1. Burberry trench 2. Stella McCartney blazer 3. Carven washed-satin dress 4. Rag & Bone "Clare" leather jacket (available at NET-A-PORTER.com) 5. Miu Miu cashmere & silk sweater 6. T by Alexander Wang tank 7. Citizens of Humanity "Kelly" bootcut jeans
However, even if you weren't born that way, it's now possible to fake it! PARISIAN CHIC: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange (Flammarion, 2011) covers everything you need to pass for a fashion native of La Ville Lumière, including specific pointers on how to dress like a Parisian ("The secret to great style is to feel good in what you wear."); where to scrimp and where to splurge ("Always ask yourself, 'If I buy this will I want to wear it tonight?' If the answer is 'non', or 'I'll wear it around the house' or 'Maybe one day, to a party, you never know' it's time to leave the store, and fast."); and, most importantly, what not to do ("The Parisian never fights to be the first with the latest high-priced It bag, especially not if its on a waiting list (so vulgar)...," she sniffs.
Sharing her personal tips gleaned from decades in the fashion biz - starting as a runway model, later as the face of Chanel, and now, as designer of her own clothing line and brand-identity consultant for Roger Vivier - she pokes some vigorious and much-needed holes in the fashion conceits that drive so many of us to focus obsessively on being "fashionable". After all, fashion is fleeting, but style is eternal, Coco Chanel once observed, which Ines has handily translated into the more practical "Universal Golden Style Rule" of proportion to follow: "Wear full pants and skirts with tight-fitting tops, and tight trousers and skirts with loose-fitting tops."
"Don't be a fashion victim," she exhorts. "Fashion should be fun!" Just like her charming illustrations which accompany her smart and funny Dos & Dont's in this adorable little must-have book, designed to look like a purse-sized, soft-cover Moleskine journal. A particularly fun section is her Top 10 cheeky ideas for looking as Parisian as possible, including pairing your shorts with loafers (rather than trousers), stepping out in biker boots (instead of ballet flats) paired with a chiffon print dress, and sexing up a pair of menswear trousers (rather than a skirt) with a sequined sweater. "Two or three zany details can transform a look," she writes, "with madly successful results."
Or not. But even if your risk doesn't quite pay off, at least you'll look unique rather than being just another member of the fashion herd cluttering up the dreaded "it" item waitlist.
Fressange's spitting-image offspring, Nine D'Urso, also models various ensembles throughout the book, and clearly is blessed with perfect genes - and jeans, which Ines includes in her "Magnificent Seven" key pieces no would-be Parisian Wardrobe; a mannish blazer, trench, navy sweater, tank, jeans, leather jacket & LBD round out the list. And should you be lucky enough to have a trip planned to visit Paris, you'll now be able to shop - and window shop ("faire du lèche-vitrine or, literally, lick the windows...which is so much more evocative than its English counterpart) - just like Ines, who devoted the latter part of Parisian Chic to her favorite shops, resources, and even a secret spot for an al fresco picnic ("Jardin Catherin Laboure...a park for those in the know - you'll never stumble across it by accident!")
PARISIAN CHIC: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange is now available at Amazon.com.
- Lesley Scott
(IMAGE CREDITS: front cover, illustration, LBD, leather jacket, trenchcoat - copyright Benoit Peverelli; illustration - copyright Ines de la Fressange; back cover image of Ines - copyright Paolo Roversi; except for photo of Ines in middle montage, all images are from "Parisian Chic: A Style Guide" by Ines de la Fressange with Sophie Gachet (Paris: Flammarion, 2011) except for Ines photo in middle montage).