Woman of Style: Carla Bruni-Sarkozy

If the wives of state heads conjure up stuffy, old-lady fashion, may we present a new role model? Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the First Lady of France, prefers elegance to flash (and to that we can only say, mais oui). She brings fresh style into a traditional role with her signature look: classic, modern shapes, all perfectly tailored to her slender frame.

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Learn to Layer: Coordinating coats

“Never make outerwear an afterthought” is one rule that Bruni-Sarkozy clearly follows, and with good reason: Coats can pull a look together (and the lightweight versions are seasonless). A three-quarter style in a bold color—or a neutral that’s easy to incorporate—will work over pants and skirts of every length (let the dress hem peek out).


Brioni angora coat, $2,690; 888-778-8775 for stores.


CH Carolina Herrera wool dress, $595; 212-744-2076.

Photo by Jens Mortensen

Capitalize on Details

Jimmy Choo kid leather heels, $495; 866-524-6687 for stores.

Photo by Jens Mortensen

Richly Colored Accessories

Roberta Chiarella Swarovski crystal earrings, $88; robertachiarella.com

Photo by Jens Mortensen

Frocks with Finesse

Bruni-Sarkozy understands the power of enlivening a simple silhouette with one striking detail, such as an eye-catching neckline. Other first lady faves? Buttons, waist ties and asymmetrical hemlines.


David Meister poly blend knit dress, $320; davidmeister.com

Photo by Jens Mortensen

Classic, Lady-Like Bags

Brahmin croc-embossed leather satchel, $275; brahmin.com

Photo by Jens Mortensen

Transcend Trends: Timeless Classics

Ladylike shapes (the shift, the sheath, the pencil skirt) will always endure and work well on most bodies. Spend on the best fabric you can afford; the design may be simple, but the material will make it look luxe.


Ports 1961 felted wool bouclé coat, $1,110; Nordstrom, 888-282-6060.


Streets Ahead patent leather belt, $82; 800-669-8218.

Photo by Jens Mortensen

Ultra Feminine Accents

Tiffany & Co. leather gloves, $245; tiffany.com

Photo by Jens Mortensen

Structured Style

Hester van Eeghen calfskin purse, $895; hveus.com

Photo by Jens Mortensen

Classically Cool Accessories

Christian Louboutin patent leather flats, $575; 310-247-9300.

Photo by Jens Mortensen

Limit Your Color Choices: Notable Neutrals

Whether at work or play, Bruni-Sarkozy adheres to a color palette of mainly grays, blues and basic black. Her consistency creates a signature look and allows her to mix and match everything in her wardrobe.


The Pashmina Store cashmere scarf, $36; thepashminastore.com


Loft polyester blazer, $70; loftonline.com for similar styles


Calvin Klein jeans cotton and elasterell jeans, $70; calvinkleinjeans.com

Photo by Jens Mortensen

Basic, Classic Shapes

Oliver Peoples acetate and hammered-metal sunglasses, $390; 310-657-2553.

Photo by Jens Mortensen

Simple Style

Coach leather purse with brass hardware, $398; 866-262-2440 for stores.


Emulate another stylish woman—Hollywood favorite, and major fashion icon, Cate Blanchett.


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Photo by Jens Mortensen

First Published January 25, 2011

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