Being a francophile, I almost shop on impulse the second I see French fashion-inspired clothing; especially t-shirts with French text! Luckily, my francophile interest is almost "all-encompasing." I love making myself uncomfortable when it comes to cultural experiences. I have a tradition of traveling to francophone locations during summer vacations. I've been learning French for the past 10 years. I have a library of French cookbooks. Being a francophile is a hobby that is not only entertaining, but educational.
When I first traveled to Paris, I witnessed Parisian [French] sophistication at its best: quality blazers, button-up blouses, loafers, etc. I did see a small selection of text-tees, as I call them. America has started to accommodate a French-themed fashion in its stores. Recently, I've noticed faux French-themed fashion. Let's take a look at the "Do's and Dont's" of "French" text-tees sold in American clothing stores.
TRULY MADLY DEEPLY FRENCH CROSS
TEXT MUSCLE TANK TOP
This cute muscle tee from Urban Outfitters is a DO. You will see that the translation of the 7 Deadly Sins (Les 7 peches capitaux, the term in French) corresponds correctly from English to French and vice-versa. This is a fun way to make a statement while looking chic with a French touch.
Longline Jaloux Lovers Tee
The cut of this shirt is too fashionable; the font of the text, too! But what bothers me so much about this shirt? Given the French grammar and language context, this tee does not make sense. With this shirt, Forever 21 wants to say, "Jealous Lovers." To make it easy, they translated "jealous" (jaloux) and kept the text "lovers" in English (perhaps a tactic made to appeal to their English-speaking buyers). The English term "Jealous Lovers" would be translated to French asAmants jaloux. In the tee,jaloux is placed above, or in front of, Lovers, thus interrupting the French grammar and language standard. Being such a strictler when it comes to French language, for me, this t-shirt is not necessarily a do, yet not necessarily a don't. We could also, perhaps, say that the two words are visually incompatible as indicated by font size. This may go to say that the two words can be read as two separate entities: Jaloux, and Lovers.
Forever 21's attempted message on this shirt is, "Dream on, Dreamer." Their error? This was a direct and incorrect translation.Rêve is the noun, "dream."Sur is the preposition, "on."Rêveur means "dreamy" or "dazed." Having broken down the translation, you can now see that this really is inaccurate! If you were to wear this t-shirt in a francophone country, you'd notice that the message is surely lost.
French lesson of the day: I'll give you four correct translations of the phrase "Dream on" in English. All translations are interchangeable and mean just about the same thing.
Tu rêves! (Two rev) You're dreaming!
Compte dessus! (Cohmp day-soo) Bet on it!
C'est ça! (Say sah) That's it!
Tu peux toujours rêver! (Two peuh too-zhoor rev-ay) Well, you can always dream!
Now, let me show youmy most recent purchasefrom (yet again) Forever 21. It is indeed a French text-sweater that reads,Bourgeois. This is a sweater which I consider fun to wear and tease in America, but the fun, happy-go-lucky message may not directly find place in a francophone dialect.The term translates as, someone who belongs to the middle class, a citizen, or a townsperson. Paired with the wordbohème asbourgeois-bohème, the phrase becomes "elegant chic" or "urban sophisticate". There are so many ways to play with, or interpret, this sweater, and that's why (after much consideration) it received a "DO" stamp.
Look at how I accessorized the look!
French text-sweater from Forever 21
Vintage, Hèrmes-inspired pattern
These kinds of "evaluations" are one of my favorite "hobbies" to while shopping. So, expect more in the near future!
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