French Simplicity

I have been interested in the idea of simplicity and minimalism for years. It doesn’t mean that I have been able to live that way fully, but it is a goal of mine and something I aspire to.

Our recent trip to Paris has freshly – and Frenchly – inspired me to clear away even more clutter and simplify my closet, my routine, and my life.

What I noticed as we walked the streets of Paris – and trust me, we did a LOT of walking – was the simple elegance of the Parisian woman. I noticed that what I had been reading for years seemed, to my eyes, to be true.

The women I noticed and most admired were dressed in high quality, simple outfits. Some common themes were skinny jeans with stylish flats, sandals or ankle boots; a well-cut blazer (fitted, not the oversized ones from the thrift store I wore in the 80’s); and a well-cut simple blouse or a well-made tee or tank.

Accessories were not flashy and overbearing; rather they were understated, in classic shapes, and fewer in number than what most American women wear.

NOTE: I know I am making gross generalizations here, so please pardonnez-moi, for these are only my observations and clearly I am only sharing what I saw and how I perceived it. 

I noticed that many of the younger women (let’s say, under 50) had hair that looked like their natural color – which is to say if it was colored to cover the grey it was tastefully and subtly done with no obvious ombre, highlights or lowlights.

Their hair was clean, well-kept, and moved! I am not one to talk about hair that doesn’t move, because when I want my super short, very fine hair to have any semblance of volume I have to shellack it up! In any event, I didn’t see much hair that was sprayed into submission on the locals – with the exception of some much more mature “ladies who lunch” in the swankier part of town on a Sunday afternoon.

Make-up, per se, was minimal. No cake faces!

Whatever maquillage they wore was minimal – perhaps some mascara and lip color, but not much and it looked very natural to me.

On the negative side many women were smoking – which i still find gross, stinky and unhealthy.

All in all I was inspired. And so I decided, when I got home, that I would try to simplify even more. That I would take the Parisian style I saw on the streets there and try to embody some of that here, in California. I work in a government office, so it’s appropriate for me to dress well, and somewhat conservatively.

And so, chaque matin, I look at my closet with an eye towards what is truly flattering on me and what I feel really, really good and Parisianin. I have moved out what may not fit my new, refreshed, ideal look.

I took notes in my journal, and these were the three guidelines I gave myself:

1) Is it high-quality?
2) Is it simple?
3) Does it make me feel French?

I know, it may seem silly to you – fille simple américaine! – but the truth is, to me, feeling Parisian means feeling more focused, less stressed, and more confident, and that, mes amis, is what matters.

Until next time :: jusqu’à la prochaine fois,
Jessica

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