Parisian Chic

It's been said a million times: "French women are so chic." As a fortunate traveler this summer, I'm lucky enough to be spending time in my favorite city, Paris. I'm conscious of what I wear, as I want to make sure I dress accordingly and on-par with the locals.

During my daily promenades, I've noticed several fashion consistencies: Les femmes don't wear a lot of prints, they wear scarves of all kinds in all types of weather, they don't wear a lot of makeup or jewelry, and they don't carry huge handbags. As a matter of fact, I learned to spot a tourist from a  mile away: she's the one carrying an enormous purse.

It seems that French women created the term, "Less is more", and, evidently, the style and size of one's handbag in Paris is no exception. I see a lot of cross-body bags, small shoulder bags, and medium-to-large sized totes as well. With that being said, French women use totes for practical purposes, such as carrying groceries and various items picked up throughout the day. And unlike in my part of the world, (Southern California), I don't see the ever-present Louis Vuitton bag.

Quality seems to be the standard-bearer for many French women, too, as they appear to enjoy wearing the best that they can afford, even if it means a minimal selection of clothing and accessories. They'd rather have just a few fabulous pieces to wear or a single amazing handbag instead of a closet filled with items of all shapes, sizes and questionable craftsmanship.

All this observation allows me to to understand a little more about French women. They prefer basic colors, they avoid trends, they wear complete ensembles, and they look for quality in clothing and handbags.

I'm all for that. Well-made clothing and handbags seem to always make us feel good when we wear them and carry them. We naturally gravitate again and again toward those items in our closets that are of higher quality than others.

The French lesson here is, buy yourself the best you can afford, and wear it as often as it makes you feel good. And if that means almost everyday, then so be it. If feeling good about the way you look everyday is the result, I say go for it.

"It" Bags Not So "It" Anymore

I live in a big city with a population of over 1.5 million people, about half of which are women. Most women carry handbags, which leads me to the question: Why and how are bags selected and purchased? It can't just be for style, price and function, I assume, but perhaps it's also for brand identification moral support. Some of the favorites are: Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Ferragamo, Celine and don't forget the Holy Grail of bags...Hermes. There's hardly a day that goes by that I don't see the familiar alphabet of totes toted around town. After all, a pricey designer handbag can give a girl the confidence she needs, right? Hmm....maybe not?

Today, exclusive designer bags are common where they once were unusual. With the popularity of cheap knockoffs affording almost anyone the ability to carry those LVs, Gs, and Cs, why spend the money? Why would a woman buy and carry a handbag that she sees coming and going and, worse, perhaps even be a fake? No, thanks!

Confident women are happily resisting surrendering to the same old labels by seeking unknown or "Not-It" bags. The Wall Street Journal refers to this as, "The Revenge of the Anti-It Bag" where it cites from tend forecaster Jean Touitou, the owner of French label A.P.C., as saying "Nobody elegant will ever want to show a logo. To display one's wealth, it's the epitome of vulgarity."

So ladies I implore you. Display your uniqueness. Believe in your ability to know quality and style without the ostentatious label. Breakout of that deliberate and predictable rut, and buy an Anti-It bag. You can do it, and you will feel really good about yourself because you will trust your style and your taste and that equates to radiating confidence.

Individual Style

Almost every woman enjoys the freedom of selection when it comes to fashion. This includes wearing distinctive clothes that express individual personalities and tastes. Today women are just a click away from ordering head-to-toe ensembles. While online shopping offers convenience and competitive pricing, we take the risk of getting into a style rut because we tend to shop for designers we know. As a result, buyers for online outlets tend to focus on tried and true merchandise and we end up with limited choices. To find or reclaim your fashion identity, try shopping at boutiques that carry unique clothes and accessories. Build a relationship with the owner or sales staff who can focus on your style and update you about new designers and collections. Small boutique merchandise needs to be distinctive and, to put it simply, special.......and isn't that what all women want to be?

Casually Chic

There's a reason why women are wearing workout clothes from morning 'til night: it's called "comfort".

As dress requirements have relaxed considerably, the weekday business uniform exception has changed from "Casual Friday" to "Relaxed Everyday Wear".

Women are looking for fabrics that are comfortable, stretchy, easy to put on and don't require layers of undergarments. Getting dressed in the morning without giving thought to what to change into afterward is something women want....and designers have been answering the call.

While all this casualness may be a fashion mainstay now and in the future, it's still important to incorporate that ever-important style element into any look.

Instead of donning your usual yoga gear try sporting your look with a leather jacket instead of a sweatshirt or performance jacket. Switch your shoes from sneakers to a stylish sandal or flat. Also, carry a great handbag in a contrasting color or luxury hide. You will distinguish yourself from the workout memes with your own fashion identity and unique look.

Workout clothes are a staple in almost every closet, but why not make your look unique? It's as easy as stretch, breathe and smile.