Story by Ashley Bruckbauer
Parisian women don’t simply dress in the latest season’s fashions or buy the most expensive clothing off the racks….They have something more about their air…an aura…a presence…a certain je ne sais quoi? It’s called style.
Here are some tips of how you can insert that style into your everyday wardrobe and routine and unleash your inner parisienne you chic, classy, fabulous, sophisticated woman you!
1. Color: How to use it effectively
The common perception of the typical Parisienne is that she only wears black. Recently fashionistas around the world have sought to debunk this myth and bestow upon the Parisienne eye-popping colors. Sorry, world fashionistas, but this just isn’t so. The tried and true rule that black goes with everything is still very much present in and an important part of the modern-day Parisienne’s style. Don’t get me wrong bright colors may be present in the overall ensemble, but it is used as an eye-catching accent amid neutrals which dominate the outfit. Black and other neutrals immediately offer a sense of sophistication. By using them often and pairing them with bright camisoles, wraps, purses, shoes, and other accessories you will avoid being boring, while achieving a more elegant look.
2. Simple lines and great fits
Likely the most important secret of the Parisienne’s success in defining a style: her clothes fit! Parisian women go for quality not quantity. They spend a little extra on a few items that are classic and fit perfectly complimenting their individual shape. They don’t necessarily follow the fashion of the seasons, but instead what looks best on their particular figure. Parisiennes wear extremely well-tailored clothes (many times professionally tailored) with classic lines. This goes back to not forcing fashion but embracing style…your style…what makes you look your best. When your clothes fit, you always look timeless and fabulous!
3. Accessories: purses, scarfs, and jewelry
These special pieces are where the individual personalities are allowed to come out. Purses, scarfs and jewelry are not thought of as simply accessories but style statements that communicate to the outside world just who you are. This is where most Parisiennes insert a little extra color, texture, and visual interest into their wardrobe. Important is that since these are not solely accessories, they should be rich-looking and not rinky dink (this doesn’t necessarily require a large expense).
Women (and men for that matter) in Paris judge you based on your shoes. This is the easiest way to spot a tourist: of course there are the tell-tale sneakers but also the worn loafers, scratched patent leather, and the American in the ridiculously high-heels on the metro. Parisiennes invest time and money in their shoes. A worn or sloppy pair of shoes can destroy and outfit and nothing about that says fabulous!
Another myth of the Parisienne is that she always wears 4 inch heels. This is simply untrue! A large majority of the Parisian women I’ve seen during my time in Paris wear flats or more modestly heeled shoes. Do you think high-heels are accomodating for climbing up and down the metro stairs ten times a day? The key is to have clean, well-cared-for shoes that have a flattering shape and distinctive details.
5. Pamper yourself: perfume, macquillage, and spa products
Parisiennes do not skimp on “the necessities”! Why do you think there is a pharmacy around every corner? This is where they can load up on the best in face creams, moisturizers, and many other products this American-born will likely never fully grasp. So, have a signature scent, buy the nice moisturizer, and splurge on the luxury bath products.
Experiment and have fun, but always keep it simple! You deserve it, and your inner Parisienne will thank you!
Ashley is a recent college grad turned expat who is living in Shanghai, China and teaching English to kindergartners. She specializes in 18th and 19th century French and late-Imperial Chinese art history, as well as international advertising and French and Chinese language. She wears many hats, and her blog – La Vie en China? - serves as her platform to share travel tips, book reviews, photos, and any other tid-bits that come up along the way.