I lived in Paris France for two years a while ago, when I was pregnant with my baby boy who is now a teenager of fifteen years! But back when he was a newborn and I was just an art student, aspiring to be an artist, that was when I moved to Paris as a young woman to have my child, get married to another artist and settle down–whatever that meant. But I learned a lot about lifestyles back then, and I admit till this day, although I am a Canadian born and raised, (Torontonian for that matter) I still hold dear a lot of the French mentality and outlooks on life and still adore Parisian Bohemia. So let me share with you all a few of my experiences…I want to talk about the mindset of French bohemia, because the fashion will always follow suite…
We live in North America, the land of donuts and coffee, cold winters, fast food, and malls, cars and outlets. Suburbs, churches and barbecues…flannel shirts and jogging pants. But my experience living in Paris tells me there is a more elegant, thoughtful way of living… And by looking at most fashion trends, it is actually super in style at the moment. French Bohemia is about being a free spirit, not following rules, or worrying about the 9-5 agenda. It’s more about having the ability to have free time, rather than about what to do with it. Hanging out with friends because they are cool, and not because it’s cool to hang out and an obligation to be social. It’s really about simply enjoying life, but more specifically enjoying the visual and meaningful beauty of life. And how the two connect. Here are some things I’ve learned:
- Try to dodge trends by finding old things you forgot about. Dig into your closet and look for items of yours that are simple, classic, and chique. French styles are often simple, and not looking like a slave to the trends is key (even if you are!).
- Eat less, but eat well. The French are all about liking food, but good food. I often have a day of very little indulgences, but for dinner, I will have treats like fish and chips, burgers, pizza, ice cream. Flavourful things in moderation…Pleasurable things…but just a little.
- Be interested in visual culture. I mean this in a general way. You don’t have to be into art and know everything about it academically (like I do as a former art student), but notice movie posters, graphics on your daily products, architecture and design. Work up to visiting an art show, weather it is at a small local gallery, to a big city art museum. Just enjoy looking at things and thinking about how things look. People watching (not leering, or gawking or staring) is a fun pass time when on patios.
- Care about how you look. BUT–don’t fuss over your appearance, and don’t be vain by thinking you’re all that, but put a bit of effort into your appearance. Wear clean, fitted clothes, have manicured nails…give yourself the right to “judge a book by it’s cover” because well, the cover says a lot about something! Don’t be afraid to be a little superficial and care about the face value of things.
- Enjoy life, don’t stress. Avoid stressful things/activities as much as possible …ie event/parties you don’t want to go to. If you don’t think you want to do it, unless you risk social shame for opting out, do opt out! There is nothing worse that regretting going out to an event. Better to stay home and relax any day.
- There is always a more elegant option to whatever you are eating. Instead of toast, have a croissant in the morning!!! my favourite breakfast ever! (beats bacon and eggs too!) Instead of having a muffin, have a cupcake…Instead of ham and cheese sandwich, do ham and brie (a french cheese), instead of watered down coffee, try espresso. Little variations in daily mundane life such as standard food is a great way to add a bit of french to your life.
What is your favourite way to be embody a bohemian babe? Do you like the fashions it’s famous for? Do you like stalking the sale rack at the closest Free People store to you, or finding a way to make braids and plaited hair and staple? Wearing that vintage dress you found with sneakers? How do you show you are a free sprit?