“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”Coco Chanel
Ooo La La….
Make Mine French!
23 and Me says I’m 12% French! This was a news flash to me, but I have to say, I am just a little bit excited about it! Ever since I read Jennifer L. Scott’s book “Lessons From Madame Chic,” I’ll admit to being a little obsessed by the effortless style of French women. They can seemingly turn a 10 piece capsule wardrobe into 1000 different chic outfits. Everything French women wear seems unplanned and elegant. Of course, this is a GIANT generalization and I’m sure there are a fair number of French women who don’t give a darn about fashion or dress in sweats and pajama pants in public, but those are not MY French women! A quick scan of the internet will show you that I am not alone in this Francophile fascination; there are hundreds of links about French style on Pinterest alone, and that’s just one site. But seriously, there are a few really important style tips that we, as Americans, can learn from our friends to the east. I’ve culled down the volumes to a few of my favorites that I’m happy to share with you here…
The Capsule Wardrobe Or A Reasonable Facsimile Thereof…
French homes, especially in the cities, do not have big, Texas-sized closets. Many bedrooms in France have no closets at all. Everything that needs to be stored, clothes-wise needs to fit in the oft-tiny wardrobe. I don’t know if this is why French men and women tend to focus on owning just a few key pieces (the capsule wardrobe concept) but I would guess so. With a capsule wardrobe there are just a few, quality pieces that work well together. The pieces interchange and can be put together in a large number of combinations. I, myself, strive for this French, wardrobe perfection, but I must admit that I am nowhere close. It has, however, gotten me to skinny-down my closet to the most important and oft-worn pieces.
Ideally, capsule wardrobes should consist of 10-12 main pieces for each season and do not include shoes and accessories (we’re not crazy yet!) Key pieces to any capsule wardrobe include:
- Crisp White Shirt/Blouse
- Dark Blazer
- Dark Jeans
- Neutral Tee-shirt
- Classic Wrap Dress for Women, Classic Suit for Men
- Patterned Top or Blouse
- Blue Jeans
- Neutral Blouse or Shirt
- Classic A-Line Skirt for Women, Khakis for Men
Still in the dark? There’s a great article on the topic on Pinch of Yum.com. At the very least, let this French inspiration help you skinny-down that bulging closet and make dressing in the morning that much simpler.
Find Your Style For More
Joie de Vivre!
To get the capsule wardrobe right, it’s kind of important to have a defined style. What exactly does this mean? Well, I find that giving your style a name or term can really help. That way, when you consider purchasing something new you say to yourself: does this fit with the style I have defined for myself and feel comfortable with? Less bad choices yields less crowded closets. I call my own style “Classic with An Edge.” It means that I tend to choose fairly traditional clothing, but I choose items that have something memorable about them. For example: my classic tank-style watch is rose gold and my tried-and-true skinny jeans have a frayed cuff. They are classics – with an edge.
Exercise As A Way of Life…Not a Chore
A lot of French men and women do not go to the gym. They don’t need to… because their lives are full of physical activity. They walk to the market – daily. They bike to the park. They walk to work, the café and the cinema. Their lives are full of movement, so they don’t need to take Pilates three times a week. We can learn a lot from their lifestyle because it (and all the red wine) keeps them healthy and trim. This physical activity also has the added benefit of keeping them at a relatively constant weight. No yo-yo scale – no need to buy new skinny/fat pants. It’s a pattern truly worth emulating.
Quality Is The Key Ingredient
My friend, Bruce, has more clothing than any guy I know, and yet I have rarely known him to buy clothes. It’s because he has the same philosophy that a lot of the French have – buy quality clothing – the best you can afford – that fits well – and you will buy it once and keep it forever. This is something that we can truly learn from our French friends: quality over quantity is the answer. It’s an earth-friendly approach that is also a friend of your wallet.
Take Care of Your Skin…
It Will Thank You For It!
No matter how much make-up you wear and no matter how expensive said make-up is, you can’t beat good skin as the best accessory. Good skin is sometimes genetic – thank you, Mom. And sometimes good skin is a product of good habits like lots of water, lots of sun screen and lots of rest. The French know this, and we, as Americans, would be well-served by joining them in the pursuit of better skin.
A Programming Note:
Next Tuesday, Marianne’s Consignment Confessions will be guest-written by our own Marlin Blansfield. Marlin is a friend and colleague at Consignments Ltd. with a strong writing background and an even more impressive sense of personal style. He has previously worked as an editorial assistant at Pop Magazine, London and has a degree in Writing and Rhetoric from The University of Rhode Island.
So What Else Is Good About French Style??
With your French attitude adjustment… it’s Paris… every day! C’est magnifique!
And Now For A Little Music Before We Go…
“I think French women tend to keep it simple. I’d say try the less-is-more approach, which is not always easy to get right.”Jeanne Damas
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