If you were to ask anyone the two words that would sum up a French Woman, they would probably say effortless and chic. This doesn’t just sum up her looks and style either, this seems to be the complete essence of her entire life. It is that Je ne sais quoi that we are unable to put our finger on that makes her life so alluring. However, when I read about the life and style of French women and when I visited France myself, I can say that I have learned and observed a few key principles that the French women have incorporated into their life to set up and maintain this seemingly effortless and chic life.
Although her life may seem effortless this is alas just an illusion as she has indeed put a lot of thought and effort in to all aspects of her life. The key here is to make these things seem effortless, as if they were second nature and did not take a lot of work. Working and looking like it was too hard is not very chic, non? French women have the same obligations as we do here in North America…they have spouses, kids, careers, house work, errands, finances to handle and groceries and meals to be planned for. So how do they set up their life up in a way that they not only tend to these obligations, but still look good and have time to indulge in the pleasures of life ? It comes down to three main principles really. Detail, discipline and delights.
For a French woman there is no detail to small to tend to. Everything in her life must not only serve a function, but it must be beautiful and pleasurable as well. Take food for example, she doesn’t just eat anything that is convenient or packaged in a box at any time of the day. She wants to enjoy a simply delicious meal made from real, nutritious food and she wants to eat it on a real plate, with real silverware and a real napkin. She wants the food to be displayed beautifully and to be enjoyed slowly for maximum pleasure. Her home must be a place that she enjoys because she has curated every detail from the décor pieces she has brought in, to the lighting she has chosen to even the scent that she uses for her home. In Paris I noticed things such as the fact that no French woman was carrying a plastic bag of groceries or stuff, she always either had them in a straw market bag or a canvas bag. They never wore yoga or sweat pants just because it was convenient or easy either. She put effort into the details of her look, everything from her outfit, to her shoes and accessories were meticulously chosen so as to look her best. She knows that looking effortless and true pleasure begins in the details of her life and that not a single one, no matter how small, should be overlooked or neglected. The French pay very close attention to all details, everything from how they fold a letter, to how they arrange food on a plate, to the color of handbag for a particular outfit. French women do things very precisely and intentionally.
The word discipline has gotten such a bad reputation. Being brought up in America myself I thought it only meant to be punished for doing something wrong. The fact that the word itself has more than one meaning has made people truly dislike this word. The discipline that I am talking about is defined as: to train or develop by instruction and exercise especially in self-control. A French woman has no lack of discipline, in fact it is this principle that has helped her create that effortless and chic life that she has. Discipline is really the foundation upon which everything in her life is built. She knows that this one thing gives her complete and absolute control over her life. She has practiced the art of restraint so as to discern what deserves her time and attention and what does not. She practices this restraint in food, people, obligations and spending. She also has discipline to know that when something needs tending to and she takes care of it timely and with ease. Things such as her health, skincare, style, finances, home and personal interests needs to be given full attention to and maintained for the best results. This keeps her from acting impulsively on things like eating junk food, wasting time on her phone, not tending to and caring for her skin properly, buying things just because they are on sale even though she will not use or enjoy them for the long haul, let her home become cluttered and messy or to not make time to enjoy her hobbies. Discipline allows her to live her best life because she is in complete control of her life. The French believe that effort brings better results and consequently heightens the pleasure.
A French woman is all about the things that delight her. If they do not delight her then they have no place in her life. She is not going to eat convenient, chemical filled food because she knows it is bad for her health (and probably her skin too). She is not going to sign up for “that” committee just because someone asked her to if she does enjoy doing so. She is not going to say yes to an invitation if she has something better to do. She is not going to buy a piece of clothing just because it is on sale if it does not make her look and feel good. She knows herself through-and-through and she knows what makes her happy and what doesn’t. In America we tend to be martyrs as well as trend followers, so we will often say yes to things like invitation’s, committees or other time obligations even if we don’t really have the time or want to do it. We will buy things that we don’t really enjoy or look good on us because it is trendy or on sale. We will eat any type of food at the first sign of hunger so as to not feel discomfort. We give up on things that truly delight us and spend time and money on things that social media says will delight us instead. This is where knowing ourselves and knowing what we value and enjoy without all of the outside noise is helpful. A French woman is not swayed by trends, she is only swayed by her desires. She invests in her desires in both time and money. She will purchase a very expensive item of clothing or handbag or pair of shoes in top quality because she knows that she will love and wear it for many years. She will spend time taking a luxurious bath and reading a book because she desires to be pampered and have alone time. She will take the time to find and purchase the best foods to cook because it will delight her to dine on beautiful meals. She will visit antique stores or flea markets to find one of kind treasures that will be unique and she will enjoy displaying her home. Her desire is to be her unique self, unlike anyone else and to bring in all the things in life that delight her.
Creating a life that is chic and looks effortless is attainable to every woman, we need only to take some inspiration from the French to do so. I have been practicing these three things for many years to create the life that I wanted and I still work on these areas everyday. That’s not to say that I do things perfect all the time, I don’t, but I am sure neither do the French. We are all human at the end of the day and that is why we call it “practicing”, because no one can get it perfect every time. However, having these principles in my life has given me what I needed to create my own chic and effortless looking life that I love each and every day.