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!

Spring Style Spotlight: Blush Pink


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!

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.