What is it about French women that gives them that je ne sais quoi that women the world over are dying to achieve? It seems that if we could just embody the fashion life of Carine Roitfeld, Lou Doillon (pictured above looking as glamorous as can be in a Chanel blazer and ripped jeans), or Inès de la Fressange, even for a moment, our lives would just be that much better. Don’t even get us started on Parisienne style icons like Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot.
We caught up with blogger and author Jennifer Scott (pictured below), whose book, “Lessons From Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living In Paris” is somewhat of a bible for those looking to imitate the Parisienne way of life. Scott, now based in Santa Monica, California, lived as a foreign exchange student in Paris with two different families and matriarchs—one of whom she calls Madame Chic and one she refers to as Madame Bohemian in the book. Scott says the lessons she learned from these two women have had an enduring impact on the way she lives her life— from not snacking to making sure to have cloth napkins on hand, always. “It’s all about the small details,” Scott says.
Scott shared her tips with us on how to embrace Parisienne style in our own lives. If you have one takeaway it should be that less is more.
1. The Ten Item Wardrobe. “Get your wardrobe down to ten items,” Scott advices. “Once you try it, it is seriously liberating.” Five must-haves to include in that ten item wardrobe according to Scott include a cashmere sweater, a great pair of dark wash jeans, a button down blouse, a blazer, and a pair of ballet flats.
2. Invest in Quality. Cashmere sweaters, Hermès scarves, a high quality leather bag—these are the essentials that will allow you to cut down on the quantity in your wardrobe according to Scott, and are also the pieces that you will want to wear year after year.
3. De-Clutter, De-Clutter, De-Clutter. “Hoarding is not chic,” Scott jokes. “You have to let go of things—editing possessions and editing your space so that you love it, and it speaks to you and your true style, is important.”
4. Develop a Signature Look. “Madame Chic wore pants maybe four times the whole time that I lived with her,” Scott shared. “She would always wear A-line skirts with a cashmere sweater or a silk blouse.” Meanwhile Madame Bohemian would wear “long flowy skirts.” The two women had this in common: “They didn’t experiment with trends and they knew what looked good on them,” Scott says.
5. Think Effortless. What separates French women and American women according to Scott is that, “American women seem to care a lot about what people think about them, while Parisienne women don’t. I don’t know if that’s really true, but they walk around with nonchalance. They just don’t seem to care and it’s mysterious…Parisiennes looks effortless, while Americans can be high maintenance.” One of the ways that Parisienne women keep that effortlessness is by embracing the no makeup look. “It’s not that Parisienne women don’t wear makeup, it’s just that they look natural,” Scott says. Doing your makeup shouldn’t take more than five to ten minutes according to the author.
Jennifer Scott’s “Lessons From Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living In Paris” is available on Amazon.com.