So you want to be Parisian?

Step 1:

Open your wardrobe, grab every item of colour, and throw it away. Black, navy, grey, beige, cream and white are celebrated while hues with the slightest vivacity are scorned and abhorred. Think Chanel or Zara (circa 2012) and you’re on the right track.

Step 2:

Buy stripes. It’s a terrible cliché but an absolute necessity for any Parisian transformation. Introduced in the 1858 Act of France as a mandatory garment for French naval workers in Brittany, brought into the fashion world in 1917 by Coco Chanel herself, and debuted in Hollywood by Marlon Brando in The Wild One, the Breton stripe is a French style staple and is classically teamed with jeans, ballet pumps and just the slightest splash of colour.

Step 3:

Add to your wardrobe the following twelve French fashion staples:

1. A beige trench coat.
2. A silk scarf.
3. A pair of navy skinny or slim fit jeans.
4. A little black dress.
5. A leather jacket.
6. A blazer.
7. A crisp white button-down shirt.
8. A small black cross-body handbag.
9. A pair of black smart (cigarette) trousers.
10. A strong pair of ballerina flats or loafers.
11. A pair of simple yet elegant black stiletto heels.
12. A cashmere sweater.

Ditch the Ugg boots, fake designer products and definitely avoid showing too much skin.

Look to French designers and fashionistas like Coco Chanel, Inès de la Fressange and Brigitte Bardot for style inspiration, and check out the 2009 movie Coco Before Chanel.

Step 4:

Accessorise with care. The parisienne doesn’t over adorn herself with gold or jewels, she simply accentuates. If dressing for a more formal or glamorous occasion, consider just one accent piece or two items maximum, however, on more casual days, a little extra bling can add a certain je ne sais quoi to a t-shirt and jeans and combination.

Step 5:

Be aloof. La parisienne is cool, calm and collected, but she also doesn’t stand for anyone else’s crap. She’s not scared of those pesky Parisian drivers nor is she fazed by the flasher on the metro.

Step 6:

Read. Read Voltaire, Molière, Hugo, anything to broaden your mind, for the parisienne is more than just a well-styled ensemble. Take your books to the likes of Café de Flore and Café Les Deux Magots and watch the world pass-by on the Boulevard Saint-Germain.

Step 7:

Take heed from the women in the know, les experts parisiennes, in the ironically hilarious ‘How to be Parisian: Wherever You Are’. 


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