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The Parisian woman is very clever in the arts of dress... (plus ça change!!)

The Parisian woman is very clever in the arts of dress... (plus ça change!!)

Old Sep 10th, 2008, 06:07 AM
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The Parisian woman is very clever in the arts of dress... (plus ça change!!)

I was browsing through an antique book of my husband's on Paris, published in 1909, when I came across a few observations on fashion that amused me and I thought might be fun to share on this board. It seems that foreigners have held the Parisian dress sense in awe for longer than I had imagined!

"The Parisian woman is very clever in the arts of dress. No matter how little she may have to spend, she always looks well (...). In short, a young woman in Paris, if she has a slim well-proportioned figure and an innate feeling for dress, can manage on practically nothing a year; whereas some stout middle-aged woman whose means are large can never contrive a presentable appearance."
(I guess that book French women don't get fat wasn't saying anything new, then...)

"Mode was born in Paris. (...) No matter how poor a woman may be, or how few gowns she may possess, she will choose those gowns well. They will be of the right colour; they will not clash with one another. She may have only an old black dress; but she will wear a touch of red at her throat (...) and she will manage to look well always. This delicate taste, prevalent among the French, is a natural gift. It cannot be taught or acquired."

"An absurd craze among Parisian women is the dressing, decorating, trimming, and coddling of their dogs.There are actually tailors who earn their living by making costumes for the pampered beasts."
(that has to be my favourite bit from the book - who knew that even 100 years ago the Parisians spoiled their dogs so?)

(For info, the book is called Paris, by Mortimer and Dorothy Menpes, whoever they may be.)
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Old Sep 10th, 2008, 06:45 AM
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That's really interesting, hanl. And not surprising. One has to figure that Parisian women have been a source of great fashion sense for ages, or else we wouldn't all still be so intimidated by them (as evidenced so often on this very board).

I picked up a 1920 Galeries Lafayette catalogue (a hard-bound book, actually) at a brocante a few years ago, and it's amazing how intricate the designs were, and how detailed the descriptions of the fashions. The very fact that they would publish a 200-page hard-bound book to display their wares speaks to how important appearances were/are to them.
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Old Sep 10th, 2008, 07:42 AM
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How interesting to see that nothing has changed for them. Parisian women are always impeccably dressed. Very polished.
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Old Sep 10th, 2008, 10:37 AM
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Yes I suppose it isn't all that surprising when you think about it.

Am amused that even a hundred years ago, Parisian women were skinny Minnies though!
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Old Sep 10th, 2008, 10:42 AM
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Younger woman may be thin , but older ones can still get rather plump.
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Old Sep 10th, 2008, 12:48 PM
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One has to figure that Parisian women have been a source of great fashion sense for ages, or else we wouldn't all still be so intimidated by them

Speak for yourself. I'm not intimidated at all.
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Old Sep 10th, 2008, 01:05 PM
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Bozama, very rarely I see fat, plump or obese older Parisian women. Quite the opposite, they are the more chic!
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Old Sep 10th, 2008, 01:10 PM
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I have long admired their sense of style. Not intimidated exactly, but I do have a big case of envy. I love watching french toddlers! They are dressed so beautifully. I don't think this sense of style is innate, but I do think the training begins at a very early age. And I definitely agree that these women know the secrets of proper accessorizing.
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Old Sep 10th, 2008, 03:55 PM
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tpaxe, my grandmother was fat. Her mom was fat, and my dads cousin is fat. When younger ( under 50 or so) they appeared slimmer in photos, I only knew them as fat. Of course, although they are Parisians,my grandmother and dads cousin were only 1st generation Parisians, the family actually came in from the country about 75 years ago,, so really, are peasant stock to begin with I suppose.

I certainly do not think all Parisian women dress well, I mean come on, some of them wear crap like everyone else, I never understood the hero worship some poeple have for them,, it is kind of funny. When you are in downtown Paris many of the local women are in transit to work, do you dress nicely for work?? Would you dress nicely if you worked in a nice area of your own town( especially noticeable in say nice areas in New York ?) , perhaps had a very nice job, perhaps in fashion even..?? Of course you would .

The trick is the French do avoid certain things that are tacky( hey some things are tacky no matter where you live) . They buy simple items that are cut well. They do not wear pink velour track suits or t shirts emblazoned with sequin peococks etc.. LOL

Personally the only thing that I think really sets a Parisian apart is the shoes they wear.

My grandmother wore high heels right to the very end of her life, even in the nursing home. Seriously, she couldn't wear flats as a lifetime of heels had shortened her tendons.
She was 88 and in high heels !!
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