Left: Cover of Marie France Coaching Rondes. Right: 2 page spread showing larger sized models wearing dresses

|| 3 July 2016

Les Rondes

Our Chic & Slim special correspondent in France sent a shocking publication: a French style manual for “the rounds.”

SHOCKING. After all these years of seeing increasingly thin figures of the models in French fashion magazines, the Marie France publication Coaching Rondes was a shock.

A note: The French have adopted the English term “coaching.” I have noticed that women’s magazines use the term as American magazines would use “how to.” Rondes is the polite term the French have devised to denote women who are not super slim. Take heart, you who are not yet as slim as you would like to be. You are not fat. You are round.

Our Chic & Slim special correspondent in France Kat spotted the publication this spring. She thoughtfully purchased the publication and packaged up the 100-page book in magazine format and shipped it to me. (Merci, merci, Kat) She thought all of us at Chic & Slim would find the book interesting. Her enclosed note read (in part):

I spotted this at the supermarket checkout, and my first thought was “What is the message here?” Is it saying “Go ahead and eat that trolleyful of crap. You’ll be fat, but we can still make you look good.” Or ”Put that garbage back now, get down to the local shops and buy some proper food.”

My first thought as I turned the pages and saw the hefty (some Very hefty) models was that Marie France magazine had reacted to the recently-passed French law against extremely thin models in fashion publications. They had said: “You want not-too-thin models, okay we will give you not-too-thin models.”

But with more analysis, I changed my mind. I believe what has prompted a fashion guide for larger size women has another explanation. And it is NOT that suddenly great numbers of French women have started getting fat.

The publication is not aimed at French women. Rather it is aimed at the large number of women from other European Union countries, as well as from North Africa and West Africa, currently living in France. And there are hundreds of thousands of these women.

For a variety of reasons, primarily heredity and traditional food habits, a great many of these immigrant women are not super slim, nor do they have the small bone structure and small busts of many French women.

Until recently (as noted by many larger-sized tourists in France) French clothing stores did not offer women’s clothing sizes much above 12. And that was 12 before ego-sizing.

So this Coaching Rondes publication and the articles for the “Rondes” that you are now seeing in French women’s magazines are aimed at giving larger-size women living in France fashion guidance and pointing them to sources where they can buy clothing that fits them.

This little Marie France publication is remarkably comprehensive. It covers: jeans, dresses, skirts, tops, jackets, beach coverups, swim suits, sunglasses, shoes, cosmetics, hair styles and hair color.

Coaching Rondes gives specific information on prices, available sizes and where to buy the featured fashions and related products.

I noticed in my research that most of the articles in French women’s magazines for Rondes were aimed at women with limited budgets for clothing. I did not find articles for the “Rondes” in fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle whose featured fashions are generally expensive.

The French have always been good at converting the waves of immigrants into their country into becoming — and certainly dressing — “French.” Think of some of our quintessential chic French women. Fashion model Inès de la Fressange’s mother was Argentinian. Actress Juliette Binoche’s mother was Polish. Anne Hidalgo, Paris' first woman mayor, was born in Spain. French politician Rachida Dati’s father is Moroccan, her mother Algerian. The “French” actress Romy Schneider, so devoted to Chanel’s fashions, was German, born in Austria.

One more comment. The French know — and I learned from them, and have been telling you — that Chic is your passport to Slim. This publication coaching the Rondes in chic may also be the first step toward making them slimmer.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

Image left: Marie France Coaching Rondes cover. Image right: pages 44 and 45