Parisian Chic: A Style Guide – Ines de la Fressange

23 April 2011

When I was growing up, Ines de la Fressange was the epitome of beauty and French upper crust style to me. I desperately wanted to look like her but as a short, milky skinned Celtic redhead it was a bit of a lost cause, frankly.

Never mind, thanks to her new book Parisian Chic: A Style Guide, we can all have a bit of French style in our lives although I suspect my fuchsia hair is probably a bit of a fashion faux pas, alas. I can make up for it though with carefully arranged closet space, tastefully arranged peonies and an elegantly battered satchel.

When my copy arrived, it actually took me a couple of days to pluck up the courage to open it. I mean this quite literally, as Parisian Chic arrived wrapped in cellophane, which for some reason I found a bit intimidating. I whipped it all off last night though and am glad that I did as the book inside (which has a faux crimson velvet cover and gold lettering, which is vaguely reminiscent of a prayer book) was actually really accessible and fun to read.

The attention to detail is amazing and also, I imagine, very typically Parisian – it’s that particular attention to detail that is carefully designed to make it look like no thought whatsoever has gone into it. Gleaming newness is a no no here – no, the look you are going for is casual, comfortable but extremely chic. Not glamorous – chic. There’s a difference.

For example, take Ines’ advice about leather jackets (one of her featured wardrobe essentials): ‘The older (or more distressed) the better. When you buy it, put it under your mattress for several nights before wearing it, or walk all over it. Alternatively, buy a vintage model – you’ll sleep better.

Parisian Chic doesn’t just cover clothes, fashion and beauty tips (with a particular emphasis on advice for women of A Certain Age), but also covers home decor and entertaining. Here again, there is the same attention to detail and the same emphasis on keeping things simple and Less Is More – which is essential when you live in a small flat, as the vast majority of Parisians do.

All of this is very handy when my attempts to create a Parisian feel in my home revolve around Eiffel Tower patterned cushions, pictures of Marie Antoinette and red geraniums on the window sill.

The best bit though are Ines’ recommended hang outs, shops, bars, restaurants and hotels in Paris – recommendations that I am sure I will be using next time I am there. They aren’t just presented as lists – no, there’s lots of pictures and descriptions to whet your appetite.

The overall effect is very luxe but also extremely useful and well thought out – which is the Parisian way. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I felt like a Parisienne while reading it, but I look forward to trying out some of Ines’ tips in the future.

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