How to Dress in a Gamine Style
The gamine style is sweet, childlike, gentle, innocent and adorably charming. Gamine is originally a French word that means waif or playful child. But since the time of Audrey Hepburn (the original gamine), it has been used to describe a slim, boyish, doe eyed girl with mischievous and innocent childlike appeal.
In this article, you'll discover some ways to adapt the gamine style to your own needs.
Understand that a gamine is an innocent and childlike person. AS a gamine, you might want to keep it quite simple, yet quite romantic. However, this doesn't mean you can't make your outfits more boyish if you prefer to, because, after all, a gamine is a 'street urchin' and a 'girl of impish appeal'. The gamine look is generally the opposite of sexy and sultry femme fatale, because it does refer to a girl, giving the idea of sweet and innocent. Some people feel as though a gamine's appeal lies in her charm, class and ladylike manners, which is something you might want to take up on, but a gamine is often quite boyish, and if you don't want to be so ladylike, don't feel forced into being so just because it's the 'gamine style'. Some gamine wardrobes consist of very romantic and quite girly sorts of things, whilst others are more androgynous. Whatever you chose to have is fine.
Find a gamine fashion icon and role model who appeals specifically to you. Every gamine's total fashion icon is definitely Audrey Hepburn. But there are many more. Twiggy, Jackie O, Leslie Caron and Edie Sedgwick are great examples. If you want someone modern as your fashion icon there are many other women too: Carey Mulligan, Winona Ryder, Audrey Tatou, Emma Watson and Natalie Portman are great gamines.
Gamines have simple hair. The most popular gamine hairstyle is the pixie cut. But not all people look good in this hairstyle, so definitely consult your hairdresser before doing it because it will take time for your hair to grow back. If you want your hair long, it doesn't matter if it is straight, wavy, bouncy or curly. All that matters is that it is always kept neat. A very gamine-like hairstyle for girls with long hair is the ponytail. You can also wear it with a headband, a silk scarf, a ribbon, a hat (preferably a beret) or a barrette. If the hair accessory is in a pastel color or sports delicate accessories like bows, pearls, flowers hearts or embroidered butterflies, then it adds to the gamine-feel, but don't feel as though you have to go buy more accessories if they don't have these things on them.
Keep the makeup modest but sweet. A gamine's makeup is always natural and rosy. Opt for pink and peachy shades, or the softest you can find. Gamines have baby-like flawless and soft skin, so be sure to cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize and put on sunscreen of at least 25 SPF. You can use liquid eyeliner and mascara to get the doe-eye look, which is common among gamines. Doe eyes are big and usually brown (like Bambi's) but it is definitely not necessary, as it is only eye colour. A great example of the doe eyes are those of Audrey Tatou in the movie Amélie. To get the look:
- Gently apply some liquid eyeliner across the top lid, as close to the lash line as possible.
- Elongate your eyes the most you can.
- After the eyeliner, curl your eyelashes and apply mascara at the top lashes. Done! It is a simple look.
- If you want, you can get brown contact lenses too.
- Wear little or no eyeshadow and get rosy cheeks (apply blush at the apples of the cheeks only).
- Finally, complete the look with glossy lips. Wear pink or peach lipstick or lip gloss.
A gamine must always have bushy and perfectly-shaped eyebrows. Make sure that the arch of your eyebrow is at the top of the iris of the eye to make it look more natural. Do not overpluck them; gamines are supposed to have pronounced eyebrows.
Select your scent. A gamine must always have a signature scent. Gamines must waft a sweet fragrance as they walk by, so the perfect scent for a gamine can be floral, vanilla or fruity. The most gamine-like fragrance is Miss Dior Chérie by Christian Dior. Not only are the commercials for this perfume always gamine-like (with one even featuring a gamine, Natalie Portman), but it is a delightful scent with a lot of sweetness. Other fragrances gamines could consider are:
- Lola by Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana, Romance by Ralph Lauren, L'Air du Temps by Nina Ricci, Anna Sui Flight of Fancy by Anna Sui, Gucci Flora by Gucci, Trésor by Lancome, Paul Smith Rose by Paul Smith, Daisy by Marc Jacobs, Joy by Jean Patou and L'Interdit by Givenchy.
Gamines must always have clean and neatly shaped short nails. The most gamine-like nail styles are the French manicure with floral designs and the nude or pink polish. Apply some silver or gold glitter if you want to. Just make sure that they look neat and not over-the-top.
Select quality clothes. Clothes are a very important part of the gamine style. Here are the basics of every gamine wardrobe:
- For tops, wear: blouses in pastel colors, white button-downs with ruffles, t-shirts with gamine designs and patterns (bows, flowers, butterflies, etc), pastel polo shirts, striped sailor shirts, cashmere sweaters in pastel colors, cardigans, blazers, cropped jackets, turtlenecks and boat-necked tops.
- For dresses and skirts, wear: mini, knee-length or midi-skirts (preferably made of tulle or another flowing material), LBD's (little black dresses, even better if they have bows or flowers), A-line dresses, baby doll dresses, tunic dresses and sailor skirts.
- For pants, wear: blue or black jeans, denim shorts, capri pants, pedal pushers and tailored wide-legged pants.
- For outwear wear: trench coats, peacoats, collared coats and capes.
- For shoes, wear: ballet flats, kitten heels, black pumps and a pair of heels in a soft color.
- Wear pretty much anything that looks sweet, romantic, innocent and childlike.
- Designers that carry many gamine pieces are: Christian Dior, Givenchy (his muse was Audrey Hepburn), Salvatore Ferragamo, Chloé, Ralph Lauren (Audrey Hepburn wore his polo shirts while volunteering with UNICEF) Alice+Olivia, Betsey Johnson, Thakoon, Moschino, Burberry, Marni, Marc Jacobs, Nanette Lepore, Chanel (although some of their pieces are too serious and cold for a gamine), Carolina Herrera, Phillip Lim, Jason Wu, Diane von Furstenberg, Kate Spade, Rodarte, Prada, Gucci (named a bag after Jackie O), Miu Miu, Vera Wang and Lanvin.
- Cheaper places where you can find gamine-like pieces are: The GAP, J. Crew, Forever 21, MANGO, The Limited, Banana Republic, Zara, Charlotte Russe, Nine West, Macy's (you can find some designers like Ralph Lauren) and Century 21.
- Designers to avoid are: Antik Batik (too bohemian), Pam Hogg (too tough), Dolce & Gabbana (too sexy), Yves Saint Laurent (too manly), Alexander McQueen (too complicated), Juicy Couture (although they have some gamine-like pieces, like charm bracelets and girly clothes; however, tracksuits and neon colors should be avoided), Versace (too bold), Alexander Wang (too street casual), L.A.M.B. (too trendy), Roberto Cavalli and Anna Sui.
- Stores to avoid are: Old Navy, Spencer's Gifts (you will never, ever find a gamine there), Hot Topic, Desigual, Bebe, Sears (if the Kardashians do design collaborations there, then gamines stay away) and Abercrombie & Fitch (half-naked models are not for classy gamines).
Accessorize the gamine way. Accessorizing helps to make any look more gamine. Some accessories to consider are:
- For hats: sunhats, berets, fedoras and derby hats. Or any hat that is in a pastel color or has bows, flowers or any gamine-like look.
- For hair accessories: headbands, barrettes and hair elastics with charms.
- For sunglasses: Wayfarer by Ray-Ban, aviator sunglasses and over-sized.
- For jewelry: simple and small earrings and necklaces, anything with pearls, charm bracelets, rings with small stones or diamonds and avoid piercings at all times (except at the earlobes, of course, but only have one in each ear). Get a simple watch in a neutral color (or a pastel color) so it will go with any outfit. Don't get a digital watch, get the classic one.
- For handbags: the smaller the better, any simple handbag will do, but a quilted handbag is the best. All the better if they have cute and girly accessories like charms, bows and flowers. For the night choose a clutch and for the day it can be anything as long as it is classic and simple.
- Other accessories: thin belts, colorful silk handkerchiefs and anything sweet with gamine decorations is in.
Find gamine lingerie. A gamine is charming and innocent inside and out, so a gamine's underwear must be childlike and not sexy at all. Nowadays, the more skin you show, the better. But a gamine is classy and sweet, so although it may be a little hard to find gamine-like underwear and nightwear, it is possible.
- For bras, the paler the color the better. A gamine can wear bras of solid colors (preferably nude and white, or black when wearing LBD's), soft pastel colors (better if they have some lace of soft shades and/or a bow) and bralettes (if you can). Some very gamine-like patterns of bras that are widely available are the bras with a mini rose pattern and the vertically striped patterned bras. Avoid push-up bras; you're trying to be innocent.
- For panties, opt for boyshorts, bikinis and hotpants (or even granny panties are ok! After all, a gamine doesn't need to be self conscious about her panties as she is not the kind of person who sits in a way that shows what is under her skirt). Again, they should not be sexy and you should avoid thongs and g-strings. It is better if your panties match your bra, so make sure that they are at least similar.
- For nightwear, silk or cotton pajamas in girly patterns and colors are okay. If you prefer flowing nightgowns, wear negligees (don't worry, there are non-trashy negligees available too), babydoll nightgowns, nightshirts and silk robes (to wear on top of them). Make sure that they are not transparent (you do not want to show your underwear). Again, the girlier and sweeter, the better.
- Although it may seem impossible, there are brands that carry sweet and innocent undergarments and nightwear. Cosabella is a great option and they are known for providing seriously comfortable underwear and nightwear. You can also find non-trashy stuff if you look closely at Victoria's Secret. If you're striving to find a negligee or nightgown that is not trashy, pay a visit to Nordstrom, they carry nice negligees of different brands and designers. You should definitely avoid Agent Provocateur and La Perla.
Stay slim and healthy. Most gamines are slim with a boyish body. That means that they have as little fat as they can, but always in a healthy way. The gamine sport is riding a bicycle around town and walking (or skipping) while walking the dog. Gamines are supposed to adore sweet things. That means candy, chocolate, cookies and more sugary desserts. So the gamine diet is probably to eat all you desire in very small portions and to burn off the calories cycling or walking.
Live like a gamine. Gamines not only dress the part, but they live it too. Here are some of the key elements:
- Learn manners and the rules of etiquette. Begin with Emily Post's book on etiquette (Manners) and find suitable etiquette blogs to keep abreast of the changing manners in society.
- Always try to be charming and pleasant to be with.
- If you're dressing up as a sweet and innocent girl, don't act like a bombshell. Be as naive as you can be.
- Gamines always have poise. If you have poor posture, fix it.
- Gamines are always smiling a genuine smile.
- Gamines are respectful and never break the rules.
- Gamines are classy and ladylike, yet they still have a playful and light side.
- Gamines have a wide vocabulary and they never swear (in public). Improve your vocabulary and use it to say what you really mean.
- Gamines always think of others first.
- Gamines always try to be as happy as they can and look at the bright side.
- Gamines are the happily charming girls all girls secretly want to be like, but not in a way that they are hated––more like admired and loved.
Please remember that these are all ideas that you can follow if you wish to, but it is up to you. Every interpretation of gamine is different, and if you feel as though these ideas are too girly and sweet, don't be afraid to try something more your style and your own ideas.
- Watch Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Funny Face, Breakfast at Tiffany's and Charade with Audrey Hepburn to truly understand the style.
- Since gamines are highly educated, as they are usually portrayed to be of the high society, apart from reading classics, read the newspaper, watch the news, learn a new word a day, know about important historic events, culture and try to get straight A's (if you're still a student).
- To inspire you on the way of becoming a gamine, read and memorize this very gamine quote by Audrey Hepburn:"I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and... I believe in miracles."
- Read Trinny and Susannah's "Who Do You Want To Be Today?" It has a chapter about gamines.
- Do gamine activities such as going to the theatre (to watch a play, not a movie, but a chick flick or cartoons are acceptable too), shopping at small grocery stores or street markets with a basket, going to a ballet, etc. Read classic books (especially children's classics like The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain); many of these classics are available free online, but a gamine always prefers real books (the old fashioned way). Listen to classical music (or at least 50's and 60's music like Brigitte Bardot's Moi Je Joue, a gamine anthem). And read magazines, write letters rather than e-mails, attend dinner parties, throw tea parties (hand deliver all written invitations) and overall, live in an old-fashioned yet whimsical way.
- A gamine's look has a school girl charm, but they don't really look like a school girl.
- The most popular gamine color is soft pink (especially tea rose pink), but pastel green or blue or yellow are other great and much more original gamine colors.
- The gamine look mostly fits girls with boyish bodies (that means girls with broad and thin shoulders, small chests, no curves, long and skinny legs and small hips) or the ones considered "petites", "waifs" or "cornets" (which is the look mostly seen on the runway). This is because it is hard to imagine a curvaceous child. But if you are curvy, try to wear gamine clothes that flatter your figure, as not all gamine clothes look good on curvy girls. Curvy gamines could have Winona Ryder as their fashion icon.
- There are other gamine sports too, for example ballet.
- Don't act too cheerful and optimistic; it can be cute and fun but too much is just plain annoying.
- People will try to take advantage because of your easygoing and cheerful naivety and desire to help. Don't be afraid to show them that as much as you like to be nice, you are no pushover and cannot be manipulated.
- There is a difference between being slightly naive and being stupid, know the difference.
- The fact that you're a childish gamine doesn't mean that you are supposed to behave as if you're immature. Being childishly alluring is the total antithesis to being an immature brat.
- Don't show cleavage, that is one of the least gamine things to do.
- This look fits better on boyish body rather than feminine hourglasses, so curvy girls who want to be gamines, remember to pick gamine clothes that flatter your shape rather than a boyish one.
- Don't listen to others that tell you that being sweet, childish and innocent is silly and immature, they're just jealous that you are being happy while they bore themselves trying to be "mature."
- Don't try to be sexy, you want to attract for being adorable, remember?
- "Gamine" doesn't mean "grandma-like" but "childlike". Even though gamines love old-fashioned, romantic clothing and lifestyle, they can still use computers and televisions. If you want to become a gamine, don't stop watching your favorite TV shows or YouTube videos (unless they're offensive, violent or contain harsh sexual language). But try to watch them only in your spare time, especially if they are useless and not educational. Gamines know how to manage their time between leisure and education. Spend about an hour a day maximum on electronic devices unless you have to use them for an educational purpose (homework, for example). But even so, gamines will always prefer books to computers when it comes to anything. If you have a research to do, use educational magazines and encyclopedias to computers. But if you really don't have the choice, use them, it's definitely not prohibited or anything. Just don't procrastinate and really do your homework. Gamines are mature and know where their priorities are.
Things You'll Need
- You don't need anything to be a gamine, as every interpretation is different, so you don't have to follow these 'rules' exactly. It is up to you how interpret a gamine, so we're not going to give you a list of things you'll need.