The authors of How to Be Parisian.
Apparently, there’s no end to Americans’ obsession with all things French. Put the words French or Paris in a book title and you’ve got an instant best-seller. The takeaway from all these tomes is that French women seem to do everything better — from rearing tantrum-free children to cultivating their je ne sais quoi style. Try as we might, Americans just can’t seem to pull it off (in spite of all the books we read). So it was with some skepticism that I opened up “How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits."After reading about French child rearing in "Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting,"the secrets of being in skinny in "French Women Don’t Get Fat," and of course the romantic mystique of French food in "A Year in Provence,"what else was there to know?
This one’s different. It pokes fun at the idea that the other Francophile books promote — that the French are perfect. A beauty section reveals, “Parisiennes will have you believe that they are born with perfect skin and delightfully messy hair, that from the cradle they exude a scent worthy of Chanel No. 5. That these natural attributes are a heritage that cannot be explained. They are all lying.” This is definitely my kind of style guide.
Related: 13 Amazing French Drugstore Products
One of the authors of How to Be Parisian, writer Anne Berest, with the book. Photo:c/o Instagram
"How to Be Parisian" looks at everything from love to parenting through a cheeky lens (and it’s a little badass too). After all, the book’s subtitle is "Love, Style, and Bad Habits." Bons mots include "Sure some women sometimes master the art of Botox. But most of the time instead of a face free of wrinkles what you really see is the face of fear" and "Be your own knight in shining armor." Also: "Take the time to talk to the elderly woman next door." It’s not your typical advice manual.
The wisdom comes from the four glamorous authors, model Caroline de Maigret, writer Anne Berest, screenwriter Audrey Diwan, and movie producer Sophie Mas. With their mussed hair and laissez-faire chic, each resembles the stereotype of the impossibly cool French woman, but their witty, fearless voices make them hard to resist.
I asked the four authors for their best beauty advice. From turning flaws into assets to being comfortable naked to choosing the perfect red lipstick — here are nine of their best beauty tips.
Caroline de Maigret. Photo: c/o Instagram
See your flaws as assets
One typical characteristic of the Parisian woman is her ability to accept her flaws and incorporate them in her style. She can’t be anything but herself, and any attempt to hide it is obvious. In Paris, imperfections become an individual’s assets: a long nose, small breasts, wide hips — it’s a signature silhouette.
Be comfortable naked
We all have complexes and inhibitions about our body — whatever age or body type we have. We think we’re too fat, too thin, too this or that. Accept your body the way it is. What men like is a woman who’s glamorous and sensual, in harmony with herself and therefore with nudity. It is a woman who knows how to work with the body she was given. A confident person can make you see whatever she wants — it’s all about taking the power.
Steer clear of foundation
Our grandmothers and mothers taught us to look natural, and there’s a reason why the expression “au naturel” remains in the English vocabulary. A woman who is blushing is charming, while foundation can hide emotions sometimes. That being said, as we get older, we’re lucky that the newer beauty products melt into the skin and give spectacular results.
Always carry these
Lip balm, Lancôme mascara, YSL Touche Éclat, a toothbrush, tampons, a condom, aspirin, tweezers, and a passport. You always need to be ready to unexpectedly meet the man of your dreams, interview for a new job, or hop on a train or plane.
Invest in great makeup
Avoid these three beauty mistakes
1. Putting heavy makeup on both your eyes and your mouth. Focus on one or the other. By trying to do too much, you’re going to kill the intended effect. The art of makeup is choosing exactly the place where you want him or her to look.
2. Giving the impression that you just went to the hairdresser. Being chic is about making everything look effortless. It’s that quest to always look natural, in every little thing.
3. Not thoroughly removing your makeup and cleaning your skin every night before going to bed — this is the biggest mistake. Our skin needs to breathe and to be clean. This routine will make your skin look so much fresher and is as valuable as the best anti-aging cream.
Cultivate confidence and allure
Smile, be open-minded, look people in the eye, and don’t slouch. Most important: Be curious, always. With knowledge, you will feel at ease anywhere.