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 no longer buy sweaters, (too hot in central heated buildings) preferring to layer lighter clothes. But I do have cardigans…. again with some favourite scarves. I have hundreds.
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.
Not to forget the essential shoes and bags.
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.
I am in my 30-ties but I find it hard to buy what’s currently trendy – I just don’t like it and it’s not my thing. I have my style and stay true to it.
Hi Iva, thanks for visiting my blog. Of course it is unrealistic to think that “one size fits all”. We have to adapt what is available. I will just quote what Inez says about trends.
” Following fashion is something the Parisian hates, but she still needs to know what is in. The trick is never to follow current trends slavishly. Even if leopard skin prints are top of the list this season, she will nor sstep out looking like she has escaped form the Paris zoo. A faux leopard or zebraskin clutch is enough to proclaim her credentials as a woman of style not a follower of the herd.”
PS. you look lovely on your blog.
Great blog! And looking good xx
Thanks Dora, nice to see you here. Thanks for your comment. Love Denise.
Hi again, just had a huge clear out myself, Oxfam here I come! I’m a bit of a clothes hoarder but decided to be ruthless. If it didn’t make me feel good wearing it, then off to Oxfam with it. Lots of stuff that doesn’t fit anymore and probably never will. Fashion and impulse buys that don’t really suit me. More casual stuff than I could possibly ever wear, even if I spent all day and every day in the gym. Primark bargain buys that to be frank just look cheap, I’m at an age I need a good, quality cut and less is always more. Found lots of stuff that I’d forgotten I had. Clothes done, shoes and boots still to do. Now that’s a bit harder. At last count about 90 pairs, shocking! I had a knee op 3 years ago and now can’t wear heels but a little part of me still hankers after that extra height. Think I might ebay them, might make it easier to part with them if I can put the money to some stunning flat shoes.
Loved this post. Wish I was organised like you – I tend to have lots of random stuff. Btw – your hair looks fine!
Hi Bossy, ….To be honest, some of the organisation is because I am selling my house. I had a good clear out and only kept the clothes I currently wear, that match each other, but that is SO liberating!
Yes, and must make getting ready in the morning extra quick! 🙂 Must do a clear-out when I retire again at the end of April.
You guys are making me feel guilty about all the “stuff” that is hanging in my closet that I haven’t even looked at in years!!! I tried purging about 3 years ago and did get rid of lots of it but can’t seem to part with the real expensive duds even though I’ll never ever wear them again!! Your post and responses is serving as an inspiration! Wish me luck!!!
eBay the expensive stuff…well worth it, quite addictive really xx
I love it when people talk to each other.
I agree that a clothes purge can be addictive. Once you have bitten the bullet and really got rid of all those things you never wear, will never wear and which don’t make you feel good anyway, it is SO liberating and I didn’t want to go back to that enslavement. So I try to keep on top of things.
…..and yes Bossy when I think about it it does make getting dressed in the morning easier, I had not thought of that…… I can actually SEE what is in the wardrobe. Travelling with a carryon and surviving for a week or more has taught me that I actually don’t need a lot of stuff.so I apply the same principles.
Sandy sell the expensive stuff on ebay or take them to a dress agency. I don’t know what you call them in the US, a dress agency is a shop where they sell expensive labels for you and take a commission. Otherwise give them to charity shop at least you know they go to a good cause. Here the latest thing is places that buy your unwanted clothes by weight.
I rarely buy one item of clothing when I think about it. I always buy an “outfit”. and it has to match with other stuff in my wardrobe too.
All this makes me sound so super organised and efficient, which I am not but I am so much better than I used to be……. and the house sale has made me start to throw stuff away to make room to hide stuff when viewers come round. LOL!