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Confronting the Closet Conundrum
If chapter length has anything to do with it, clothing ranks right up there with skin care in the list of what it takes to be as chic as a Frenchwoman. How exactly do those Frenchwomen manage to look put together, stylish and yet give the air that it was all effortless?
First up, and perhaps the most difficult for many of us, is attitude. The typical Frenchwoman exudes confidence. Her posture says, “Hey, I’m me and I look great.” No matter what one wears, this alone can make a woman more attractive. This is something I’ve noticed from all the people watching I do, especially on our trips to New Orleans. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve seen who couldn’t exactly be called pretty who still manage to exude a degree of confidence which makes them attractive.
Now, getting to the specifics about clothing, here are the basics which help Frenchwomen achieve their enviable style:
Quality clothing – Their wardrobe may be relatively small but the foundation is a collection of well-made basics which they will wear for many years. They will save and splurge on that black leather pencil skirt and then continue to wear it for ages. The fact that they keep their weight steady makes this possible.
Neutrals – French women tend to gravitate toward neutrals for the basis of their wardrobe. Black, navy, gray, brown…these form the the bulk of the Frenchwoman’s clothing purchases, particularly those quality pieces she will wear for many years. This also allows her to have a smaller wardrobe. No one is likely to notice if she wears the same black slacks 2 or 3 times a week.
Adding color – Just because she favors neutrals doesn’t mean the Frenchwoman totally eschews color in her closet. It’s just that color is added judiciously, making sure it complements the neutral base of her wardrobe. A beautiful, emerald green cashmere sweater can add a stunning pop of color in a mostly black and gray clothing collection, for instance. But she is likely to limit colorful pieces to perhaps 15-20%.
Fit – This is the element I think many American women could use help with. The typical Frenchwoman’s clothes fit beautifully and are selected to flatter her feminine curves. Perhaps it’s because fashion is such a huge deal in France and women are surrounded with good examples, but they seem to do a much better job in this regard.
Tish Jett, the author, devotes several pages of this chapter to detailed descriptions of real French women’s wardrobes including clothing lists. This is actually pretty helpful and has inspired me to inventory my closet and start making a list of what I’d like to add to it.