Et alors? This basically translates to “so what” in French. That phrase could sum up the new book, How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are *Love, Style and Bad Habits. Written by four chic, accomplished, perfectly Parisian women, Caroline de Maigret, Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan and Sophie Mas. The book is more like a handbook of how to be cool. It takes a lot of effort to look so effortless, apparently. I read the book in one sitting (it’s not War and Peace) and absolutely adored it.
I don’t think you have to actually be Parisian to adopt these recommendations. Parisians are born and raised with this schooling… The rest of us need this book. What I liked about How to Be Parisian is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously or profess to be the master race… Just kind of. You have to admit Parisienne women do possess that certain je ne sais quoi whether we like to admit it or not.
I know, for a certain fact, that my husband still harbors a little love for his ex-wife on the sole fact alone that she is French… And I am not. No matter what she does… Divorce, accusations, lawsuits, custody battles… He still doesn’t hate her. I mean he does, yet he doesn’t and I know it is because “she is French.” (It’s weird because I’m skinnier, funnier, prettier and much more fucking ladylike.)
I also know, for a certain fact, that my French husband loves his mother more than me. Why wouldn’t he? She adores him and he can do no wrong even if he murdered someone. A few months ago when I was at his mother’s house, as we were leaving, she looked at me and said, “David est un ange.” It took every ounce of my proper upbringing not to roll my eyes and say, “Oh, Really?” Whenever my husband and I have an argument, he likes to go call his mother after and tell her everything and in turn I like to yell at him, “You’re 46 years old!” No matter what I do or how hard I try, my husband will always like his mother and his mother’s vinaigrette more than mine.
What hold do these French women have over not only Frenchman but every man? The answers are in this book…
“As you will discover, Parisienne women spend an inordinate amount of energy trying to spin every episode of their existence into a very good story.”
“Find “your” perfume before you turn 30. Wear it for the next 30 years.”
“A Parisienne woman doesn’t always say thank you, doesn’t always say hi, but will complain about the rudeness of Parisian waiters.”
What you won’t find in a Parisienne women’s closet? “Ugg boots. Enough said.”
“She’s Parisian, which is to say she’s melancholy. Her mood responds to the changing colors of the city. In the early morning she’s the lone figure walking out of the Métro as the crowds rush in. Her hair is a bit disheveled and she is still wearing her jewelry from last night. As she heads home, her heart is breaking, but no one will ever know why.”
“The Parisienne does not stop existing the day she has a child.”
“You don’t have to spend a decade’s worth of salary on your wardrobe… All you need is one signature item: the one you wear when you need to be strong.”
“Au natural” is the fruit of hard labor, meticulously passed down from generation to generation.”
A Parisienne always has a good reason for sitting on a bench… When she is walking out for good and slams the door behind her to show she means business, and then realizes that she has no idea where to go.”
A Parisian faux pas? Asking someone at a party what they do for a living. Overdoing it on the teeth whitening. Being “friends” with your children.
Dichotomy, she is. “She smokes like a chimney on the way to the countryside to get some fresh air. She is an environmentalist but sometimes takes her scooter to buy a baguette.”