Around France

French Fashion: Bobo Style

Now that I’m settled in France, I’m beginning to understand why I love it here. I’m a hopeless romantic.

It didn’t happen by accident that I live in a tower apartment. I’m a princess. Or at least, I always wanted to be one. If I had long hair, I’d wish to be Rapunzel, pining away in my tower prison, waiting on my prince to climb up the garden wall. Seriously, that will never happen. But living in the small town of Uzes, across from the Duke’s palace, it is pretty close to having my own castle. Better yet, if I walk only a few steps down the cobblestone street, I enter into a pure fantasy land where I am transported to the early 1800s — the age of Romanticism — French fashion bobo style.

French Fashion Bobo Style: L’Atelier des Ours

french fashion bobo style

There’s a little shop at the end of the road where I live named “L’Atelier des Ours.” You can’t miss the place because of the teddy bear outdoor decorations and because there are usually crowds of tourists standing around the entrance taking photos.

french fashion bobo style

Bobo fashion in Uzes

When I first stepped inside the fairytale-like shop, L’Atelier des Ours, I immediately felt I’d walked into another world. First of all, there was literally “sand beneath your feet.” The floor of the entire first level of the shop was covered in several inches of pure white sand.

Second, the cozy store is filled with a vast collection of clothing, folk art, and fond reminders of years ago — even centuries passed. Wherever you look, there are decorations and clothing items from an earlier age arranged in elegant, small vignettes.

Being a shopaholic, I’ve visited many stores attempting a “return to the past” theme. Never before have I experienced anything like this.

The “feeling” is achieved masterfully at L’Atelier des Ours, no doubt, because of the clever, topical store decorations, but also because of the artful selection of clothing and accessories — couture straight out of early 1800 France.

french fashion bobo style

Vignette at L’Atelier des Ours

french fashion bobo style

Roses and time clocks from an earlier age

french fashion bobo style

Folk history and fantasy combine

french fashion bobo style

Romantic glimpses from an earlier time

French Fashion Bobo Style: How do you describe the look?

There is a certain style in the south of France that is best described as “provençal.” As I travel around other towns near Uzes, the provençal style of dress is scarcely visible.

It is alive and well in Uzes.

When I discovered how much I admired the look, I tried to discern why some of the avant-garde, provençal clothing at other shops around Uzes was so different from the distinctive style found at L’Atelier des Ours.

That’s when I discovered “Bobo”.

Here’s an example of the clothing at one shop in Uzes that sells popular French “provençal” clothing.

french fashion bobo style

One type of provençal fashion found in Uzes

Here’s an example of the style of clothing at L’Atelier des Ours

french fashion bobo style

Fashions at L’Atelier des Ours

What is ” Bobo”?

David Brooks, the NY Times columnist, wrote a book about “Bobos” in the year 2000. Brooks’ book, “Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper-Class and How They Got There,” was the subject of an interview with Gwen Ifill on NPR the year it was published. (Read the interview here)

Bottom line, Brooks describes “Bobos” as the cultural result of the “information age.” Quoting from his own review in the NY Times of his own book, Brooks says about Bobos: “These are highly educated folk who have one foot in the bohemian world of creativity and another foot in the bourgeois realm of ambition and worldly success. The members of the new information age elite are bourgeois bohemian. Or, to take the first two letters of each word, they are Bobos.”

According to Brooks, Bobos are identified by having “rebel attitudes, and social-climbing attitudes all scrambled together.”

So what does Bobo have to do with fashion?

Bobo fashionistas are everywhere. You may describe the style as “bohemian,” but it’s not. It’s a higher grade of the 1960s “hippy” generation. Kate and Ashley Olsen probably would say they are Bobo. They’d probably enjoy shopping at L’Atelier des Ours. However, I would describe the true Bobo “look” as much more sophisticated than the Olsen twins’.

Personally, I like to think about Bobo as a look that was re-popularized in Paris at the beginning of this century. It is a true throwback to the early 19th century, with a uniqueness that makes it new. It’s a look that is flirty, yet puritan; dark, yet light; feminine, yet tight-laced; rich, yet peasant; fun; yet reserved; elegant, yet simple.

french fashion bobo style

This photo of Mary-Kate is from an article in the Huffington Post that labels her style as ” bag lady” or “homeless chic.” They even mention the moniker “Bobo Chic” for Olsen’s style.

Such is the fashion you find at L’Atelier des Ours, and I understand that wealthy Parisian women flock to the store and to its store online.

Expensive? Well, yes!

You can imitate “Bobo” by layering and stacking on clothes you find at the thrift store or in the back of your closet. If you want to go for the “real” Bobo, it’s going to cost you, big time. For a special occasion, it’s tempting to splurge.

It’s tempting! And here’s why …

french fashion bobo style

french fashion bobo style

Ruffles and lace make Bobo irresistible.

french fashion bobo style

Crochet lace and patterned wool make a Bobo statement.

french fashion bobo style

Bobo is romance and fashion.

french fashion bobo style

A store filled with visions of a romantic age

french fashion bobo style

Time travels backward at L’Atelier des Ours.

french fashion bobo style

Bobo is simple. Bobo is elegant.

A teddy bear’s delight

french fashion bobo style

I hope you have enjoyed visiting L’Atelier des Ours — translated, Teddy Bear Workshop. Be sure to stop and visit the store when you visit Uzes. It’s definitely a “must-see.”

Meanwhile, visit L’Atelier des Ours on the web and Pinterest site. to see more.

french fashion bobo style

Visions of L’Atelier des Ours

2 replies »

  1. This is all delightful. I found you by accident and should like to stay”tuned.”
    I was looking for French fashions around Uzes or Provence and love a “moditified” Boho style….if possible….
    A former National newspaper writer, feaures and life-style…now an 80-plus painter…with a young heart and a bit overweight… we need the looser styles to cover up…..With Warm Regards, Sylvia

    • So glad to hear from you Sylvia. I adore the fashions in Uzes and can’t seem to get my fill. Just turned 70 and thrilled to be still young at heart too. Please do stay tuned. I’d love to know what you think of it all..

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