Bon Chic Bon Genre Style Guide to Master the ‘Classy French’

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What is the Bon Chic Bon Genre?

Bon Chic Bon Genre (BCBG) is a French term meaning ‘Good Style, Good Class’), describing members of the Parisian upper class and their unique way of dressing showcasing understated wealth.

Like the British Sloane Rangers and American Preppies, the BCBGs are well-educated, well-connected, socially respected, and descend from “old money” families with aristocratic ancestry.

Bon Chic Bon Genre style

Bon Chic Bon Genre Style Origin

Most popular BCBG garments and accessories have aesthetic roots and origins in traditional French tailoring.

The style’s shirt blouses are rooted in old-style French couture, wool pea coats in French naval uniforms, wide-leg chinos in French Riviera casual wear, Lavalliere (pussy bows) in the 19th-century French aristocratic attire, and pointed-toe flats in French ballet.

Yet, while the core of BCBG style is rooted in French fashion, it includes British garments such as the houndstooth patterned midi skirts inspired by British countryside attire and chunky loafers inspired by the British aristocracy and the Regency-era ‘Opera pumps.’

How to Dress Bon Chic Bon Genre?

To create the perfect Bon Chic Bon Genre outfits, you’ll need specific garments, footwear, and accessories from clothing brands with expertise in traditional French tailoring and British aesthetics critical to the BCBG style.

BCBG Style Clothing

1. White Shirt Blouses

Influenced by early 20th-century Parisian couture style from iconic houses like Chanel and Dior, BCBG-style white shirt blouses are made of high-quality silk and include elegant details like mother-of-pearl buttons and delicate embroidery.

Recommended Brands: Dior, Kenzo, The Kooples

Kenzo White Shirt The Kooples Silk White Shirt

2. Cable-knit Sweaters

Originating from the fishing communities of the British Isles, cable-knit sweaters’ rope-like patterns confer BCBG outfits with a touch of traditional Preppy style.

Recommended Brands: Sandro, Lacoste, Maje

Sandro Cable Knit Sweater Lacoste Cable Knit Sweater

3. Polo Shirts

Inspired by the sports attire of the 19th-century British soldiers playing polo matches in India, this shirt style was popularized by tennis players and became a Preppy staple.

In the BCBG style, it adds a sporty yet refined touch.

Recommended Brands: Lacoste, Ralph Lauren, Fred Perry

Lacoste Polo Shirt Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt

4. Wide-leg Chinos

Inspired by the French army uniforms used in the early 20th-century French Riviera, wide-leg chinos are critical to any BCBG outfits as less formal alternatives to tailored trousers while maintaining a sophisticated look.

Recommended Brands: A.P.C., Isabel Marant, Rag & Bone

A.P.C. Wide-leg Chinos Rag and Bone Wide Leg Chinos

5. Houndstooth Patterned Midi Skirts

With roots in 19th-century British countryside attire, houndstooth patterned midi skirts confer a traditional yet stylish vibe to BCBG outfits.

Recommended Brands: Balmain, Vanessa Bruno, Prada

Balmain Houndstooth pleated midi skirt Prada Houndstooth pleated midi skirt

6. Wool Pea Coats

Originating from French naval uniforms, the wool pea coat is integral to the BCBG style and is required as a subtle finish to emphasize understated affluence further.

Recommended Brands: Sandro, Isabel Marant, Maje

Sandro Pea Coat Isabel Marant Pea Coat

BCBG Style Footwear

1. Pointed Toe Flats

With aesthetic roots in the traditional French slippers worn by ballerinas since the 17th century, pointed-toe flats lack embellishments, allowing them to contribute to the understated but upscale BCBG look.

Recommended Brands: Repetto, Christian Louboutin, Chanel

Christian Louboutin Pointed Toe Flats Repetto Pointed Toe Flats

2. Chunky Loafers

Drawing from the Regency-era ‘Opera pumps’ worn by the British aristocracy since the 1700s, chunky loafers with thicker soles and robust build offer a sturdier touch to this classical style.

Recommended Brands: Chanel, Tod’s, Church’s

Tod's Chunky Loafers Churchs Chunky Loafers

3. Knee-high Leather Boots

With roots in equestrian equipment used in English fox hunts, knee-high leather boots have been adopted into BCBG fashion to confer the outfits with an aristocratic flair.

Recommended Brands: Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Isabel Marant

Isabel Marant Knee-high Leather Boots GIVENCHY Black G Woven Knee High Boots

BCBG Style Accessories

1. Lavalliere (Pussy Bows)

Originating from the 19th-century French aristocratic attire, Lavalliere or pussy bows add a feminine and classic touch to BCBG fashion.

Recommended Brands: Hermes, Chanel, Chloe

Cloe Lavalliere Scarf Chanel Lavalliere Scarf

2. Silk Scarves

Inspired by the geometric and paisley patterns popularized in the 50s by Chanel in Paris and Emilio Pucci in Milan, silk scarves confer BCBG outfits with sophistication, making them suitable for high-end social events like gallery openings or fine dining.

Recommended Brands: Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Prada

Hermes Silk Scarf Prada Silk Scarf

3. Pearl Necklaces, Bracelets, Earrings

With aesthetic roots in 1950s and 1960s Parisian and Italian high society – when cinema icons like Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren made pearls synonymous with refined elegance – pearl accessories confer the BCBG style with sophistication.

Recommended Brands: Dior, Tiffany & Co., Cartier

Tiffany Pearl Jewelry Dior Pearl Jewelry

4. Gold Watches

Showcasing the luxury watchmaking traditions of Swiss brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe, gold watches are a staple in BCBG fashion, signaling wealth and status.

Recommended Brands: Rolex, Cartier, Patek Philippe

Cartier Gold Watch Rolex Gold Watch

3 Key Takeaways

  • Rooted in French tailoring and interspersed with British aesthetics, the BCBG style depicts generational wealth and understated affluence.
  • The choice of garments, footwear, and accessories in the BCBG style is not arbitrary, as each piece has historical and aesthetic roots that make it relevant to this unique way of dressing.
  • Choosing the right clothing brands is critical to capture the true essence of BCBG style. Brands like Chanel, Givenchy, and Herms for accessories or Sandro, Maje, and Lacoste for clothing ensure authenticity and quality.

Similar Styles to BCBG

Professional Styling Advice

Are you looking to improve your fashion style and unsure where to start? Are you into relaxed-casual, E-girlY2K, or VSCO looks, but dressing BCBG looks resonates with you, and you wonder why?

Contact The VOU’s Style Experts to receive your free and personalized styling advice based on your current way of dressing, preferred outfits, colors, aesthetics, age, gender, body shape, location, and event you seek to attend.

Your dedicated stylist will meticulously select essential garments, footwear, and accessories to craft a wardrobe that complements and enhances your style.

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to experience a transformative fashion adventure, all at no cost to you.

After years of managing hundreds of fashion brands from London's office of a global retailer, Mandy has ventured into freelancing. Connected with several fashion retailers and media platforms in the US, Australia, and the UK, Mandy uses her expertise to consult for emerging fashion brands create top-notch content as an editorial strategist for several online publications.

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