When I started this blog I envisioned a few of my favorite French fashion icons, Anna Karina and Jane Birkin, with their effortless glow and imperfectly (yet so perfectly) tousled locks and thought: if there were ever a style that was so me, well, oui! it's that of the French women.
I visited Paris for the first time when I was just starting college. My dad was working for a French company - he traveled there often (still does) - and I would be joining him for a week or so. We'd stay in a boutique French hotel and have sunny carefree adventures. We'd do the tourist things, like taking a boat ride on the Seine after too many bubbles from the night before, spend hours combing the museums and gardens, and then we'd take a train out to the countryside for a few days. That particular trip changed my approach to fashion & beauty forever.
Many years later I started this blog: with the intention of incorporating travel and style inspiration from the girls I'd meet while traipsing around the world collecting perspective. I'd channel their fashion sense and put their beauty tips to the test too. Fast forward a bit: years later the French approach to beauty: breezy and low maintenance, optimistically glamorous, with clever signature accents - it's a style I can't look away from.
My best friend moved to Paris a few years ago and I finally was able to spend time there like a real Parisian girl when I visited her. I combed through her beauty cabinet and wardrobe and studied the girls we spent days at the cafés with and here's 5 lessons I learned from those joyful bon vivants:
1. Skip the blowout:
French women are brilliantly uncomplicated. They go to the salon for haircuts, sometimes to enhance their hair color, however, they never go to get that stick straight blowout or even the perfect waves. They embrace their natural texture and know that second (and even third) day hair just slightly mussed up by combing their fingers through it is the best approach. On my travels I found myself either wrapping my hair in a low chignon during the day and then shaking it out at night for a bit of volume, or tying it up in loose braids and then doing the same shake out for evening va-voom. A sprinkle of hair powder was truly the only product I needed.
2. Avoid the sun worship:
French girls all seem to have a creamy sun-kissed glow, it's subtle (and most definitely from a bottle). They're rarely caught luxuriating beneath the UV rays. If they're traveling to the Riviera they're packing the widest brimmed hats, and oversized sunnies, scarves and SPF. They understand the reality of what sun damage can do and besides, a glowing complexion was something they were hip to maybe even before the wellness gurus of LA.
French girls love Vitamin D, but they don't get it by basking in the rays.
3. Skincare as makeup:
Mornings are unfussy. The routine is a splash of water on the face (French girls love water!), followed by a BB cream or moisturizer, a cheek tint to give that look as if you've just come from hot yoga, plus an application of mascara and a rose-flavored lip balm. As the day turns to evening add a bright red lip to polish up the look.
4. Speaking of signatures:
Whether it's a lip color, a statement accessory or the way her eyelids glow at night, French girls have a je ne sais quoi way of pulling things together. I remember standing outside of a café while some of the loveliest girls I'd seen made their way to a table. Each had one standout feature: one had her hair piled on top of her head and tied loosely with a vintage ribbon, another had the dewiest eye makeup application: it was as if she'd taken glitter and mixed it with her kohl liner and then dabbed it on without a mirror (somehow it worked!), the third had the most beautiful red lip color that just barely settled in as she sipped her espresso. Now as I get ready in the mornings I think: what's my signature for today?
5. Find delight in your own confidence:
In my last few days on my visit to Paris I realized that one thing that had NEVER happened for the duration of my time there: no self deprecation! Literally every girl I be-friended had an air of innate confidence and exuded graceful celebration. When we ordered a cheese plate no one said a thing about needing to hit the gym or that she just really shouldn't. When we stayed out a tad late the next day over coffee, everyone laughed and swapped stories, but no one commented on their under eye circles. Think of how often we sit around as American women commenting on all the things that are wrong with us! Try it even for a day: no negative words about yourself (or anyone else for that matter) and see how it feels!
I'd love to hear from you girls! What's your favorite beauty tip from your own travels? Or what's one tip you'll adopt from this little lesson! Share with me in the comments below.