10 Apr

Is it possible to develop that Parisian Chic and be confident that you are actually “pulled together” after decades of  having no real plan except “just hoping for the best”.  I intend to find that out as I read Parisian Chic: A Style Guide.  This book is written by someone who intimidates me but yet challenges me because she attempts to simplify how the Parisians accomplish a finished look.  Her name is Ines de la Fressange and she has earned the right to speak as she has been a successful model for Chanel and is currently a businesswoman with a chain of clothing boutiques.  And even in her fifties – she was born in 1957 – she still does occasional modelling as she walked the runway for Jean Paul Gaultier’s spring/summer collection in 2009.  And in 2011, she walked the runaway for Chanel. After learning this information on Wikipedia, I was curious to read what advice she could give that I might be able to copy!ès_de_La_Fressange

I think the most powerful advice occurs  right at the beginning when the author writes:  “Parisian style is an attitude, a state of mind. . . . A Parisian steps lightly around the fashion traps of the day.  Her secret?  She breathes the air du temps and puts it to good use, her way, and always with the same aim:  fashion should be fun.”My problem is that especially these last couple of decades I haven’t paid that much attention to current fashion.  I just wander into a store and hopefully walk out with something appropriate and that looks good on me.  Am I prepared to take that extra time to become more aware of current trends?  And of course, the real challenge is to take that current trend and modify it so that it is appropriate  for the older, more mature woman!  

Time will tell if this book can help me develop that intuitiveness to know how to  put  together an outfit and have that Parisian chic.  The author begins with a six point guide that wasn’t particularly revelatory to me – I know that buying a matching blouse and skirt can be overdone. I once bought a bright floral skirt and matching blouse and I learned rather quickly how I could look like one overdone rose.

And of course, the author talks about how the French woman knows how to purchase one expensive item and mix it with more affordable items.  With my husband heading toward retirement, it is rather mandatory that I skip the small designer item and create a Parisian chic with everything affordable!

I did find interesting her comment that  “black and navy are made for each other.”Could they be the two basic colors I work with as I consider what to pack to France?

I had to laugh when I read the examples given to demonstrate how we are to achieve an “offbeat chic:’  wear a tux jacket with sneakers, or wear a chiffon print dress with battered biker boots or a pearl necklace with a rock ‘n roll t shirt.    I think if my adult daughter arrived at my front door and witnessed me wearing a rock ‘n roll shirt while wearing pearls she would begin laughing and then strongly advise I return to the bedroom and try again!    And yet what I am reading does suggest a good, basic principle: Don’t just  look chic but have some fun with your look.   Certainly, I have  forgotten how once I looked closely at fashion magazines and then would begin going through my closet gradually having a collage of clothing strewn across the bed as I tried pants,  dresses, skirts and tops looking for that one perfect look before I went out on a date.

As I look at her photo above, I am challenged to set aside my running shoes or my Nike sandals and find a more feminine pair of shoes that I can still walk in!  I am challenged to experiment with colours since I wouldn’t have mixed a charcoal sweater with a brown pair of pants since I learned as a young woman not to mix browns and blacks together!   I seem to be dressing more and more casual which isn’t bad as long as it doesn’t look sloppy. Am I wearing jeans and a casual t-shirt almost as my uniform now?   Notice that Ines wears casual pants but dresses them up with a sweater that has some interesting trim on it.

Perhaps, as some of us get older, we are afraid that others may accuse us of “trying to look younger” and “not dressing for our age” so that we gradually get more and more dull and conservative.  Certainly, Ines de la Fressange even cautions us that we can’t wear what we used to when we were younger.  However, too many of us have heard that caution but haven’t heard how we can modify some of the current trends so that they still look flattering on the older woman.  I’m not sure where these reflections will lead me but she has indeed sown seeds of Parisian Chic into my spirit!

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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Books, France, Paris, Travel


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