How To Be Parisian In NYC

caroline-de-maigret-how-to-be-parisianIf I wasn’t such a die hard New York girl, I’m certain I’d live in Paris.  Never mind I don’t know a lick of French and as a vegetarian can’t eat 90% of the food–let’s not get caught up in the details.  But I’ve long had a fascination with French girl attitude and style, and own every single book ever written on the subject.  When my French girl woman idol (the one and only Caroline de Maigret, swoon!) recently came to the French Institute in NYC to discuss her book How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits, you bet I was right there, taking vigorous notes.

Here’s my takeaways on how to embrace your inner French girl, in NYC–or wherever you may be.

1. Don’t be afraid of aging, ever.

“Enjoy the face you have today. It’s the one you’ll wish you have 10 years from now.”

2. Savor every moment–even the routine ones.

“Have a Saturday night on a Wednesday.”

3. Style > Labels

“You don’t have to spend a decade’s worth of salary on your wardrobe, or flaunt designer brands the whole time.  All you need is one signature item: the one you wear when you need to feel strong.  The signature item is a gift that a woman gives herself depending on her age, her taste, and the size of her purse.  It is a symbol of independence and freedom, which states, ‘I bought this for myself.  I earned it and it makes me happy.'”

4. Makeup < Culture

“Go to the theater, to museums, and to concerts as often as possible: it gives you a healthy glow.”

5. Black will always be the new black.

“Black is the color of celebration, the color of nights that never end, of women who pull the blinds to shut out the dawn.  A long, dark silhouette, slender and elegant, walking through a crowd of long, dark silhouettes, slender and elegant.  That is the definition of a party here.”

6. Talking about diets and flaws is a no-no.

“Be aware of your qualities and your faults.  Cultivate them in private but don’t obsess.”

7. French faux pas that we Americans can learn a thing or two from.  Never, ever:

“Ask someone at a party what they do for a living. // Be ‘friends’ with your children. // Fish for compliments. // Use ‘I’ve had one too many’ as an excuse for inappropriate behavior. // Take yourself too seriously.”

8. Don’t overdo the accessories.

“The smarter the outfit, the less jewelry you need.”

9. Exercise shouldn’t be a chore.

“Agree to (at least a little) exercise but only in ‘beautiful’ surroundings: a run in a picturesque public park or a swim in a historically listed pool.”

10. Take time for you.

“Call your grandmother on her birthday and rinse your hair with cold water just like she taught you, listen to your children, breathe deeply, take the time to make fresh-squeezed orange juice for breakfast, to go to a museum, to go for a stroll in the woods and to listen to the sounds of tiny creatures in the grass.  In summer, take the time to compile a scrapbook of pressed flowers with a child, to read him a story.  Take the time to take time because nobody else will do it for you.

Her book is playful, honest, with the exact amount of dry humor/sarcasm you can expect from a French self-help book.  And anything that can justify my croissant + butter in the morning and red wine with lunch…well.  I’m all in!

Do you have any French tips you swear by?  Share below!

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10 Comments

  • Heather says:

    Having just gotten home from a week in Paris (!), I can’t tell you how many French people I saw living by these very rules. I was also amazed by how calm everyone seemed, even in overly crowded places and tense situations. A girl at a cafe had an entire glass of red wine spilled on her and she just LAUGHED, even though it got all over her clothes. My first thought: the dry cleaners must be very adept at getting out red wine stains :-)

    Oh, any my other thought: Paris is just like a foreign New York! :-)

    • Used York City says:

      Haha, that’s awesome! I guess it must be the “joie de vivre” the French are so well known for!;-) I LOVED seeing your Paris photos on Instagram, and am so excited to read more about it on your blog!:-)

  • Tamara says:

    All I’d add is to eat macarons!! A lot.
    I don’t like to wear black ever, but the rest of it? Yes. I stand by it! And I can see how you could do that all in NYC – even the macarons!

  • Rashmi says:

    Great tips indeed!!

  • Love reading this esp as I am about to head off to Paris. No 7 works for Sierra Leoneans too.

  • Agness says:

    Make-up is always a must no matter where you are :D!! As for the exercise, I totally agree :)

    • Used York City says:

      Haha–now, do you agree with the school of thought that when you put makeup on it should LOOK like there’s not makeup–“au natural”? Or is it okay to have a smokey eye or super bright lip? I always love the debate between the two;-)

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