Paris est le mode de vie … et de la mode est l’air que je respire . . .
(Paris is the lifestyle … and fashion is the air I breathe . . .)
Paris, mon amour, Parisienne! Every girl, at least once in her life, has dreamt to be a Parisienne, if not in the soul, at least in the style. I’ve always loved the classic, well put together French fashion. A pair of casual skinny jeans, cute comfortable flats, subtle elegant pearls and a simple lightweight scarf to tie it all together. The Parisienne seem to have the laid back, chic style down … all the way to the perfect red lipstick. Stylish French fashion items that have us dreaming of walking down the streets of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré with a fresh baguette and a warm cup of café or just sitting by the side café watching people strolled by!
Parisienne of a certain age are universally admired for their timeless elegance. Not only do they appear eternally young, but they remain slim and stylish throughout their lives. It’s this effortlessness which makes the rest of us feel so lacking. For most people, the Parisienne represents the quintessential French woman. She is slender, feminine, self-confident and, especially, has a certain je ne sais quoi that leaves everyone wondering what it is she has that other women can’t seem to get no matter how hard they try.
There is more to the French woman than style and chic. The things that make her interesting is the combination of steely determination, femininity, self-confidence, and sheer manipulation. In a nutshell, French women speak softly and carry a very big stick. 🙂 Perhaps, I am talking about our ideal Parsienne, the one we all refer to when talking about the French woman, the one we equate with style and chic.
When it comes to the Paris way of life, there is only one true rule slow down. Trust me this is real, take your time, be fashionably late and do not stress about getting to your destination. It’s only going to leave you feeling and looking flustered which is never a word used to describe a cool, calm and collected Parisienne. Paris is the home of the renowned café culture, where the picture-perfect cinematic scene of a sitting outside a café at a metal table, sipping a coffee and reading the newspaper is a genuine day to day life story.
There’s nothing like being in Paris to make a girl feel a bit inadequate. Especially if you happen to be there during fashion week when the chicest, sleekest and most beautifully attired locals are out in force. Certainly not every Parisienne is superbly dressed but there is definitely a fashion coveting girl around most corners.
So what is it about French women that gives them that je ne sais quoi that women the world over are dying to achieve?
Think Effortless. What separates French women and American women. American women seem to care a lot about what people think about them, while Parisienne women don’t and they are very nonchalant about it. They just don’t seem to care and it’s a mystery … Parisienne looks effortless, while Americans can be high maintenance. One of the ways that Parisienne women keep that effortlessness is by embracing the no makeup look. It’s not that Parisienne women don’t wear makeup, it’s just that they look very natural wearing their makeup. Doing your makeup shouldn’t take more than five to ten minutes. French women favor understated makeup that doesn’t shout for attention. In fact, most French women wear almost nothing but some foundation, mascara and a hint of lipstick colour on their lips. Perhaps, I think the makeup minimalism most likely reflects the innate confidence that French women have.
The key confident pieces to a true Parisienne’s closet are:
She knows & understand what works for her
A French woman knows the styles and cuts that work for her, and with that comes confidence. She wears the clothes and not the other way around. Classic cuts and fabrics that flatter her body, rather than trendy pieces, form the mainstay of her wardrobe, ensuring there is never a moment of doubt about what she’s wearing.
Keep it simple & colour coordinated
Subtlety is key when dressing like the French. Never mix more than three loud colours at once. Stay with navy, black, beige or grey and throw on a colourful scarf, belt or shoes to enhance the overall palette of the current outfit.
Invest in basic key pieces
If you were to go through any French woman’s closet you’re likely find the six staples: a beautiful pair of high heels, skinny black jeans (leather optional), a leather jacket, oversized cashmere sweater, a large scarf and a black dress of course. She splurges on these because she knows they will always stay in fashion, no matter what the trends are.
Accessories, accessories, accessories
Accessories can enhance or break the outfit. French women know this and invest in excellent quality shoes and bags. After all, an expensive bag or shoes can help bring together any high street outfit making it look polished and sophisticated. Again, eschew trendy designs and colours that will probably only last a season, and opt for more classic shapes. They are extremely stylish and just right with whatever else they have on. Whether tennis shoes or high heels, la Parisienne spends an inordinate amount of time finding exactly the right footwear. Shoes and the handbag (but not necessarily matching) are probably the two most essential elements in her wardrobe. Other accessories that French women rely on to add some pizzazz to an outfit are belts, scarves, hats, hair accessories and even tights. As always, remember less is more.
The style of a woman in France is quite and art form. They swear by classic silhouettes altered to fit perfectly. They collect quirky jewelry, scarves, sunglasses, rings, necklaces, in contrasting colors and textures. Scarves are a must in the French wardrobe.
When the French women say, ” il faut souffrir pour être belle ” the meaning is that you can’t look nice if you put comfort first. Actually many Parisiennes do search for comfort as well. They just manage never to look like comfort was the first concern. Simply in other words “Il faut souffrir pour être belle.” (You have to suffer to be beautiful)
French women follow Coco Chanel’s rule: “Before you leave the house, take a look in the mirror and take one thing off.”
The No No’s of The Parisiennes | Things they will NOT have in their closets.
- Three inch heels, definitely a bit higher or plain flats but not halfway
- Logos, clothing items with clear advertising intentions
- Nylon, polyester, viscose and vinyl will make you sweaty, smelly and shiny
- No man should ever see you in those leggings, exercise pieces as street wear
- Bling bling jeans with embroidery and lots of intenional large holes in them.
- UGG boots . . . Enough said.
- A skimpy top.
- A fake designer bag
That long ago experience was, I believe, lesson number one in how to approach being a Frenchwoman. Look chic, even when lying on a hospital bed. 🙂 I always feel like a complete woman of style and elegance the minute I am back home in Paris. Being in a city with such beautiful architecture and surroundings makes one want to be beautiful, to shine, to radiate, to please at any age. Paris creates an osmosis between itself and us. Living in Paris is like being in a room of wonderful furniture. You want to dress up and look good to fit in with the surroundings.
When Caroline de Maigret, Audrey Diwan, Sophie Mas and Anne Berest wrote and released their book “How To Be Parisian – Wherever You Are”, the world’s fascination with French women and their seemingly idyllic lives hit a whole new level. With their effortlessly chic style, radiant skin and fringes that fall in a way that none of us can seem to pull off no matter how hard we try. The Parisian look possesses a certain “je ne sais quoi” that is undeniably in every essence of the word.
Personally, I have not read this book yet, but heard many good reviews about it. For further information on the book and to read all the customer reviews on the book, you can go HERE to find out more.
Books to read about life & styles of the French women :
Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide To Finding Her Inner French Girl | By Debra Ollivier
French women don’t get fat | By Mireille Guiliano
French women don’t get facelifts | By Mireille Guiliano
What french women know | By Debra Ollivier
Parisiennes: a celebration of french women | By Carole Bouquet
and MORE books . . .
I have posted a blog all fascinations on French reading books a few days ago. There are many french inspired reading books available, I have gathered a good collection of book based on the reviews from the consumers. You can go HERE to see more books from my previous post.
What do you think about Parisienne dressing style? Are you in love with French chic way of dressing as I am?
Happy Feeling Parisian Inspired! 🙂