How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog

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How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

How to live a quality life, full of passion, sensory exploration, and style… without really trying.

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Paris is the city of love, light, fashion, food, and art. Its inhabitants exude elegance, culture, and confidence to near-goddess status. They eat carbs, take lovers, and embrace all their imperfections. What sets French women apart is that they are unapologetically confident. They never leave the house without looking elegant, they roll their eyes at mediocrity, and they believe in living a quality life, full of passion, sensory exploration, and style.

To live like a Parisian you must ooze chic, look perfectly imperfect, take pleasure in everything you do, kiss in public, slow down and enjoy yourself. Want to capture all that effortless glamour? Here’s how:

How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

The best way to capture and bring home the Parisian aesthetic and way-of-life is to experience it yourself — like a local. So hop on a plane to Paris, and choose a luxury home rental over a hotel. Specifically, when in Paris choose to stay in a house in the city. We found the super-charming Pecquay Townhouse (Paris’ 4th oldest townhouse) through a vacation rental company called Luxury Travel Book. Staying in a real Parisian home is the best way to really live (and learn about) the Parisian lifestyle.

How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

At the front door to 2 Rue Pecquay the townhouse I stayed in, in the Marais

Here are a few of the tips I’ve picked up during my visits to Paris:

Parisian Style

Effortless elegance, tomboyish charm, crisp minimalism and sophisticated tailoring — these are the attributes of Parisian style in a nutshell. French women are deliberately simple, versatile and practical. To dress like a woman of Paris, spend your money on a few quality staples to mix and match. Wear neutral tones that include darks like navy, black and grey. Avoid cheery shades and patterns. Flats are a popular shoe choice, probably due to the uneven cobblestone streets of Paris. But it goes along with the less is more philosophy. Elegantly flattering sunglasses, a silk scarf and understated earrings are all essential Parisian accessories.

How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

Me, in Paris… in a comfortable yet chic outfit

Parisian Beauty

Parisians find beauty in their imperfections. A gap in her teeth is a sign of character and would never be closed with braces. The idea of the Parisian beauty routine is to have the “I woke up like this look,” meaning natural makeup and tousled hair. Makeup should look natural, except for the lips. French women generally steer clear of eyeliner, but the lips are usually a shade of red. Contouring is a no-no because it changes the shape of their face, instead, aiming for both natural and sensual, they catch light by using a highlighter on their cheeks, brow bones and Cupid’s bow of the lips.

How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

Paris beauty is all about the natural look, with emphasis on the lips

Dine Like a Parisian

It’s all about moderation when it comes to dining. Parisians eat proper lunches and buy fresh groceries each day. They love farm-to-table eating and spending time in cafes sipping dark espressos. The key to dining Parisian style is drinking water. If you do this, you can drink all the wine and eat all the dark chocolate, baguettes, croissants and cheese you desire (or, in my case, vegan cheese and pastries!). Avoid processed foods and opt for locally produced veggies, fruit, nuts, and olives.

How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

To dine like a Parisian, always eat fresh

The Parisian Attitude

Speak loud, speak proud. Speak your mind … if you feel like it. You might call a Parisian arrogant, but it’s only because they have the “Je ne sais quoi” attitude that charms and delights those she encounters. Sulking is only appealing if you do it the French way — with good posture and a twinkle in your eye.

How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

To be a Parisian woman, you must be –above all– confident and elegant

Home Décor, Paris-Style

Naturally, the sophisticated French style extends to interiors. The rules include:

  • Don’t over-style. It’s undone but done. In other words, it shouldn’t look like you bought everything in one store.
  • Incorporate touches of lavishness like silk drapes, complex wallpaper and an oversized mirror.
  • Add sparkle with a vintage crystal chandelier.
  • Integrate aromatic and aesthetically pleasing elements like seasonal/local flowers from the market and a wooden essential oil diffuser.
How to Achieve the Effortless Elegance of a Parisian

Learn to perfect a minimalist yet hedonistic style (not to be confused with minimally hedonistic!) Confused yet?

CoCo Chanel redefined what it meant to be a modern woman. Catherine Deneuve’s natural allure made her a style icon. To truly live a Parisian lifestyle, you have to adopt the attitude of minimalist hedonism. If you’re not sure what that means, just remember that quality trumps quantity, old trumps new (in most cases), and classic trumps trendy. Simple, right?!

A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 65 Comments

  1. Della Martin

    Inspiring stuff, Urbanette 🙂

  2. Rosalia Russell

    Fantastic article – beautifully written and so fun to read. 🙂

  3. Elizabeth Gonzalez

    Ahhhh, Paris! I just love this city!!! 🏰 🗼

  4. Karen Abeyta

    I’ve read somewhere that France is known as a country of culinary masterpieces. Can’t wait to dine like a Parisian ☕ 🍩 🍰🍔

  5. Connie Schmidt

    I love Urbanette, you always offer inspirational and easy-to-read articles! I especially love your travel and international-focused articles. I love seeing the world through Hilary’s eyes.

  6. Maxine Ford

    Hi Hilary, HUGE thumbs up for this fantastic article! You really captured the french spirit in a poetic way 👍 👍 👍

  7. Esther Devine

    Interesting and informative! I’ve bookmarked your page and will definitely use this as guide when I visit Paris next month 😉

  8. Ofelia Ruley

    I am a french woman and I must admit that everything that is said in this article is true. Especially one thing: their elegance. It is so undeniable that french woman are the most sultry as well as elegant I have ever seen in the world. They have that special ‘je ne sais quoi’ that you will never ever find in London or in America.

  9. Among the things you mentioned, I totally agree with this: “Avoid processed foods and opt for locally produced veggies, fruit, nuts, and olives.”

  10. Joan Morales

    The Parisian look inspires me, so natural and effortless. I guess they value taking care of their skin too… you may want to write an article about Frech beauty routines?

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