Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Myth of French Chic

Paris in the Summer
On the Pont Marie  Longchamps bag, Cole-Haan sandals,Banana Republic top, Old Navy tee

  To be a Frenchwoman!  That was one of my earliest dreams. When I was in junior high, I got really lucky when Dominique moved in next door to us, a 24 year old Frenchwoman whose American husband was in the service and always away.   She became my mentor (we didn't use that word then) and I frankly worshiped her.  She was from, of all places, Biarritz.  Heaven!
  She had a wonderful French chic: a Sassoon style haircut in a reddish color when no one had Sassoon or was doing red. She didn't wear foundation often, but her skin was lovely. No matter what she put on, she was sexy - and she had 2 adorable litttle girls that I wanted for my own.
  She was one in a thousand, so I was really lucky to have her living next door to me. She taught me a lot, but the best lesson was to be "happy in your own skin."
  I've just returned from Paris, and while I adore Paris, love, love the French (who were wonderfully sweet and very, very friendly), and will still look to it as a style capital, the idea that French women are undeniably chic is a myth.
  I was all over Paris, from Montmartre to the Bastille, to the Left Bank, to St. Germaine, and the number of truly chic women I saw could be counted on the fingers of one hand. True, I didn't see tacky, that is the purview of the Americans, but I didn't see chic either. I saw women who dressed okay, pretty young girls in colorful dresses (the greatest difference between Paris and the D.C. area where I live), but not the kind of style that makes you want to follow a woman down the street and say, "How do you do that?!"
  On Blvd. St. Germain, I saw some women who looked elegant, but no more so than those I see shopping in Georgetown or at Tyson's here in the metro area.
  However, that does not mean that French women do not have much to teach us because they do.  If we took their lessons about grooming, skincare, clothing, and accessories to heart, we would look better, be happier, and probably have more money. Why? Here's why:
  1. The first lesson: self-confidence (being happy in your own skin). It's powerfully chic and very sexy!
   2. Less is more.  You don't need all those clothes.  Buy good clothes, but only a few (two pairs of jeans tops!) You can afford the good clothes if you don't feel that you have to go a month without wearing the same outfit.  French women wear the same outfit more than once a week, but they change it up with accessories and other pieces.
   3. Buy good accessories: own a Hermes scarf and wear it different ways.  Make sure that you have good, real jewelry, a really good umbrella, a decent hat to wear when it is really cold. 
   4. Your shoes should be comfortable, but still look polished. No bulky white trainers. A small heel because you walk a lot.
   5. Don't wear your workout clothes unless you are working out.
   6. Spend your money on a good haircut.
   7. Take care of your skin. Makeup removal every night! Use creams every night and day as well as sunscreen.  Don't try to get a super tan.
   8. Don't pile on makeup, but always wear a bit of mascara, blush, and lipgloss at least.
   9. Make sure that your entire wardrobe for any season could fit in a single armoire.
   10.  Amend your diet the minute you are one pound overweight.
   11. Femininity is good.
   12. Every item you purchase must be becoming to you - color, shape, fit, style.
Ines de la Fressange, the current style icon is 53 years old.
Marion Cotillard is classic perfection.
Big handbags are everywhere in Paris. Chic outfit, but you can tell it wasn't bought as a "set".
French women wear lots of neutrals with pops of color.
So, yes, there is more, so much more that French women could teach us that they take for granted.


Marianne said...

I love your posts. Must have been great to be in Paris and you look very chic yourself. I do have too many clothes and I need to clean out my closet. That would make my husband happy too. :)

Tami Von Zalez said...

Don't know if I could go for the single armoire tip but two thumbs up on the rest of your advice!

Popped in from Follow Friday.

Donnachloe said...

Thanks, Marianne, Paris was great and very cool.
Tami, a single armoire for a season-it's wonderfully liberating, but I am still trying to accomplish that myself!
Hugs, Donnachloe