It’s refreshing that someone out there knows how to turn bad habits into endearing qualities. How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style and Bad Habits is my favourite read en ce moment. My British stiff upper lip has often quivered at the sight of the Parisienne pout, is there anything in this world quite like it? Writers Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline Maigret and Sophie Mas, know this and so they take you to the root of that pout and much more.
In a perfect world I would have been born in Paris during The Age of Enlightenment and become a notable host or figure of the French salons and live on as an echo in their art, film and literature. I suppose every girl starts to have a long distance (and often unrequited) love affair with Paris at some point in her life. I think mine started around the time I discovered the first perfume I truly loved, Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel. My friends and I became obsessed with Two Lipsticks and a Lover and I vividly remember Carrie losing it with Big for going to Paris without her. I even wrote a script called What’s French For Butterflies during my Masters in Feature Film Screenwriting trying to explore that certain je ne sais quoi.
My sister went off to Paris once for a human rights conference, she was so immersed with the city that she lost track of time, her group left without her so she ended up missing her connection and got lost trying to get back home. In any other place, this scenario would be an utter nightmare but when it happens to you in Paris, somehow it becomes romantic. I mean, she contemplated what to do next on the steps of the Sacré-Coeur, for heaven’s sake.
Two Lipsticks and a Lover was all about how to emulate the quintessential French Mademoiselle. Something I have recently learnt is that there is the French woman and then there is the Parisienne and of a book that can bring some of that allure to you no matter where you are in the world.
Parisian women never try to appear to be something other than what they are. In truth, more than wanting to look young—which is but a fleeting illusion—they want above all to become the best possible version of themselves, outside and in, at any age. [How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are]
So then how to be Parisian wherever you are? Cover your bases it would seem. Eat croissants, Camembert cheese, drink red wine at lunch and know it’s absolutely okay to ditch the gym. Get cultural with theatre, museums and your opinions.
Discover your signature item and take really good care of it so it lasts you a lifetime. The writers of the book recommend you wear it with everything, no matter what it is, a trench, a pair of heels or a chic purse. Mine would be my precious sunglasses that were a steal, which according to my friends I use to be ‘dramatic.’ Oversized sunglasses are also on their list of essentials alongside other favourites such as ballet flats, a black blazer and jeans. Label name-dropping is a serious faux pas as is saying bon appétit incidentally.
For the Parisian woman less is always more, less make-up, less jewelry and the less of a fuss over everything, the better. Her jewelry though, always tells a story and this is a habit I have cultivated most of my life. While I keep my heart at a safe distance from my sleeve, ask about the trinkets at my ears and neck and you will have me gushing.
Dig a little deeper and you will find her thoughts on being in love with love, solitude, what mother knows best and even sadness. If you have “ever [felt] as though the world’s troubles are flowing through [you]” chances are you have been living in the wrong city, for a Parisian this is just the right kind of shade for feeling blue.
This book made me laugh and even cry a little over the fact that I’m not living in Paris. While I won’t be jetting off anytime soon and am more than happy to be a British and Pakistani citizen of the world currently living in Toronto, it’s nice to know I can have a little piece Parisian chic wherever I am.