brothers that have made clothes since the beginning of the 19th century.

As I write this, I’m wearing a Gant Rugger cable-knit sweater with vintage Levis 505 tapered jeans and tricolor Top-Siders, and I know that no one here wears things like that. My idea was how to look good throughout life in an affordable way, and American style gave me the answer: You buy inexpensive traditional clothes from American brands on eBay, because they are well made and 30 years later still look good.

IS: How did you go about rebuilding your wardrobe?

FC: Ebay was my official sponsor! But I love authenticity and history, so it took a lot of time to find the clothes I was searching for. I first bought two tweed jackets, some ties and waiscoats. At the beginning, it was a mix of American and English. But by looking pictures of “Take Ivy,” “The Official Preppy Handbook,” blogs and archives, the look became more precise in my head. I discovered brands like Alan Paine knitwear and Puritan polo shirts. I bought some oxford shirts, a vintage madras jacket, and some Ralph Lauren madras pants.

I buy approximately one item per week: Levis 505 jeans, chinos from the Vietnam War era, an embroidered polo, and cotton sweaters. And of course a navy blazer when I understood it was essential to have one.  Shoes were the last. After searching for several months, I bought a pair of Weejun penny loafers and then a pair of Sperry Top-Siders. I’m not really a purist, because I like Uniqlo’s oxford shirts, for example. One year later, my wardrobe is comprised of clothes I can wear for a traditional American or Ivy outfit.

IS: How do other Europeans react to your style?

FC: That’s a hard question, because one day I will wear a preppy outfit with corduroy pants, polo shirt and sweater from the 1980s, and the next day a ’60s Ivy outfit or navy blazer with chinos. Preppy is becoming more popular here, but it’s the colorful preppy style from “Making The Grade,” not the kind with LL Bean boots, Irish sweater and layered oxford and polo.

Certainly French people react to it, and I’m not sure it’s always a positive reaction, especially if you keep in mind that you look overdressed to many French people if you are just wear a navy blazer with gold buttons or, a tie with tennis rackets. And I’m 25, so it can be surprising for my age.

But I’ve seen a real difference between France and Germany. Germans seem to be unsurprised by what I wear. There are a lot of banks in Frankfurt and you see well dressed men in suits everywhere in the streets.  Older people seem to be more interested in what I’m wearing, but I don’t understand why when you take into account that American trad style is not a question of age.

After a real preppy/trad period, I think I’m evolving to a more casual and Ivy style, just like I recently saw in the movies “Tea and Sympathy” [Editor’s note: Francis’s great look in the top photo is straight from “Tea and Sympathy;” our post on it is here], and “The Graduate.” That’s what I really love about American style: You can wear today what boys wore 50 years ago.

Finally, many more Americans than French are interested by my blog.

26 Comments on "Franco-American: How Blogs Turned a Frenchman Trad"

  1. Francis looks like he could’ve been in the movie “White Squall.” Compare his photos to the guy in the post below.

  2. Jancis Robertson | September 22, 2010 at 8:45 am |

    What a cutie!

    Dreamy French Ivy boy. Je l’adore!

    Jance

  3. HRH The Duke of Windsor | September 22, 2010 at 9:20 am |

    It’s hard to take the French as the masters of sartorial style if they react negatively to a blazer, of all things. That said, kudos to Mr. Cazal for charting his own course.

  4. ^^ yeah ‘coz all Americans dress so well compared…

  5. Well done. This chap blows away the native pretenders. Even his haircut is 1000 times better than that of American preps.

  6. Brilliant post, love the guy’s style. I sympathise with him, without blogs, I would never have come across Ivy or American Preppy styles.

  7. HRH The Duke of Windsor | September 23, 2010 at 11:55 am |

    > ^^ yeah ‘coz all Americans dress so well compared…

    Perhaps, but I’m told the French are better than Americans.

  8. Time for an update?

  9. How has his taste, and style evolved over the last 5 years. I’m Curious.

  10. Charlottesville | July 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm |

    Very interesting post. I am with Ethan. How is M. Cazal doing after 7 years?

  11. René Lebenthal | July 19, 2017 at 8:39 am |

    Something which is quite interesting, is the fact, that depending on where you are in France, the things Change completely. Strolling through Versailles or some trad western cities like Blois, you can still see BCBG styled People, which is the french counterpart of preppy or sloane ranger. Even in front of so called “good Schools” in NAP (Neuilly-Auteil-Passy) BCBG’s are regularly seen. In the rest of France of course, especially in the south you could spend a lot of time searching and finding trad dressers….and it’s a, like we call them, golf Generation way of Dressing. The so called Y-Generation is in T-Shirts and Sneakers.

  12. Mitchell S. | July 19, 2017 at 12:06 pm |

    @Rene: What, no striped shirts, beret, scarf, and Gauloises cigarette? That is the stereotypical Frenchman.

    Do you think France has become more American in the last few years? With McDonalds, Starbucks, and Amerian tourists in baseball caps and fanny packs.

  13. René Lebenthal | July 19, 2017 at 12:26 pm |

    @Mitchell S.
    None of all that…it’s even worse…the French mainly lost all their identity, maybe like all over the rest of the world.
    And of course America entered France with all the brands you mention but foremost RL, Tommy Hilfiger, GAP etc…..unfortunately american tourists are not very trad and inspiring in Paris….actually they might be even worse than the French….I am trying to defend trad as I can…..

  14. @Mitchell S.

    That stereotype was based on the Breton onion-sellers who used to be seen hawking their wares all over England. They were known as “onion johnnies”.

  15. Mitchell S. | July 19, 2017 at 1:07 pm |

    @Rene: I am sorry to hear that the French feel they have lost their identity. In America, the French (mostly the women) have the reputation for being the most stylish in the world. In fact, Paris is considered a style capital with Charvet, Hermes, and Creed (fragrance) calling Paris their headquarters and inspiration.

    I enjoy reading the Parisian Gentleman blog, but maybe it has put some misconceptions into my mind. Maybe it’s a fantasy, but I imagine France to be a nation where all the women are chic, dressed in black, slim, and beautiful. The men are also stylish, on trend, and second only to the Italians for being well-dressed. Call me crazy…

  16. Charlottesville | July 19, 2017 at 2:18 pm |

    René — I spent a bit of time in France, mainly Paris, during the 90s and early 2000s, but have not been back in more than a decade. My memories were of mainly very stylish people, male and female. The BC/BG brand Façonnable was then offering well-made traditional clothing (both here and in France), and I still have 2 un-darted, 3-button sport coats with double vents that I bought in that era. I am sorry to hear that the cultural rot that we see at home is affecting the French as well, but I am glad that you are there to set an example. Bon courage!

  17. Hope springs eternal.
    Rene, JKeydge and Gregory at Breuer near rue Saint-Honoré are keeping the faith and spreading the good word of stylish menswear. The torch continues!

  18. René Lebenthal | July 20, 2017 at 3:53 am |

    @DCG, Daniel, I will hold high the torch together with Jkeydge and Breuer as hard as I can THX 🙂
    @Charlottesville: Faconnable has become Mainstream..influenced by BOSS and others, not interesting anymore. I used to be a huge Faconnable customer in the 90s too. They were great!!
    There are a few interesting brands left, like Jkeydge and Breuer, just as Daniel mentions. I’ll never give up.
    @Mitchell S: As far as Paris is concerned you might be right for the women. They are in fact maybe the most elegant in the world. BUT: the men are far behind the italians. The stereotype of “a well dressed frenchman” might be the new president Macron. He’s never really badly dressed but very uninteresting and not trad at all. He is not very interested in clothing so he wears what is politically correct and what he learned while working at the Rothschild Bank.

  19. I always feel a bit rueful when I read someone talking about how their clothes will still be stylish in 30 years. The part they forget is that however stylish your clothes may still be, you won’t be wearing them, because you’ll be 40 pounds heavier than you were when you bought them. (Cf. also: you only need to buy one dinner jacket, because it will last you your whole life. Yeah, right.)

  20. Forty pounds heavier? I just attended my 30th college reunion earlier this summer, and I am only 6 or 7 pounds heavier than I was in college. A good many of my clothes from college days have fallen apart, but I still wear the survivors. And I still wear my grandfather’s dinner jacket, inherited more than 20 years ago.

  21. Malvernlink | August 8, 2017 at 10:26 am |

    @Rene

    What does BCBG stand for ?

  22. René Lebenthal | August 8, 2017 at 1:22 pm |

    BCBG means Bon chic Bon genre whichmeans to be chic and to have good manners

  23. Malvernlink | August 8, 2017 at 8:57 pm |

    @Rene

    Thank you. I spent 2 years of my 4 years in the Air Force stationed near the Moselle River and drove all over Europe and the U.K. Drove to Paris on many weekends and always felt the French women in Paris were the best dressed women in Europe, including the U.K. I hope they still are, and while I have been back to the U.K. numerous times since I left Germany in 1974, I haven’t been back to Paris. For the most part women in the U.K. dress like they do in the U.S. So much for the ” Global Community “.

  24. René Lebenthal | August 9, 2017 at 3:13 am |

    Parisian women definitely are the best dressed in the world…still today which is not true for the men. France is a fashion country for women, much less for men I believe. But it is still better than Germany or the UK generally spoken. Of course the elite dresses well also in these countries including France.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*


WordPress spam blocked by CleanTalk.