All posts filed under: elements of style

Jane Birkin: French Style Icon Encyclopedia

Jane Birkin: a master of French style even if she was born in London. I don’t even love her vibe so much. What I love about Jane Birkin as an example of the genre is that there’s not much to see here on some levels: These aren’t prom queen good looks, you know? Which in my experience is the essence of French (via London) beauty: You just do the best with what you have. It’s more mystique and attitude than anything else. And anyone can have mystique and attitude. It’s the great leveler, attitude, and thank God for that. To note: her long and/or layered necklaces (my fave is the one worn with the off-the-shoulder peasant blouse in the first color photo), simple outfits, the bangs, and how natural and easy everything looks. Candice Swanepoel for Victoria’s Secret, this isn’t. I get that her allure is all about the pout and the big eyes, but my favorite pictures of her are at the end. I swear the percentage of photos in which she’s smiling — hugely — goes …

francoise hardy eyeliner

Elements of Style: Françoise Hardy’s Eyeliner

Françoise Hardy is the sort of French polymath I’m not sure we have in America: She sings, she writes, she provides the soundtrack for pivotal moments in Moonrise Kingdom: Part of her genius is her management of her style: When I read Edith Wharton’s immortal wisdom (“Genius is of small use to a woman who does not know who to do her hair“) and I think of her. It’s a really interesting thing: Americans — well, American media, which is not the same thing  —is obsessed with the allure of the French women. I agree that it is a thing: They do, in my opinion, something that we (well, I) do not. I have tried to explain this to French women, and the ones I have spoken to, at least, get annoyed, and not that “Oh, I’m actually flattered” annoyed — it’s more of an, “Enough with your ridiculous stereotypes” thing. But there’s a reason books like “How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are” work — there’s truth to it, and truths that I think are especially applicable, by contrast, to us. …

Emmanuelle Alt: French Style Icon Encyclopedia

The same day I realized that half the reason I like traveling is because it’s the easiest way to get rid of clutter (this book is changing my life) I realized the other half of the reason I like living in France: It’s easier to be a lady here. I should rephrase that: It’s the other half of the reason I like being an American in France: It’s easier to be an American lady here. This is not to discount the daily challenges of being a French woman: I’m not French, so I don’t know what they are, and I have a friend here who swears that she read an article about how the percentage of women using anti-depressants is higher in Paris “than any other Western city.” (I cannot verify this.) I think in many ways it is harder to be just, like, a person in the place where you are from than elsewhere: I am completely blind to any pressures they might face here. And I am exempt from the ones I might be facing …