The secret to Parisian style
The secret to Parisian style
So. What did you think of this week’s photos of fashionistas in Paris? Fun, wasn’t it? That’s what I thought when I was in the world’s capital of style with my daughter during Fashion Week.
Flash the cash
Of course I’m being really unfair on these girls. They had tried really, really hard Theand I do give them credit for that, but OMG, how far will some of them go to get noticed? What a paradox that the notions of vulgarity and fashion should merge so happily in the space of just a few days. Or is fashion a crude mirror of our vanities? Have we really become so vulgar?
“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.” Coco Chanel
But who cares? Real elegance and inspiring style are timeless. And, that, mes amies, is what we, smart women should aspire to. Of course, it is a little scary, for me too, because I see photos of gorgeous women like Gwynneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett, Sofia Coppola, Carolina Herrera, and so many more on the international red carpet scene whose smooth elegant style I wish I had. Every day.
Growing up and living in Paris I can assure you that the pressure was always much much scarier than that though, and much much CLOSER. Of course, there were also extremely graceful, exquisitely dressed celebrities like Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Adjani, Monica Belluci, Inès de la Fressange, Sophie Marceau, Juliette Binoche or Audrey Tautou and the delightful Marion Cotillard, but they were in no way as scary as…
…The woman next door! Imagine that sort of pressure!
Yes, that’s right, the one coming out of her apartment building at 07:30 in the morning, the one you stare at in the Métro on her way back from a long day’s work, the one picking up her children from school, the one selecting her vegetables at the food market on Sunday, the one that is right next door.
So that is it said: It was certainly entertaining but the women parading around during Paris Fashion Week are the last ones to capture the true spirit of the elegant and inspiring Parisienne.
The true Parisian woman is ALWAYS incredibly and effortlessly stylish and, unlike the trends presented on the catwalks, her look IS possible to achieve. Here are my basic secret tips based on my recent observations:
- Don’t you go telling my Parisian girlfriends, or they’ll swap me for one of their morning croissant!
1. Parisian women don’t worry about looking perfect.
Accepting your body shape is absolutely crucial. Once you have done that, you dress to flatter your shapes, not to try and look like someone you will never be. That gives you an instant look of confidence even if you’re not quite there yet. ‘Fake it until you make it’. I can’t repeat it more as someone growing up at the time when Elle McPherson and Naomi Campbell were on everybody’s lips and trying really hard whilst still looking like an embarrassed version of Marylin Monroe, before she went blonde. Oh dear!
Calm confidence will allow you, like the true Parisienne, to relax. Don’t get me wrong though, this is all studied: choose one or two aspects of a look to focus on, and let something else go. For example, if you do your hair in a fancy way, don’t wear makeup (or a tiny bit). But if you decide to wear make-up (red lips, no eye make-up) just put your hair up in a messy ponytail.
Looking self-assured is intriguing and what is intriguing is sexy.
2. Parisian women are very comfortable in their own skin and their own clothes
Not sure I adore that but…Parisian women look a bit as if they’d slept in their clothes. They are so supremely comfortable with whom they are that they wear their clothes as if they were the incarnation of their faces, bodies, and personality. As if clothing and appearance were such an obvious extension of their personality that it would be obvious to anyone looking at them. Rather than a cover, a mask, or a show, as seen during Fashion Week, their clothes are them, a visible statement of who they are.
Don’t get too comfortable: in a next episode of this possibly endless story of Parisian style revealed, I will share with you some of my unbreakable rules of style but I can already tell you that no matter how comfortable you feel in your clothes, you can rest assured that no elegant Parisienne wears home-wear and sportswear in town. So: practice walking in your high heels until you feel comfortable!
3. Parisian women do their own thing
This, I know, comes from being so comfortable and confident with whom we are in Paris. Not all Parisian women are pretty, but we all have this secret, sometimes faked, that self-confidence allows us to be creative or even looking careless without damaging our appearance. We embrace our own good sides, the oddities that make us unique, and we play them up without shame.
For example if your eyes are your strong point, play with a little more make-up. Strong eyebrows? Let them live, don’t tweeze them to death. If your hair is straight, leave it falling like a mountain cascade. Don’t try and curl it, you’ll look so foreign. Short eyelashes? Do not, I repeat: do not fall for eyelash extensions. Rather, emphasise your lips with flashy red matt lipstick: very Parisian. Freckles on your nose? Step away from the concealer and love them.
4. Parisian women have a different idea of sexy
And make no mistake, Parisian women are sexy. However, it is a much less obvious, in-your-face sexiness. It is a very studied, yet relaxed, style.
During the day trousers are usually skinny jeans, but paired with a less fitted top, a cool jacket, or a baggy jersey, usually black. In the evening, we do slip into that famous little black dress. It has to be hugging but not above the knee. As Mr Saint Laurent said: “just on the knee”, suggestive rather than revealing. Heels are always high, very high, no matter how unpractical. Parisian sexiness is, above all, subtle and very personal. The secret is the celebration of the girl herself.
5. Yes, it’s personal
As far as I can remember from watching my mother and her friends, observing my own girlfriends and carefully studying every stylish parisienne: it doesn’t matter how much more relaxed the modern parisienne looks, it is the fruit of confidential work. We do check each other out and we do want to know where everything comes from, what it’s made of and crucially: the name of the genius who made that scarf, these shoes, those earrings, that bag. We all hunt around Paris for that one little detail that will make us unique. And, depending on how much you love someone, you might even reveal your secret address. I do remember however my own mother not wanting to share the location of some of her mysterious boutiques with me! That’s how deeply rooted the Parisian sense of personal style is. That is actually what inspired me to start my own business offering beautiful things you can’t find everywhere else.
We true Parisiennes knows that we are a lot lovelier and more desirable, to everyone, when we accept who we are, what makes us different and unique, and emphasize that – make it our signature, rather than try and fit the mould.