Tuesday, June 28, 2011

French Chic: The origin of my French wardrobe fascination

Somehow I managed to get a British copy of this...

Who would not want to be like this?

Thirty years ago (heavy sigh) this book was released, and this is where it all began for me - the whole fascination with French wardrobe planning, the idea of a minimalist, well-chosen wardrobe that would take me anywhere.  The following images that delineate the possibilities inherent in seven pieces of black clothing were revolutionary to me.  Up until this time, I was very stuck in the "gray suit, navy suit, white shirt, red bow tie, black pumps" aesthetic of the time (thanks for nothing to the Dress for Success theories).  

Breaking out into black opened my eyes, changed my self-image, and finally gave me the excuse to spend a lot of money on clothes that I actually really liked.  I know that this idea resonated with a lot of people, because there was a time, after this book went out of print, when it couldn't be found for less than $50 used.

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  1. This is where it started for me as well. I checked it out of the library so many millions of times, and when my library's copy went missing (I didn't swipe it, I swear!), I sorely missed not being able to check it out or find it for sale anymore. I was given a copy, quite generously, by someone on JNSQ, and though the photos are ever so dated, I'm delighted to have it. I must've been in my late teens when I discovered the book, and it absolutely informed my style and taste. How interesting that you got a British copy. Are the photos the same as the funny American ones?

  2. P.S. Another important early book for me was "Paris Way of Beauty," by Linda Dannenberg, also a library discovery that I finally purchased 20 years later.

  3. THE french chic "bible"! I like the cover on the British version better. I LOVE this book and I LOVE that it is from the 80s...the pictures are dated but the information is sound. I also have a copy of the "Paris Way of Beauty" and agree with Luxe about its importance as well. xxBliss

  4. I remember trying to sport an all black wardrobe at my first career job out of college. Everyone thought I was doing the Goth thing, but I was really trying emulate the clean lines of a Calvin Klein wardrobe. I'm trying to locate a good used copy of French Chic on Amazon...

  5. I can't believe it has taken me so long to happen upon this blog!! I have checked out this book over and over and over again from my library. Thank you for all these wonderful posts!!!

  6. Wow.
    I’m French. So desperate to know how to dress and build my wardrobe that I browse American websites. Who get inspiration from France.
    Funny how it goes sometimes :)

    (from what I read so far, Vivienne seems quite different from all my French friends!)

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