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!

What a French Woman Wears to Seduce: The Secrets of Lingerie

21_PERELE_12R500_015-2132The French woman’s relationship with “la lingerie” is second nature… simply effortless. Yet the art of French lingerie is in fact quite deliberate, and even strategic, having been cultivated and refined by generations of women (with the helpful feedback of their male counterparts, of course). The result is a culture that has perfected seduction through lingerie… and a country of women who know exactly how to wear it.

Here are 5 rules for wearing lingerie like a French woman:

Rule 1: Don’t Show Everything. For the French, lingerie is about artfully covering the body, hiding just enough to tease the senses. What you cover, how your cover it, and with what—is the key to the game of seduction. This is important to note, as American culture tends to focus more on showing than covering, with lingerie that exposes, magnifies and overemphasizes. Lingerie is about adorning the body, not uncovering it, so take pleasure in the process.

Rule 2: Be Bold. If we are to establish a new relationship with lingerie and expand our repertoire, we must be willing to take a few bold steps. Give your nude t-shirt bras “quelques moments de repos” (a few moments of rest) and flirt with new styles, colors and fabrics that seduce the senses and push the boundaries of your comfort zone. Slip into silk or lace. Indulge in detail: scalloped edges, eyelash trim, silk bows, decorated straps or embellished embroidery. You may just shake a few old habits and discover a new side of your sensuality.

Rule 3: Don’t Suffer. Corset and lingerie maker Simone Perele lived by the philosophy: “A woman should not have to choose between being comfortable and being beautiful… she can have it all.” A bra may be sinfully seductive, but if it isn’t comfortable, or doesn’t fit well, you won’t exude confidence. Take the extra steps to ensure you have a perfect fit and the right support (a professional fitting), the right style for your shape, and high quality, supple fabrics. Tip: the brand is as important as the bra, so do a bit of exploring!

Amour Demi Peacock FW13Rule 4: Embrace your lace. “La dentelle” (lace) is to the French woman’s lingerie wardrobe as flour is to the baguette. It is the ultimate “peekaboo” game, adorning the skin with sensual designs that reveal just enough to drive a man simply wild with désir. However, the first step to embracing your lace is to toss the misconception that all lace is uncomfortable and unsupportive. The truth is that the French have mastered the art of beautifully-made lace, making it supremely wearable for all shapes and sizes.

Rule 5: Wear It With Confidence. Wearing beautiful lingerie by itself does not seduce; it must be paired with complete and unapologetic confidence. When a woman is “bien dans sa peau” (good in her skin), she exudes a mysterious allure that is undeniably irresistible.

Above all, remember that the more you love the way you look, the more he will too (maybe you’ll even hear a soft “ooh la la” whispered in your ear)…

3 Essentials of the French Woman’s Allure

The seductive allure of French women is tout à fait (altogether) legendary. What’s their secret? Like all things highly appealing, a good recipe is important to achieve delectable results. Today Simone Perele Caressence0139 AI’m revealing three essential elements of this “recette française” (French recipe) that, when combined, conjure up a bit of magic. They are (1) Le Parfum (Perfume), (2) La Lingerie and (3) Le Foulard (The Scarf).   

Of course, American women are also familiar with these ingredients, however most tend to view them as “extras” for special occasions. Mais non! (But no!) For French women, they are considered everyday essentials.

Here’s how this trio of ingredients work their magic:

  1. La Lingerie. The French woman’s secret to lingerie is simple: she makes it a priority. Her daily lingerie is the foundation of her outfit, and essential to feeling good in her skin. A French woman invests in beautiful, good quality underpinnings not just to please a man (though she is certainly familiar with these methods of seduction), but to treat her most intimate curves to the very best.
  1. Le Parfum. Fragrance is as essential to a French woman’s daily routine as her morning café. After a spritz of perfume, she ensues upon her day with a soft halo of fragrance that makes a quiet statement that is uniquely her own… and sinfully sensual.  Perfume can be so mysterious and intriguing, leaving a seductive air that lingers in her wake. Most French women have what I call a “fragrance wardrobe” with at least two or three perfumes for different occasions: summer, daytime, evening/seduction… Check out How to Wear Perfume Like A French Woman.   
  1. Le Foulard (the Scarf). There is something about this single piece of clothing that instantly stylizes an outfit and radiates an air of confidence (check out 6 Chic Ways to Wear a ????????????????????????????????????????????????Scarf). Try wearing a scarf every day for a week or two and you’re likely to understand its universal appeal. You can feel ultra-cozy in plush cashmere, sophisticated in silk, or flirty in a bold print. Before you know it, your neck will feel naked without the soft kiss of a scarf against your skin.

The discreet star power of French women is much more than a simple “je ne sais quoi” (elusive quality).  These three items are woven into the very fabric of French women’s daily lives and add up to a total image of that elusive allure and “bien dans sa peau” (confidence, feeling good in your skin) that French women exude so effortlessly.

It’s Beaujolais Nouveau Time!

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We all know how loyal the French are to their holidays… and though this one isn’t an “official” day of leisure in France, it is certainly well celebrated. Welcome to Beaujolais Nouveau Day!

Yes, the French have developed a holiday devoted exclusively to one of their favorite red wines. Beaujolais Nouveau is a fresh and fruity red wine from the Beaujolais province of France (just north of Lyon), and was originated as a way for locals to celebrate the end of the harvest season. 100 years or so later, the French still look forward to the nouveau (new) Beaujolais wines that are released each year… on the third Thursday of November at 12:01am, when the gleeful toasts begin. “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!” (The new Beaujolais has arrived!

What’s so special about a Beaujolais Nouveau? It’s made entirely of handpicked Gamay grapes, it has a fruit-forward, cheerful flavor, and it’s inexpensive… the perfect wine for a party. Although most things French are better with age (wine, cheese and women come to mind), a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be opened young. In fact, most vintages should be enjoyed before May.

How to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day

Beaujolais Nouveau is a young, stylish, casual, flirty wine, so celebrating its arrival should be the same way… fuss-free and spontaneous.

Whether you’re inviting a large group of people, a couple of friends, or just your “Cherie,” set the atmosphere with a few candles, your favorite French tunes (add Jane Birkin and Carla Bruni to your playlist), and a few simple hors d’oeuvres. No need for fancy stemware, your everyday wine glasses will work just fine. A Beaujolais Nouveau is best enjoyed slightly cool, at 55 degrees (F), which brings its fruit forward, and it pairs with just about anything… it’s as delicious with haute cuisine as it is with a warm baguette and cheese.

Or, for impromptu rendez-vous on the town, grab your “Cherie” and jump into the fun at the local French bistro.

Cheers!

Oh So French Color Spotlight: Beautiful in Bordeaux

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It’s a beautiful fall day.  I’m sipping my beloved cappuccino, watching the city from a café, and I can’t help but be romanced by the season’s fashion colors. Pops of vibrant jewel tones are everywhere, but one color stands out from the rest. It’s timeless, mysterious, deep and brimming with sensuality…Bonjour Bordeaux.

This is one sizzling color every woman should wear. Besides being universally flattering, it’s supremely sophisticated and it exudes confidence. And when it comes to French women, Bordeaux is the seductive sister to navy.

Here are 5 ways to seduce with a touch of Bordeaux:

1.     Take it in Suede… pumps, that is. Pair them with everything from a classic black dress to dark jeans for a look that instantly takes your style up a notch. A pair of Bordeaux pumps is as chic for work as they are for date night.

2.     Lip Service. Nothing says seduction quite like a deep Bordeaux hue on your lips. Complement it with ultra-simple makeup (barely-there blush and au naturel eyes).

3.     Sensual Stems. Feeling a little bold? Try a pair of tailored Bordeaux-colored pants paired with a fitted cashmere sweater for an ultra-chic look that elongates legs and exudes confidence.

4.     For Your (and his) Eyes Only. We all know the power of red lingerie… Bordeaux is just as stunning but slightly more mysterious and sophisticated. I love the elegant style of Simone Perele’s Revelation Demi Full Cup bra in Bordeaux.

5.     Be a Gem. Of course, nothing exudes glamour and femininity quite like a little sparkle. Invest in a pair of timeless garnet studs. The color will add a subtle flush to your cheeks and lips, giving you that radiant je-ne-sais-quoi glow.

And of course, nothing completes a fabulous sense of style and a beautiful fall day quite like a glass of wine so… #6 would have to be: pair any of the above with a glass of Bordeaux for “la touche finale” (the finishing touch)!

6 Chic Ways to Wear a Scarf

Blog 19 imageIf you’ve ever been to Paris, you’ve undoubtedly been seduced by a scarf or two.

The scarf is a French woman’s style companion, so much more than an accessory. In fact, she would rather leave the house without a bra than without a scarf… it’s simply “pas possible” (not an option).

Yes, EVERY French woman wears a scarf.

Truthfully, I must admit that our devotion to scarves is not purely for style. They keep us warm and chill-free should the slightest breeze threaten to touch our necks, or temperatures waver below 50 degrees (F). They’re also fabulously soft and comfortable (cashmere anyone?), so we never suffer for style.

Should you be slightly intimidated by the scarf, or how to wear one… know that all is takes is a few ways to wear it, a little practice, and a touch of French confidence.

  1. L’Essentiel. The “Basic” is the perhaps one of the most common styles found in Paris. It consists of keeping the scarf short at one end, and then wrapping it behind the neck, around the front and back behind until there are two ends left in front. Tie the two ends to finish.
  2. L’Express. Also called, “The European,” this is the simplest way to tie a scarf. Fold the scarf in half, wrap it around your neck and thread the ends through the opening.
  3. La Natte (The Braid). Fold the scarf in half, wrap it around the neck, and pass one of the two ends through the loop. Bring the other end through the top of the loop so that it creates a sort of criss-crossed braided look.
  4. Le Double. This super-cozy technique is great for ultra-cold days.  Wrap the scarf around your neck twice and thread one end through one of the loops (top to bottom).
  5. Le Faux-Infinity. Turn your favorite traditional lightweight or mid-weight scarf into an infinity scarf with this quick trick: With the scarf around your neck, tie the ends together twice, then loop it around to the back of your neck so the knot is no longer visible. Voila!
  6. Le Nœud Caché (The Hidden Knot). Wrap the scarf around the neck once in a full loop, with both ends falling in front, then tie the ends. Tuck the knot under the scarf to finish the look.

The right scarf can truly transform your look, adding instant elegance, polish, and even a radiant glow. No time for makeup? Unkempt hair? Outfit falling flat? Wear a chic scarf… and strut.

French “Messy Hair”… The Secrets of Undone Chic

brigitte bardot long hair 5Imagine a chic Parisian woman.  Along with her effortlessly chic outfit and radiant skin with minimal makeup, you’ll find that her hair has a sort of undone, unfussed look.

Truth be told, French women are not as focused on perfectly coiffed hair as many Americans tend to be.  Unbrushed tresses?  A few stray strands falling into your face?  Rumpled chignon?  Pas de problème!  Let’s call it “undone chic.”

Not only is laissez-faire hair acceptable, it’s confident, stylish and downright sexy.

Simply take a look at some of France’s most famously tousled tresses.  Actresses Brigitte Bardot, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Clemence Poesy come to mind, as well as the former editor-in-chief of French Vogue, Carine Roitfeld, all of whom exude that alluring, slightly undone attitude that French women are celebrated for.

How can you capture this carefree “less is more” look without looking completely disheveled?  It’s as much about how to care for your hair as it is about how to style it.

Here are the 5 rules of irresistibly sexy French hair:

Rule #1: Chic styling…  get a great haircut.  If you have a superb cut, you shouldn’t need to spend a lot of time styling it.  Once you’ve found a hair stylist you love, ask him or her to give you a cut that suits your natural hair type without having to spend too much time on it. 

Rule #2: Don’t rush to brush.  The majority of French women don’t over-style, or even brush their hair throughout the day.  Resist the urge to carry a brush in your purse and instead, let your hair take its course.  Brushing has a way of eliminating hair’s natural waves, a key factor in “undone chic.” 

Rule #3: Lather it up every other day. Washing hair every day can strip its natural oils. Try washing it every other day. Plus, nothing tousles hair like a good night’s rest! 

Rule #4: Don’t over-style. Can’t imagine a hair day without your blow-dryer? Resist over-styling your hair: use just a dab of ultra-lightweight styling products to minimize frizz, and try to keep your blow-dry session to under 10 minutes. 

Rule #5: Maintain a healthy mane. Generally, French women prefer to spend their time on hair health rather than on hair styling. Invest in one or two nourishing at-home weekly hair treatments, and ask for a hair and scalp treatment when you go to the salon for a cut.

File these tips in your French style repertoire… and let the wind capture your hair as you turn heads.