Find Your Personal Style With Parisian Chic — and Why it’s Important

With the New York and Paris fashion shows just behind us, it occurs to me that it is I who am behind the fashions. And that is fine. Looking good has always been more about style than fashion, but that is especially true as we enter what the French so gracefully refer to as un certain age, between 40-something and heaven. Ahem, and I’ve been there a while. The question is how do we acquire that wonderful sense of style; and dress, decorate, and live accordingly?

Parisian Chic--A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange
Parisian Chic--A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange, with Sophie Gachet, from Flammarion

Some are born with it, of course. But for the rest of us there’s a nifty book from which to glean all kinds of great tips to become our most stylish selves.

Parisian Chic-Ines de la Fressange
No arguing with this.

Ines de la Fressange, 50-something, French supermodel, the former “face of Chanel,” and brand ambassador for L’Oreal Paris and Roger Vivier, reveals all in her Parisian Chic–A Style Guide, out about a year ago (speaking of behind) and discovered by me a few months ago at Ann Mashburn’s fab shop (speaking of chic) in Atlanta.
Parisian Chic-Ines de la Fressange-the perfect jeans
“Effortless Style” is an especially good section. Snippets here:
*Mix couture and street culture…
*One maxi-impact accessory with an ultra-simple silhouette…
*Team your old denim jacket with a silk blouse…
*Wear black velvet riding jackets a couple of sizes too small…
*Hunt for vintage men’s scarves and wear them with everything.
*Wear your teenage son’s shirt with a push-up bra… (And don’t try to hide it.)
*Cinch everything with a big, well-worn man’s belt. Tie the excess in a knot.
*Roll the sleeves of your cotton shirt back loosely over your sweater…

Parisian Chic-Ines de la Fressange-the perfect dinner party
I love how she says,

She gives advice not only on how to dress but how to make-up, entertain, decorate, and how “to live like a Parisienne,” divulging all her favorite shops and sources in Paris. Apart from its practical advice, the book is a Paris-lover’s dream.
Parisian Chic-Ines de la Fressange
The writing is pithy and straightforward, and the illustrations are adorable. Ines’s daughter Nine is the model, and she looks just like her darlin’ maman.

I say “darlin'” to mean looks and acts. A few years ago I went to the opening of the Roger Vivier boutique in New York. Standing against the wall with a glass of champagne was this other darlin’ girl I’d recently met named Alejandra Cicognani, who is an international PR impresario. As Alejandra and I share common acquaintances, and as the prospect of greeting a charming Italian inspires in one a certain ebullience, I launched myself at her with the full force of an encounter with a long-lost chum from Camp Yonahlassee. We were a good ten minutes into it when I realized she was not Alejandra, but Ines. Mid-sip when it hit me, to avoid choking, I emitted a small spray of champagne in the vicinity but please God not on her. She pretended not to notice. She didn’t even say Qui est cette bumpkine? Which is French for Who is this bumpkin, which is moi. And that has endeared me to her since.

Fashionologie blog-Ines de la Fressange and Jean Paul Gaultier
No ice queen she, Ines gave a warm salut to an adoring crowd when she walked for Jean Paul Gaultier in Spring of '09. Link to the full post is below.

When she walked the runway at age 51 for Jean Paul Gaultier in 2009, she got a standing ovation. See it here. Something tells me it wasn’t just because she looked great. Real style is having the grace and confidence to treat everyone with kindness and respect, even the bumpkins. Especially the bumpkins.

Now, dites-moi, what do you do or wear that makes you feel stylishly good?


  1. This is one book I am sure to buy (accutaly to invest in). This is just what we “Girls of a Certain Age” need. It should be a fun read and a keeper.
    Thank You for the book info. We only get better with age (and wisdom). 🙂
    I loved you on The Nate Burkus show and your cottage is awesome!!!

    Karen W.

  2. I bought this book last August for my 20 yr old daughter before she left to study abroad in Paris. It’s a wonderful book for all ages with great shopping and restaurant suggestions as well!

  3. This newsletter came at just the in the nick of time for me. I was on my way to my closet to choose my “costume” for my FIRST meeting with a very southern chapter of the DAR. I’m not kidding! REALLY!

    I’m am much closer to the grave than 40, but I subscribe to Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire and I watch every fashion show on TV. In my plan to live to be 100, I am going to do it “stylin”.

    However, I was wondering where my pearls were hidden and if I even owned a pair of panty hose to join the Grande Dames for my intro to the old line in SC self-appointed aristocrats.

    But, because of this brush with maintaining style, I’m putting on a short dress, vest and my leggings with studded flats. I think I might even wear my skull necklace, but I’ll wear my David Yurman bracelet, my diamonds and carry my Prada bag. Bless their hearts, I don’t want the ladies to think I’m impoverished!


    1. Carolyn, you rock it, girl! And btw – Ines talks a lot about how French women read fashion mags religiously but then take a only a great look or two to add to their own. They don’t want to look like they’re trying too hard. Sounds like you’ve got it covered. Brava.

  4. Thanks for your post on this. I don’t just want to buy this book, I need to! What makes me feel stylishly good? When I FINALLY find something that fits well and makes me look good!

  5. Frances, if anyone was “born with it,” it was you. Two quick things: 1) A shout-out for Anne Mashburn’s store, which you mentioned. She and Sid have 5 daughters — 2 have graduated from AGS; Daisy is a senior, Harriett is a sophomore, and 5th grader Pauline starts next year. 2) And I have to brag to you on my own daughter, featured on page 164 of the March Jezebel, just out today. Fashion, no; style a plenty, even for “hill folk” whose favorite place is really Paris.

    1. Emily – first of all thank you. Second, and important, is to clarify for all that Emily Ellison is a founder and fearless leader of the Atlanta Girls School, which is a great place doing great things for girls. And third, can’t wait to see Harriett in the Atlanta fashion mag,Jezebel!

  6. hello frances!
    thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such nice comments about mary bairstow’s home.
    naturally i had to come and visit, loved what i saw while scanning old posts then it hit me……this is frances of bee cottage fame!! a kindred spirit admired from afar….
    so happy to meet you frances

  7. would love to speak with you as we’re doing a lot with fashion and possibly with fashion week in NY and Dubai… Vous etes Francaise???

  8. Style is one if those area many people have a difficult time understanding, because it’s all a matter of personal perspective. Style for a man is more about how it makes you feel. When I think about my own style, as I would consider myself style challenged; I like to keep it simple. Great blog site Frances hope to see you and Tom this fall in the field with the latest Quail Attire.

    1. Leon! It is great to hear from you, and I think simple is always stylish. Besides, with a personality like yours, you need no embellishment; you’ve got it all.

  9. Dear Frances,

    I just saw you today on the Nate Berkus show and loved you! I especially loved your beautiful accent which made me homesick! I have just moved to NYC from NC. I then went and looked at your blog and couldn’t believe it when you mentioned Tarboro! I knew there couldn’t be that many Southern Tarboro’s and then I saw you are from THE Tarboro- NC!! My Mom and her whole family are from Tarboro and I still go there often for Christmas and Thanksgiving! We got married there on our family farm, Coolmore! I just love your blog and it has helped to ease this Southerner’s homesickness! I also especially loved your shout out to Camp Yonahlossee!! One of my favorite places on earth! ( So sad that it is now condos!) Anyway, I couldn’t resist saying hello and letting you know you and your blog have put a happy smile on this southern face!! =) I look forward to continued reading!



  10. PS – In my excitement, I forgot to say that I love a Southerner who loves Paris! Loved your review of this book and hope to add it to my library!

    1. Lucy, my goodness I am gobsmacked! Cannot get over your connection to Tarboro and one of the prettiest houses in North Carolina, Coolmore. Am so happy to hear from you and please keep in touch. Blessings back to you, Frances

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