Wednesday, July 6, 2011

French Dressing

Pam over at over50feeling40 and I read the book by Ines de la Fressange, Parisian Chic and we decided to have some discussion questions for each other and post an outfit with French dressing in mind.  Sort of like Book Club-a-la-Blog.  I’ve always been fascinated by French dressing—hey who hasn’t?  And as part of my heritage is French, I’m always hoping somehow I can find out what their secret is to looking great.

To give you a little overview, “Parisian chic” is offbeat chic.  Chic being quality, classic clothes and offbeat is the mixing of casual with dressy--expensive with not-so-much.  It’s a great way to extend your wardrobe.  I had a bit of trouble as my wardrobe is full of things the french aren't too keen on. Prints. Bright colors. Leggings.  Mini-skirts.  I put together a black skirt--probably a staple in the french wardrobe.  A luxury fabric silk top.  And the quirky part?  Flat sandals with a straight skirt.  Oh, and boleros for those over fifty are a no-no too.  oopsey.

 So the questions~

1.  Ines writes that a Parisian, "seeks chic and demands quality.  Her definition of luxury?  A brand that guarantees good taste, rather than an all to obvious price tag."  Do you agree?

Absolutely agree!  I wonder if people even know how to look for quality now—most people here buy for a name or a price, without knowing why.  I love that Ines’s idea of French style is never to display too much bling.  Just real, genuine quality.  I think we should all have a few items in our wardrobe of true quality.

2. Please tell us a couple of things you do not see yourself ever doing.
She recommends shoes styles—ballet flats, black heels, riding boots, and loafers—don’t get the loafers.  Way too conservative for me.
And then there is the mini-skirt thing.  She feels, as most stylists feel, that women shouldn’t wear mini-skirts over a certain age.  No mutton as lamb—as she says.  And I break THAT rule.  Oh, and there is a no-no for neon colors.  OOPS again.  And leggings are out, according to Ines—and they are an intregal part of my wardrobe.  So, for now, I don’t see myself not breaking those rules. 
3. Do you have the magnificent seven in your wardrobe? Do you see yourself making this happen if it does not already exist?
Magnificent seven are: man’s blazer, trench coat, navy sweater, tank top, little black dress, jeans and a leather jacket.
I do have the magnificent seven.  Actually, duplicates of the magnificent seven.  With one possible exception—the little black dress.  Its not black.
4. You are a pretty colorful lady...what do you think about the idea that she mostly is promoting the, gray, white, khaki, and navy?
I understand that the French want that classic yet quirky style—and quirky is not wild colors.  But that concept is very practical and neutral colors provides many combinations.  But for me?  No, too many neutrals and I die inside.  Could not just stick to neutrals.
5. What do your perfect jeans look like?
When I traveled to Europe back 30 years ago, there I was in my baggy, sloppy, hippie jeans and the French girls were looking oh-so-sexy in theirs.  Now, my perfect jeans are better fitting.  I go for a high rise and either skinny or boot-cut legs.  I only do denim.  Ines says the French way is to have jeans also in black and white.  White--no--black--maybe.  

All in all I think its a great book--it gives you insight into Frennch dressing, shopping and home decor.  I think her guidlines are sound and easy to understand.  What did I find most valuable?  Parisians feel they will never go out of style.  I like that attitude! 


  1. Oh la la, Paula, love the purple top!! Thanks for doing this with me and for creating the was fun! As soon as I read her take on mini skirts...I thought of you!!

  2. Paula - thanks for sharing your review. I enjoyed the book too, and the fabulous photos - of Ines' daughter, I think?

    You look tres chic in your ensemble, and I am a big lover of flat shoes too. Also I do not love loafers - they remind me of grade school uniforms!

  3. Paula - I like how the various textures in this ensemble complement each other! You seem to know your own style and what works for you, which is probably the core of chic.

  4. I love your outfit. I especially like the shrug. I don't think I would do well as a French woman. I am just too eclectic.

  5. I really like the purple top with that skirt. You do French chic well! But I agree that you should NOT give up your bright colors..... or your miniskirts. (And I'm with you on loafers, too).

  6. I love your little cardigan!

    I tend to prefer a neutral palette, but am getting used to jewel tones near my face.

  7. Thank you for the review; sounds like a 'must read.' Love your individualist statements. And what's not to love about a bolero!

  8. Love all the textures!!!
    and especially the eyelet skirt from yesterday!

  9. Lovely textures.
    So interesting.

  10. I was into french style this spring and what I learnt is to put some effort and try to have a few very good quality basics that will upgrate one's wardrobe then mix with a few modern or quirky pieces.what I also like is how they pair down their outfits only highlight one think at the time. Oh! I could go on for hours....I also have a love for color .I like the skirt very much.

  11. Very nice take on "parisian Chic" love the mixture of colors and textures.

  12. no, navy cardigan in my wardrobe. Terri timidly asks if she could "borrow" the book. Please.

  13. You look so good in purple! I also really like the skirt. I need to take time out to read Ines's book!

  14. Oh Paula, can you actually see me following any of those rules? I spent years obsessing about "wardrobe must haves" and wasted money buying "staples" I never wore! For the first time in my life I feel confident enough to stick two fingers up to such guide books. I still love to read them, but like you, I just cannot stick to the rules and just wear neutrals. Hooray for you in your beautiful skirt and purple top! You are gorgeous:)) xo

  15. Pam~even though i broke a lot of rules in her book, i did find it inspiring. I even put her guidlines on my inspiration board!
    Patti~ I could deal with the loafers if they have some funk in them....
    Un femme~ that may be true...thanks for noticing! :~)
    She....Yeah, probably me too--and I like too many colors...and I am a rebel-of sorts!
    anne~it would be too much of a character change, I'm afraid. Altho, she has some good points..
    Susan~Jewel tones on you I bet are perfect. So, are you liking color a little more?
    Doreen, I know, huh? And hides those of us with bingo arms....
    Riva~both skirts have embroydery on them too. lots of detail.
    Sacramento~I bet the spanish style of dressing is quite different from the french! Maybe you could write a book on that... :~)
    Angie~I think its a great basis for a solid wardrobe and I also liked the fact that they would dress down on a date so he could see the real person--very cool.
    Ofelia~but we like color too much for it to be our style....right?
    /terrI~ I actually got it from the library..sorry!
    Jill~it was fun but not as fun as the birkin book!
    Desiree~lol! And thank god you dont follow the french rules! The world would be a bleaker place...I was actually surprised I had a lot of her "must have" items. The standard usually dosne't work for me either! xxoo

  16. :D I've always been stunned by French culture and ...uhm grace, I guess. I'm not sure what to call it. It's such an effortless chicness. I actually met someone straight from Paris recently and she is absolutely gorgeous! It's odd how your environment and heritage can almost pre-shape how you're going to act/dress.

    Castle Fashion

  17. I was all over this book-pre-ordered it on Amazon for a while, but then I realized that Ines is like 6 feet tall (I'm 5'10" so that's cool) but also weighs like 130 pounds, tops and smokes--which may be the only way I could weigh so little. So, a lot of things that look ever so elegant on her, look frumpy on someone not so thin and tall--like penny loafers--she's not talking flats that kind of look like loafers--she's showing full out Bass Weejuns.

    The color thing is something I vacillate on: neutrals like gray, black and navy, and white tops, are staples of my wardrobe-- khaki and cream are not flattering on me. However, I don't live in Paris or New York--I live in the sunny South, and dressing in nun colors is different here--besides, I look better with a punch of color and feel better, too.

    Prints--you have to be very careful that they are too big, if you aren't tall and thin, or too girly, if you are over 18. I do like some of the watercolor prints from Vera Wang for Kohl's and Kenneth Cole. Prints hide a multitude of sins!

    The book is kinda heavy on where to shop/eat/stay in Paris if you aren't going there, but the online sources are useful.

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