I’m not going to lie that I love the simplicity of what has traditionally been called a Parisienne’s wardrobe. You know the pieces that make it up well – the striped t-shirt, the trench coat, the black heels… They’re of an impeccable quality, they are all accessorized to perfection and they make the wearer always look impossibly chic. While I love the idea, I think it’s somewhat of an antiquated notion in modern life. While sure, there are a handful of Parisienne women who are as stylish as we all dream they are, I think the vast majority of them no longer aren’t. They’ve been seduced by the allure of more more more fast fashion world that the rest of us have.
Several months ago, I bought the best-seller How to be Parisian Wherever You Are because it went beyond the traditional “wear this and stop buying that” that so many books seem to embrace without a second thought. I loved it, it was almost like what I imagine the conversation at Carrie Bradshaw’s Parisian book signing event party that she never went to (Damn you, Petrovsky. It’s 2016 and I’m still not over it.) would be like. It was funny, witty and full of real life for French women.
But what struck me most was that while the book did embrace a few of the long-standing ideals, it also blew most out of the water. And it left me feeling even less like the traditional French style was still something that was alive and possible in a modern world. I was reading my favourite magazine on the planet the other day (my little secret discovered in a first-class lounge in Heathrow) and they had a whole piece on what it meant to be “la parisienne” inspired by the book. Take this illustration of what a traditional French wardrobe – updated for today – would look like:
Sure, there are modern updates (and a lot of red) in this interpretation – but the basics are all there. But is this really anyone’s everyday wardrobe anymore? I’ve been to Paris numerous times and have maybe seen one person in a trench coat. And zero in straw hats. So while I think the Parisienne look might be a dying breed – unless someone fantabulous wants to bring it back – I think it did cement one thing upon me anyway:
Parisienne Lesson : Create a capsule wardrobe that works for you
The genius of a Parisienne wardrobe is in its simplicity for the wearer. You know what you like, you have quality pieces that speak to that image and you wear them with aplomb and conviction. You become known for looking put together, chic and stylish all because you wear things that are of impeccable quality that work with everything else in your wardrobe. It’s what I learned from La Parisienne, anyway. That and the fact that I really need a Burberry Kensington trench coat. But knowing that the trench coat would look flawless with the rest of my wardrobe is key to knowing that it’s an investment worth making for my capsule wardrobe.
Thought I’d also share this little gem from the magazine of their interpretation on how to be Parisian wherever you are: