How to frenchify your life
Updated: Feb 26
Since the middle ages, the French lifestyle, fashion and lingua franca have been coveted the world over. The Parisian lifestyle in particular is widely regarded as the epitome of class, sophistication and style. And the key to living like a Parisian is rather more simple than you might assume - at the very heart of French living is a desire to live simply! Without further ado, here are some key pointers to practising the Parisian lifestyle - c'est la vie!
To the French less is always more, and you can see this in their laidback, yet chic appearance. After all, it is not ostentatious displays or having the most designer products that the French value, but their enjoyment of food, social gatherings, cultural visits, fashion, art and architecture. Prioritise doing at least one good thing for your own mental health per day such as cooking a good meal, buying yourself flowers or picking up your favourite book. Downtime and small joys are exceptionally well-valued by the French and considered the key to a good life. As Coco Chanel famously said "Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance"
Adopt no-heat hair styles
French minimalism unsurprisingly also applies to their hair. Frenchwomen rarely use heat appliances on their hair, preferring to work with the natural volume they achieve from air drying their hair. For greasy wintery hair days why not don a beret? (onion and baguette optional)
People watch en terrasse
It is a common stereotype that all Parisians spend their days drinking coffee en terrasse (i.e. seated at the cafe terrace on the street). People watching can be a highly enjoyable experience and offers the chance to press pause on life, sit peacefully and watch people go about their business. There is nothing like making time to observe the world around you; unfortunately it has become a rare pastime these days. Next time you make a coffee or cup of tea, take your time to focus on your breathing and allow yourself to press pause on the day
I appreciate that this step will be particularly difficult for Brit readers to attempt, but it is nonetheless an important one. The French are not afraid of occupying a space and of taking care of their own needs and neither should you! Obviously, an apology is appropriate in certain situations, but "sorry" is perhaps the most overused word in the English language and is used inappropriately the majority of the time. Don't apologise for being yourself or for putting yourself first
Embrace your joie de vivre
Ironically, the French can appear quite downhearted. But this is only because they accept that you cannot exist in a constant state of happiness. The concept of Joie de vivre is more than its basic translation of love for life; it is embracing all the emotions that come with the human condition. Don't ever be afraid to say you are unhappy
Introduce clean eating to your diet
The French prefer to cook with unprocessed, natural foods that are in season and local to the region. Food is mostly bought from local butchers and markets, patisseries and fromageries. Meals are often simple but of a high quality, using local products that are both healthy and delicious. Since most people cook with these products daily, fad dieting and weight loss crazes are very rare in France. If you are an apprehensive cook or looking to lose weight, try the French approach to evening meals and you will not be disappointed! The French have an unapologetic love for food - the secret is eating in moderation
Become a flaneur
The French take delight in being flaneurs, that is, sauntering or strolling instead of speeding from one place to another. They do this in order to take in the natural beauty of their surroundings and Parisians often walk the streets of their beloved city with no agenda except to take in their surroundings. Next time you are walking, take your time to appreciate the natural beauty that exists around you. To slow down is not to fail, on the contrary it is important if we wish to succeed
A common French saying goes "Pour vivre contente, vivons caches", meaning "To live happily, live hidden". For the French, it is far sexier to have an air of mystique than to tell everyone you meet about your personal problems. Stay authentic but private and be aware of your social media footprint. The French live discreetly, and talking about your own personal wealth is considered vulgar, embrace the simplicity of life and you will in turn master the art of discretion
Have meaningful conversations
As you will have gathered by now, less is more to the French. Instead of recycling the same small, superficial conversations with people stay informed on current political issues and local news too, so that you can have objective, engaging conversations with others
Engage with high culture
The French appreciate intellect and taste far more than money. They are a nation of book-lovers, and many French people buy their books from independent book retailers. It helps that many French cultural institutions are subsidised by the government making it more affordable than their English counterparts; but having said that, there are many exhibitions in the UK that are free. Why not pop down to your local library and get your hands on a French classic or explore a free exhibition at a museum. Remember to stay curious and keep reading!
Cultivate a lingerie collection
It doesn't matter if you don't have a boyfriend or s/o to appreciate it - invest in yourself and love your own body. Just because you wear lingerie with familiar regularity does not mean it cannot be beautiful. Remember that it is the first thing you put on in the morning and the last thing you remove at night so why not invest in it? Parisian stylists believe that it sets the tone of your day so treat yourself!
Curate a simple wardrobe
Parisians prefer high quality, timeless items of clothing rather than having copious amounts catering to the latest fashion that quickly become overwhelming. Instead, Frenchwomen create capsule wardrobes; that is they curate a wardrobe of high quality, timeless styles that they can use to create their own unique style. They rarely shop at fast-fashion stores and buy from shops such as Sezane, Sandro and Claudie Pierlot. Remember, dressing in the French fashion does not have to break the bank. Simply ivest in good quality, neutral colours and be confident in your style. Nonchalance is key to French style
Apply make-up minimally
Personally, I am a strong believer that when it comes to make-up, less is definitely more. French women certainly think so, and when used, make-up is used to give them a glow and enhance their natural features. Concealer, blusher and eyelash curlers are all that is needed to achieve an everyday Parisian look
Embracing your body at every stage of life
Botox, and the plethora of anti-aging products available to women are generally ignored by Frenchwomen who prefer to don a chic outfit and keep their complexion au naturale. French women know that style is the key to ageing gracefully and let their clothes do the talking
Invest in your perfume
If you are like me, you never feel dressed until you have put your favourite perfume on. French women wear perfume everyday, behind the ears, on the throat and on the wrists, it serves as a unique part of their identity. They often have several different perfumes for different occasions and moods too. If you prefer, having one quality scent that reminds people of you is undeniably sexy (and oh so chic)
Engage with family at the dinner table
The French delight in dining with their families and friends, evening meals often span multiple courses and are accompanied by several bottles of wine. Meals can last hours for the French as they take time to enjoy their food, appreciate the company, and engage in debates over philosophy, politics and sometimes controversial subjects
And lastly... forgo perfection
This is probably my most admired part of French culture. The French simply do not care to be perfect nor do they hold society up to any model of perfection. To appear perfectly made up or perfectly dressed would imply they have taken time to achieve their look. In fact, Frenchwomen purposefully aspire to achieve an element of imperfection so as to make their appearance seem effortless - very clever!
I hope you enjoyed this post, it is not something I've done before so let me know if you would me to do more posts of this kind in the comments :)
(p.s. check out my spotify for some french bops or should I say "boppes")
(p.p.s i have a folder dedicated entirely to parisian chic on pinterest if you would like some more inspo)
- Ellie x