Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Parisian Chic

Before going to Paris last year to celebrate my 65th birthday, I did a bit of research so that I could make the most of my stay in the French capital.  I contacted a blogger who lives in France and she recommended buying Parisian Chic written by the French model and fashion icon Inès de la Fressange.  It's a charming book, and there are lots of insider tips if you are planning a visit to Paris, as well as giving you the secrets of obtaining Parisian Chic.

Many of us yearn to have that je ne sais quoi that Frenchwomen seem to possess. You can find numerous popular fashion blogs based on this premise: there are links to two of my favourites on the right. Bearing this in mind,. I thought it would be interesting to look at what Inès considers are essential items in any chic woman's wardrobe.

Before we begin, here is my own version of "Parisian Chic", taken in Paris last year.

One of the most important lessons that I learnt from this book was: split your budget into two. Spend half on quality basics and the other half on fun purchases to brighten up your wardrobe, which means you can follow the trends without spending too much.  If leopard-skin prints are in fashion, don't dress in it from head to toe (you don't want to look like a fashion victim) but perhaps use the fun side of your budget to buy a scarf or bag in leopard-skin .

Here is Inés' list of 7 essentials:

1.  The blazer.

You can wear a blazer with a casual outfit or dress it up.  Choose a style and colour that suits you and that will fit in with the rest of your wardrobe. I was looking for a classic black blazer, but soon realised that black was too harsh for me and that structured styles were unflattering too.  I eventually bought the jacket in the photo above, which suits my colouring and which has proved more versatile than the other styles that I was considering.

2. The trench.

Another basic piece that can be worn with many different outfits from casual to smart. I bought a navy trench-coat when I was in London last year, which has become an essential part of my wardrobe.  However if you live in a colder climate, you may prefer to buy a winter coat that is equally versatile.

3.  The navy cashmere sweater.

I don't own one - yet!  I do have a green cashmere cardigan that I love and so this item is now on my list of future purchases. It doesn't have to be cashmere, though if you can find one in the sales it would be a good investment. It doesn't have to be navy either, though obviously navy is a colour that won't date and that will go with most other colours, even with black.

4.  The tank

Inès suggests buying several good quality tank tops in basic colours like white, navy, khaki, grey or black. Obviously choose colours that suit your colouring and that won't date.  Basic tanks can be worn underneath your jacket, trench or sweater as well as with jeans, shorts or a skirt.

5.  The little black dress

Aha! This one can be found on every fashionista's list of wardrobe essentials, but it won't be on mine. Why? Because black isn't a good colour for most over 60s, that's why! However the principle is fine: a simple, elegant dress that won't date is what we all really want. Just find the shape and colour that is right for YOU. I haven't found mine yet, so when I find it I may very well buy two.

6.  The perfect jeans

I have them and I'm wearing them now. The only problem is that they won't last for ever, so I am looking for a replacement. The most classic shape is straight-leg jeans, but choose the shape that suits your body best. Navy never goes out of fashion, but I treated myself to a pair of bright pink jeans that I love almost as much as the navy pair that I'm wearing. For younger readers, who may have read "no jeans after 40 or 50", I'm 65 and I intend wearing jeans until the day I die!  There should be no age limit on wearing jeans if you love them and so long as they love you.

7.  The leather jacket

This is an interesting choice for the last of Inès' seven essentials.  Some of us may refuse to wear a leather jacket because of our principles, others may feel that it's not a look that suits them.  I had a real leather jacket that I bought second-hand in a French market (where else!).  I loved it and it went with everything, however one day I left it in an Italian airport and, when I realised my mistake and went back, sadly it had disappeared. I now have an imitation leather jacket that looks a bit like the one I lost and that is proving to be equally versatile. If leather jackets aren't something you would wear, why not find a casual jacket that is just as versatile and that works well for you?

So there you have it.  The seven key items that Parisians would wear to look stylish.  Do you agree? If not, what would your seven essential items consist of?


  1. This fashion digest has been stimulating for me, Sue, and fun as well... I've learned a lot!

    I plan to take what I learned from you and use it the best way I can the next time I need to buy clothes!

    I'm excited about this :)

  2. You have that Paris chic down pretty well! You really look pulled together.

  3. Thank you so much for your kind comments! Believe me, when my children were young and I was working full-time, I was just grateful that I had enough clothes to get me through the week until the weekend big wash!

    I have become far more aware of my clothes since retiring: partly because certain colours don't suit me anymore; partly because I have more time and money to spend on buying clothes; and partly because of what I have learned from other fashion bloggers on the internet.

  4. Looking pretty goddammed chic Sue - loving your sunnies! I bumped into a very chic French lady this week in SE London - she had the trench, 3/4 length navy trousers and flats with a lovely scarf - and she looked great, it definitely is a winning formula as long as it is kept fun and original. I think it is fabulous that you care so much about your clothes and more to the point are getting so much fun out of it because there's no point in anything without joy!

  5. Thanks, Louise! Sadly the sunnies are no longer with me (they were cheap ones and fell apart!) so I'm on the look out for a similar pair. I agree with you that joy is an essential part of life - life should definitely be as much fun as we can make it, especially once we are over 60.

  6. i am back! I was so depressed about my weight and every pic i took gave me angst, but now i have lost weight(almost half of what i need to take off)and clothes are hanging on me so much better and also no tummy that makes me look 8 months along! I admire your parisian chic...wonderful blog.

  7. i am back! I was so depressed about my weight and every pic i took gave me angst, but now i have lost weight(almost half of what i need to take off)and clothes are hanging on me so much better and also no tummy that makes me look 8 months along! I admire your parisian chic...wonderful blog.

  8. Hi Judy

    Lovely to see you again! Congratulations on losing weight - I'm jealous about you losing your tummy (one blogger refers to hers as the alien!) - it's great news that you are starting to feel good again about your clothes too. Keep up the good work!


  9. I really like your blogs. I found them very entertaining and I just have to say that you look just adorable in the picture above. Thank you for sharing this and looking forward for more. Cheers!