Charlotte Gainsbourg For much of my life, I've been trying (and failing) to achieve French girl bangs. You know, the wispy, tousled, sideswept fringe that Charlotte Gainsbourg, Caroline de Maigret, and Lou Doillon wear so effortlessly well-but which, despite numerous trips to the salon and ill-fated attempts with the blow dryer, I've never quite managed to master.
See more: Guide to French Girl Hair
A recent e-mail exchange with the Paris-based fashion blogger Jeanne Damas, however, revealed that I've been going about it all wrong. "Usually, I cut them myself," she says of taking scissors to her own fine set. "I like small, unstructured fringe, which has a sixties feeling, like Jane Birkin's or Françoise Hardy's or definitely Anna Karina's. Homemade and not perfect." And, she adds, "I never use a blow dryer. This gives my hair a more natural feeling."
There are plenty of modern-day incarnations of the look, too-although admittedly, the best of them may transcend the boundaries of actual francophile. British girl-about-town Alexa Chung's eye-skimming bangs fit the bill, as do Danish model Freja Beha Erichsen's textured set, which resonate with DIY downtown charm. According to superstylist David Mallett, whose salon is located in the city's second arrondissement, that low-maintenance effect is key. "Most of our French clients prefer to keep [their bangs] long. It's all about the mystery," he says of spacing out appointments perfectly.
See more: 10 Best Beauty Looks for All Ages
If you're thinking of going the same route as Damas and doing your own trimming, on the other hand, he recommends cutting the hair while it's dry-"without tension and without pulling on it"-so that you never risk going too short. That said, he adds, definitively putting an end to the question once and for all, "nearly anybody in the world can wear fringe."