Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Dressing like a French Woman

Last night I found one of the resolution lists that litter the boxes. drawers and stowed away bags in my bedroom.

I have hundreds, all detailing the ways in which I will be a better, kinder, more elegant woman living a simple life without a focus on material things, yet one who dresses in the most stylish way and is always groomed to perfection (hmmm). These are generally made when I have a hangover, have chipped or chewed my fingernails to the quick and have done something horribly shameful the night before. As such I am counting down the seconds until home time, a chance to clear up the mess of the night before and going to bed to awaken to the new day - and my new self. 

Of course 3 nights later the same pattern repeats itself. I am painfully aware of the contrasting sides of my personality - one of which wants to live by the sea, grow vegetables, drink jasmine tea and be a teacher just like Miss Honey and the other who likes nothing more than a large glass of wine, making a spectacle of herself, shopping until she drops and dreams of running her own magazine. 

I digress, because the point of this post is that the one thing that is consistent across all these lists is the promise to myself that I will "learn to dress like a French woman", also known as "create a tailor made wardrobe of simple and classic pieces - inspired by Vanessa Paridis" or "Be more French".

I spend hours poring over pictures on Garance Dore and loved the interview that Joanna Goddard did with her, asking how she could add a French touch to her wardrobe

Although I have been honing my style as best as can I do seem to turn to one fail safe French look, that of the stripe. I think of Carrie standing in front of the Eiffel tower in her striped ensemble and I yearn to channel that look (I know that citing an American woman as an example is sacrilege but I care not). But being neither a size 6, or a yogi, the striped look just doesn't work for me. It took me a while to realise this, and I now have almost as many striped pieces as Garance Dore - 4 jumpers, 3 t-shirts and one pair of ill
-advised leggings. 

So it is that I turn to the striped bag, and on Friday when I arrived at Paddington Station to the sight of a board announcing every train was delayed I dived straight into the shops only to re-emerge with the slouchy Accessorise sailor bag which is just the right size for either day bag, beach bag or overnight carrier. I also like the Fora III featured on Etsy. 

For now I will stick with the sailor bag to add a touch of French to my wardrobe. And will channel this stylish lady, who does chic and simple without the stripe. 

I think the reality is that I must learn to find a happy balance between the 2 sides of my personality before I can dream of really emulating the mystique and elegance of a French woman. 
Because, in the words of the inimitable Garance Dore..
"The French woman is like Alain Delon**. The French woman doesn’t take any resolutions. The French woman is. The present is her sole religion. In fact, Joanna, the mystery behind the French woman is that she has confidence in herself, despite all the nonsense she says.
There’s the secret to her indestructible Frenchitude."

And I can't imagine the woman she describes making daily lists of how to change perhaps the first step shall be a happy acceptance of who I am.

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