On some of my favourite blogs, there has been talk of Paris Fashion week. which has made me think about fashion and style.
Frankly I as I get older I am less interested in fashion, but more interested in style and I realise how my style has been influences by my frequent trips to Paris, where lets face it the women really DO have an undefinable style about them.
The guru of Parisian style seems to be a woman called Inez de la Fressange, a 50 something, beautiful, tall, naturally graceful skinny ex model, blessed with dark hair and dark skin, whom I could never even try to emulate as I am a 60 something, white, small, frumpy, inverted triangle shaped, white British woman of peasant stock with very broad shoulders and terrible posture.
I am not sure what makes this lady an expert on Parisian chic. Other than she was voted the woman who most represented Parisian women by La Figaro readers in 2009. She looks beautiful enough in her pictures but I hardly think she would stand out in a crowd of middle class French women. They are all beautiful and stylish. Or maybe that is the whole point.
But imagine the pressure of being voted “the woman who most represents Parisian chic”! No longer can you pop to the shop with unwashed hair and no mascara if you run out of milk!…but may be Parisian women just wouldn’t DO that anyway.
Curiosity made me get her book “Parisian Chic”. which actually it talks a lot of common sense. Basically saying,” less is more” and ” do your own thing with confidence” plus beauty and clothes tips. But disappointingly a large portion of the book is devoted to where to shop in Paris, where to hang out and where to stay. Not a lot of use if you live on the other side of the world!
I get it, …… the aim is to look beautiful, elegant and stylish, without seeming that you have made a lot of effort. So a lot of her tips are around subtlety and feeling comfortable. . After all research shows, apparently, a woman who’s appearance screams “high maintenance” is a turn off for men.
Inez suggests seven basic items of clothing essential to a wardrobe
A mans blazer. By thus she means a blazer type jacket..
A trench coat, worn casually, never buttoned up or belt tied.
Navy sweater. The one illustrated is v neck.
A white “tank”, by which she means a vest. ( not so good for the over 60’s.)
A little black dress.
The perfect jeans.
A leather jacket.
Now I find it difficult to wear black. Black and navy are to me colours of depression and I feel ill wearing them, near my face. This maybe because In the depths of my depressive illness in my thirties, all my clothes were black or navy. But that apart, in my opinion, black is not a colour that is flattering to the average Anglo Saxon bluey white complexion. Frankly, I rarely see somebody on whom black looks good other than maybe a vivacious brunette with olive skin ( much more typically French) or a black woman, who look fantastic in black, or a blonde with a golden tan. Plus, back is such a difficult colour to keep looking good, it fades, it shows every speck of fluff and hairs.
Inez’s illustrations of a near monochrome wardrobe, look wonderful modelled by her 17 year old daughter, but I feel would look a bit dull and frumpy and on me. Then this may just be my English view. I love splashes of bright colours here and there to brighten up the world. One of the big differences between the Paris metro and the London underground is that the London women have colour! So this is the main reason why I will never look like a Parisian. I love colour too much….and Vive la difference. I am proud to be English.
However, this does not stop me being influenced by Parisian style and I suppose I have adapted some Parisian style into the way I dress. Instead of black and navy I tend to wear brown, mid grey, burgundy or purple as a base colour.
When I look at my wardrobe ( currently “edited” and arranged just as Inez would approve of) I have two “mans” blazer type jackets.
and a trench.
(with my favourite pretty scarf)
The” tanks” or vests. (A NO, NO, OVER 60 as the skin on my arms is now “crinkly” not to mention the bingo wings!) ) I tend to wear UNDER pretty see through or chiffon blouses.
I have not yet found a LBD……. I can’t tell you the number of black dresses and tops I have bought over the years, which have been consigned to the charity shop bag, after one wear, because I just cannot bear to wear black next to my face.
and my essential jeans. …. The ones that fit ME like a dream are Roma, from PER UNA. Marks and Spencer. One sort of jeans do not suit everybody but these are perfect for me. They reach my waist and fit my bottom, you have to find what suit you. I currently have straight leg dark and mid blue plus grey and black slim leg..
and of course every girl has a leather jacket.
Get this clear, By NO means do I consider myself a style icon, but just for fun, here are Denise style tips.
How to get English Chic.
(for a 5ft 3″ inverted triangle shape, slightly overweight, sixty plus……with bingo wings!!)
Always keep your shoes polished. (actually I have Michael to do that!) Somehow polished shoes make any look seem more expensive.
Less IS more where make up is concerned. Too much makeup just emphasises my wrinkles. Light, skin matched, foundation, light eye pencil smudged around my eyes, mascara and blusher, plus lip gloss is all I need now. Occasionally I use a bit of self tanning cream as I look so pale in winter.
I also make sure I use a good magnifying mirror. I see so many older women with clumpy mascara and clown like blusher on their cheeks. I put this down to the fact that as you get older you do not see as clearly as when you are young, even if you don’t need glasses.
Always wear colour next to my face. Usually in the form of a scarf. Consequently the only jewellery I wear is earrings.
I don’t do waists, as I don’t have one, so most of my clothes, skim over my waist. I avoid belts but have slightly fitted shaped clothes that make me look like there is a waist underneath!
I love a layered look.
I avoid shoulder detail as this emphasises my wide shoulders.
I always cover my upper arms and think sleeves that end just below the elbow, or are pushed up from the wrist look flattering.
I avoid frilly things . (Just not “me”) big collars and horizontal stripes.
I feel grey hair is ageing, bold shiny colour is everything. I have used henna for years and have my roots done every two weeks. (it helps when you live with a hairdresser!)
Maybe when I am 70 I will dye it purple!
I have used Inez trick of a final rinse with 3tbs white vinegar diluted in a pint of water, for shiny hair for years. I use a teeny tiny bit of conditioner combed through the ends. Plus, never rub hair with a towel, instead pat dry, and use hair dryer downwards along the hair shaft.
I keep my hair as long as I dare, This fits with my lifestyle, as I ride a bike and I can tie it up at work or when I get to my destination to overcome “helmet hair. Sometimes I wonder if this is not right for me and I am looking for a new hairstyle.
I have always done a small amount of exercise but it must be pleasurable and fit in with my lifestyle So I ride a bike everywhere.
Finally, never underestimate the power of the feeling that you are wearing the best underwear!
Phew it’s hard work being a style icon! LOL!
…and who is my style icon? why Twiggy of course!
I love how she is not fazed by the fact that she has inevitably gained a few pounds round the middle…and all credit to M&S that they keep her as their style icon for older women.
Finally, accept you will inevitably age, how you look is so much less important that how you are with people. Beautiful clothes will not hide an ugly heart.
Although first impressions are important, most people ( unless they are completely superficial) will forget how you look after a few minutes and be more impressed by your kindness, how interested you are in THEM!
…and a year ago we had been visiting the Tower of London.