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French New Wave Fashion & Style: Jean Seberg

  © 2021 Hitchman
Jean Seberg quote

Although she was born in Iowa, Jean Seberg (along with British singer Jane Birkin) was partially responsible for pioneering the sort of laid-back, bohemian, gamine look many of us still associate with French style today. Jean Seberg became famous at the age of just 17 when she was chosen from 18,000 other young hopefuls by Otto Preminger to play the title character in his film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play St Joan (1957).

However, it was her performance -- where she appeared dressed simply in cropped trousers and a simple New York Herald Tribune T-shirt -- in Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960) that made her a popular film star and a fashion icon. To the French youth of the time, Jean represented the epitome of modern liberated womanhood. Effortlessly stylish, her look became the new ideal, and girls began asking their hairdressers for ‘la coupé Seberg' — the close-cropped hairstyle that was her trademark. Of course, others were quick to copy her slouchy Breton tops, chunky knit jumpers with Peter Pan collars, cigarette pants and ballet pumps. After the film’s release, her image and her look was everywhere, imitated across countless magazine covers and billboards around the world.

Jean's career continued beyond her Breathless image, as she was shuttled back and forth between Europe and America through the rest of the 1960s, acting in such notable films as Five Day Lover (1961), Lilith (1964), Line of Demarcation (1966), as well as the big-budget Hollywood musical Paint Your Wagon (1969). More often than not, however, it was her often-controversial personal life outside the cinema for which she became best known. Her relaxed, independent image and style were, ironically, very different from the emotionally vulnerable, often anxious woman underneath. Tragically, Jean Seberg committed suicide in Paris in 1979 at the age of just 40. Although she appeared in 34 films, it is her unforgettable performance in Breathless for which she is still best remembered.

You can read more about her life and films on our biography page. Or select one of the headings below to read more about her style!

..Jean Seberg Style Cheat Sheet

Jean SebergAttitude:

  • independent, gamine, thoughtful, boyish, cool


    • Minimal, neutral palette or stripes, with the occasional brightly solid coloured piece for contrast
    • Breton striped shirts and striped dresses
    • Little flared dresses with belts and Peter Pan collars
    • Sleeveless tops in fine fabrics, with or without buttons and/or statement collar
    • Slouchy loose-knit sweaters in plain, solid colours or stripes
    • Androgynous white T-shirts with rolled sleeves, worn with tailored trousers or loose cuffed jeans, or sometimes high waisted shorts
    • Flats or loafers with bare legs


  • Cat-eye sunglasses
  • Fedora hat
  • minimal jewelry – simple stud earrings, pearl chokers, or a wrapped strand of beads

Hair: jean seberg makeup

  • Short, androgynous pixie haircut
  • Groomed eyebrows


  • Minimal, "no make-up" look
  • Eye lined only on upper lids or not at all
  • Subtle peachy blush and matching lipstick, or rosy hues depending on overall look


In the 1960-70s she may have worn: rive gauche ysl
  • YSL "Rive Gauche" – Seberg was fond of Yves St Laurent and herself lived on the Left Bank in the 60s and early 70s.
  • Chantilly "Houbigant" - a bottle of perfume is seen on a dresser in her character's room in Breathless that appears to be Houbigant
  • Guerlain "Chamade" - a scent inspired by Francoise Sagan’s novel “La Chamade”. Sagan also wrote “Bonjour Tristesse”, which Seberg starred in.

Modern perfumes that evoke her spirit:

  • Miller Harris "L’Air du Rien"
  • Maison Margiela "Lazy Sunday Morning Replica"
  • Diptyque "Fleur de Peau"

Channelling her today you might wear:jean seberg style

We know that Jean Seberg had copious Yves Saint Laurent, Courrèges, Givenchy and Ungaro in her real life wardrobe in the 1960s and 70s. In times since, many labels have copied her look (Chanel recently did a Nouvelle Vague show with models made up to look like Jean Seberg). Nowadays, however, you might try mixing and matching pieces from:


  • Theory
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Jil Sander
  • Prada
  • Calvin Klein
  • J Crew
  • French Connection
  • Gap
  • & Other Stories


..Jean Seberg Fashion Scrapbook

1950s-1960s Jean:

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jean seberg fashionjean seberg fashionjean seberg fashionjean seberg fashion

jean seberg fashionjean seberg fashion

jean seberg fashionjean seberg fashionjean seberg fashion

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Modern Designers Inspired by Jean:

seberg inspired fashion
Kaia Gerber in Chloe S/S 2020
seberg inspired fashion
Fendi 2017 A/W collection
seberg inspired fashion
Dior A/W 2018 inspired by the French New Wave

seberg inspired fashionseberg inspired fashionseberg inspired fashionseberg inspired fashion
French New Wave inspired Chanel S/S 2020 collection
seberg inspired fashion
seberg inspired fashion

Christy Turlington as Jean Seberg by Ellen von Unwerth in Vogue 2011. See enlarged images for fashion credits.
seberg inspired fashion
seberg inspired fashion
various designers from recent Elle Australia editorial
seberg inspired fashion
--- enlarge cinema image above for credits ---
seberg inspired fashion

..Jean Seberg Beauty How-tos

Jean Seberg makeup tutorial:

Things to help perfect your look:

anna karina nail polish
Hermes "Rose Abricot" Silky Blush
Auto-Graphique Liner
Surratt Beauty "Auto-Graphique" Liner
mac angel lipstick
Mac "Leave Me Breathless" Amplified Lipstick
yardley english lavender YSL Rive Gauche


..Jean Seberg Style Inspiration

Videos to get you in the Jean Seberg spirit!

Mood Boards:

jean seberg fashion jean seberg fashion jean seberg fashion


Click on the image of each actress below to read more about her style, including lists of looks, clothing and makeup tips, and plenty of references to help you recreate their looks.

French New Wave Fashion
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