How to Master The French Allure

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Of all sartorial influences in existence, Parisians easily rank the highest. The city of light’s fashion resume not only touts it as home to storied design houses like Chanel, Givenchy, and Chloe, but it is often credited for a no-fuss style that, indubitably, makes its natives all the more appealing. Celebrity style stars like Alexa Chung and Taylor Swift regularly cite French-born Francoise Hardy and French film actress Jane Birkin as influencers, women whose chic and often tomboy style, as well as notable talents, are often replicated.

Endless books have attempted to solve this conundrum-how does one capture that Parisian spirit which is tied as much to fashion choices as it is to lifestyle? One of the more recent tomes on the subject, Caroline de Maigret’s just-released How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits, tackles the query head on. The former model, designer muse, mother, and record label co-owner, with an enviable model-off duty style and “it girl” cool factor, employed her friends to help in giving insights on various caveats of their lives. Infused with advice on the basics-aging, motherhood, how to compile wardrobe staples, etc. are various cheeky bits of humor, such as how to juggle a lover (?!), but rest assured-the women are simply playing with French stereotypes. Below are a few of my favorite tips (and witticisms) that I gleaned from the book:

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On fashion:

Essentials: Men’s shoes. Simply because everyone says that these chic, flat shoes aren’t meant for women but you’re a contrarian by nature. in fact, that’s the very essence of your style.

…Too much cleavage leaves too little to the imagination. It’s like serving dessert before anyone has even touched their appetizer. It tries too hard, shows its hand too quickly, and betrays a certain lack of self-confidence. Like a girl who talks so incessantly there’s nothing left to ask.

The Parisienne wears very little jewelry. A fine chain, a simple ring, a family heirloom. It is as discreet as possible, and should subtly suit you. It’s your trademark.

On beauty:

Frenchwomen avoid using foundation, which merely serves as a shroud and therefore trivializes.

…The Parisian retains her little imperfections, cherishes them even (the gap in her smile or her slightly crooked tooth, her prominent eyebrows or strong nose): these are the signs of a certain strength of character and allow her to feel beautiful without being perfect.

On aging:

Sure, some women sometimes master the art of Botox, but most of the time, let’s be honest: instead of a face of wrinkles, what you really see is the face of fear.

On entertaining:

The trick lies not in being a gourmet chef, but rather mastering a couple of recipes perfectly. One of them should be easy so that you can rustle it up at the last minute. The other should be very complicated, to wow your friends.

It’s best to buy cheese from a cheese shop. But this is what even the biggest Parisian snobs will do: they’ll buy all their cheese at the best cheese shop in paris, except for the Camembert, which they’ll buy at the supermarket. Preferably the Lepetit brand.

On courtesies:

When on the phone, no need to small talk. “Hi, how are you.” Get to the point. Hang up as soon as you have your answer. End all of your calls with “See you later,” even with people you won’t see for another year.

You don’t share the photos from your last ultrasound with your entire address book: you still have some secrets.

On love:

The Parisienne is in love with the idea of love. To a pathological degree. Her entire life revolves around the flutterings of her heart.

If he’s the right horse, he’ll come back at a gallup.

Mantras to live by:

Have a Saturday night on a Wednesday.

Don’t forget to daydream in the bath, just like when you were little.

Be friends with people of different generations. (Both young and old, but especially the old).

On home:

The decoration and life of your home should be organized around natural light. It is daylight that dictates the layout of your apartment and regulates its very heartbeat.

Tricks:

Every Parisian has a notebook in her purse, preferably a black Moleskine, in which she’s constantly toting down all sorts of things.

 

 

Photos-Clockwise, from top left: Francois Hardy Audrey Tatou Catherine Deneuve, Who What Wear; Brigitte Bargot, GQ;

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2 comments

  1. There’s just something about Paris. I love this!
    I have a fashion blog if you’d like to check it out: http://thegeekchickblog.com/
    Camila

  2. Hi Sarah. This is such a wonderful post! I loved reading every bit of it. :)

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