Published on 13th, February 2014
There is a popular saying that when a French woman dresses, you don’t see the dress but you see the woman. But when a Parisian woman dresses what do you see? Some would say her chic style; others may suggest her smug attitude while for some it would be her grim-faced expression which may also confirm the general belief that the Parisian woman thinks that smiling causes wrinkles.
Perceptions aside, the widespread consensus is that the Parisian woman has a certain style and allure that is indisputably attractive. She is feted in France and lauded the world over. Her presence causes stirrings of admiration and bouts of envy; and her icons such as Ines de la Fressange and Arielle Dombasle are considered to be timeless style ambassadors.
But what makes her style so universally attractive? What are the components of her style? What can we find in her wardrobe? Here is our pick of La Parisienne’s top ten indispensable fashion items.
1. The Tailored Jacket
As they say, a well-cut jacket is the foundation of every wardrobe. For the Parisian woman, the jacket is not an investment but a necessity. La Parisienne believes that just like make-up enhances the facial beauty, the jacket flatters the feminine shape while giving a hint of self-assurance. Cut, fabric and colour are all important but perhaps the most crucial for her is the fit and shape of the jacket. It must be perfect enough to be considered an extension of the skin. Whether perfectly worn as part of a total look, or with casually rolled-up sleeves, or draped over a t-shirt, this indispensable wardrobe item takes the Parisian woman to Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel’s boutiques several times a year; and again to Balenciaga, Balmain and Karl Lagerfeld for the leather rock and roll version.
2. The Marinière Top
If France had a national uniform it would be the marinière, that famous mariner’s pinstriped top in its classic dark blue and white, worn alone or underneath a jacket. Loved by fashion icons from Coco Chanel to Brigitte Bardot and beyond France by the likes of Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn, the pinstriped top found a renewed iconic status when Jean-Paul Gaultier made it part of his style signature in the 80s. Just like the French dining table will not be complete without la baguette, the Parisian’s wardrobe is cannot be complete without la marinière. A must-have item from Jean-Paul Gaultier and Chanel.
3. The Scarf
The Parisian woman loves scarves so much that she even has a scarf-tying method named after her – the Parisian Scarf Knot. La Parisienne uses the scarf both to flaunt her coolness and to stamp her chicness; and sometimes to intimidate…. Whether young, old or in-between, the scarf is her statement of panache, found elegantly and perfectly tied around her neck whether she’s sitting in a street-side café or perched on her desk in the office. As for the colour, size and fabric, this varies but ultimately for the Parisian woman, the scarf can dress up any casual look and the same scarf can give an additional dose of chic to a more formal look. La Parisienne believes that just like make-up, a scarf is for all seasons, only that when you tie a scarf, you don’t really need make-up. Her preferred stop to pick up a scarf? Your guess is as good as mine… It would be Hermès, of course.
4. The Aviator Sunglasses
Sunglasses they say adds a layer of enigma and seduction to a woman’s look. And as we know, women relish in the power that seduction gives them… But la Parisienne takes this to a whole new level, she uses the aviator sunglasses to mix the power of seduction with a nonchalant playfulness that of makes her magnetism unrivalled. The aviator is her uniform for every weather and style, from classic, casual, chic, punk, boho or sexy. Her brand choice? Ray Bans, which she seems to have a weakness for.
5. The Skinny Jeans
It’s true that America invented the jeans, but no one wears it better than the Parisian woman. She particularly likes the skinny jeans otherwise known as “le jean slim” in the land of the Galois. This wardrobe essential can take her from day to evening, from weekday to weekend and from the kitchen to the boardroom. La Parisienne is particularly creative with her skinny jeans and often likes them rolled-up, to flaunt her graceful ankles or her sexy heels. The classic blue or white jeans are her preferences but she also has a fondness for ankle-length black jeans, preferably decked with boots and a leather jacket. Her preferred stores for jeans? Just about any brand from Diesel to J Brand, The Kooples, Comptoir de Cotonniers and Uniqlo.
6. The Ballerinas
Ballerinas may not be naturally synonymous to elegance but the Parisian woman has fused these flat shoes into her style in such a way that they have become the byword for French chic. But how did these flat shoes originally designed for ballet dancing become an iconic piece in the Parisian’s wardrobe? Well, its history can be traced to the Paris Opera Ballet which is the oldest national ballet company in the world and the origin of the European and international ballet dance. Since the founding of the Paris Opera in 1669, the ballerinas have had a place in the City of Lights and it’s no wonder that they continue to grace the feet of la Parisienne, in all colours and styles, and with the French sole and beyond. Ask any Parisian woman their brand choice for ballerinas and the answer would most likely be synonymously Repetto!
7. The Black Bag
If you ask la Parisienne her colour of choice, she would most likely say black. And if you ask her for her choice accessory, it would most likely be the handbag. Combine the two and you’ll get the classic black bag often perched on her shoulder and held steadfastly with her elbow. Whether it’s Chanel’s 2.55, Dior’s Lady Dior or Roger Vivier’s Urban Jungle, the black bag is never far away from the Parisian.
8. The Red Lipstick
The red lipstick is the real weapon of seduction for the Parisian woman. She may not really care for a full face of make-up but the red lipstick (or red lip gloss) is indispensable. Therein lies the secret of her power of attraction. No matter the time of day or the occasion, la Parisienne never forgets that perfectly stroked red lips always brings romance… Her favourites are Saint Laurent’s Rouge Couture, Chanel’s Rouge Allure and Dior’s Diorific range.
9. The Little Black Dress
Did you know that before Coco Chanel invented the little black dress in the 1920s, this colour that has become a wardrobe classic was reserved only for funerals in Paris? The versatile all-weather black dress which has even achieved the iconic status of being referred to as simply the LBD, brought about one of the most important rules of fashion – every woman must own at least one simple and elegant black dress. Ask the Parisian woman and she’ll tell you that you should own at least five LBDs, to give you room to dress them up and down from day to evening. Although Chanel brought the LBD to la Parisienne, every fashion house today has a version equally suitable to the Parisian woman, from Lanvin to Givenchy, Nina Ricci and several others.
10. The Kinky Underwear
It is often whispered that the Parisian woman’s confidence comes from the secret knowledge of her kinky underwear. La Parisienne dresses for herself and no one else, and her intimate knowledge of the power of what lies beneath her clothing is a boost to her attitude and allure. Her destination to stock up on her secret weaponry? Aubade, Chantal Thomas and Fifi Chachnil.
La Parisienne’s fashion essentials don’t stop at the number ten. She also believes in the power of scent, and a drop of perfume is the final act in her dressing routine. Her choice is undisputedly Chanel No.5 (or Coco Mademoiselle for some). She also favours the trench coat, which she insists on wearing beyond spring and autumn; and has a soft spot for jewellery particularly discreet silver bracelets and pendants, as well as pearls, both real and fake. She is most likely to choose Cartier and Boucheron before other jewellery houses.
Although each Parisian woman’s fashion essentials may vary according to their personal tastes and style, the fact remains that all Parisian women are already clothed in something rarely found among others – an alluring attitude. The rest are just additional layers to this.