How To: The Undone-Chic Chignon

New York Fashion Week is all about celebrating style, makeup and of course, runway-worthy hair. But this season, perfectly polished coifs were offset with ruffled tresses that had a distinctly Parisian flare. My favorite of which is what I refer to as “the undone-chic chignon.”

Think downtown, bohemian cool. This is an unfussed look that’s soft and touchable, with loose pieces framing the face. It’s carefree, romantic, irresistibly sexy and goes well with just about any look, from morning to night.

I consulted with friend and Fashion Week backstage hair stylist, Montana Sutton, for an official (and easy) step-by-step. Montana deconstructed the chignon into 5 steps (yes, you have to put a little work into looking effortless!).

Here’s how to get the Parisian-approved nonchalant chignon:

iStock_000007880262MediumStep 1: Prep hair by lightly spraying roots to ends with hairspray for hold and texture.

Step 2: Create a ponytail in the desired location (low, medium or high) and secure with an elastic.

Step 3: Two inches from the ends of the pony, wrap an elastic around the bottom of the pony. Loosely twist the pony like rope.

Step 5: Wrap twisted hair around the base of the pony and secure in place with hair pins as you go.

Step 6: Gently pull at the bun to make it as big and loose as you want. Pull a few loose pieces to fall naturally around the face. Finish the look with a quick mist of light hold hair spray.

Note: Matches every outfit, must be worn with unapologetic confidence.

How to Find Your Signature Look

Closet full of choicesAmong the quintessential French woman’s many secrets is her mastery of a signature look—a style that exudes her touche personelle. But personal style isn’t something women are born with—it’s a skill, an art form, and it’s constantly evolving. It’s also completely life changing. When you find your signature look, you’re in tune with your inner elegance and how you express it. It’s creative, empowering and unbelievably sexy.

Here are a few tips for finding, and sticking to, your unique signature look:

  • Own It. Your signature style is your unique reflection to the world. No matter what your style, stay true to what you feel beautiful in and you’ll always exude confidence.
  • Reboot Your Closet. As you hone in on a signature look, weed out any tired, ill-fitting items from your closet (eh oui, this includes gifts!). If you haven’t worn something in a year, it’s time to say adieu. With a leaner, meaner closet, you’ll take more joy in getting dressed each day (and make room for new pieces!).
  • Fit to Flatter. It’s time to put your best assets forward and make sure every piece in your wardrobe fits and flatters your silhouette. The same goes with your lingerie; it should hug your curves to perfection. Become friends with your tailor so that clothes fit to a T (even your T’s)… they’ll look like they were custom made for you.
  • Invest in Quality. French women are all about quality over quantity, and invest in a few fabulous well-made items. Resist the temptation to buy “disposable” pieces and instead look for select high quality pieces you will love and wear for years.
  • Say “Non” to Most Trends. Start with a foundation of timeless classics. This includes everlasting chic neutral tones of black, white, beiges and grays. When you’re tempted by trends (faux fur, boyfriend sweaters and beaded dresses come to mind this fall), add only a few pieces at a time and make sure they accentuate your core aesthetic.
  • Pick Your Palette. Wearing the right colors can make your skin glow and your eyes sparkle (yes please!). Pick three shades that flatter your skin tone and hair color, and build your wardrobe around them. A few colors are easier to mix and match and offer endless outfit possibilities.
  • Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize! The best part of accessories (besides the fact that they always fit) is that they instantly transform an outfit from simple (yawn) to stunning (oh la la!). Most women gravitate towards a certain accessory that they feel naked without. This is your signature accessory, and it’s essential to defining your look.
  • Sealed With A Kiss. Luscious pout? Long lashes? Gorgeous cheek bones? Highlight your favorite feature with a touch of makeup. The same goes for your coiffure (hair style). Straight hair? Make it shine. Wild curls? Play it up. And always have a signature parfum (or two).

10 Things French Women Don’t Do

10 Things Blog ImageIn the spirit of a recent craze of books toting everything French women don’t do (such as “Get Fat,” “Get Facelifts” or “Sleep Alone”), I thought I’d put together my own list of favorites.

It almost goes without saying that this list contains generalizations that don’t include ALL French women, but the trends ring true.

Here are my 10 commandments of French women don’ts:

1.   French women don’t reject compliments. Time to toss self-deprecation in la poubelle (the trash). French women believe that gracefully accepting compliments shows confidence and inner elegance. A simple thank you and a little smile are all that’s needed. Resist the temptation to say too much!

2.   French women don’t wear a lot of makeup. To women in France, the too-made-up look is synonymous with a woman trying too hard, hiding from her true beauty and from herself. Opt for a minimalist look, or emphasize a single feature at a time (like seductive eyes or a perfect pout). Read my article on A French Woman and Her Makeup: Au Naturel.

3.   French women don’t obsess about their age. Tout simplement (put simply), a beautiful woman is a beautiful woman, at twenty two or sixty two. I believe there are three keys to seduction: attitude, wardrobe and confidence, and none of these are affected by age.

4.   French women don’t wear nude bras. French women love classic black, white and colors that make them feel feminine and beautiful. Wearing a blue lace bra or bodysuit under a white t-shirt or crisp white button-down shirt is absolutely acceptable.

5.   French women don’t wear sweatpants to bed. There’s no denying that we deserve to unwind and feel comfortable at the end of the day, but I believe we can do this while still maintaining an air of style. Toss the sweatpants and look for pretty pajamas in soft fabrics and figure-flattering cuts. Read my article on Bedtime Lingerie À La Française.

6.   French women don’t spend hours at the gym. I once joined a gym in Paris and found I was almost the only woman there. French women stay in shape à pied (on foot), integrating walking into their everyday routines, or swim laps at their local pool. Read up on How to Walk Like A French Woman.

7.   French women don’t supersize. The French are known for exercising discipline in keeping things juste comme il faut (no more than necessary). It’s a brilliant way to minimize “stuff,” simplify your life and still enjoy les petits luxes (little luxuries).

8.   French women don’t have fake nails. You’ll find most French women with short, manicured nails in a clear or neutral shade. Simple yet polished.

9.   French women don’t bare too much skin. When it comes to baring skin, less is definitely not more. In fact, I believe the game of seduction is about what you cover, how you cover it, and with what. Not only does it tease the eye, but it shows an inner confidence that’s magnetically sexy.

10. French women don’t deprive themselves of sweets, but they do indulge in moderation. Un petit carré (a little square) of dark chocolate can be supremely satisfying.

Voilà. I invite you to try a few of these and see how they suit you. Sometimes the simplest changes can create a big shift…

L’Apéritif: The Art of the French Before Dinner Drink


Aperitif Image

I’m sitting on a terrace overlooking the gorgeous crescent-shaped beach of La Baule, my favorite town in Brittany. It’s 8pm, so naturally, I’m doing what every other responsible French citizen is doing on a summer evening…

It’s apéritif hour. Il est l’heure de l’apéritif. It’s apéritif hour.

The French apéritif, or before dinner drink, is a tradition everyone should have in their repertoire. It’s is about the ritual of taking une petite pause between the day’s activities and a pleasurable meal. Playfully nicknamed l’apéro, l’apéritif  is a French word derived from the Latin verb aperire, which means “to open.” Designed to whet the appetite, it is served directly before a meal.

Whether you’re gathering with friends, celebrating an event, enjoying a gorgeous summer day, or just embracing life à la française, this is a time of day to kick back and relax.

Here’s how to do l’heure de l’apéro in style:

  • For Something Sweet: Add a splash of blackberry liquor (crème de cassis) to white wine and you have a deliciously sweet Kir. Replace the wine with champagne for a Kir Royale.
  • For Special Occasions: Celebrate with your favorite champagne or sparkling wine.
  • For the Wine Lover: Look for a dry white wine or, in summer, a fresh rosé. Porto, known as a vin doux (“soft” wine), is a lighter wine that’s perfect before a big meal.
  • For the Hot Summer Day: Sip on a tall glass of Pastis. Originating from Marseille in the south of France, this is a classic apéritif made with refreshing anise and licorice and served on ice for a fabulously cooling effect.
  • Pair your drink with light hors d’oeuvres. The key here is to keep it very simple and light. Typical choices include: marinated olives, toasted nuts, parmesan sticks or a handful of gourmet chips.

Summer is peak apéritif season, so gather a few friends for an impromptu soirée, or better yet, make it a new tradition. Santé!

6 Signs You’re Wearing the Wrong Bra Size

Bra SizeThere’s no doubt that owning a beautiful bra wardrobe can be life-changing, and wearing one puts a little extra pep in your step. That said, there’s only one thing that can negate the positive power of a fabulous bra: wearing the wrong size.

One statistic that bears repeating is that 8 in 10 women are wearing the wrong bra size. Quel désastre! Below is a snapshot of facts to help you determine if you’re one of them. If you are, no problem—bra fitters to the rescue! The reward is instantaneous: feeling supported, comfortable and confident in your bra.

Here are the signs you’re wearing the wrong bra size:

1. Your Bra Band Rises in Back
Solution: Go down a band size (and up a cup size*)
Why: If your bra band rises in back, or you can pull the band more than an inch away from your back, it is definitely too large. This is often the culprit for the back-fat look and will also cause breasts to sag. Essentially, the bra band is the most functional component of your bra and provides about 80% of the support of your bust. Your bra band should be snug and rest level and parallel to the floor in front and back when you look in the mirror.

2. The Center of Your Bra Doesn’t Rest Flat Against Your Skin
Solution: Go up a cup size
Why: Bras are designed so that the fabric between your breasts, also called the center gore, should lay flat against your skin. When it doesn’t, the band can’t provide proper support. The rule of thumb is that you should be able to place two fingers between your breasts. If you can’t, your bra cups are too small. Trying going up a cup size to find comfort juste comme il faut (just right)!

3. Your Straps Dig Into Your Shoulders
Solution: Go down a band size (and up a cup size*)
Why: Straps that dig into you or leave marks are a telltale sign that you’re shouldering too much weight. In fact, bra straps should only do about 20% of the work when it comes to supporting the bust; the bra band does the rest. Présentation plus voluptueuse? Larger busted women can also look for straps that are slightly wider, firmer and subtly padded for a more comfortable fit and extra support.

4. Your Breast Tissue is Bulging from the Tops or Sides of Cups
Solution: Go up a cup size
Why:  If you have lumps and bumps around your bra, or your breast spills out of the cups from the tops or sides, your cup size is too small. Your bra should offer you a smooth fit, and the cups (yes, even push-ups) should completely envelope your breast tissue so that you look smooth under a t-shirt. The result is a svelte silhouette sans spillage – and yes, the right size will make you instantly appear 5 pounds slimmer. If you are looking for a voluptuous look, go for a sculpted fit rather than an over-full one.

5. Your Bra Bunches or Gaps
Solution: Go down a cup size
Why: Wrinkles, puckering or gaps indicate extra fabric, which means your cup size is too large. Try going down a cup size; you want the bra to hug your curves for a flawless fit.


Flawless, curve-hugging fit = totally life changing!

6. You’ve Never Had a Professional Bra Fitting
Solution: This one is easy… go for a fitting!
Why: A professional bra fitting can be une experience transformatif (a transformative awakening). I’ve talked to countless women who were stunned to learn their true size, and supremely thankful to find better-than-ever support and comfort. Other signs you need a fitting: it’s been more than a couple of years, you’ve gained or lost more than 7 pounds, or you’ve had a baby or gone through menopause. Nervous about stripping down? Bra fitters are passionate about educating and empowering each woman in the dressing room. They will take good care of you!

Follow these golden rules and I guarantee you will have a hallelujah moment when you realize:           “I never knew a bra could fit and feel this way!”

* Remember than when you move down in band size, you will likely need to go up in cup size to maintain the right fit.


10 Modern French Female Icons To Watch

French women are known for their trend-setting fashion sense, unapologetic confidence and seemingly fluent sex appeal. Few embody these qualities better than iconic beauties such as Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve, among others. But who are the nouvelle génération of French women icons?

These women are chic, sexy and charming, while à la fois (at the same time) mysterious, effortless and edgy. And they’re carrying on the tradition of all that encapsulates the French je ne sais quoi—and more.

Here are the women to watch:

1. Marion Cotillard. The Oscar-winning actress (as Édith Piaf in La Vie en Rose), has mastered the art of haute couture glamour and irresistible French sex appeal. When she isn’t strutting runways, filming movies or wearing ChristianDior, Marion is the official spokeswoman for Greenpeace.Lou Doillon at Marrakesh International Film Festival 2002

2. Lou Doillon. Daughter of British actress/singer Jane Birkin (an icon in her own right, she’s the inspiration behind the famous Birkin bag by Hermes) and director Jacques Doillon, Lou is a singer/songwriter. You may have also spotted her strutting the runway for Missoni, Tom Ford or Dior, or as the spokesmodel and muse for Givenchy. Her signature style? A mix of masculine and feminine. You’re as likely to find her in jeans and army boots as a LBD or flirty skirt.

63rd Venice Film Festival: 'Nuovomondo (Golden Door) - Premiere3. Charlotte Gainsbourg. Lou Doillon’s half-sister (they share mother Jane Birkin), and the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg, this French icon is effortlessly cool. A talented actress and singer (her most recent album was produced by Beck), her style has influenced the likes of Luis Vuitton and Nicolas Ghesquière. In her words: “Style for me is a casual way of putting something on. It’s not thought out but needs to suit your way of life.”


4. Julia Restoin Roitfeld. Graphic designer and model, Julia is the daughter of former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, Carine Roitfeld. She inherited her mother’s flawless fashion sense and captivating presence. Undeniably, this budding icon is one to watch.


5. Cecile Cassel. You might recognize her from the finale of Sex and the City, where she played the teenage daughter of Carrie’s fleeting lover, Alexander Petrovsky. Today, the French actress/singer/songwriter continues to captivate with her slightly ruffled trusses and effortless sexiness.????????

6. Clémence Poésy. This instinctively chic actress (“In Bruges,” “127 Hours,” “Gossip Girl,” “Harry Potter”) and Chloé perfume model, has a youthful look with au naturel makeup and undone-chic hair. Poésy is also known for her characteristically cool street style.????????????????????????

7. Audrey Tatou. She charmed the world in “Amélie” and immediately gained French icon status. Tatou has since starred in “The Da Vinci Code,” “A Very Long Engagement,” “Dirty Pretty Things,” and most recently, “Coco Before Chanel.” The actress shies away from the spotlight but continues to captivate us with her enchanting nature.Elisa-sednaoui-0311-4-de

8. Elisa Sednaoui. This model, actress, director and global it-girl of French, Italian and Moroccan descent is known for her enviable cheekbones, gorgeous smile and impeccable style. No wonder she’s Karl Lagerfeld’s muse.

VanessaParadis9. Vanessa Paradis. The actress, model, singer and mother of two (with Johnny Depp) became a star at age 14 with her catchy single “Joe le Taxi.” Also beloved by Karl Lagerfeld, she has an off-beat style, ageless beauty and an everlasting mysterious look in her eyes. When asked about her breakup with Depp, Paradis commented: “Love is the strongest and most fragile thing we have in life.” Aussi sage que belle (as wise as she is beautiful)!????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

10. Virginie Ledoyen. This breathtaking beauty seamlessly evolved from child star to sexy siren, to accomplished actress. Ledoyen’s air of mystery, radiant smile and sensual allure make her an incontestable icon of French seduction.

What I love most about these iconic women is that each has her own signature allure, which begs the question: what’s yours?

The Ultimate Guide to Honeymoon Lingerie

Celeste Demi Plunge Bra and Boyshort from Simone Perele

Once you’ve said your “I do’s,” the honeymoon is a time to celebrate romance and embrace your inner seductive prowess. What better way to step into your new title of “Mrs.” than with a lingerie wardrobe that makes you feel beautiful and sexy?

When it comes to honeymoon lingerie, a little fore-planning goes a long way. Make an appointment for a professional fitting. Look for high quality brands that feel as good as they look. Leave the tattered straps and dull nudes behind; it’s time to move confidently into your new world. Here’s my checklist of honeymoon lingerie must-haves:

1. The Sexy Lace Bra (or two or three!). There are fewer things sexier than lace, so take along a few different colors. Pick a shape that suits your size and style. A lace demi cup with a revealing balconette shape is classic seduction (larger busted women should look for a full cup demi). A lace triangle bralette is chic, comfortable and easy to wear.

2. The Essential Strapless Bra. Honeymoon getaways almost always call for flirty dresses and tops, so it’s essential to have a fail-safe strapless bra. Look for a plunging neckline and a fit that stays in place without sliding. For more, read my blog article, How to Find the Perfect Strapless Bra.

3. The Versatile Convertible Bra. A multi-position bra discreetly hides straps so you can look flawless in just about anything. Try the Simone Perele Inspiration Memory Foam Bra, which can be worn three ways (classic, racerback and halter), or the romantic Amour Push-Up with Racerback.

4. The Chic T-Shirt Bra. A woman must always be comfortable when she travels. Look for a seamless t-shirt bra made with breathable, curve-hugging fabrics in fresh, feminine colors like coral or azalea.

5. Matching Panties. This is a French golden rule. Just like you wouldn’t go on your honeymoon without your better half, a bra should never travel without its bottom half.

6. Bedtime Lingerie. Your wardrobe de nuit (nighttime) is au moins (at least) as important as what you wear during the day. Look for sensual fabrics, touches of skin-revealing lace, and flattering silhouettes, like the sensual Celeste Nightdress made with French Chantilly lace. For more ideas, read Bedtime Lingerie à La Française.

A little lingerie goes a long way to feeling effortlessly sexy during one of the most exciting trips of your life!