ONCE A Chanel muse and model, now proprietor of her own Left Bank eponymous boutique, Inès de la Fressange is the epitome of easy elegance. Personally speaking, I’ve never seen her not look “comme il faut.” So, I was eager to read her just-published Parisian Chic Encore, co-authored with fashion journalist Sophie Gachet, and an update of the 2010 best-selling Parisian Chic. Fashion sites are filled with posts from everyone and her sister on what you need to do or wear to look French, but I’m more inclined to heed style tips from quintessential Parisienne de la Fressange. Among the book’s clothing recommendations are building your wardrobe around affordable basics, such as a navy sweater, trench coat, leather jacket, white shirt and blazer. Most of us already have these essentials, but Ines offers smart tips on how to make them look special and also what to avoid. The desired effect with a leather jacket, she notes, is to “rescue any look from appearing too conventional.” In winter, wear it under a coat; in spring, to offset the garden party look, wear it over a chiffon dress. Don’t ever wear a leather jacket with biker boots. Word to the wise: “The best leather jacket is as close-fitting as possible, with high armholes and patch pockets.”
For those of us who get carried away when we’re out shopping (anyone?), asking yourself three questions before opening your wallet is de rigueur. 1) If the answer to the question “Could I wear it tonight?” is yes, buy it; if no, put it back. 2) Would that friend whose style I admire wear this? If yes, buy it (and give it her if you don’t wear it). No? Put it back. 3) Do I already have this pink sweater? Yes? Put it back. No? Buy it. You always need a pink sweater.
Several pages are devoted to common-sense beauty, as well as beauty faux pas, such as using brown blush under your cheekbones and wearing too much high-coverage foundation, especially if it’s too dark. Her musts: Moisturize your skin (de la Fressange buys her creams at the drugstore), apply mascara but skip the liquid eyeliner, choose a foundation a shade lighter than your natural complexion to soften your face and reduce shadowy areas, choose bright lipstick or go for sheer gloss and keep your nails short (there’s nothing chicer than clear varnish, she says).
In the “The Parisian Home” chapter, de la Fressange shares her thoughts on stylish interiors and how to create a pared-down, well-organized closet with a shout-out to Marie Kondo. If you have Paris in your plans (always a good idea), Parisian Chic Encore offers a list of Ines’s favorite clothing and accessory boutiques, hair salons and fragrance shops, plus her top picks for hotels, restaurants and bars.
You can buy this handy style guide online or at major booksellers.