While the chic women of Paris do wear casual clothing, the real sophistication comes from how they put it together. They don’t suffer from the same dimwitted arrogance as badly dressed Americans who wear sloppy sweats, dumpy shorts, beachy flip-flops, or athletic sneakers as their implicit right to be dressed ‘comfortably’ at all times. Parisians, for the most part, wear well-fitting clothes that suit their frame. You’ll barely see a mademoiselle who is stuffed à la saucisson into a size too small jeans or drowned in a droopy camp shirt. The French understand the magic of a good tailor and proper fit, and so should you. It’s amazing how you can fake extravagance when something fits just so.
They also understand the power of quality. Europeans usually don’t suffer the same fashion victim overindulgence as Americans do and feel compelled to buy every trend simply because it is in style. They buy what suits them in the best quality that they can afford. French chic is not a matter of having it all, but a matter of having the best of all that you need. Fashion is like food for the Parisian. You don’t go to a massive supermarket and load up on super-sized containers of all the groceries that you can cram into your SUV. You buy fresh ingredients from small, specialty shops and carry them home— less is more discerning.
C'est la classique… ahhhh it even sounds better in French! Parisian chic comprises ofclassically cut fashion worn in an unexpected, yet perfectly elegant way. There is that certain extra design twist or precise flourish that makes each piece special but never trite or tired. And what gives these classics their special dose of French chic style power? It’s the off-handed way in which they are put together. A beautiful dress coat is worn with jeans and a simple T-shirt, along with a luxurious handbag and rich scarf to create an understated elegance that can take you to almost any kind of situation in style. If a French woman does wear sneakers, they are leather tennis shoes, designed to be more of a sports-inspired shoe rather than a gym necessity.
Hairstyles are never overdone or complex. Makeup is always natural, even when lips are a bold scarlet. There’s an expert sense of undoneness that makes every detail more clever but never tricky and without ostentation. Almost as if you are too busy to glance in a mirror, yet have your sense of style so ingrained that you don’t have to. Or, at least give that impression. Never looking as if you neurotically belabored over each and every facet of your total ensemble. French style appears to be very second-nature, yet extremely deliberate in its nonchalance.
But French chic, is really not about designer labels and more about how you put it all together. It is about starting out with the right pieces that you can mix and match to wear anywhere. And, not obsessing about it. Have the poise to feel elegant yet slightly off-beat, polished but not glitzy, and self-confident enough to understand that the true meaning of chic is very individual.
There is one obsession that Parisians are never without—that is a touch. Friends, lovers, family are constantly connected by holding hands or gently stroking each other—it is the truly the City of Love.