Parisian women have always seemed mysterious. The subtle pout, the nonchalant way they carry themselves and their confident low-key look that oozes femininity. Think Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Tautou, Marion Cotillard or Vanessa Paradis – sexy, stylish, alluring and seemingly mysterious and untouchable… until now. How to be Parisian Wherever You Are : Love, Style and Bad Habits is an insightful tongue and cheek manual written by four friends and Paris natives, Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas.
I’ve just finished the book in Thailand (great for the holiday attention span!) and it’s the perfect handbook on how the modern Parisian woman manages to stay so mysterious that can be practiced wherever you are in the world.
It’s penned as if you’ve just made friends with a bossy, opinionated Parisian and she’s dishing her intimate secrets, obviously with immaculate red lips while sipping a glass of red wine with a cigarette in hand! She’ll share her fashion tips, teach you how to make your boyfriend jealous and enlighten you on the etiquette for beauty products and plastic surgery. She’s the Paris Bestie you’ve always wanted and you can use her insider knowledge without ever setting foot in the city of lights.
Here are some of my favourite bits in the haute handbook:
Being Naked – “You’re not a slave to the cult of the perfect body – so learn to make the most of what nature gave you.”
“If you don’t like your ass, walk sideways, your back to the wall, and show off your breasts. If your legs are too short or your thighs too wide, go on your tiptoes. If you don’t like your breasts…do something about them, but in the meantime, cross your arms, and when in bed, opt for positions lying on your back.”
Being the best version of yourself – “Enjoy the face you have today. It’s the one you wish you have ten years from now.”
When you can have anything – She doesn’t have a ring on each finger, or a big diamond on each ring. She doesn’t wear a golf watch that costs as much as a fancy car. In fact, she doesn’t own a fancy car. She doesn’t carry an enormous designer bag. But she might have a newspaper under her arm. She might mention Sartre or Foucault in a conversation, It’s her personality the sparkles and nothing else: the signs of intellectual wealth.”
Saving your skin – “In Paris , the rules are clear: you anticipate, you prepare for the future, but you never totally correct.”
On hair – “As your face gets messier with age, your hair can get neater, for balance.”
On attitude – “Always be fuckable: when standing in line at the bakery on a Sunday morning, buying champagne in the middle of the night, or even picking the kids up from school. You never know.”
And the bit that made me giggle the most is her list of essentials – jeans, the bag, the little black blazer, the white shirt and my best – a small silk scarf, “It has more than one function. First it adds a touch of colour to a dark outfit without running the risk of a fashion faux pas. Then, when it rains, you wear it over your head like Romy Schneider. And on occasion, you can even use it to wipe your child’s nose when you’ve run out of tissues.” – Whew! So pleased to know that I’m a little closer to be Parisian!
How to be Parisian wherever you are: Love, Style and Bad Habits by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas.