Ooh La La: How To Dress Like The French

With a message that’s right for the times, Parisian icon Inès de la Fressange is the new muse for North American fashionistas.

Ines De La FressangeSTYLE GUIDE | Who’s the chicest woman in France? Not Bruni, Gainsbourg or Deneuve. It’s Inès de la Fressange by a landslide, if French newspaper polls are the gauge. Fressange, a French blueblood and former model, returned to the runway this past spring at age 53 to walk the Chanel 2011 show in Paris. Now she’s fashion muse to the masses in North America with the recent English translation of her popular style guide Parisian Chic, a handbook filled with her own whimsical illustrations, lovely how-to-dress-French photos of her daughter, Nine, and amusing single-paragraph fashion pronouncements.

Nonchalant Fressange, a high-low shopper if ever there was one, has great advice on how to think and dress like a style-savvy Parisian without selling the farm (plus insider tips about where to shop in Paree, should you go). Here are five of her myriad useful ideas on how to get “The Look.”

Ines De La FressangeFressange On How To Get The “Made In Paris” Look

1. Embrace the Fressange golden rule: “Never follow convention; never be bland; never neglect yourself.”

2. Invest in the magnificent seven: “Make sure your wardrobe includes a man’s blazer, a trench coat, a navy sweater, a little black dress, jeans, a tank top, and a leather jacket. After that it’s all a matter of composition.”

3. Work the accessories: “The Parisian builds her wardrobe around fabulous basics, so accessories are the key to personal style. If you invest in quality accessories, you can go for more affordable clothes—nobody will notice. Accessories are all-important!”

4. Mix price points: Great fashion is a “clever mix of cheap and affordable buys, holiday purchases, and a handful of luxury pieces [so that it’s] impossible to tell if your jeans or denim jacket are from Gap, Notify, H&M or Hermès! Even on an average budget there are plenty of ways to achieve a great look. You’ll find you need less than you think. A few really good sweaters, jackets and coats will be far better. Quality not quantity.”

5. Tread softly around trends: “Following fashion is something the Parisian hates, but she still needs to know what’s in.” The trick is never to follow the current trend slavishly, but to sport “a telling detail.” —Annabel Lee

To find more and better fashion ideas, pick up Parisian Chic: a Style Guide by Inès de la Fressange, published by Flammarion, at www.chapters.indigo.ca

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