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Posted on February 7, 2015

The Myth of Parisian Chic – BUSTED!

Coats/ Current Affairs/ Movie & Books/ Rebel/ Romantique

French Books on Chic, Style, Life, relationships

“Parisian Chic”, “How to be Parisian wherever you are”, “Paris Street Style”, “Why French children don’t throw food” – the French-know-it-all hype shows no sign of abating. French women clearly have the world figured out – from style to love life to children. We at Romantique and Rebel are francophiles too and have fallen for the myth – there’s no book on French style we don’t have, we’ve written many articles on French icons we adore and have interviewed French colleagues and friends, all in the quest for deciphering their secret to style, love and life.

Last week, Rebel and I booked a train from London to Paris to engross ourselves in some field work. We’ve been to Paris many times before, but this time we wanted to look at Parisians with a fresh pair of scrutinising eyes. We looked at the myth and carefully checked this against reality. Here’s our impressions from our Paris trip:

French women wear red lipstick (and nothing else):

100% correct. Mostly warm, yellow based red lipstick is a make-up staple all Parisiennes share. However, we noted that little else make-up is applied. From a certain age, one should cover up imperfections to smooth skin to look polished. Not so the Parisienne. Which leads us to the next point….

French women have the “effortless style” nailed:

There’s a fine line between effortless and down right sloppy. We witnessed  French ladies in hip Marais sported having-just-crawled-out-of-bed hair, scruffy jeans, grey hair, paired with dirty adidas Stan Smith trainers. All of this seemed forced, as if the carrier wanted to appear “cool” by appearing to not have made too much of an effort.  Which defies the whole idea of “effortless” , right?

French women are chain smokers:

This is a stereotype which rings very true. People on the continent, compared to the UK, smoke a lot, especially in Paris. Which might explain how Parisienne’s stay so slim. Look at Caroline de Maigret, one of the authors of the book “How to be Parisian wherever you are”. She’s 39 and may be skinny, but also looks a decade older than she is.

Caroline de Maigret wearing Stan Smith trainers in Paris.

Caroline de Maigret wearing Stan Smith trainers in Paris.

French women love heels: 

Quite the contrary, Paris is the city of adidas trainers. Women of all ages can be seen in two types: Stan Smith and Superstar. Every shop window displaying elegant fashion paired outfits with a pair of trainers. Our Air B and B landlady wore the same pair as Rebel who is a fan too. I’ll stick with my ballerina, thank you!

Rebel is wearing: "Stan Smith" Adidas, Sunnies by Fendi, Bag by GF Ferré

Rebel is wearing: “Stan Smith” Adidas, Wintercoat by Max & Co., Sunnies by Fendi, Bag by GF Ferré

 

Parisiennes and labels

YSL, Celine, Balmain – all these labels can be seen worn by Asian women. I wonder if it’s the astronomical price or the cliche the Parisiennes are avoiding?

I'm wearing: Black Max and Co coast, quilted leather cross body bag from L Credi, sunnies by Prada, pink oxford lace-ups by AGL Attilio Giusi Leombruni.

I’m wearing: Black Max and Co coat, quilted leather cross body bag from L Credi, sunnies by Prada, pink Oxford lace-ups by AGL Attilio Giusi Leombruni.

 

For many, including us, French culture is the synonym for elegance, style and charm and the French have perfected fuelling this fire.

Where do you stand? Do you think the French are naturally good at putting clothes together and finding the perfect balance in life between femininity and feminism? Is common sense fashion advise such as: Choose a few quality timeless basics and build on them, avoid faddy fashion trends.” inherently French? Let’s start the debate!

Parisian Chic - busted

Posted on January 15, 2014

The French Way of Live – The Greatest Deception of All?

Current Affairs/ Love & Relationship/ Movie & Books/ Romantique
marion-cotillard-on-the-eiffel-tower-for-the-lady-dior-bag-in-2008

Marion Cotillard for Dior

In the past two years, I’ve lapped up information on Parisians and their way of life – from fashion style to love lessons:

–  Ines de la Fresange’s French chic – My Style Bible
–  Why French children don’t throw food – How not to raise neurotic and spoilt Anglophone kids
–  What French women know about love and sex – My trusted guide on how to hold your own in a  relationship

Additionally, I interviewed two of my French friends to let our readers in on the “je ne sais quoi” of French women.

The authors of the above books such as Pam Druckerman and Mireille Guiliano (her new book, “Why French women don’t have plastic surgery”, has just been released) have been riding the “French women know it all” wave successfully and even created a new genre of book, the French way of life.

This week, Australian magazine “Women’s weekly” raised the righteous question: “Are French women and culture really that superior in all they do?” After all, obesity rates in France have doubled in the last 15 years. Leading French ladies like Catherine Deneuve have succumbed to the plastic surgeon knife just like their American counterparts. The author who initiated the craze, Mireille Guiliano, admitted herself her books only contain “commonsense” advice (eat small portions and fresh produce only, wash your face before going to bed, take the stairs instead of the lift, etc). Generally accepted knowledge the French haven’t innovated. So is all the Hype around French women a well-marketed scam invented by smart Americans cashing in on the myth?

I say no, naturally.  It is true that France hasn’t entirely resisted the wave of junk food chains that swept the world. However, France as a whole is still the slimmest nation in Europe. The streets of Paris are still dominated by family butchers, bakers and restaurants rather than American food chains. Take Starbucks, for example. While the American coffee chain has most of Europe tightly in its grip, it struggles to make money in the mother country of coffee culture. The French like to “sip and sit”, not carrying paper cups. French bakery chains like Paul’s and Le Pain Quotidien are hugely successful in London, but looked down on as “chains” in their home country.

 

French icons, surgically enhanced: Carla Bruni, 45, and Catherine Denueve, 70.

French icons, surgically enhanced: Carla Bruni, 45, and Catherine Denueve, 70.

 

French actresses are not unreceptive to surgery. However, plastic surgery is nowhere near as widespread in France as it is in the US and the extent of the surgery is more natural.

Where do you stand? Have you read any of the French way of life books or do you refuse to believe that the French are God’s gift to the rest of the world? Let us know your thoughts and let’s discuss!

Rebel and myself in two quintessential French styles: Vichy/Gingham and Breton stripes!

Rebel and myself in two quintessential French styles: Vichy/Gingham and Breton stripes!

Posted on October 29, 2013

The Berlin Fashion Style

Berlin/ Movie & Books/ Rebel/ Wardrobe

Der_Berliner_Stil_Angelika_Taschen_Buch_2013_Knesebeck_Verlag_Mode_03

Romantique and I were born in Berlin, we are real girls from Berlin just like John F. Kennedy once said “Ich bin ein Berliner”. Last weekend, we  browsed through the book stores and found the coffee table book “Der Berliner Stil” by Angelika Taschen. It’s not a must read book for anyone who is a Berliner already. For everyone else, the book is a treasure trove in terms of tips for hip restaurants and shopping destinations.

Der_Berliner_Stil_Angelika_Taschen_Buch_2013_Knesebeck_Verlag_Mode_05

According to the book,  Berlin style is influenced by the international fashion scene, fashion bloggers or wannabe locals and tourists – also called the “Berlin-Mitte” style. Berlin is too big and versatile than just to promote only one style of one district. It would have been interesting to look into other districts: e.g. how the women dress in Berlin-Zehlendorf namely, which is more like in Hamburg. The Hamburg style is more on the conservative side: Think lots of navy blue, blazers with gold buttons, high quality designer basics, no experiments and fashion victims!

Berlin-Street-Style

 I’m a girl born in Berlin, a rebel at heart, who loves Burberry trench coats. Here you can see see my authentic Berlin fashion style: zebra pants by H&M, blue Converse, Trench coat, Ray Ban Wayfarer.

Rebel-Street-Style

Glasses by Stella Mccartney

Posted on October 13, 2013

Advice for sallow complexions from Edith Head

Beauty/ Icons/ Movie & Books/ Rebel

advice-for-sallow-complexions

We are family but each of us has a different skin tone, hair and eyes – see above our mom, romantique and me. Here are some colour aura recommendations for famous stars from the book “Dress for Success” by Edith Head. Does your colour aura match of them? See wich star fits to R&R mummy, Romantique and Rebel.

1. Kim Novak = R&R Mummy: blonde hair, fair skin, brown eyes

Kim-Novak-complexion

Best colours: Blues, violetts, soft greens, golden beige, white.

2. Romy Schneider = Romantique: brown hair, fair skin, blue eyes

Romy-Schneider-complexions

Best Colours: Apricot, mint green, pale pink, blue, pink-beige, medium shades of brown

3. Sophia Loren = Rebel: dark hair,olive skin, hazel eyes

Sophia-Loren-Complexion

Best Colours: Pink, peach, apricot, beige tones, ivory and black, clear red and charcoal gray

dress-for-sucess-edith-head

Edith Head advice for swallow complexions is:

” Stay away from all colours that have yellow casts: yellow, yellow-beige, orange-red, yellow-browns, gold and tan – regardless of the other colours in your picture (eyes and hair). Light colours like pastels and white are good because they tend to make you look tan rather than yellowish. You can wear black, but it is best to have some lighter colour, in form of collar or trim, near the face.”

Posted on October 10, 2013

Mermaids is my iconic fashion movie

Icons/ Movie & Books/ Rebel

Winona-Ryder-mermaids-Fashion-style

Take an eccentric, single, Jewish mother (Cher) who leaves town at the hint of the slightest problem, add a confused teenage daughter (Winona Ryder) who wants to be a nun but has a healthy case of raging hormones, throw in a precocious younger daughter (Christina Ricci) who amuses herself by seeing how long she can hold her breath under water, mix with a shoe salesman (Bob Hoskins) with the hots for mom and a caretaker from the local convent who is the subject of daughter number one’s hots and you have a mess…and a fair little dramatic comedy produced in 1990!

Mermaids-mermaids-movie-winona-ryder

Mermaids is an excellent movie set in the mid-60’s and my iconic fashion movie because Winona Ryder’s look is absolutley iconic. Long time before It Girl Alexa Chung wore collar and bob, Winona Ryder interpreted the schoolgirl look. This is Wynona Ryder’s best film. She’s so well put in this film. Cher is the great as well as Bob Hoskins. I think everyone should see this film because you will laugh, cry, and be tickled to death by the oscar caliber preformances! Do not miss this film for anything. You’ll treasure it for all time.

Mermaids-mermaids-movie-cher-iconic-fashion-movie

To know the movie watch it believe me it is an quirky, entertaining piece!

winona-ryder-fashion-mermaids

Posted on July 27, 2013

Must-see movie BLACKFISH

Movie & Books/ Romantique

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Blackfish, a documentary about orcas, also known as killer whales,  living in captivity opened in UK cinemas yesterday. It is the most haunting movie I have ever seen in my life. Even more so as the movie isn’t fiction but bitter reality. Blackfish tells the story of human domination over fascinating animals that are designed by nature to live freely, exempt from domination.

Orcas were once regarded as simple predators, but today we know they are gentle, complex, highly evolved, intelligent and social mammals who in the wild, live  in close-knit matriline societies. They travel up to 100 miles a day and use a special language and sonar  (which varies from family to family) to communicate, navigate and find food.

Blackfish shows the brutal capture of these fascinating mammals, their extraction from their families, kicking and screaming in the net. Babies are taken from their lactating mothers.  The seemingly trivial justification for this atrocity is that they can then be displayed in man-made marine parks, effectively condemned to live in tiny, concrete, chlorinated swimming pools and forced to perform mindless tricks in front of gawking spectators.
Orca Cartoon

Captive orcas, who often dont survive past their teens but live up to 90 years in the wild,  are driven mad by these inhumane conditions. Blackfish makes mention that there have been over 70 attacks on trainers by captive orcas, contrasted with zero attacks in the wild.

The  attacks by captive orcas on trainers is a result of them being emotionally destroyed and psychologically traumatised. The movie illustrates that the villain is not the whale but the human who initiated the endless suffering for those majestic animals. Forced to breed, separated from their young, with their sensitive sonar bouncing off the concrete tank walls, many captive orcas commit suicide by smashing their head into the walls or by consciously not taking the next breath.

My interest in orcas was first aroused by watching the emotional French drama “Rust and Bone” about an orca trainer (Marion Cotillard) who suffers an accident during an orca show, leaving her paralysed.

Marion Cotillard on orcas living in captivity:
“I cannot understand how we humans can take these magnificent wild beings, put them in a swimming pool to see them jump for our pleasure. It’s horrible.”

Marion Cotillard in the movie "Rust and Bone"

Marion Cotillard in the movie “Rust and Bone”

The one dissappointing aspect of Blackfish the movie is that it doesn’t offer a solution to the problem. It’s not rocket science to work out that buying tickets to Sea World and other orca/dolphin marine parks is only contributing to the continued suffering of orcas. After watching the movie, I am left  with a sad feeling of helplessness and the hope that humans will look back at Sea World in 50 years and shake their heads at the barbaric display of caged wild animals more intelligent than any other mammal, humans included.
Please don’t support them by buying tickets.

For further watching:

Lolita slave to entertainment – moving movie about orca Lolita, one of the oldest orcas living in captivity, in Seaquarium in Miami.
A killer whale named Luna – This is the emotional story of one young killer whale’s quest for companionship after he was separated from his family
The free Willy story – Keiko’s journey home – The movie shows the most famous captive orca being released back into the wild.

Albert Einstein quote

Posted on July 4, 2013

Book: Why French Children Don’t Throw Food

Current Affairs/ Movie & Books/ Paris/ Romantique
We bumped into Kate Moss in Notting Hill two years ago. Her daughter, Lila Grace, seemed very cute and well mannered. She was patiently waiting while her mum met with friends and chatted for a while in front of the shops.

We bumped into Kate Moss in Notting Hill two years ago. Her daughter, Lila Grace, seemed very cute and well mannered. She was patiently waiting while her mum met with friends and chatted for a while in front of the shops.

London, Muswell Hill: A toddler is throwing a temper tantrum in public, lying on the floor and screaming for his life, refusing to budge. It’s a far too familiar sight in London.  Crowds of people simply ignore the little screamer, as they tactfully sidestep or clamber over him raging on the floor.  According to Pamela Druckerman, a New Yorker author living in Paris,  this is typical behaviour of spoiled children of Anglophone helicopter parents, who have a completely different parenting style, compared with the French. Studies show that American couples become unhappier, once they become parents. Not really a future to look forward to, if you think about having children!
 
I was intrigued by the title of the book “Why French children don’t throw food”.  Are French children really better behaved? And if so, why?  The book is not only a parenting book but also an  incredibly entertaining and funny insight into the life of an American immigrant and her British husband living in Paris and the cultural adventure of becoming pregnant and raising a child in the city of love.  
 
This is a perfect book to read before you have children, as it provides wonderful information regarding coping with pregnancy and how to initiate your little one’s manners and behaviours from very early on.  Much of the advice sounds like common sense, yet too many young parents struggle with fussy eaters, children who don’t let adults finish their sentences and little terrors who demand immediate attention when they see fit.
 
Starting with the pregnancy, the author describes a noticeably more relaxed attitude to becoming a mother, in France.  French people eat pasteurised cheese, sushi and the odd glass of wine when expectant, much to the horror of their British counterparts. Yet, statistics show a 29% lower rate of stillbirth in France. Naturally, this can also be ascribed to the excellent healthcare in France, including care by gynaecologists, frequent scans throughout the pregnancy and epidurals at birth.  Still, these are only contributing factors, and parenting habits are the key ingredient to happy, health family life.  
 

Why French Children don't throw food - Pamela Druckerman

Why French Children don’t throw food – Pamela Druckerman

Once born, most French babies sleep the through the night, within days of being born (still in the hospital), with the most rebellious gaining this skill by the age of four months. Babies in general have an agitated sleep pattern and French mothers don’t habitually run to the crib, as soon as their baby utters a sound. French mothers let the babies cry and self-soothe until they fall asleep.  From a very early age, French babies have fixed eating times, with no snacking in between and no on-demand feeding availability during the night. This gives the children a “cadre”; a frame on which their overall childhood and upbringing is based upon. One of the pillars of a French upbringing, is childrens’ ability to be satisfied and content playing by themselves.  This works in concert with children learning delayed gratification; not getting what they want as soon as they want it; which results in them learning patience.
 
Thinking about my own and Rebel’s childhood, we definitely were raised the “French” way  – albeit in Germany.  According to Mummy R&R, we slept through the nights from a few months old, she was able to take us to restaurants, the opera and other public places without any tantrums. We always ate what was on the table  and as a result, today as adults, we are flexible eaters. None of this “no onions, no greens, no tomatoes, no garlic” that so many people seemed to be obsessed with these days.  I remember our parents were quite social and would often entertain friends at the weekend. Rebel and I always retreated to the children’s room, quietly playing by ourselves or with the visitors’ children, letting the adults have “adult time”.  In the mornings, my mother liked to sleep in until 10 am at least. We knew not to disturb her sleeping. Instead we’d play with the cats or watch TV.
Suri Cruise must be the most annoying kid on the planet. She is often seen throwing a tantrum in public.

Suri Cruise must be the most annoying kid on the planet. She is often seen throwing a tantrum in public.

Interested to hear more? Read this interesting interview by German Spiegel magazine (translated by me) with the author of “Why French kids don’t throw food”.

Clear boundaries and lots of free space

French children eat three course meals and let adults finish their sentences. How does that work? The American author Pamela Druckerman searched for answers.
Druckerman, 43, is a free journalist who worked for “Wall Street Journal”. For many years, she’s been living in Paris with her British husband and her three kids. In her latest book, she describes the mannerisms of French child rearing.
Spiegel: Mrs Druckerman, you say you wrote your book because your little daughter threw food in a restaurant. What was going on?
 
Pam: We were on our summer holiday in West France, my little one was 18 months old.  We ate in Restaurants for lunch and dinner and soon we noticed, this is hell.  Our daughter threw food, climbed out of the highchair…..
 
Spiegel: That’s the way it is with toddlers, isn’t it?
 
Pam: That’s what I thought. But only our kid behaved like this. All other kids, the French kids, sat nicely at the table. Sitting through 3-course-meals! The atmosphere on these tables was relaxed and friendly. That’s when I said to myself: I want this for myself too. I want to learn how to bring my child up like this.
 
Spiegel: Are French kids really better behaved?
 
Pam: Yes, the atmosphere in these families is calmer, more in control. Many little observations formed this impression.
 
Spiegel: What is your  impression?
 
Pam: For example, in the nursery two year olds sit at the table and eat salad, main meal, cheese and fruit.  How is that possible? Without a tantrum. I have never seen tantrums in France in public. Only tantrums of my own children. Why is that?
 
Spiegel: Maybe you have an especially animated child?
 
Pam: That’s how I explained it to myself in the beginning. That it’s within the child whether it eats well, what it eats and how patient it is.
 
Spiegel: But in the meantime you have changed your opinion?
 
Pam:  Yes. I noticed that the French think the right behaviour can be learned through the upbringing. For me, this was a new view. I spent the next three years to study the pillars of the French children education. I systematically asked friends and acquaintances: “How do you get your children to sleep? How do you deal with meals?” I met with paediatricians, psychiatrists and children education experts. After time, I saw the pattern.
 
Spiegel: One of the studies you cite in your book is that the parents in Columbus, Ohio find parenthood twice as strenuous as parents in Rennes, France…..
 
Pam: …..yes, to be a Mum and Dad in America has become a strain. According to studies, American couples become less happy once they have children. This finding comes after a new standard has been established in breeding:  The intense, molly-coddling way of bringing- up children.
 
Spiegel: You are talking about the so called “helicopter parents”, who are circling around their kids with care like a helicopter.
 
Pam: The phenomena is 20 years old. The first generation of this style of education  has just turned 20 years old. Now the debate started: Was this right? Did we take it too far with our concern? For the parents we can say for sure, this way of bringing up a child is not fun!
 
Spiegel: Also in Germany one thinks that the more the mother gives up, the better it is for the child.
 
Pam: In France people think this thought is absurd. The child must think that his mother’s happiness solely depends on the child. This causes a lot of pressure on both sides. An unhappy mother will never raise a happy child.
 
Spiegel: Many Germans think the French style of education is very authoritarian.
 
Pam:  I don’t agree.  Empathy is very important for French parents. To always talk to the child, to understand his emotions and accompany his experiences.
 
Spiegel: German and American parents will hardly see this differently.
 
Pam: The French do not forget where their own boundaries are. Just because you listen to a child doesn’t mean that you do whatever it told you.  If a French kid says: “I know we will be eating soon but I want a pain au chocolat”, then the parents will reply: “I understand you are frustrated, but you can’t have a pain au chocolat”. Period. No further discussion.
 
Spiegel: So it is authoritarian after all.
 
Pam: It’s not what you say but HOW you say it. It’s important that parents listen. The French paediatrician Francoise Dolto revolutionized the education style of French parents. She said: “Listen to the children. Take their wishes seriously”. Babies are already capable of communicating and understand their parents. Dolto ensured the emancipation of children. This is proven by the fine differences in language. If a mother is telling her son of, she doesn’t say: “Don’t beat up your brother”. But she will say: “You don’t have the right to beat up your brother”.  She treats her children as individual subjects with rights and duties.
 
 
Spiegel: Which rights for example?
 
Pam: A magic recipe of French education is the “cadre”, the frame. That means you give children clearly defined boundaries and the children will have their own space within these boundaries.  For example: It’s time for the children to go to bed. They have to stay in their room. If they like, they can be up for a bit more in their room and do what they like. A rule of many parents is called: A fixed frame but freedom within the frame. It’s the same with the food: You have to try everything, but you don’t have to eat up.
 
Spiegel: Did you try those French education rules on your own children?
 
Pam: At first, I was very resistant. It starts with French mothers not breast feeding for long or not at all.
 
Spiegel: What was your problem with this?
 
Pam: As Americans, we think breast feeding is holy. To not breast feed is as bad as not loving your child.  On the contrary, in Paris you hardly see women who breast feed in public. Many paediatricians advice to use the bottle from early on.           
 
Spiegel: Many parents don’t like the idea that their children are only supposed to be quiet and good.
 
Pam: This is not about being good but about having respect. You don’t disturb your child without it being necessary, for example while it plays.
 
Spiegel: You write about French children helping in the household.
 
Pam: I know a two year old who picks the lettuce leaves for the salad served at dinner. The 5 year old neighbours’ daughter is mixing the salad sauce every night. The parents view is to give the child self-confidence by giving them tasks, rather than just serving their children.
 
 
Spiegel: What would the American in you do? Send the children to their room to do an educational game?
 
Pam:  Probably. The focus of American parents is not autonomy but control and security. They guide their children when playing rather than encouraging them to play by themselves.  Studies show that children who help in the house hold will become an active part within the family.  This boosts essential attitudes like empathy.
 
Spiegel: Do you still see advantages of the American way of raising children?
 
Pam: The French could do with a bit more optimism and confidence. The French children stories always end sadly.
 

 

Caroline of Monaco with her impeccable mannered daughters. Drop dead gorgeous Charlotte and Alexandra.

Caroline of Monaco with her impeccable mannered daughters. Drop dead gorgeous Charlotte and Alexandra.

 

Posted on June 19, 2013

Book Paris Street Style – A guide to effortless Chic

Movie & Books

Book Paris Street style

“ The tangled hair of Vanessa Paradis, the faded jeans of Charlotte Gainsbourg, the masculine shirts and ballet flats of Ines de la Fressange…. French women are more sober in their clothes choices than the flamboyant Italians or eccentric English. The French Fashion Icons, recognised for their style the world over, have a thoroughly bourgeois appeal: Audrey Tautou, Françoise Hardy, Isabel Marant- the least you can say of them is that none of them is notable for extravagance. A long way, indeed, from Kate Perry, Courtney Love or Dontatella Versace. The French woman is not overdone in any way. She will go out without fixing her hair, with unpainted nails and no make-up. Despite her apparent dishevelment, she remains elegant.”

For everyone inspired by the simplistic French Touch, the book “Paris Street Style – A Guide to effortless chic” is a must-read. Keep this book handy on your coffee table, it’s full of inspiring pictures of elegant Parisian women of all ages. It explores the myth surrounding the style of the French woman in a globalised word of increasing uniformity. Punctuated by interviews with French designers, writers, fashion magazine editors and psychologists, it gives a fascinating insight and guidance as to how everyone can become effortlessly chic.

 

French inspirations: Vanessa Paradis, Audrey Tautou, Francoise Hardy, Isabel Marant, Chiara Mastroianni and Carine Roitfeld

French inspirations: Vanessa Paradis, Audrey Tautou, Francoise Hardy, Isabel Marant, Chiara Mastroianni and Carine Roitfeld

In the book, I love the practical tips on how to manage & tidy up your wardrobe and how to recognize good quality and beautiful finishing. Did you know that up to 5% of synthetic fibres in the composition of a fabric can strengthen the fabric and make them last longer? I always used to shun even the smallest percentage of synthetic materials, but happy to learn that small percentages can increase the longevity of clothes.  An interesting subject is the chapter on the fashion limits through age, how to dress what suits you rather than disguise yourself.

Many basic fashion must-haves mentioned in the book are already part of our wardrobe: The trench coat, the V-Neck Cashmere jumper, the flat ballet pumps. Eternal classics also reinforced in Ines de la Fressange’s book “Parisian Chic”. While I felt that Ines’ book was very much written from her own perspective and full of items that suit her tall, boyish frame, I feel that “Paris Street Style” covers more diverse type of women.

 

Rebel wearing a Burberry Trench coat with summer sandals

Rebel wearing a Burberry Trench coat with summer sandals

On the trench coat: “Jane Birkin and Charlotte Gainsbourg gave the trench coat contemporary chic by wearing it casually with sneakers and jeans.  The trench coat is now much more than just something you wear in the rain: It has become a definable, recognisable outline. It has to be cut in high-quality, substantial gabardine. Along with the leather jacket, it is one of the few items of clothing that looks better well-worn.” – from the Book Paris Street Style – A guide to effortless chic.

I am wearing red coloured pop tights from Falke with a pleated wool skirt from Stefanel

I am wearing red coloured pop tights from Falke with a pleated wool skirt from Stefanel

On accessories, tights:  “Tights are mostly bought just because you need to be warm or because you don’t want to go around with your legs uncovered. But you are wrong to take them for granted. Chosen badly, they cheapen everything (flesh coloured ones are a case in point). Handled correctly, they can wake up an otherwise drab ensemble and revitalise your appearance. Tights, in fact, are a relatively cheap accessory that can revolutionize the way you look.  Colours aren’t only the sole preserve of little girls, opt for violet, luminous fuchsia, lilac, anthracite grey…”

See below a short quotes from the interviews appearing in the book:

Christophe Lemaire, art director of Hérmes:

“I’m disgusted when I see films like Sex and the city, that relegate women to the status of idiots, thrilled by the latest handbag or the prospect of bargain sales. We should understand women’s vulnerability, not laugh at it.”

Silvia Motta, fashion editor Grazia, Italy:

“Models used to be Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly: today, they’re porn star chamber maids. The references have become entirely vulgar. This vulgarization is also the fault of women’s magazines, which have led women to believe it’s ok to walk around town dressed in the same clothes they wear to the beach. We’ve lost the notion of respect for each other, along with a notion of a dress code.

Style inspirations than and now

Style inspirations than and now

 Alexandre Vauthier, Couturier:

“When you shop, be sure you know the difference between good work and bad. The same rules apply to the building of houses as to the building of clothes: Do you want rubbish that won’t last, or do you want beautiful foundations that will stand the test of time?

Odile Gilbert, Studio Hairdresser:

“When you get older, chose the colour that is a half tone lighter than your real colour. It will lighten up your face.  For haircuts, avoid strongly outlined styles. You need to preserve a certain softness and fluidity in your hair. As one gets older, one should try to avoid struggling to look young. Instead, one should move serenely in the direction of elegance, sobriety, and chic.”

I'm getting my hair done at Berlin's It Salon Shan Rahimkhan

I’m getting my hair done at Berlin’s It Salon Shan Rahimkhan

Alix Petit, Creator of the brand Heimstone

“We’re totally submerged by the mass market. These days, consumers are being treated like idiots. Clothes are expensive, but most of them are being made in China and are of terrible quality. What makes them so expensive is the marketing that seethes around them. Quality and savoir faire aren’t part of the equation.  Clothes are no longer made to last.  They’re supposed to be consumed and to be replaced immediately. My aim is to make clothes that last years.”

Posted on March 27, 2013

Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a world that can’t stop talking

Current Affairs/ Movie & Books/ Romantique

Quiet - the power of introverts

Are you quiet and day dreamy, do you prefer a good book to visiting the pub, do you think before you talk and are you bored of small talk, enjoying deep conversations instead? Chances are, you are an introvert. And this can be hard  in today’s world where being an extrovert is misguidedly seen as an ideal. The book “Quiet – The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” by Susan Cain is one of the best books I have read in years! It looks at the rise of the extrovert ideal at the turn of the century from character ideal (with traits like manners, integrity and moral) to the personality ideal (with gregarious, forceful and energetic attributes). This happend without realising that we had sacrificed something meaningful along the way.

Ms Cain unravels the myth of the charismatic, extrovert  leader and dissects the cohort of extroversion in America, The Harvard Business School.

I didn’t need the Meyer Briggs Personality Test to know that I’m an introvert. The persuasive book teaches you to have a sense of entitlement of being an introvert, something that is heard to achieve living in a world that favours the extrovert ideal. The extrovert is seen as a confident, bubbly, social  ideal, even though they often also are narccisstic, thoughtless and talk empty blab la. Yet extroverts are more likely to get book deals and art exhibitions than their introverted counterparts. Introverts only seem to be accepted by society if they are nerdy geeks who became multimillionaires by inventing revolutionary gadgets. Yet society needs as much introverts as it needs extroverts. If you are an introvert, don’t try to pretend you are a gregarious performer, the stress of not being “true to ourselves” can make us physically and mentally ill. It is ok to admit you haven’t got anything planned for the weekend because you’d like to chill.  No need to pretend the weekend is jam packed with social arrangements.

Did you know that the postchild country of extroversion is America? The country with the highest amounts of introverts is Finland. In America, the book tells us, parents send their children to psychiatrists to “treat” their introversion.  The author of the book visits the acclaimed  Harvard Business School, where absolutely everything is done in groups despite the knowledge that best the most groundbreaking ideas rise from working individually, and this applies to both extroverts as well as introverts. College students who tend to study alone learn more over time than those who work in groups.

 

Socialising in Germany and in the UK is different

Socialising in Germany and in the UK is different

 

Having lived in Germany for the first 26 years of my life and the last 8 years in the UK, I can certainly attest to the fact that the UK, just like it’s big cousin,  is a country that places a lot of importance on the extrovert ideal.  Socialising in big groups and meaningless small talk is the quintessence of Englishness.  While Germans tend to have annoying traits like their judgementalism, I enjoy the freedom of declining a drinks invitation without being branded as a “party pooper” and being  invited to more couple dates and 1:1 social arrangements rather than big group outings.

I remember two German sayings I heard many times while growing up: “Humbleness is an asset” and “The emptiest pot rattles the loudest”. However, I do not credit being German with my introversion.  Introversion, the author explains, is a genetic disposition. While it’s true that we have free will and can shape our personalities, we are also “rubber band personalities” – we are elastic and can stretch ourselves, but only so much.

 

Steve Wozniak is the type of admired introvert in the society: A gadget inventing multimillionaire

Steve Wozniak is the type of accepted introvert in the society: A gadget inventing multimillionaire

 

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and a famous introvert, states in his book: “ If you are going to invent revolutionary products, work on your own. Not in a committee, not in a team”. Solitude and single- minded focus is typical for highly creative people and solitude can be a catalyst for creativity. Despite this knowledge, contemporary corporate companies (like mine, Unilever, I’m not afraid to name and shame ..) insist on open plan offices and brainstorming sessions. In workplaces, where efficiency and creativity is a high priority, people should be encouraged to work alone. In brainstorming sessions, people who are the loudest are often listened to. Even if the quiet ones have the better ideas, their ideas are snuffed out by the louder ones.

 

Petit Romanitque in 1985: Back then, I was an introvert and still am today. Luckily I am not as shy as I used to be. Shyness can be overcome, introversion is genetic disposition.

Petit Romanitque in 1985: Back then, I was an introvert and still am today. Luckily I am not as shy as I used to be. Shyness can be overcome, introversion is a genetic disposition.

 

If you are an introvert, this wonderfully heartfelt written book is a must read. We learn how to embrace our introverted ideas and how we can address the imbalance in workplaces and daily life. If you are extrovert, you will enjoy this book too, understanding your introverted partner, friend and family member better and appreciating their qualities.

 

 

Posted on January 27, 2013

Sunday Cinema Style

Movie & Books/ Rebel

Sunday_Outfit

Today, I saw the movie Silver linings – a movie, which I have been looking forward for weeks. Silver linings it’s not the usual romcom formula but it works! Loved that, it’s a great movie and Jennifer Lawrence looks like a young Renne Zellweger with dark hair! A sort of movie you have to see!

silver_linings_poster_

And my styling for the cinema day: grey skinny jeans, orange sweater by J Crew, Blazer by Hilfiger, leo scarf and hogan boots

Sunday_Outfit_Kino

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