9.12.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #19- Only Use the Best Things You Have



I learned the hard way when Madame Chic questioned why I would wear a holey pair of faded sweatpants to bed. In France, it is de rigueur to use the best things you have on a daily basis. And why not? As it has been said before, life is short, why save your pretty pajamas (for example) for another night?

Living with Famille Chic I watched them all use the best things they had on a daily basis. We drank our wine out of crystal tumblers. We sat in their beautiful antique Louis XVI (-esque) chairs before each meal for our apéritif . They wore their nicest clothes every day (there was no changing into old Juicy Couture tracksuits once home like I am guilty of- the family was still dressed beautifully in their day clothes when we sat down for dinner). In short, they used the best things they had on a regular basis.

I will actually take it a step further by saying that they only owned the best things they had. For example, Madame Chic would never dream of hanging on to a garment that had passed its prime (like my holey sweatpants). Every article of clothing she owned was of a high quality and in top condition. They didn’t have two sets of wine glasses for dinner- it was crystal or nothing- and as for their home, they didn’t have one room for ‘everyday’ and one room for ‘special visitors’. In their minds- they were special enough.

Observing this way of being planted the seed of fine living into my impressionable young mind and for that I couldn’t be more grateful.

I find the key is to look at everything you own with a critical eye. Hold your possessions to the highest of standards. Doing so can bring a specialness to the mundane and make life so much more interesting…

Won’t you stay tuned for number 18?


I have scanned all of my old photographs from Paris for this series and look forward to sharing them with you. Above, the Eiffel Tower is pictured.

My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

21 comments:

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I do use my crystal glasses daily...but confess that some of my everyday things are past their prime....
dish towels and napkins need to be replaced.

Looking forward to #18!

Shelley said...

I'll be around; I'm hooked! My Dad used to scorn the idea of saving our best china for others, our best manners for near strangers, our best clothes for the very occasional event. That said, he didn't have many nice things other than perfect manners, but I got his drift.

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

I started out using our "good" dishes for everyday when we got married...but confess to saving other sets of fine china. I really have to push my self to use it all!! I save clothes and outfits too and I have to change that! I did follow some of your advice from an earlier post about wearing nice pajamas and now I do. Both me and my husband are much happier. :) Loved your post today.

Michael Rivers said...

I'm guilty of NOT doing this. I always think I need to save X, Y and Z for that special night, special day, save it for when friends visit, etc.

I'm trying to get better at actually enjoying the now, enjoying the things I have. It's tough, but I'm getting better!

The Coastal Chicster said...

what a great photo! i can't wait to see the rest.

using the best things i have on a regular basis is one of my favorite lessons learned so far from your blog. i've tried extra hard this year to rid my closets, cabinets and drawers of things i no longer use or love and slowly replace them with quality items (most of which i've gotten great deals on at consignment stores or ebay).

my one frustration is that i spend so much time at my boyfriend's house that i rarely get to use a lot of my own things. i have an entire set of glasses and dishes packed up in boxes at my parents' house still - i don't want to pull them out while i'm still living with a roommate! i can't wait until i finally live alone or with someone i trust with my finest things so that i can enjoy them on a daily basis. :)

Anita said...

I too learned this lesson while living in Paris- purchase a few high quality, well fitted, fashionable pieces and wear the heck out of them for the whole season- mixing shirts and scarves...the "cost per wear" comes out to be the same as a closet full of ill fitting pieces from WalMart.

Pug1 said...

Great post! CHEERS! Michele

Pug1 said...

Do French homes have quality furnishings and decor? Michele

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Hostess- The constant editing of one's possessions can be exhausting. I am doing it all the time! But so worth it...

Shelley- Welcome! Your Dad sounds wonderful- like a true connoisseur. The great thing about the French philosophy is your best doesn't necessarily mean the most expensive. It's simply the best you can afford. I'm glad you'll be joining us for the rest of the countdown!

Lisa- I'm so glad! It's great when the husband takes notice isn't it? :)

Michael- Let me tell you- I still struggle with it. Have to remind myself on a constant basis but it does get easier as time goes on...

Coastal Chicster- I hear you- I remember those days of one (or more!) roommates... Luckily you can apply the rule to more than just housewares. It really applies to everything...

Michele- Merci! And I must say your Pug is adorable... The French don't have nicer home furnishings necessarily than any one else. It's just that they use their best and have the best that they can afford in their homes. For example Famille Chic was what I would call an upper class family and they had beautiful antiques- some might call their decor a 'little shabby' as their apartment wasn't decked out in plush sofas and flat screen tvs, but their furniture suited their lifestyle. On the other hand Madame Bohemienne was definitely middle class and had perfectly regular furnishings- no antiques really- but just the nicest furniture she could afford. I hope that answers your question. xx

Lulu said...

I've tried to adopt this philosophy over the last few years of using your "good" things on a daily basis. I have a few Hermes scarves that I would only wear for special occasions. Now I wear them all the time. I've learned a lot through fashion feng shui. The element that I mostly align with is metal. Metal energy tends to like quality over quantity and use their best items all of the time.

Love your blog and this series that you're doing right now.

J. said...

That is indeed a great standard to live by, but for some reason it is very hard to do. Thanks for reminding us all to at least try though!

Kristine said...

What a fun and insightful series. I certainly agree on using the best you have. I use my china daily. I am working on shedding what is past due. Oh, and the snacking thing, I agree in theory, but I'm working on it in practice. :)

Fiona said...

Love this post Jennifer and the fact that you say 'the best you can afford' rather than 'the best'.

My dad says you should always have 'a tear in one eye' when spending money. 'No tears' implies you've bought too cheaply and 'two tears' means you've overspent.

Of course if you happen to find a genuine French antique in an out-of-the-way junk shop that's the exception to the rule!

BigLittleWolf said...

I do love #19! But I admit that it gets a little harder to live by when life starts to squeeze with child-rearing responsibilities.

But it's good to keep in mind for now and then, when possible, all the same.

(Should I make my Mad Men mini-martini in a lovely floral etched glass I haven't used in 10 years? Hmmm....)

Deanna said...

What a good reminder. I've recently started drinking my morning orange juice from a delicate crystal goblet and I think I'll set the table with the good china tonight.

As for the nightwear, I used to wear one of my husband's t-shirts to bed most of the time but about 10 years ago he gently suggested that if I quit sleeping in those he'd buy me all the pretty nightgowns I desire. I found a lovely style that is both comfortable to sleep in (can't stand itchy stuff) but alluring, as well. Every Christmas my husband buys me a couple more so I always have something pretty to wear. I've never slept in a t-shirt since.

Rose said...

Quality does show and Madame Chic is right really. Sometimes though it is lovely to hop into a really old pair of PJs!

Patricia said...

Bon soir

When I was a little girl, our house was vandalized by neighborhood thugs. The only two items from my mother's china was the sugar bowl (sans lid) and the creamer. Your post tonight has inspired me to go in search for replacement items for my deceased mother's china. The search was easy, I found everything at replacement.com. But they're not cheap, and I don't make very much money. But I want to replace at least some of the pieces such as the sugar bowl's lid, and a few plates. I will be saving up and buying one piece at a time.
Thank you for inspiring me!
merci
Patricia~Louise

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Patricia Louise- I'm sorry to hear of the theft of your mother's china but am so happy to hear you're inspired to find the replacements! Stories like yours are the reason I write this blog... merci x

Rose, Deanna, BigLittleWolf, Fiona, Kristine and J- Merci for your comments! I love reading about how you implement the best things you have into your every day lives. Your comments make this series fun for me to write :) xx

Patricia said...

I can't wait for the next post!
Patricia~Louise

skin whitening said...

Hello.
I have been to Paris.^^
It's beautiful place.
I would like to go to Paris again...

Ms. Purple said...

I just stopped by... and smiled.... I'm from germany - having studying in the London, Paris and also New York I basically was happy to pick the best out of every mentality.

What I really love about your blog is, that - well, I didn' know - I already live "french"...

Since now nearly 20 yrs I stick to some simple basics in Beauty (cleansing only at night, using moisturizer with sunscreen, No-Makeup-Makeup) - I'm 40 now and have not one wrinkle...

I stick to some Key-Pieces in my wardrobe in my favourite Key Colours, accessoirizing with scarves, shoes and bags... I invest in Cashmere, Silk, Cotton and my accessoires are either fun and cheap, vintage finds or really extravagant pieces... I NEVER EVER had an event ahead and didn't know what to wear.

Even my (and loads of my friends) furniture is simple: a wonderful french bed (trecca de paris, which was an investment) a huge couch for having late parties - the rest are inherited or fleamarket commodes... and I use the one and only white dishes together with my inherited silverware every day... One doesn't need much! I hardly decorate, love more some fresh flowers in grannies old vase or a wonderful lacqer bowl from burma reminding me of my trips...

As reducing our consume is not only better for the planet - it also leaves me time and money for my LIFE: Theater, Concerts, Meeting Friends, Reading, going to Museums and last but most important: Traveling to see this world, to meet people...

I think this is what counts!

 
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