Monday, May 2, 2011

French Dressing: How-tos on Parisian Style

It doesn’t surprise me that some women--including myself--are enamored with Parisian styling. But what does fascinate me is how universal it seems to be. Last July, I wrote a post entitled Beauty Secrets of Aging Frenchwomen. It’s been one of my most frequently visited posts ever since. A recent New York Times article,This Is What ‘Parisienne’ Looks Like, notes that the business of how-to books on French styling is both lucrative and growing. The article focuses on the author of the newest French styling entry, “Parisian Chic: A Style Guide.”

The book’s author is Ines de la Fressange, 53, an ex-runway model, designer and former face of Chanel. She has also modeled for Marianne, the symbol of the French republic used on postage stamps and municipal buildings. Impressive credentials, I dare say. According to the NY Times, de la Fressange's new book reports that Paris women never use soap on their faces or pink lipstick, and never go out without makeup. To create Parisian style, de la Fressange recommends:
  • No coordinated outfits
  • No feeling uncomfortable
  • No looking rich

“Beware of good taste,” she also warns. “You love orange dresses with yellow shoes? Go for it!” Instead of putting together a safe suit or sweater set, de la Fressange encourages women to experiment with clothing and accessories to create the “Parisian offbeat look.” For example, she suggests pairing jeans with gem-encrusted sandals, an evening dress with a straw handbag, or a chiffon print dress with battered biker boots. It’s kind of a high-fashion-meets-the-street approach, which I’ve seen reported in several fashion magazines in 2011. Clearly, someone as beautiful as de la Fressange (check out her photo) can get away with battered biker boots. I’m not convinced I could pull it off. However, I do like the idea of mixing it up. Too often, my fall-back look is a sweater and pencil skirt. It’s time for me to start branching out.

You can find de la Fressange's new book, Parisian Chic: A Style Guide, at Amazon. Or check out these other books on French style, also on Amazon…