10.22.2009

Color- Comme les Français



One brisk Monday morning in Paris I was running errands with Madame Chic. We were on our way to pick up a few fresh items for that evening’s meal. Madame Chic and I spent a lot of time together. I would help her with the cooking (she always refused my help but I insisted! I wanted to learn to cook comme les Français). We talked a lot and my French was slowly getting better. Our relationship was lovely, but still very formal.

So I was shocked when that morning she told me rather bluntly. “That sweater does not look good on you.”

I looked down at my spring green twinset from Banana Republic. It had been a gift from someone back home (Who? I can’t remember). “Really?” I had asked, “But it’s silk/ cashmere blend!”

“No it’s not the quality that disturbs me,” Madame Chic said, eyeing my sweater with concern, “It’s the color. It doesn’t suit you at all. It washes you out. You look sallow.”

Great. I looked sallow. The sensitive American in me was shocked that Madame Chic had been so blunt with me. In America we tell each other we look good no matter what. And if someone looks really bad? We usually just don’t say anything at all. Mon Dieu, I must have looked horrible if Madame Chic actually told me so!

She could see the crestfallen look that overtook my face. “Don’t be upset!” she said, “It’s just an observation. As a woman you must know what colors look the best on you and how are you to know if no one tells you?”

This was true.

I asked her tentatively, “What colors do you think I would look good in? Not green obviously.”

“Pas du tout!” she exclaimed, “You would look ravishing in emerald green, in deep aubergine, royal blue, ruby red… black, bien sûr.” She advised that I stay away from yellow and spring green. I went home and looked in the mirror with new eyes. Dear God she was right. The color had washed me out. I think I instinctively knew this but because I received the twinset as a gift- I just wore it without questioning whether or not it worked for me.

“French women pay very close attention to what enhances their beauty and what doesn’t enhance their beauty,” Madame Chic had said.

This turned out to be a lesson I would never forget.

I would love to know… what colors work best for you?

15 comments:

Carly said...

I just have to tell you first,
I love your blog and I read it all the time. I love the content and the way you write is refreshing and wonderful!!

Isn't the truth lovely sometimes?! I gravitate towards prints alot, loud vibrant prints. I once was told by someone I find very fashionable that I should wear more solid colors. With my crazy curly blonde hair and wildly loud printed frocks, it was just alot of look to pull off. And she was right. Now I find if I stick to solid colors they anchor me a bit. Also they don't go out of style as quickly. I have always worn alot of golds and oranges since I am a blonde, but recently have been loving plums and purples. I want to paint my bedroom purple next...I'm loving it!! I do think as I get older I "edit" better.

Michael Rivers said...

Blue is for sure my signature color. I wear it all the time and it is the one color that I always get compliments on. The color really makes my eyes pop. Thankfully it is my favorite color so I don't mind!

Rebecca said...

Oh I wish I had a Madame Chic to shop and cook with and get advice about what color looks good on me(this would all take place in Paris, of course)! I love all the insights you're sharing.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Carly- Thank you so much. Your kind words mean a lot to me as a writer and really keep me going! Yes the truth can really be freeing. I think it takes a lot of us time to really figure out what works and what doesn't work with out chosen aesthetic. I have definitely become more picky about what I wear now. Bold prints really are hard. And you are so right about solid colors- they can anchor one (if they are the 'right' color). Plum is gorgeous and universally flattering, I believe. Thanks for commenting xo

Michael- I love the idea of having a signature color... At least you never have to wonder what to wear and people will associate that color with you! I am not sure what mine would be... probably black (I'm afraid) or emerald green- I love emerald green...

Rebecca- I was really lucky to have Madame Chic. I will admit it took me a while to appreciate her bluntness (it's so different in our culture- we're too polite for our own good sometimes) but I did eventually appreciate her. I'm really glad I can share my stories with you! xo

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

I would have no idea to be honest. I need a Madame Chic!

Bonjour Madame said...

I think we would all benefit from honest opinions about colors on us. The colors she suggested on you are all colors that work on me. I can't wear pale pastels especially green or yellow. I have a blonde friend who looks amazing in pale yellow and it suits her, jut not me. And that's ok. One thing I started paying attention to were people on tv shows that have the same coloring as me to see what colors look good on them and voila...it worked!

vicki archer said...

Such a true observation - colour is everything against the skin..Have a wonderful weekend Jennifer, xv.

BigLittlewolf said...

Oh you're making me so homesick for Paris!

Le rouge et le noir - any shade of red, as well as jewel tones, and some instances rich browns can work wondrously.

Eh oui, a French woman pays close attention to enhancing her feminine assets. Including a dab of her favorite perfume where a gentleman might notice, and linger...

ScentScelf said...

There was a funny moment in a Carol Burnett sketch...she is dressed for a funeral, catches herself in the mirror, and says (melodramatic soap-operatic over the top) "Oh, Eunice...black IS your color!" I guess I didn't have a Madame Chic, but a very young me did have Carol Burnett, LOL!

Truly, though, that line has come up in my mind from time to time when I notice the effect wardrobe (or wall color) can have on my appearance. You have spring green vs. emerald green; I have navy blue vs. royal blue. Royal? Absolutely. Navy? Dowdy. Always has been. On me.

My list: black (yay, Eunice!), browns from mid-range up, grey, purples, hot pink and no other (which means you'll rarely see it), very particular oranges. No beige, ecru, yellow, not most greens (ironic, given my passion for gardening).

Easy and Elegant Life said...

It's nice when someone can say something without malice. Our American issue is that we take everything far too personally. As a Southerner, we would have preceded a comment like "Emerald Green would suit you even better" with "What a divine sweater set, bless your heart..."

I'm a high contrast sort, deep blues, greys, black, red, white.... as I age, greys will do better with the salt and pepper hair.

The Coastal Chicster said...

i can honestly say that i can pull off most colors (except bright yellow, light purple and some light brown/tans), but i can relate to this post because being very short (almost 5'1"! almost!), i have to make some difficult decisions when it comes to things i WANT to look great on me, and things that ACTUALLY look great on me. for instance, i always find myself wanting...jeans that are too long, sweaters that i a swimming in, coats that are too long, dresses that are too long, shirts that are too ruffly, pants that are too skinny... you get the point. :) i know i can get things altered, but i've learned to steer myself towards more classic looks that i know will be flattering even if they aren't quite as trendy. :)

favorite colors, in current order of favoriteness:
1. navy
2. white
4. black
5. brown
6. dark purple
7. dark orange/maroon (together because i went to virginia tech!)
8. turquoise
9. gray

now that i think about it, i have too many solid pieces. i need more prints!

Martha said...

It took me a very long time to get used to how easily French women will share such opinions with each other and understand it as a compliment.
I have worn too much black for far too many years.Now I am loving jewel greens and rich blues with some spicy reds and golds.I write this realizing that I'm wearing black!

Rose said...

Hello- just back from holidays and catching up. The best colour on me is green without a doubt- navy is also good and biazarrely cream even though I'm very pale.

thewildmind said...

This is a fun place! I'm so glad I followed you over here from LittleBigWolf's Daily Plate of Crazy.

My signature color is a merlot red or a periwinkle or sapphire blue. I cannot wear anything peachy, yellow or orange. Of course greens on the yellow side are also out. :D

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Martha- Thank you for your comment and welcome to my blog :) I wear an awful lot of black too. The trouble is- it's the chicest color (in my opinion). Wearing all black can make one's clothes look very expensive too... but it's good to not wear it all the time- that would be too depressing xo

Rose- Welcome back! I love cream too- I think perhaps because it is a warm tone it is less likely to wash one out...

The Wild Mind- I'm glad to find you too! Navy is such a great color. It seems that many of us have similar "don'ts" in common: orange, yellow, certain greens- they are terribly hard to pull off!

 
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