June 25, 2020
I don’t know WHY I’ve waited to so long to share this book with you, because it’s one of the best “French style” books around!
Largely, I consider it great because it spends just a few chapters talking about more superficial things like clothes and makeup, and quite a bit of time talking about music, and famous French people, and just general fun French things that will delight all lovers of Paris and France.
One of the things that, of course, is in this book is the list of things that we “must” try… uh huh… Let’s take a look!
The first thing on her list? An Hermes scarf! And I of course don’t agree… I don’t agree with anything on her list, to be honest, but you know by now that I don’t believe in bossing women around!
That said, if you love scarves, you should at least go into an Hermes store once in your life to see what a nearly perfect scarf looks like…
But if they’re simply out of your price range, don’t give up! There are excellent places to get nearly perfect scarves for about 60% of retail. I consign things with The RealReal, and I can vouch that they are REALLY picky about what they accept! All of the scarves below are currently (as of 1:18 p.m. June 24, 2020) available…
And if these are still not what you want? The world is FULL of scarves, at all prices. Just remember that sometimes you do indeed get what you pay for….
Frankly, if you love beautiful things, and you believe in the importance of wearing clothing until its worn out, The RealReal is a great place to watch; they get tons of lovely things in, at better prices than retail! Of course, some things are still blindingly expensive, but others are very reasonable…
Second up is a Chanel handbag with a gold chain! Absolutely, positively NOT. You do NOT need to pay 5 or 6 months rent for a handbag, when there are beautiful bags everywhere that do NOT have someone else’s initials on them. (Okay, my friend Slim’s initials are CC, but she still doesn’t wear Chanel logo stuff…)
The bottom bag here, from Coach, is timeless, and comes in a handful of colors. I love the use of chain on this handle – enough to make a statement without dragging something metallic over the shoulder of your clothes!
The third things she suggest that we must wear at least once is red stilettos.
What can I say? Nobody should ever feel compelled to wear shoes with heels higher than those of our spouses, our sons, or any man in power.
But an accent colored shoe (well, a PAIR of them…) can be fun. There’s a world full of beautiful red shoes…
Number 4 on our list is leopard print.
I really personally do not like animal prints – I will leave them to animals, and they can leave plaids and florals to the humans…
But I know that LOTS of women love animal prints, so this is probably a pretty legitimate suggestion.
Don’t limit yourself to what kind of garment or accessory you might want – I personally think that the tights are pretty whimsical, and could do wonders for a solid-black outfit…
The fifth item we must try is black sunglasses. Well… everybody should be wearing sunglasses on a regular basis! This isn’t really negotiable any more, just as wearing shoes is pretty essential. Your eyes need to be protected from the sun – this isn’t even a fashion or personal style thing – it’s health!
Next up, Ms. Malandrino tell us that we should try silk lingerie. I kind of agree with this idea – we all deserve to try lingerie or night wear that’s a notch up from our usual. If we have intimate friends, they deserve something to knock their socks off (literally?) from time to time. And we all deserve to lie around binge-watching things while being comfortable and feeling beautiful…
The next suggestion will surprise nobody – Ms. Malandrino believes that we should all try a trench coat at least once in our lives!
What French style book would be complete without telling us that we need a trench coat, eh? But I think that each of us needs to think of what coat would be most useful for us, and then get the BEST possible version of that coat that we can. (Secondhand from The RealReal, maybe…)
So I chose 4 coats that I think are great; I don’t have a duffel coat, and I don’t know why! I don’t need a coat right now, but someday…
Our last must-try item is red lipstick, to which I must reply “not during a pendemic!” Lipstick + face masks = smeary, stained mess…
But we can all branch out and try something different in our cosmetics, if we wear them at all. To me, the easiest way to do this is to switch-up the color of my pedicure. I’m really tempted to get my next one in black matte…
I always love these “must have” or “must try” lists – even if they of don’t make any sense for most of us. They give us an opportunity to think beyond the superficial suggestion, and to find the more universal ideas that we could each apply to our own lives and images.
Personal style “rules” are seldom useful, but suggestions are always interesting and fun!
p.s. Six years ago, I was about a third of the way through putting together SIX wardrobes in six different color palettes. What was I thinking?
p.p.s. If you’re interested in consigning with The RealReal, please feel free to contact my friend Megan, who is my expert there. Her email is [email protected]. She’s awesome…
Can I just say I am thankful for the Janices out there who teach us that we do NOT have to own any specific items to be fashionable and happy with our wardrobes?
Second that! Or third…
In the scan of the book cover, it looks like the author’s last name is actually Malandrino.
It is! I’ve got it wrong…
I guess my style is “crafty” because I wear some of these items, but I’ve personalized them:
– hand-knitted scarves, hats, etc.
– I bought a Coach hobo bag with a removable handle. I bought hardware on etsy and made my own strap using neon pink paracord. It took a very staid, classic thing and made it MINE.
– I have a red peacoat that fits beautifully and makes me feel like a million bucks. I didn’t love the plastic tortoise-shell buttons it came with, so I swapped out bright white buttons that pop!
So – I agree wholeheartedly that no one HAS to wear any of this. And I’ve found that my own style usually sings when I make store-bought stuff my own.
Love and health,
Lots of food for thought from this list! While I don’t own a Hermes scarf, I am quite happy with the beautiful silk scarves I have in my wardrobe. Some I have purchased while traveling, others have been given as gifts, and then there are a couple I have found while thrifting. While I admire the Hermes scarves, I find I can be content and happy with those I own. Also regarding “designer” handbags, there are many good quality handbags that will last for years without a fancy label. I find that function in a handbag is more important to me than the brand. I want to have the right set up with pockets, easy access to phone and keys, and security for my wallet.
I love the look of a trench coat, but it is impractical for my suburban lifestyle. I need a shorter coat as I get in and out of the car. Lifestyle is an important consideration. I like to wear lipstick but it seems really silly when I cover my face with mask! Thanks Janice for sharing this and helping us determine what makes sense for us. I must add that I do love a good pair of red shoes!
I agree with the bit about red shoes (also trench coats. Lipstick not so much.) Red is rhetorically powerful, as are high heels, so a red stiletto is a double whammy. I love red shoes for their ability to make me look like I tried, even when I didn’t; they elevate my black & white wardrobe out of the “goth” stratum. And as an introvert, red anything gives people the idea that I’m engaged, even when I’m really, really not.
I agree with Alice above. Take the must haves and make them your own. I have beautiful silk scarves that aren’t Hermes, one a gorgeous Ferragamo I bought on sale. I have a red coat that I wore in London and the pictures are fab. I received compliments just walking down the street. And I’m getting more red shoes, I just ordered Teva Yucatan sandals in red and in November I bought on sale a pair of Ferragamo low heel pumps with three shades of red suede. I just had to have them and wore them at Christmas. Same with handbags, I now prefer those without any logos. I do love leopard and have scarves, sweaters, shoes and handbag. Of course I’ve been collecting these items for over many years.
Linda P says
Now does the author presume that we wear all 10 things at once lol
Can you imagine? I could probably cobble it together, but I don’t think it would be attractive….
“French style” books annoy me. Their only purpose is to part American women from their money. I have family in France where I visit at least once a year. Granted, they don’t live in Paris, but all of the women in my family and any of their friends I know would hoot with laughter at this list. France has women of all types, fashionable, slim, athletic, frumpy, careless, overweight and lazy. Just as not all American women are alike, neither are the French. These books sell a fantasy, and those who believe every word will be disappointed when they travel to France and see reality. Rant over.
Thank you! After having read many of the French style books I noticed that several of them put American women down. I happen to think we do have style, I love our sense of fun, and our desire to learn about new places and people. I don’t need to be “mysterious” — I think it’s overrated; but I don’t put all my business out in the street. I have been to Paris many times and have stayed in residential neighborhoods. Yes, there are fashionable, athletic women and also frumpy, careless, overweight women there. But I also found that, just like in NY, if you’ve got the money you can afford to look chic/stylish. I’ve also seen women in NY, Paris, Rome, London, Istanbul, Madrid, Quebec and other cites that can make a style their own and not have paid thousands of dollars for it. It all depends on the woman not the country or culture.
Well said Amelia. I must admit to being a bit tired of the narrative that the French are the epitome of style.
Debra Little says
Funny enough, as an extrovert, I love bright colours and most wardrobe lists are full of neutrals as are most capsule wardrobes. I was very glad to find this blog and am ever so thankful for all you do Janice. I have been reading and have a great colourful capsule. Picking a colour palate has been key as has finally figuring out what colours and styles actually suit me. And many of my shoes are colours as well. I even have tropical floral fake Birkenstocks. Again thanks for all that you do.
Beth T says
I used to get hung up on the “What every women should wear/own….” articles in womens mags. Now I just think “Well that’s nice and some options to consider if I need….” So let’s consider whether I ‘must’ or ‘do’ where any of the items in this book:
Hermes scarves – I love scarves but have never understood why Hermes are better than any other silk.scarf? I pick mine up for a few pounds in charity shops. My silk scarves were bought as presents at craft fairs as i prefer something that has been made with love rather than mass market.
Bag with chain – yes I have a couple a raspberry red mock croc bag and a grey bag. The latter is a branded make bought new at a charity fair for £2!
Red shoes – burgundy or wine would be my choice. My first pair were Bally, then I had a pair of 3 inch burgundy suede with a tassel. I have had other pairs of burgundy court shoes over the years. I currently have a pair of burgundy ankle boots for autumn winter. I do like the idea of burgundy courts but I’d prefer purple!
Animal print – I love grey snake print and have a Fiorelli purse (bought new in a charity shop) and a vintage frame 1960’s handbag. I also had a purple faux snake print handbag which attracted comments whenever i used it. Last year I bought an All Saints tote bag for £8 in a charity shop – dark grey/blue snake. I also have a few items of snake print clothing.
Sunglasses – I have prescription sunglasses which I change every couple of years. I go for a squeamish brown or silver metal frame with dark brown lenses – apparently the colour saturation is better.
Nice underwear. I like underwear with lace on it and by my bras in Marks and Spencer.
Trenchcoat – my Mum bought me a stone-coloured Four Seasons long trenchcoat when I started work in 1985. It had a detachable navy collar and a detachable wool tartan lining. 35 years later, it is bleached in places, a bit stained and no longer shower proof. I have not found a replacement that has the detachable lining. Last year, I bought a new long trench for spring/summer cornflower from Marks and Spencer. Coats are often referred to as trench coats but they are often not waterproof.
Red lipstick and nail varnish – I love lipstick and wear it every day – just not red (stained mask now!). My nails are brittle so a couple of times a year I treat myself to a manicure and a full set of gel nails.
Beth T says
*Just reread my post and the spell checker has written ‘squeamish brown’ instead of squarish brown!
I wonder what squeamish brown would look like as a colour?
I agree that we don’t have to be slaves to anyone’s idea of fashion – especially when it doesn’t match our pocketbook – but on the other hand is there anything wrong with TRYING on some of these items? Personally, I have yet to afford a Hermes scarf and have some beautiful ones in my collection but that isn’t to say that if I tried an Hermes, I wouldn’t be heads over heels in love with it. I think along the same line that a couple of the other items could be TRIED on for size by those of us who are usually too conservative (timid) to do so. Particularly, the red stilettos, which I think I would have to interpret into a kitten heel just like Janice. However, a trenchcoat is not really a risky, avant garde choice; I wish you had included at least one great one – and no, it doesn’t have to be a Burberry but a good quality one is very flattering. Even a coat in a non-trenchcoat fabric but a trenchcoat style is very chic. Maybe a missed opportunity if you never at least try one. By the same toke, some of us are not wild enough to don leopard but maybe we should find a way to TRY it not in a big way but a gorgeous pair of leopard flats, a luxurious scarf with animal print, and the ring is adorable. The other items are the type of things that do make us not want to wear animal print including the coat in the next segment. I agree that everyone should TRY a pair of black thick-rimmed sunglasses once as they impart a real glamour we might embrace if we only tried. You seemed to be a touch on the cranky side today, by deliberately not playing along with the game. I like the alternatives you found in handbags, and I personally will also rather get a new roof on my house than a handbag with a certain emblem when other lesser alternatives are available. There are also an awful many handbags of less status that are not so well-known outside of Italy, France, and Spain but of very high caliber and classic style. It is when we get brand-focused that common sense goes out the window. The Marc Jabobs bag is similar albeit a bit more rustic. Black silk underwear sounds like something I would love to try in a slinky rich silk nightie to make me feel different that when I put on my two-piece jammies. Those I have. I think that is where the author was going. Now a black “silky” bra is something that I think we all have – for nothing else than practicality. But I am not sure practicality was the number one concern the author intended. To the red lipstick, I say “Yeay”. TRY them with the red pumps or slingbacks. Have fun. Live a little. I think that was the message of the book. To go outside a couple of our comfort zones. Personally, I would love to see Janice incorporate most of the items into a couple of killer wardrobes. Gauntlet thrown.
Am I the only one who thinks those Hermes scarves are really ugly? I would never pay all that money for them.
I might consider Liberty.
However, what I actually wear are silk scarves I picked up on my travels from various markets and local boutiques featuring local artists.
Thanks once again for encouraging us to be ourselves and sharing with us your Wonderful ideas.
Some Liberty scarves are very beautiful; I don’t have one (yet!) but I often admire them…
If you don’t like Hermes scarves, don’t let anybody tell you that you have to wear them! I personally adore them, but that’s what makes life interesting…
I love Janice’s emphasis on figuring things out that work for the individual. So important. Know the rules so you can consciously break every single one with joyous abandon! Or choose a signature rule or two to follow.
I love big black sunglasses— they used to save me from migraines but as I’ve aged they save me from sun damage and crows feet getting worse. I wear designer frames with Rx lenses from my glasses place and I LOVE THEM! Lol & I can’t recall the designer without getting up to check. They suit my face and they have lasted over 8 years now. Durable.
I love a good silk scarf but I got my collection through careful shopping at sales,used and discount places and none are Hermes nor did any cost more than $70. But they are beautiful and feel wonderful to wear.
I love pearl earrings & have a few nice Majorica versions on regular repeat. I’m wearing a pair of soft pink studs right now, souvenirs from a long ago cruise. Not real but really nice.
Those are my signature items. They all bring me joy.
I like a chain and leather shoulder strap detail on my purses- they are comfortable to wear. I think a good parka and boots are very important because for 3/4 of the year here in Canada those items along with a handbag and muffler/hat/gloves form most of what people see of you. The CBS trilogy- coat, bag & shoes (or boots) is worth spending more on.
I don’t like statement or coloured shoes. Big feet.
Animal print was fun, red used to make me sparkle but I don’t enjoy them anymore. I keep a few red things for winter and Christmas.
I love makeup and wear it every day but it’s soft neutrals in light sheer finishes. I still own 1 last signature red— Russian Red by Mac but rarely wear it unless it’s a formal evening or coming into Christmas. It’s a keeper- finding a red lipstick is so individual and this never makes me feel strangely made up. It suits me, stays in place and has a vague neutral quality— probably why I love it.
Mandrino’s ideas are good ones to think about.