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Friday, January 23, 2015

To Thy Self Be True ... A French Girl Friday Post

One need not spend a lot to
channel their inner French Girl,
a bit of sparkly, a cup of fresh cheese, and a
great book like Madame Chic goes a long way.

Bien dans sa peau ... " comfortable in your own skin", would it not be a wonderful thing if that was how we felt day to day? I know for some it could be a lot of therapy that helps them get to that point, some never will feel that way ( that saddens me to think of) , and some it may just take a tweak in what they wear to make them suddenly feel that way. Now wait, before you call that shallow, but there is something for the old saying " clothes make the woman ( or man) " .  When one dresses true to who they are, from the inside out, it really can go a very long way towards how they feel... it can change their entire outlook on life. Yes, dressing to flatter yourself, your personality, and letting it shine outwards to the world is very powerful.  I do not mean just throwing on a jeans and T and calling it done because it is easy, or following the latest trends, or dressing how you think you should dress or how someone tells you how to dress, I do not see how any of us could be comfortable in our own skin if we are not comfortable in what we are wearing. I hear you, a jeans and a T can be very comfortable, I do agree, heck I live in pjs when at home when I know that no one but the cat will see me, but there are ways to take it a step further and have what you are wearing reflect who you are, even in simple, comfortable clothing. 

What one wears, if it is true to themselves, can be as impressive and 
stylish as if they were dressed in high fashion. Confidence that
comes from inside and is reflected by what they wear is powerful.
What do your clothes say about you?

In the book Lessons from Madame Chic, 20 stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott , in part two, chapter five, the author speaks to how while being an exchange student living with a family in Paris, and while out running errands with "Madame Chic", she first learned about finding her own true style. She received a wake up call while wearing a spring green sweater and she was told very bluntly by Madame Chic that it did not look good on her. After being rather confused and offended, she realized, after thinking about it, that even over and above a color that was not right for her, the sweater was not either, not in style or personality. This realization started her on this journey to come up with a style that would truly reflect who she was and also made her feel comfortable in her own skin. I got the idea, while reading this chapter that this was a powerful and of course style changing event in the authors life. 

It does not have to be black and
white on how you express
yourself style wise, what
your true style is can be a
lovely combination of touches that make a
beautiful, true to you and only you style. 

One key thing that was within this chapter that stuck out to me that we should reevaluate ourselves style wise once every ten years. I do this. Somethings stay the same for me, like my red or deep pink lips, my love of black clothing, and all things with a retro vibe ( no matter the era I am in the mood to channel at that time); how I express myself, my personal style, has changed and evolved.  I know that my life and in hand my style has gone through so many ups and downs and style changes, or at least variations of the same style, adjusting for life , I have more than likely given away, taken to thrift stores or sold at yard sales whole wardrobes many times over. Now, as I inch closer and closer to the age of 50 I am ready to once again evaluate who I am style wise, what my true style is now and even what I want it to be. It is based on a lot of things, my age, current lifestyle, my health of course, what interests me, and even how I want to be seen, conceived as being. Most of all my personality. I want my clothing to state who I am as well who I want to be.  I have often expressed this through costumes, of sorts, themes if you want to put that label on it.  I no longer feel that I need to dress in a theme or a costume to make it easier to reflect who I am , but perhaps bring elements in that gives a suggestion. I can wear my cloche hats, but perhaps with that jean and a T and a string of pearls and a great pair of jazzy shoes and evoke a modern nod at the 20's and 30's . If I want a Parisian flair, a striped T and a pair of ballet flats, but leave the beret at home... not that you will not see me in a beret, but just not with the striped shirt. I have always had a love affair with the 50's housewife look, but instead of how I once dressed in Rockabilly and or vintage clothing, I now will wear circle and midi skirts, and my ballet flats and pearls, but you will not see a poodle on my skirt or a bowling shirt and my hair would be styled in a more modern style, but you can guarantee that I will still rock the cat eye sunglasses. I am ready to have a more classic, timeless look, and even add back in the more feminine touches I once wore quite a bit of, but that is age appropriate , but not aging. I am ready to be more picky on what I wear and how I wear it, and embrace the second half of my style life, even with drawing upon what I liked about my style over the years as a way to add that personal only to me touch, and reflecting my personality.  

I can dress like Audrey, with a
modern flair in timeless pieces,
and not have it be dated.  Classic and
timeless can be a great base to start with
and expand on, adding in touches of
my own personality to it to make it my true to
me style. 

Recently, I posted a couple of blogs about my journey through the style programs Evolve Your Style and Seven Steps To Style, both can be found on Imogen Lamport's web page, Inside Out Style Blog, doing these programs, and connecting with women from all over the world, all ages and style personalities, it has given me the confidence to embrace who I am now, and also the confidence to express who I am inside and how I want that to look and even who I want to be. What I want in life. Some of that has bled into both my blog, and especially my Facebook fan page for it. I suddenly stopped trying to please others, trying to do what was expected or desired and got back in touch with me and who I really am and want to be. Even if I am at home most days, not feeling good, or in some level of pain, I could still be who I imagine myself to be, and bring some of that into my daily life, through my blog, through my FB page my attitude and finally how I look. Now even if I am in my pjs, I pop on a bit of lipstick, spritz on that perfume, and put in my pearl earrings .  I take time to prepare myself a nice meal, I savor life more and more each day, even if in just tiny ways, and all of that started with deciding to be true to myself and as I have done this I have been feeling more and more comfortable in my skin. All of that really started with a journey to find my own true style. 

So what does this have to do with French Girl Friday? Well obviously even before I realized it, I was channeling my inner French girl both style wise and attitude wise, and in reading "Lessons" , and coming upon this weeks chapter in the book it was confirmed that was what I had done. I highly suggest that you take your own little fashion journey either through online programs such as those mentioned above or through great books with simple tips such as "Lessons" where you could channel your own inner French Girl if that appeals to you,  or one of the many great style books out there channel who and what inspires you, remember to let your personality shine,  it will go a long way towards you being comfortable in your own skin and above all else, to thy self be true. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Wardrobe Challenge ~ A French Girl Friday Post

It never hurts to have a little touch of
French in your life. 

Continuing on through the pages of "Lessons from Madame Chic" by Jennifer L. Scott, I have reached part two, Style and Beauty, and chapter four, "Liberate Yourself With The Ten -Item Wardrobe".  I can tell you right now that sends shock waves and panic through my entire world as I am a collector of pretty things. I have shoes, hats, jewelry and yes some clothing I have not worn in a very long time, but just can not part with, I know I would miss it if I did or live to regret it. I know this for a fact as I recently in the last few months as I have shared with you in past posts about style and fashion have changed my wardrobe drastically a couple of times and in doing so many items went to the local thrift store and as soon as it was gone, I wanted to wear something only to recall that I no longer had it and would never be able to replace it! One day I know it will happen, I will see someone wearing that dress I loved so much, but had gotten rid of and a single tear shall run down my cheek, messing up my makeup that I just put on and it will be the worst day, as I will then go spend money trying to get shop therapy and nothing will truly fill the hole in my wardrobe in quite the same way. Come on, you know I am not alone in this.  There has got to be one or two of you that feel this way.  HOWEVER, that being said, I think I already wear a ten item wardrobe, but more on that in just a bit. 

Does the thought of paring down your wardrobe 
keep you up at night ??
* photo E
velyn Ankers

When I turned to this chapter, the author began her tale of how she came to adapt this type of wardrobe by describing once again her time with a French family as an exchange student, coming in with six months of wardrobe, in several bags and causing dismay in her hostesses face as well as within herself when she realized that she was to only have a small wardrobe in which to house her belongings. The author soon learned about the ten item wardrobe and the fact that most people in Paris and in France in general live with such a small base of clothing, it was in the movies even. It was normal to wear the same clothing a few times a week and no one thought twice about it.  With enough time the author realized, after challenging herself to do the same, to create this capsule of ten, that it actually made getting dressed far more simple and less stressful, it even helped her to shop less. This is not the first account of doing this sort of thing and of people being quite happily surprised by the results that I have read about, and I have often wondered if I could get myself to do it. I have yet to make the leap, not entirely.  As I continued to read on I was relived when the author revealed that it is not just 10 items, but just that you had to be able to make up 10 outfits out of mixing and matching... "Don't panic. You don't need to take the ten-item wardrobe literally....The point of the ten-item wardrobe is to free yourself from a jam-packed closet full of ill-fitting, underused, or poor-quality clothing. Your ultimate goal is to create a wardrobe you love, in which every item of clothing speaks to who you are, and to create a space for your clothes to breathe- by eliminating the clutter..." Jennifer L. Scott. She then goes on to explain you are to have ten core items, but that does not include outer ware, occasion ware accessories, shoes and what she calls under shirts.... THANK GOODNESS! 

The idea is to not stand at the closet and say " I have 
nothing to wear" even if the closet is jam packed.
*Joan Crawford??

Can any girl really have too many pairs of shoes? 
*Joan Crawford

As I have also shared in past posts, recently in Stylish Saturdays ( can be found under fashion and style in the label section of this blog) , I have been doing a style program , actually it is more than just a style program, but anyway, I have been doing this program that has been helping me fine tune my self in that area of my life and part of the lesson plan is to create wardrobe capsules. You can have one for each part of your life, home, work, active, dressy, but to create with very few pieces of clothing these capsules that within them you can mix and match to create several outfits/looks. This is basically the same idea.  Now I have because of this program been working on this theory of doing things, and it has indeed made me more mindful when I buy something to not only access if what I am thinking of buying has a place in my wardrobe, but also will it mix and match with several other things so that I do not end up with what is called a wardrobe orphan. I will admit I have not perfected this just quite, but I am getting closer, and it has meant that less items are being bought, and  even more items are headed to the thrift stores, though I am taking my time and thinking it over very carefully before donating. 

Having core pieces that work together to
create different looks cuts down on
wardrobe items that just hang in
the closet never seeing the light of day. 

Now I mentioned at the top of this blog that I "think" I already have a ten item wardrobe in a lot of ways. When it is just a normal week and it is not day when anything special is happening, I tend to wear the same two pairs of jeans during the cold months and the same two to three pairs of shorts during the warmer months. In the cooler months  I have a few long sleeve T shirts, and a couple of sweaters for layering that I wear, and in the warmer months I wear tanks or Ts , those only once, so I own more of them, but they all look the same. I wear the same shoes each day , unless raining for the cool months and the same two pairs of shoes for the warm months ( sneakers for walking and sandals for running errands) . Of course I have a few coats of various weights and many scarves and as  I always wear earrings, I have a lot of those to change out depending on my mood. It makes it simple to get dressed, everything mixes and matches and I do not have to plan out what I am going to wear. I think in a nut shell I have fallen into the ten- item wardrobe for daily wear, it is the occasion wear that I have a real problem with, and it is something I am trying to work on... but it is hard because I love fashion, I love buying new clothing and special occasion or dress up clothing is my weakness to say the least. I am not entirely sure I will ever be able to get the amount of that type of clothing down to a few core pieces. I hear and read it is liberating, well if I ever achieve it I will be sure to let you know if it is. 

A few tips....
If you want to try this all out for yourself..

Wardrobe Assessment Questions.
1. Do I still like this?
2. Do I ever wear this
3. Does it fit and flatter me?
4. Does this article of clothing still reflect who I am?

Just because I have not mastered the dress up ten piece wardrobe , does not mean that I do not urge you to try it, in truth I encourage it, and you will not be alone in your journey to do this, there is of course the book I am sharing with you and the chapter is filled with wonderful and helpful advice and encouragement, and if you google the subject there is so many resources to help you along the way to creating capsules , my favorite over and above the book, is the website InsideOutStyleBlog by Imogen Lamport. So many posts and pictorial help as well as videos to help you every step of the way. If you attempt this and succeed or even if you find it is not for you, I would love to hear from you by either a comment here or over on my Facebook fan page ( you can find the link to your left) , share with me your experiences! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

French Girl Friday... New Lessons

Ready to learn a few new lessons....

Before I began today's post I took a moment of silence for those in Paris and for those who died in Paris and a neighboring village at the hands of terrorists. I considered not posting a blog post, but it seemed that would almost be like letting them win. When I write these blog posts it is in honor of a culture , a country and a city that I admire and have a fondness for even though I have never been there and may never go there. My heart and prayers go out to everyone touched by this, and in many ways that is ALL of us. xx Ruby 

A new year and a new book for French Girl Friday.  Lessons from Madame Chic , 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris , by Jennifer L. Scott, that is the book I chose to draw upon for this go around. I have had this book on my radar since it came out, and it sat on my wish list just as long, and I just finally decided to treat myself and clicked the order button. I shared the fact that this was to be the next book with my readers on my Facebook fan page for the blog and instantly many readers let me know that I would not be disappointed, and upon reaching the author for approval, here we are. I made myself a nice and mostly healthy snack plate ( pink flesh oranges and mini"Lady Apples"  adding a girly touch) , and with a good smelling ( champagne pear) candle lit, and my favorite Edith Piaf CD playing, I opened to the first page.  

From the first paragraph of the introduction I was hooked and already was making a connection with the author, it was confirmed not just by my readers on FB , but now by my own inner French girl *wink* , so now hooked. The Author shares her being a foreign exchange student in Paris during 2001, and she recounted her experiences while there that had such a huge impact on her and her life and it leading to the writing of this book where she will share with us life lessons from "Madame Chic".  I carried on to Part One.  It just so happens that Part One, Chapter One through Chapter Three is all about diet and exercise. Now I know that my last series was centered around that very subject, so it was more of a refresher course, such as not snacking, but also not depriving oneself, and that exercise is a part of life, not to be a chore that many of us have considered it or made it for fr too long. 

I find balance between healthy foods and indulgences,
Champagne is always a welcomed one.

If you have been following FGF posts for awhile, then you know that the French do not snack, it simply is not part of their culture. The do not sit in front of the tv or their desk or in their car munching down on that bag of chips.  Jennifer, the author does not just thrown statistics about this fact at the reader, she draws you in and tells you a story and her experiencing of this new way ( to her and many Americans) way of eating, how feeling actually hungry between meals is not a bad thing. Line by line I felt as if I was experiencing what she had gone through and I could picture meal times in the Famille Chic's table and kitchen , I imagine what Madame Chic must have thought about her house guest wondering around late at night seeking a snack. I am not immune to snacking, even with reading all the FGF books that I have on the French way of eating, but I will say that when I snack it is not on junk food and I only pick high quality and healthy, well most times, snacks. The author in her "Le Recap" that is included at the end of each chapter , suggests the same thing, because as she admitted that once back home, she is not immune to snacking either.  

As I read on into Chapter Two, all about not depriving yourself. Sounds good to me! Again this is not new, I shared all this type of information with the last go round, there is the eating in moderation, so eat what you want, but less of it, make presentation count, savor your food and meal time, make it an event, even lunch. Even if I am having a yogurt, or my latest obsession a Stonyfield Pitite Creme 
(sweet fresh cheese inspired by the French) , I dish it out into a bowl, and sit at the table and enjoy it, perhaps with added fruit or some grapenuts sprinkled on it, point is, I savor it, make it count. By watching how much you eat, you do not have to deprive yourself , you can have the Champagne or perhaps that French Macaron or Madeline ( two of my favorites) and even that dark piece of chocolate, and still maintain a healthy weight, and perhaps even loose weight if you really need to loose any. Jennifer, the author, wraps up this chapter in a pretty little box with "bullet points" , guidelines from the chapter to help you get started.  I love what she states, " Above all... enjoy your meals! We spend so much of our lives eating. Revel in it- have fun and take pleasure in the dining experience." , sounds like wonderful advice to me! 

I love to take long walks, spending time in nature as my form of exercise. Never
a chore, always pleasurable.  Plus, you still burn a lot of calories!

Exercise, some are addicted, and truly enjoy it, others it is a chore, something they would love to avoid and always the first thing to be put off when life gets busy right? In Paris, " Exercise Is A Part Of Life, Not A Chore" ,  the French , specifically Parisians walk everywhere, to market(s) , to work, to museums, to pay a visit to friends and family, and basically what ever and where ever they could reach on foot, they did just that. They take the stairs, and consider housework part of their daily "workout", even their leisure time is based around being active. This mind set suits me and has for years. I have always loved walking, and though I have spent my fair share of time going to gyms, or working out to DVDS , tripping over my feet and running into furniture, if given the choice, I walk. I rarely drive and that has been my way for years now. If I can get there and back on foot, even if I have to rest , that is what I do. Walking as I do has made a huge difference in my pain levels and when I have to miss a walk due to weather or just life in general my mood suffers. Just yesterday I walked to the park a mile or so away, had breakfast in the park with the wildlife, sitting, enjoying each bite and my environment, then I went window shopping at the local mall, and on my way back home once again stopped at the park and just soaked in the mid day sun. Now I know much of the country is under snow right now, and a walk is the last thing on your mind, so that is when the housework trick or simply putting on some great music and dancing around like no one is watching, and if they are, get them up and dancing too!  I do not often miss my walk, rain or shine, I am out there, and even when I am not so eager, I am always thankful I did so afterwards. I promise you it will become addicting and you will feel better on so many levels. Exercise can be enjoyable, and it can go a long way towards a healthier and happier life and lifestyle, and again of you are looking to loose weight, it can lead towards that as well. 

While out on your walk, buy yourself some flowers,
always helps to have a little reward over and
above what the walk can do for you physically and mentally. 

Part Two will be all about Style and Beauty.... a Ten Piece Wardrobe... would you be able to do it??  Till then I hope to her from you both here and on the FB page how you bring out your French Girl and not just on Fridays! If you would like to learn more about Jennifer L. Scott, you can visit her author page HERE. You can purchase her book HERE and find her on Facebook HERE