For the last four weeks, we have discussed what makes the fabulous French women, well, look so fabulous! Our authors Tish Jett and Ines de la Fressange have stressed the Parisian love of the simple, classic, neutral styling.
However, Tish is about to take us to discover the pièce de résistance…”where Frenchwomen of a certain age excel.”
In her book, Forever Chic: Frenchwomen’s Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style, and Substance (affiliate link), Tish writes:
“Accessories say more about personal style than the clothes they enhance. It’s not difficult to construct a chic, workable wardrobe once a woman finds the basics that work for her, but it is the addition of singularly individual accoutrements that add her indelible, personal flair.”
Tish confesses that for years she was timid about accessories, but once she moved to France, she realized she was not making a statement or expressing her true personality. Now, she is rarely seen without a scarf. ”I feel as if something is off if I am not wearing one.”
I, on the other hand, was an over-the-top accessorie fan! For years, I did not know how to dress; did not feel comfortable in my own clothes; felt large; unconfident; so I over compensated by piling on the accessories. In between, the boring and the ridiculous are the French using accessories to display true artistry and “eloquently proclaim the taste and personality of the woman wearing them.”
Again, I encourage you to purchase Tish’s book, for I am just skimming the surface and you will enjoy all of the stories and interviews around the main messages, so here are the highlights about accessories:
- You do not need to spend large amounts of money. “Coco Chanel liberated women twice, first, from their corsets and then by proving it was unspeakably chic to wear faux jewels.”
- Accessories are always a great first step into a new season. Keep this in mind as we approach fall. Tish writes, “Let me explain: The vast majority of Frenchwomen of a certain age live primarily in neutrals. No matter. It’s the addition of a scarf, a shawl, a shoe, a belt, a cuff bracelet, a pair of gloves, a necklace perhaps, or a combination of the above, that announces instantly, ‘I’m on message.’”
- About purses. “Frenchwomen go to great lengths to seek out the obscure designers and boutiques that offer only the unusual, and there they find their special it’s-all-about-me-bags.”
- Their bags and shoes never match. Plus, sometimes I think we believe all Frenchwomen walk around, all day, in top designer heels. Tish writes heels are for special occasions. “Frenchwomen of a certain age prove every day that elegance and comfort are not mutually exclusive…the have collections of ballerinas, and, at least a couple of pairs of moccasins in their closets. They are booted up and, contrary to conventional wisdom, ankle-grazing boots have no age limits.”
- Jewelry is where style becomes most personal with heirloom pieces and those designed and gifted just to you. Style can develop through the combination of the expensive and inexpensive pieces. Just remember, the Frenchwoman is not wearing earrings, bracelets, necklaces, watches, or brooches all at the same time. Tish warns to be on the safe side – “Remember, a mirror is a woman’s best friend. When too much is truly too much, remove the excess.”
- Despite our smart phones constantly telling us the time, the women of France still wear watches. They usually have “one single precious version they wear most of the time.”
- Finally, scarves are where “Frenchwomen are most in their element.” Tish writes, “Scarves are perhaps the simplest way to make a personal statement. Words of caution: scarves can be tied ‘old’ or they can be tied ‘young.’ If you detect any hint of dadame (dowdy), quickly untie and start over.” I might add there are helpful scarf tying videos on YouTube. Also, do not forget that shawls are not just for later years. Tish calls them the je ne sais quoi of many outfits, particularly a gorgeous, simple, black cashmere shawl. Here’s a video showing nine ways to wear a scarf like a Frenchwoman. No one ties a scarf like a Parisienne!
Currently, July sales feature quality, beautiful accessories. Go have fun playing and deciding how you will communicate your personal style!
So, what is your favorite accessory? Are you currently in the boring or over-the-top camp, and perhaps ready for a change?
Let’s talk! Thanks for stopping by The Joy Boutique…have a fun, joyful week everyone!
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Tish Jett recently learned that Forever Chic has won third place, a bronze medal, in the INDIE FAB BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS! Congratulations to Tish for this wonderful book. It is a much deserved honor!