Book Review: Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange
I have an inherent love of everything French. I wouldn’t class myself as a bona-fied Franco-file as many people would class themselves (I’m nothing like the girl from An Education) but I think having spent a lot of time as I grew up in France, reading French books and magazines, and spending a lot of my time living in my parents house there now, eating, shopping and soaking up the culture and the countryside, I really do feel a connection to the country. (I wrote this post sitting at my desk looking out over miles of Brittany fields, tiny villages and gothic churches, and this is a scheduled post, so as you’re reading this I’m back in France again!) I’ve spent a lot of time in France, but only one brief day in Paris, a fact that upsets me greatly. I really want to get to know the city, but until I can plan a trip there that does not fall through at the planning stage, I’ve had to content myself with reading everything I can about the city instead.After reading about this book on Refinery 29 (I think, though it could very well have been Fashionista), and in NYLON magazine, I decided to order myself a copy and see what all of the fuss was about; it has had exceptional write-ups so far. I’m not usually one for lifestyle ‘guides’ of any type, but I was surely going to enjoy it if Ines de la Fressange managed to relate that air of Parisian ‘chic’ in her book (I usually find books such as these tacky, as well as unhelpful). Parisian Chic covers almost every aspect of everyday life; from dressing like a Parisian, beauty tips, home decor, entertaining, and where to shop, eat and visit in Paris. There is also a few pages at the back left for your own notes to jot down the names, addresses, phone numbers and websites of your own hotspots, be they in Paris of for a bit of online French shopping from wherever in the world you happen to be based. I have the English version, but if your language skills are up to scratch I really think you ought to read it in its original French version. I adore the style section, as I was reading it I felt that it had my own personal attitude to style down to the tee. There are so many great tips on shopping and creating a basic wardrobe that you can mix up with eclectic combinations and accessories, but I really love the guide to the seven essential items any woman must have in their wardrobe and how to wear them; a mans blazer, the trench coat, navy sweater, tank top, little black dress, the perfect pair of jeans and a leather jacket. Each section has a list of shops with photos and addresses in Paris, all of which I want to visit, but Ines has also included websites where you can shop these stores online too. The book also shares my ‘less is more’ approach to beauty: less is more, and once you have found products and routines that suit you and your skin, stick with them. She also preaches my approach to perfume: find one you love and stick with it for at least a couple of years (though I know this might not suit everyone). As for the rest of the book, the home decor section made me wish I had my own apartment to do up in a Parisian style, and I’m going to be sure to refer to the lists of restaurants, hot spots and of course art galleries when I finally get to Paris. She’s listed many of my two of my favourite city hangouts wherever I find myself in the world: bookshops and art galleries.
If you live in Paris or not, I think Parisian Chic is a book that every girl should have on their shelf. It is in fact a brilliant guide, and a really good read to boot. Has anyone else read it yet?