Fashion – Why French Women don’t need Fashion Gurus
Leafing through Vogue’s round-up of America’s ‘Best Dressed for 2006’, I came across this quote on P. 86 “The great Gloria Guinness was never more stylish than when she was broke and obliged to limit her wardrobe to a very few select pieces.”
This has long been the principle for the majority of French women – for those that have a strict budget, and even for those with a more ample budget.
In France, the secret to being well dressed is to have a well-dressed French mother. If you’re a foreigner living in France, there’s only one true solution. Find a friend who’s decided to make you her ‘project’. This won’t happen overnight. First,your friend has to really like you before she’ll bother criticizing you (in a constructive way, of course). Then, when she thinks you’re paying attention, she’ll take you shopping. My friend Lydie used to work on Faubourg St. Honore which is still a shopping bastion (although some other neighborhoods, particularly the Marais, are a lot more ‘fun’ fashion.)
Her favorite story is about a non-French speaking woman who came into the shop looking for a ski outfit. Instead of requesting an outfit ‘pour faire du ski’ she asked for an outfit for ‘shier’ (i.e. in French to take a dump). Ahh, the pitfalls of mastering French. Is it possible the client confused skier in French with German/Swiss/Austrian prononciation? But in any case, Lydie kept a straight face and helped the woman find her ski suit.
If you don’t have the opportunity to develop a close rapport with a French friend, you can always try to develop a good rapport with a boutique owner that you truly trust in her judgment of what suits you. Such was the case when I met ‘Miss Griffes’ at 15 rue Penthievre Metro: Miromesnil. I had found her name in an old copy of Birnbaum’s Guide to France. She has been at the same address at least since the late 1980s. This is not the type of shop you go to for browsing. You go here for an investment. What you find here should keep you dressed through the good years and the lean years.
As for Vogue’s photos of the best-dressed? All that glitters is not gold. Take a look at Page 82 of December Vogue – and quite honestly – if this is the best of the best, I’m going to have to post a fashion photo challenge. There has to be better fashion out there! Somewhere – most certainly in Paris.