What do French Girls and Surfer Girls Have in Common?
At first thought, French Girls and Surfer Girls may not seem to have much in common. French style conjures up images of chic women with impeccable taste and a seemingly magical ability to eat a baguette a day and not be overweight; while beach style suggests bikinis, boho dresses, and rash guards. But here’s the thing. When I daydream about the Petite Surf muse and imagine her in her everyday life, she looks like Francoise Hardy…at the beach.
Hardy is the 1960s French singer and songwriter who’s minimalist fashion and effortless hair live on in current #frenchgirl trends that range from micellar water to curtain bangs. Long before there was Zoe Deschanel, there was Francoise Hardy and Jane Birkin inspiring women to wear less makeup and ask their hairdressers if they could pull off 1960s fringe.
I’ve copied the French Girl style since I was a teenager. I even came up with a short-lived brand of clothing called Plain Jane, which featured lots of terrible drawings of cigarette pants and striped tee shirts. If only we had Etsy back then…
I grew up in a beach town, where, safe to say, French Girl minimalism was not the trend. Surf and skate brands like Billabong, Vans, and Thrasher filled up local teenage closets. I was not a surfer girl, nor did I dress like one. For one thing, I was terrified of drowning, so I would stick to the shore and jump the waves like a toddler. And even if I wanted to dress like a wanna be Surfer Girl, I felt really intimidated by the surf shops. The local surf shops back in the 80s focused on dudes surfing or skateboarding and girls looking hot in bikinis. I was neither a cool, surfer girl nor a hot one, so I steered pretty clear of that scene. If anything, I was one of those girls who hung out at the skate parks or watched my male friends skateboard in parking lots. Pavement seemed much safer to me than strong currents. My bread and butter scene, though, was the music and art scene. We were big into vintage styles from the 1960s, feminism, and indie bands. We hung out at the beach, but not to work on our tans. We went to shows at beach venues and scoffed of the plethora of tourist shops. The beach may have been our stomping grounds, but it wasn’t our inspiration.
That’s changed for me. As an adult raising three kids in a beach town, I see the ocean, the piers, and the boardwalk as a enormous playground. I can walk down the beach in November and watch the sunset. I can do yoga on the beach during sunrise. We can ride bikes as a family down the boardwalk. And, perhaps best of all, we can splash in the waves during those off-season months when the weather is still hot but the crowds are gone. I still stick to the shore, but I love to watch the surfers brave the cold water and the undertow. The oceanfront, for me, has transformed from being a cheesy, tourist trap to a source of daily inspiration. But, I’m still not a Surfer Girl (or woman…) The indie girl in me will always pretend she’s a French girl strumming her guitar in a pair of jeans and a plain tee shirt with perfectly imperfect hair. I will always prefer jeans to a bathing suit. But, as a beach resident, I’ve learned to admire the Surfer Girl who once seemed too cool to approach. In fact, I’m thrilled to see girls and women surfing because I know realize how badass of a sport it is, particularly for women. I’ve come to appreciate the local surf shops because, well, that’s where my kids shop.
I now see more commonalities than differences between the French Indie muse of my youth and the spirit of the iconic Surfer Girl next door. Francoise Hardy may not have surfed, but she did ride motorcycles. French Girls and Surfer Girls both favor minimalism, natural beauty, and undone hair. Both seem laid back and care-free. Both love a boho hat. Both have better things to do than contour their faces. Both favor comfort to high-maintenance. And both inspire generations of girls and women to embrace their authentic, natural selves. Of course, not every French Girl looks like Francoise Hardy, and not every Surfer Girl is opposed to contouring. But the spirit of these icons is complementary, and it just so happens to be the inspiration behind Petite Surf. The Petite Surf woman is one who embraces natural beauty, simplicity, minimalism, freedom, and imperfection. And it turns out, those are values that can cross an ocean.
Pictured above | Francoise Hardy in yellow motorcycle jumsuit and on the beach. Professional longboard surfer and business owner, Kassia Meador of Kassia + Surf