Published by Ebury Press on September 4th 2014
How to Be Parisian brilliantly deconstructs the French woman's views on culture, fashion and attitude.Bohemian free-thinkers and iconoclasts, Anne Berest, Caroline De Maigret, Audrey Diwan and Sophie Mas cut through the myths in this gorgeous, witty guide to Parisienne savoir faire. These modern Parisiennes say what you don't expect to hear, just the way you want to hear it. They are not against smoking in bed, and all for art, politics and culture, making everything look easy, and going against the grain. They will take you on a first date, to a party and through a hangover. They will tell you how to be mysterious and sensual, make your boyfriend jealous, the right way to approach weddings and the gym, and they will share their address book in Paris for where to go at the end of the night, for a birthday, for a smart date, for vintage finds and much more.Full of wit and self-deprecating humour, How To Be Parisian explains those confusing subjects of clothes, makeup, men, culture and lifestyle as only a true Parisienne can.
I picked up How To Be Parisian because it kept cropping up on bloggers’ pages and since I’ve just moved to Paris for my year abroad, it seemed like an appropriate title to get me into Parisian life. The book itself is very glossy – hardback, thick glossy paper, lots of large high quality pictures and illustrations and funky formatting. This book is evidently meant to please the eye and that it most certainly does.
Some passages of this book are quite long and others are very bitty and short. Some parts are written in prose, others are simply bullet pointed ideas. This means that’s book is easy to pick up and put down, you don’t need to dedicate a chunk of your time to reading it. You don’t even need to read it in order as there isn’t much of a structure to it. For the most part, each two page spread has a discusses a certain part of Parisian life, so each part is short and snappy, and you can dive in and out of different sections whenever you please.
All the random aspects of life that you probably didn’t think you needed advice on are covered in this book so you get a very rounded view of how the Parisian women lives her life. There are tips on how to dress, how to shop, how to eat, how to act on a date, how to woo a man, which perfumes to wear, which colors to wear in winter etc. etc. etc. At the end of the book there are also lists of recommended places to visit, eat and shop at, which will no doubt be handy for those that are actually visiting Paris.
How To Be Parisian doesn’t seem to be aimed at any particular age group of women so is sure to be enjoyed by teenagers and retirees alike. There are some passages detailing how to behave in your youth, and others about how to behave so that you age gracefully. There are a lot of timeless tips in here, which I genuinely found to be rather inspiring. They’re the sort of tips that are handed down from mother to daughter for generations and you can get quite a good picture of the respect that these women have for their mothers.
There were some parts that I didn’t particularly agree with, especially those concerning love as the advice given almost seems to condone, and indeed encourage cheating. All the romantic advice is along the lines of ‘treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen’ and seems to involve a lot of hiding who you really are for the sake of Parisian ‘etiquette’. These parts are a little frustrating to read and I can only assume the authors haven’t heard of a little thing called feminism.
Their portrayal of Parisian women as incredibly independent women is something that I really liked, but in some passages they took it a bit too far and made it sound like all Parisian women were downright arrogant. Confusingly it seems to advocate both being yourself and keeping yourself in check on a date. This book is full of contradictions, but apparently that’s the way that Parisian women are.
Really this is just an insight into the lives of four particular ‘Parisian’ women and their thoughts on how to go about life’s daily business and no more than that. The content is lighthearted and funny, this book doesn’t take itself seriously and it is by no means a true guide to the Parisian woman. A lot of the ‘advice’ is incredibly clichéd and plays off a stereotype that probably doesn’t fit most Parisian women and I think a lot of this book is just four women having fun with writing. This book would make a good gift for those who love Paris and makes for a nice, quick Saturday afternoon read. If you’re reading this for the glossy pages, you won’t be disappointed.