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

 

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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!

Spring Style Spotlight: Blush Pink

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After winter’s midnight navy, jet-black and deep red hues, I’m looking forward to a softer look. Thankfully, the season’s color du jour is pink, with an emphasis on pastels and beautiful blushes. It’s the new feminine neutral, and it’s turning up everywhere. Yes, pink is officially chic.

Before we dive in, let me first say that I believe trends are best worn en modération, so have fun, but be a bit selective. My golden rule is to mix on-trend pieces with classic staples, so there is always a nice balance.

That said, a few pops of pink puts immediate credit in your wardrobe. Here’s how to incorporate the hue into your spring/summer style:

1. La Lingerie. Sweeten your silhouette with a blush bra and panty set. Soft pinks are an update to the classic nude and flatters all skin tones, so you can look flawless in your light spring tops. Simone Perele just debuted a new Blush hue for its best-selling Andora collection, in a modern triangle shape, as well as their best-selling 3D Molded T-Shirt Bra.

2. The Spring Coat. Make a statement in a soft pink trench or leather jacket. Leather counters the feminine-feel of this pastel hue, while a classic trench is light enough to be considered a neutral.

3. The Shoes. A pair of pale pink ballet flats is the perfect marriage of classic and trend. Another favorite this season is the blush-colored strappy sandal, which matches just about everything. It will be your new summer staple!

4. The Summer Sweater. The pale pink summer sweater is one of the season’s most wearable pieces. Pair it with crisp whites and neutral pastels for an ultra-feminine look.

5. La Jupe (The Skirt). Fabulous for work or week-end, look for a sleek, tailored silhouette or soft, flow-y fabrics to show off your feminine flare.

6. The Summer Scarf. Glamorize a summer-white outfit with a pastel pink scarf in a romantic floral print.

7. The Sunglasses. Make a soft statement in pink lenses within a classic frame. You’ll be seeing the world through rose-colored glasses…

Now this is the summer to live la vie en rose!

 

Le Petit Weekend: How to Escape Like the French

WeekendBienvenue spring, at last! In addition to fashion-friendly milder temps, le printemps also brings a renewed sense of energy and zest for life, making it the perfect time for Le Petit Weekend. Translated as “the little weekend,” short springtime getaways are as natural to the French as butter is to the croissant. Perhaps it’s the abundance of “jours fériés” (national holidays), or just a desire to escape after a long winter, but this time of year, the French start fleeing to cozy corners of France and beyond.

I wholeheartedly support Le Petit Weekend, with a mission of discovering someplace different. Even better, I always return invigorated and with a renewed appreciation for home.

Like most things French, Le Petit Weekend is a bit of an art. Here are 5 unspoken rules for getting away “à la française”:

  1. Keep It Simple. Resist the urge to over-plan. You don’t need an elaborate or expensive trip to reap the benefits of a getaway. French people mostly vacation in France, taking in the warm breezes of the Cote d’Azur or the rolling landscapes of wine country. In fact, you could explore anywhere, even a town within an hour or two, at a charming B&B. The simpler it is, the more freedom you have, the more pleasure you get from Le Petit Weekend.
  1. Be Spontaneous. Jet-setting on a whim can be wildly liberating, plus it gives you a chance to peek at the upcoming weather before making plans. Pas de soleil? Pas de probleme! (No sun? No problem!) We’ll go next weekend!
  1. Make It a “Weekend des Amoureux” (For Lovers): As rewarding as it may be to enjoy a family excursion, there is something to be said for a getaway “sans les enfants” (without children). The French truly value this precious time “en amoureux.” Not only will it recharge your romance, you’ll return home relaxed and refreshed for your children.
  1. Pack Light, but Chic. Leave the frills at home. Your weekender bag should be easy to carry (and easy to close) and filled with chic essentials: outfits that translate from day to night, a fabulous scarf, stylish, comfortable walking shoes, and some lacy lingerie (it doesn’t take up much room). For more, read: “Le Weekend Getaway Lingerie.”
  1. Fais Toi Plaisir. This is one of my favorite expressions, and it loosely translates as “treat yourself” or “make yourself happy.” Put simply, this is about enjoying life’s little indulgences. Wherever you go, disconnect from your Monday to Friday routine, and enjoy the freedom of a carefree weekend.

Bon voyage! 

5 French-Inspired Pleasures While We Wait for Spring

Spring is impossibly late. And though I can attest to dreaming of warm breezes and vibrant sunny days, I’ve decided it’s time to exercise a bit of restraint. The truth is, impatience, and complaining about the weather, are not becoming. Time to channel our inner French joie de vivre (love of life) with a few simple pleasures.

Here are 5 ways to distract ourselves while we wait for spring to arrive:

  1. Throw a Party. Invite friends over for an impromptu gathering. Host a casual aperitif (before-dinner drinks) with hors d’oeuvres, or a repas (meal) à la française. Make it as simple or as extravagant as you like, being sure to have a few (very French) essential components: delicious food, wine, a few good friends (new and old) and, of course, a chic outfit.
  1. Embrace Your Inner Chef. Yes, French women are known for their ways in the kitchen; the results of which do not go unnoticed. Be an artiste de la cuisine and conjure up a little passion in the kitchen with a bold new recipe—or classic favorite. Bon appétit!
  1. Lingerie! It may be too soon to wear your spring dresses, but a new wardrobe of springtime lingerie refreshes the soul. Make your lingerie drawer something you delight in opening each day with feel-beautiful spring colors like bold Azalea, sun-kissed Coral, fresh Azure and soft, feminine Blush.
  1. Walk Like a French Woman. Yes, walking will feel good—even in still-crisp air. So put on stylish boots or ballet flats and walk with unapologetic confidence. Not only will it boost your mood, you’ll be the first to know when spring does appear. More here on walking comme une femme française (like a French woman).
  1. Plan a Weekend Getaway. There are few things as fun (or more French) than a spontaneous weekend getaway at the end of a busy week. Pack your favorite chic essentials and escape to where you can experience the warmth and energy of spring with your cheri. Bon voyage!