Here’s an utterly unshocking confession: I love Parisian style.
Like countless other non-French women, I have taken many sartorial steps in an attempt to achieve some degree of relative Frenchness…
Repetto flats? Check. Cropped leather jacket? Check. Pinning countless photos of Francois Hardy and Jane Birkin? Check. Perfectly tousled hair? Attempted.
But here’s some more truth for you: Once upon a time, when I was a naive young thing, I had a Parisian boyfriend. In our time together, I made many French friends, including a bevy of sylph-like Parisian women. They oozed chicness of the highest order—pulling off dramatic layered haircuts and loud silk scarves that would have left me looking like a tired librarian.
A few of them, however? Not stylish. Not stylish at all.
But they grew up in Paris! I’d think, furrowing my overplucked American brows (it was the early oughts, back when that was still happening). Where were their fringy bangs, their knotted scarves, their magical ability to eat pastry without gaining an ounce?
Missing, apparently. Because despite their gorgeous accents, they were still just human woman-people, with different tastes, talents and sensibilities. Refreshingly immune to stereotypes, and inspiring in other ways.
But if you too covet French style, here are my three favorite books on the subject:
Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange: Ines de la Fressange does not encounter flaws (or as the French would say, faux pas). What she lacks in flaws, she makes up for with opinions: staples to splurge on, golden rules, and where to shop in Paris.
Paris Street Style by Isabelle Thomas & Frederique Veysset: Chock full of amazing street style shots, illustrations, and punchy interviews. Flip through it for inspiration, then put it on your shelf and admire its sweet striped spine.
How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Caroline de Maigret, Audrey Diwan, Ann Berest and Sophie Mas: A tongue-in-cheek manifesto perfect for the seasoned Francophile. It goes beyond the basics to offer glimpses into the philosophy, psychology and humor of Parisian women. You walk away feeling uncool in comparison, but cooler for having read it.
I wish you many chic adventures, but let us all remember: NO ONE is immune to faux pas… or the perils of humidity.
Carry on, mes amis. Carry on.
P.S. Look, there’s France! And a random croissant! And some scraggly plants on the windowsill, wondering where their newly-dead plant friends have gone. (I’m not French, you guys. You can only expect so much.)