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Parisian Chic: What the French Can Teach Us About Style

Since we meet each week in an imaginary boutique on an imaginary boulevard,  please join me in imagining a special corner of that boutique where we will now sit for a cup of tea surrounded by French Country décor, wrapped in the sounds of Henry Mancini’s “Moon River,” as we look over a watercolor scene of the Eiffel Tower. Now let’s talk about Parisian style!

Yes, our discussions will now turn from a New York author to two talented women who will help us to understand the power of Frenchwomen and their style.  We so often forget how American fashion and beauty are influenced by France–but they are.  So, there is much to learn from the fabulous streets of Paris!

Ines de la Fressange is a former French model for Karl Lagerfeld now turned fashion businesswoman and  co-author of Parisian Chic, a style guide penned with Sophie  Gachet. I discovered her book in 2011 when I was seeking to learn how to dress chic and confident, two of the messages I desired to send with my personal style.

The book begins with six ways Parisian women find fun with fashion:

  1. OUTFITS ARE OUT – “The Parisian is a free spirit – she does not buy a matching blouse and skirt from the same store.  The rule is simple:  Chic means never having to buy a complete outfit.”
  2. BYE BYE BLING – “Never look rich – glitter and logos are not her thing.  Her definition of luxury is a brand that guarantees good taste, rather than all- too- obvious price tag.”
  3. EXPLORE J’ADORE – “The Parisian loves discovering new labels, especially if they are creative and affordably priced.  Her wardrobe is a clever mix of cheap and affordable buys, holiday purchases, and a handful of luxury pieces…she has faith in her own talent as a fashion stylist.”
  4. IF IT FEELS GOOD, WEAR IT – “The secret of great style is to feel good in what you wear.  The Parisian knows her shape, what suits her, and what matches her lifestyle.”
  5. WORSHIP NO IDOLS – “The Parisian never worships fashion idols.  Her personal fashion idol may not be famous.  The more obscure, the better in fact.  Like the best designers, she takes inspiration from the street.”
  6. BEWARE OF GOOD TASTE – “Fashion is constantly evolving and that is what makes it so interesting.”  Parisians don’t really follow other rules…they create their own.  An example?  When Yves Saint Laurent gave Parisians the permission to wear black with navy… “now a must for every elegant soiree.”

There you have it:  the Parisian woman’s state of mind when it comes to fashion.

Next week, I will bring you the must-have pieces in every French wardrobe (according to the book)!  I hope this series will help some as much as it has helped me.  I have often said, ten years ago I became a student of fashion, beauty, and style.  I love sharing with you what I have learned.  Some of it, you will toss and some you will internalize…I hope you find it fascinating and informative!

Do you identify with any of the six descriptions for how the French see fashion?  Please share. Then, for stopping by The Joy Boutique on the Midlife Boulevard, and our answer to the Champs-Elysees, I say, “Merci Beaucoup.”

Have a wonderful week!

midlife boulevard, columnist, midlife women, middle-age, midlife crisis

Pamela Lutrell

Pamela Lutrell began her blog, over50feeling40, July 2010 with a desire to encourage women over 50 to walk in strength, confidence and joy. Of course, head turning style makes each day fun!

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Wednesday 11th of June 2014

I absolutely identify with these ideas! The French style is understated which I love! I go to Paris for a month twice a year and my eye is always drawn to the understated confidence of a well-dressed French woman. It is so easy to spot tourists in comparison!


Wednesday 11th of June 2014

Absolutely wonderful article.


Tuesday 10th of June 2014

Very interesting. When I studied French in college as a fashion major, I was always in awe of the style of the French women. Sounds like an interesting read - thanks for sharing!

Annah Elizabeth

Tuesday 10th of June 2014

I must have been a Parisian in a previous life! All of these habits and style choices resonate deep within me. I buy nothing that doesn't excite me, doesn't feel great on and make me feel good inside. And I am always wearing an eclectic version of comfortable! Labels schmabels!

Thanks for this fun and informative piece. Pamela!


Tuesday 10th of June 2014

Somehow I always think of the French woman as casually chic for her on the street look!

xoxo Karena The Arts by Karena

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