She looked down her nose at me with an expression of stench in the room. “Oh, you are a fashion blogger,” she said and spoke the words fashion blogger as if she was declaring me to be a mass murderer. I get it…the shallowness, the objectification of women…the greed. However, I do challenge anyone to find a perfect profession…a business or world which exists with no problems or criticisms.
So, why do I do what I do? Because, in my own life, I have experienced this phrase…Style is Transformative. I learned eleven years ago at the ripe age of 50, taking care of my appearance and health is empowering and gives me confidence. Apparently the French women knew this before we in America did.
Tish Jett was one of the first bloggers I began to read with her A Femme d’un Certain Age. A former fashion journalist, Jett’s resume includes Women’s Wear Daily, W, Elle, The New York Daily News, and The Chicago Tribune.
Not only is she a wealth of information, she is very personable and kind and has reached out to me on a couple of occasions. One day she was covering stories in France, and the next day fell in love with “her reason for staying in France” and she made it her home.
Needless to say, I was thrilled when Jett released her book, Forever Chic: Frenchwomen’s Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style, and Substance. As a good journalist should, Jett thoroughly investigated and researched the best fashion, beauty, and health advice to take women from “forty-ish to forever-ish” looking and feeling their best. As much as it has helped me with specific advice, it has also helped to understand the mindset of French women–often quite different from American women. They are more confident, secure, and disciplined.
The following shopping advice is gathered from several interviews in the book. If you purchase only one style book to learn from the women in France, I recommend this one!
- Make certain you have a solid, neutral based wardrobe. “With neutrals, a woman can always pull something out of the closet and pull herself together without hysteria in record time.”
- The cut of the garments makes all of the difference. Fit, fit, fit is so important. Take time in the dressing room.
- You should have a coup de foudre(struck by thunderbolt) feeling before your purchase. If you are not in love with what you see, don’t buy it!
- To look slim and chic, the French keep elements clean and classic. No need to purchase mass accessories.
- Many Frenchwomen believe designer labels are for the insecure and those who have money to waste. In the book, Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel says, “Never use the word cheap. Today everybody can look chic in inexpensive clothes (the rich buy them, too). There is good clothing design on every level today. You can be the chic-est thing in the world in a T-shirt and jeans. It is up to you.”
- The dressing room is a great place to step out of your comfort zone and try something new…like white pants and white jeans. The French wear them all year long!
Jett writes, “…what French understand about clothing: that it has the power to transform us, to entertain us, to change our self- images, and occasionally even to change our lives.” Eleven years ago, I began a journey to discover the truth of this last statement. In July 2010, my blog was a way to share all that I have learned from fabulous women like Tish Jett and the Frenchwomen she loves. I discovered just how much confidence and strength are a part of our joy and our ability to do more for our communities, families, and careers.