French women definitely have “it,” that indescribable manner of chic that makes the rest of us question what we are wearing. I’ve been traveling to Paris lately and trying to glean the secret of Parisian chic. I’ve discovered that it’s a recipe with several ingredients.
1. Use a neutral outfit as your canvas. Why so bland? Because Parisian women are lacking in one area – closet space! A small closet means fewer outfits to wear, and neutrals don’t scream “I wear this outfit all the time.”
2. Make sure the fit is perfect by avoiding shop goggling. This is when you buy something that is less than perfect because you want something new to wear. New, to Americans, is almost always better than old, especially when it comes to clothes (even vintage falls into that category if it’s new to your closet). A French woman would never buy an article of clothing unless it was flattering and fit perfectly.
3. Accessorizing your outfit is another key ingredient in creating French chic. Scarves do not take up a lot of room in a small closet but can add a dash of style to any outfit. They are great for layering and traveling (scarves are the reason I can travel to Paris for a week with only a carry-on suitcase). Jewelry is a great accessory as well and doesn’t have to be expensive to be chic (as I mentioned in a my last post, H&M has great, inexpensive jewelry).
4. Finally, and perhaps the most important ingredient in the French-chic soup, is attitude. French women know they are beautiful by simple virtue of the fact that women are beautiful. American women are perfectionists about beauty. Is there anyone more critical of you than you? I would bet money that the number of cosmetic procedures in the U.S. is astonishingly higher than in France. There, imperfection has nothing to do with beauty. In fact, it creates highly prized individuality. Charlotte Gainsbourg, the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg, iconic French singer and Jane Birkin, who has an Hermès bag named after her, is a good example of this. She is not a stereotypical beauty but is very interesting looking. In America, she would be passed over for a woman with a perfect nose and a larger chest. In France, however, she is the muse of many French designers and the face of a perfume by luxe brand Balenciaga. Check her out at: www.charlottegainsbourg.com.
So, if you’ve added the first three ingredients to the mix, don’t forget to adjust your attitude towards your fabulous self. You will find that not only have you mastered the art of Parisian chic, but you have also gotten a healthy dose of self-confidence. And French chic aside, that is always a good thing.