7 Rules to Follow To Master Effortless French Style (Including Quitting the Gym)

I can always tell if someone is French or not, because the French have this undone, natural elegance and cool and collected demeanor.
Publish date:
November 5, 2014

It’s no secret that fashion-conscious American women are enamored with the French. You can hardly open a magazine without seeing some attempt to emulate French style. I can always tell if someone is French or not, because the French have this undone, natural elegance and cool and collected demeanor. You can have the same hair or wear the same outfit, but it doesn’t work.

So I was downright giddy when model Caroline De Maigret, whose perfectly imperfect style has made her a French fashion icon, released her book "How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits" this fall. This was my entrée into the Gallic psyche -- my way to finally bridge the gap between my California roots and my French inner soul.

Let’s start at the beginning. A few “rules” that you must follow to look as though you hail from the City of Light.

On Hair

“Her hair is never immaculate and it's rare that she goes for a blowout."

My hair is long and thick. I have no desire to spend the cursory hour it would take to dry and style it. I wash it once a week, let it air dry, and don’t own a hairbrush. I’m practically Parisian already.

On Beauty

"Only wear mascara and bright red lipstick, and the rest should be natural. The French don't wear foundation."

I don’t wear much makeup, so red lipstick might be a bit adventurous for me. But I’ll give it a try.

On Body

“You’re not a slave to the cult of the perfect body -- so learn to make the best of what nature gave you."

Any diet regimen that requires zero hours logged on a treadmill is OK by me. Living in New York City, I walk everywhere. Every time I pass an Equinox, I keep my head high and keep going.

On Perfume

"How to Be Parisian" advises sticking to one brand of perfume -- all in all, pretty easy to follow.

On Relationships

“Faux Pas: Being friends with your children."

But my mom is my best friend...

On Small Talk

"Get to the point. Hang up as soon as you have your answer."

So we really can’t gossip about who got sent home on "The Bachelor" last night?

On Manners

“She doesn’t say thank you, hi, and will complain about the rudeness of waiters."

My SoCal manners just grimaced.

Now that I've got the spritz of Chanel on my wrist, no exercise, red lipstick, and messy hair, why do I still look American? (I even put on a Breton-stripe shirt.)

And that’s when I realized: It’s not about a hairstyle or a button-down shirt. I’ll never look truly Parisian because my attitude gives me away. I don’t have that unwavering, self-assured poise, that fierce independent spirit that you develop to survive growing up in a city like Paris. So rather than try to emulate Parisian women, I’ll just keep to admiring them from afar.