Paris Street Style
Ah! Yes. This is the book I was looking for. Much more comprehensive than Kate Spade’s ‘Style,’ this 200-page guide features many photos but also a lot of suggestions. It has a point of view, a logical order, and something more than just some lists of clothes to check out. It is based on the premise that most people who have been to Paris accept: women there look amazing. Old, young, tiny, large. They have something figured out and they manage to look uniformly and yet eccentrically phenomenal in a way that I’ve not seen in other parts of the world (including the U.S.).
First, the drawbacks: nearly all the women pictured are, at most, a size 4-6. So yes, it’s much easier to look fantastic if you can buy your clothes anywhere and have the body type that designers have in their minds when they begin to illustrate their fall lines. The authors do not focus nearly enough on how to develop a style when one can only shop in a limited number of places due to size, or when one has extremely limited funds.
With those (admittedly large) caveats in mind, this book does offer some interesting advice about fashion, trends, and building a good wardrobe. Some of the suggestions are ones I have heard before – for example, that accessories are the key to creating many different looks – but others, while not necessarily new, stuck in my head more when delivered in this book. The best is the one about investing in a very few high quality pieces, and taking the time to make sure these items will last. I have a few of these – a trench coat that has seen ten rainy springs, a black skirt that is to me such a classic cut that I’m baffled that I can’t find it anywhere else and so have had it relined to make sure it lasts. But today when I went in search of a couple of items I found myself thinking back to this book and applying what I’ve learned to each bit of clothing to really sort out if buying it would be a good idea (hint: many more times than not, the answer was no).
This book also features several interviews with Parisian shop owners who discuss their view of the French style and what people should keep in mind when developing their own styles. Those parts are fun to read, and some offer great insight into fashion and style; others are not as useful. But once you’ve read the last bit of advice, the authors leave you a treat: a list of shops, cafes and spots the authors recommend checking out. It’s like a bonus tiny travel guide!