Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tips For Finding Skirt Shapes, Styles, and Fabrics That Flatter

The French have long been known as arbiters of style, in clothing, perfumes and cuisine. Coco Chanel, the epitome of the smart French businesswoman as well as the creator of a multitude of fabulous clothing, fragrance and accessories, created looks for women that set the mode for modes that are still with us today. Today, we call Coco’s great stuff, “classic”: there is no greater acknowledgement of her genius. (And when a reporter once asked Marilyn Monroe, “What do you sleep in ?” She replied, “Chanel No. 5”.)

American style tends to revolve around the “more is more, new is best” idea, which is the absolute opposite of French style. French women know that, when it comes to style, the thing to do is buy one perfect, timeless item that will last truly all your life. In four or five years, buy another item that complements the first one. Perhaps it’s this fashion ethic that enables French women to purchase costly French real estate on middle-class salaries.

Exquisite moderation in fashion is reflected in another French attitude: French cuisine takes the part of the carcass we usually throw away—the marrow, the intestines, the fish heads—and creates magnificent dishes that are then priced at top-dollar in bistros. There is a charming sensibility in which a woman in a three-hundred-dollar dress sits down to a luncheon of delicately prepared tripe. Add wine, Chardonnay, I think, and a cheese plate. After which she returns to her job as a sales woman at the local gift shop. Just another day in Aix…

The classic French hair style comes in two versions: one for short hair, one for long. Short hair is severely bobbed: long hair is worn in a twist. Chignon is for evening, bien sur. What else could you possibly need?

If you are considering embracing French style, your wardrobe will tend towards neutrals, which are all-season and cannot go out of fashion. Black, and white, red or blue accents for scarf, purse and maybe (if you’re the daring type), shoes. Red lipstick, which works on most women. Mascara, but no eye shadow, except maybe for evening.

Don’t be fooled by American television design shows that purport to advance ideas of Parisian or French Country chic. Twelve layers of toile is not chic: painting your living-room red to mimic bistro walls will only give you eyestrain when you try to read your Vogue (which also is not French, unless you happen to buy the French Vogue.) (Also, research shows that people fight more in red rooms.)

I hope this short discourse on French fashion gives you something to muse over when considering ways to simplify your life without sacrificing style or life’s pleasures.

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