How to Dress like a Parisian Woman

I’m reading the most delightful book. La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life, by Elaine Sciolino, former Paris Bureau Chief of The New York Times. It’s all about how the French have their way—with each other and with the world—through seduction. And not merely sexual seduction, but by seducing us with style, beauty, intelligence, wit, and pleasure.

There are many gems in this book, but what I found especially revelatory is Sciolino’s perception on how French women (especially Parisians) dress. I can tell you a lot about how they cook…but when it comes to how they always look so effortlessly amazing, this book really showed me a few things. Among them:

* You can’t look like you’re trying too hard. The author quotes an artistic director of a fashion house as saying, “…I never wear a new Chanel bag. I love waring a battered one, because it doesn’t look so glitzy.”
*  Likewise, supermodel Inès de la Fressange says: “A Parisian won’t wear a handbag, pants, and a sweater all from the same designer….The French think that style is what you create yourself.”
*  Along that lines, don’t wear all-new clothes (or don’t let it look like you are doing so). “New clothes can’t look flashy,” notes the author.

* French women spend 20% of their clothing budget on lingerie.  (I say, no wonder they always look like they’re keeping the most delicious of secrets.) They will never miss an opportunity to buy luxury nightdresses. Can you blame them for that?

So, can American women ever approximate the look of their French soeurs? Sciolino doesn’t give us a lot of hope. She quotes the director of the Crazy Horse caberet as basically saying that even when she sees an American woman wearing almost exactly the same outfit as a French woman, nevertheless, “Everything is wrong.”

Sciolino asked how that was so.

“Frankly,” the woman replied. “I don’t know how to explain that.

Hmmmm…..any surprise that the French came up with the phrase, “je ne sais quoi” ??



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1 comment to How to Dress like a Parisian Woman (or: Why you should never wear a new Chanel bag)

  • I know! It is so true. I lived in France for over 11 years and there is something about French women….the slight pout, the look from under eyelashes, the casual scarf wrapped and wrapped and draped… sounds like a fun book. Thank you for sharing! Going to go get it! :))

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