How To Dress Like a Chic Parisian Woman

y friend Didit is in town from Paris.* As an haute couture designer (click: Didit Hediprasetyo) and an honorary Parisian, it's only natural that I look to Didit for insights on what makes a woman's style chic. Specifically Parisian women. What's their secret? I pondered this over brunch with him this past Saturday, as we sipped on our virigin Bloody Marys at Five Points.

"So, how are the chic women in Paris dressing these days?" asked, swirling around the ice with my straw.

"Like men," he deadpanned.

"Really? I've always imagined them looking like Emmanuelle Alt... Skinny gray jeans and a t-shirt with a sharp Balmain jacket and a pair of sexy heels!"

"Sexy heels? They wear shoes like this." He gestured down at his black leather brogues. "And boyfriend jeans," he added, "Everything is a bit boxy and baggy, but you have to have a nice body to be able to pull it off. Not everyone can."

"What about beauty?" I wondered, as I proudly showed off my glossy, seashell pink nails, ""Look, I just got Shellac on my nails!"

"They don't care about manicures so much," he remarked, "I think they do it themselves. Manicures are so nice, though. That's what I love about coming to New York. There are nail salons everywhere." He took a moment to gaze down at his hands. "And they don't wear much makeup, but they do love a smoky eye–although, not so much eyeliner."

After brunch, it was his turn to ask me a style question.

"Where can I find a good thick black sweater?"

I, of course, knew just the place. "We must go to the Acne store in SoHo. They have the best selections of sweaters!"

And so we went. I made a beeline for the women's section as he perused the men's. Just as I predicted, he found not one, but three ideal sweaters. One in particular caught my eye. It was a beautifully textured black cotton sweater that was thick but not too heavy. "I think I have to try this one on," I gasped.

When I emerged from the dressing room, he nodded in approval. "Oh, Jess... This is chic." I turned around in the mirror as he pushed the sleeves up my arm, which were ever-so-slightly too long. The look was nonchalantly oversized. "Really? You think so? You don't think it looks too masculine?" I asked, even though I knew it was a done deal.

"You can wear this casually with white jeans or to dinner with tailored pants and a pair of earrings. For spring, you should wear it with shorts!" he exclaimed, taking a step back while still nodding, "Yessssss... You'll wear it all the time!"

I wore my men's sweater to lunch at Soho House today, with skinny black pants and a pair of heels. For the record, I received compliments from four men, all of whom wanted one for themselves.


*Didit and I first met in Paris in 2008 when I was covering Paris Fashion Week for an online fashion industry trends resource. I was staying at a crap hotel at the time and, after a casual gathering at his beautiful apartment in the 8th arrondissement, which was outfitted with elegantly minimal Christian Liaigre-designed furniture, he graciously invited me to stay in the guest room for the remainder of the trip. How lucky I was! It was better than any hotel I've ever stayed at in Paris. When he visits New York, he stays down the street from me at the Mercer Hotel—which I must note is also designed by Christian Liaigre.

It's Raining Gems! Hallelujah!

Here, I have on Pomellato's Capri earrings with chrysoprase, blue sapphires, and rose gold.

After a coffee chat with a friend uptown at Bel Ami Cafe yesterday morning, it started to rain. I suspected that it was the beginnings of the Nor'easter. The rain wasn't a shower or even a drizzle, but rather large, heavy, semi-frozen plops that seemed to sit for just a second before splattering. I hurried down Madison Avenue, clutching my wool jacket closed tighter and ducking my head as though that would help. Here's what New Yorkers without umbrellas do when it rains: We periodically pop into a store or a cafe along the way until we make it to our final destination. For me, the nearest shelter happened to be the Pomellato boutique, which also happens to be my favorite jeweler. 

It didn't take long before I found myself having a seat and trying on trays and trays of beautiful jewelry. Colorful, glossy, shiny, sparkly...Like a little magpie, I bit. Oh, sure, this something I'd do on any old day: Walk into my favorite jewelry store, try on jewelry, figure out which one to go home with--or, in my case, dream about for years to come. It was the best cheap thrill a girl could ask for! 

The manager noticed that I was wearing a Pomellato ring. "We could have that polished for you," he offered, "It would be no charge to you and, in two weeks, it will come back looking brand new." I looked down at my ring. The stones needed to be properly cleaned and the gold mounting was scratched up with dings from years of wear. I wriggled it off my finger and laid it down on the tray.

I had a million dollar experience for all but $0. Paper bag princess moment? I think yes.


Backstory

I had first come across their Pomellato jewelry a dozen years ago when I was a make-up artist. One of my clients was a very fashionable French woman named Delphine. While I was applying her blush and pulling the brush towards her cheekbones, I caught a glimpse of her lapis lazuli earrings, a dark matte-blue stone with a touch of sparkle from the diamond pavé details. I couldn't stop admiring them. They were eye-catching yet understated enough for everyday wear. I asked her about them, hoping that they were costume pieces that I could afford. "These are by Pomellato," she told me, "I bought them in Italy." It was a name that I never forgot. 

The Wet Lash Look

Photo from this month's issue of Vogue Paris

I love the look of wet lashes: glossy and matted together; fresh and alluring. Like when you first step out of the pool or shower. 

Here's how you can get the look:

1. After curling lashes, rim the inner lid of upper lashes with a black eyeliner pencil. I use a light sketching motion to really get as deep into the lash line as possible.

2. Apply a few layers of black mascara to the upper and lower lashes. If you have a clear mascara or eyebrow gel, add a coat here.

3. Depending on the look, line the upper and lower lash line with either a black liquid liner or softer dark brown pencil. 

4. Add a tiny dab of clear lip gloss to a brush and brush it along the lash line, right above the liner. Try to get to the inner corner of the eye, as well as the inner quarter of the bottom lash line. Voilà! You've got the illusion of wet lashes.