The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #13 Look Presentable Always
Yes the last few beauty and style themed posts have all been leading up to this with the simple message: look presentable always.
Do you remember the story of my sweatpants with the hole in the knee? Madame Chic’s shock and dismay at the sight of them? Many lessons came out of that embarrassing incident (at least something good came out of it!) and the most important one was simple: look presentable always.
I remember once seeing Madame Chic as she was about to pop down the street for a baguette. Before she left she checked her appearance in the mirror and applied lipstick. It was a small gesture, but one that was duly noted.
Every component comes together for the French woman to look her best at any given moment. She is dressed well (easy to do with their 10 item wardrobe) and she is always well groomed.
Looking presentable always is not to be confused with ‘high maintenance’. You are less likely to see a French woman running late because it took her an hour to do her makeup and flat iron her hair. Pas du tout. They have their look down so well- that they put together an outfit quickly (without agonizing over what to wear), have a simple haircut that is easy to style and very minimal makeup (nothing too elaborate… you know- le no makeup look!).
You wouldn’t see a French woman walking the dog in her pajamas or in line at the boulangerie wearing tattered old yoga clothes. She won’t be dressed to the nines either- she will just look… pretty and presentable.
My tips for looking presentable always?
Avoid telling yourself you’re ‘just going to the grocery store’ (or wherever it is you happen to be going) as an excuse to look like a complete frump. You may think you won’t see anyone you know- but trust me, you will. You’ll see your ex-lover and your frenemy. Even if you don’t see someone you know- you should want to look good for yourself.
Don’t tempt yourself to be frumpy- throw out any clothes that are over worn, damaged, or unflattering (remember to only use the best things you have). There is no excuse for holding on to bad clothes- they serve no purpose and even if you live alone, you shouldn’t wear them.
For traveling wear comfortable clothes that are also chic- black leggings and a dolman sleeve top paired with ballet flats and a pashmina, for example, are equally comfortable to a track suit- and so much more presentable… and who knows… you might even be upgraded to first class!
If you must walk the dog in your pajamas (which, I'm not going to lie, I have been known to do on a few occasions) put an overcoat or long sweater on and perhaps a scarf and no one will ever know (OK I confess, I do this every morning)...
Break out of the mentality of ‘saving things’. Do you have a new blouse but you haven’t worn it yet because you are saving it for a special occasion? Well if that special occasion comes by all means wear it, but in the meantime wear it to your dentist appointment… after all, you are worth it.
Looking presentable always is simply a matter of respect- of respect for yourself- for people you love and for everyone that comes in contact with you.
Won’t you stay tuned for #12?
If you find yourself in France during the Spring, it's really worth it to take a trip to Giverny to see Monet's home. The gardens are spectacular (see above picture) and the inside of his home is filled with Japanese prints, which the famous artist loved to collect...
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.