Why is it that French women are, on the whole, so much more stylish and self-possessed than the rest of the continent? Is it because they invented the word chic?
I think it’s largely down to fashion, but according to Tamiko Zablith it’s got a lot to do with attitude. You won’t find Gallic ladies fumbling with which knife to use when dining at a posh restaurant, she says, nor will they struggle through small talk at a party, eking out mundane weather chat because they can’t think of anything else to talk about. That’s because they’re well-versed in the art of savoir vivre – the French term that means ‘to know how to live’ or, essentially, how to get the most out of life.
Zablith, of Minding Manners, was on hand to deliver a lesson in French etiquette last Monday night at the launch of Frenchologie.com, and Jo and I were there, hoping to pick up some pearls of Parisian wisdom.
Frenchologie is an online store stocking only French made and designed wares. From heels to homeware, jewellery to jams, the selection is curated by founders Beatrice Drovandi and Cécilia Cauville to cater to your every je ne sais quoi.
So, what did we learn in our Frenchologie lesson last week? Here are three top tips I took away:
- At parties, always hold your drink in your left hand. That way you’re ever ready to shake hands with your right and don’t have to hastily swap your drink over or, worse still, go in for one of those clumsy opposite hand shakes.
- Relinquish that oh so British desire to talk about the weather in social settings. Beatrice Drovandi and Cécilia CauvilleThe French love a debate so make sure you’re up to date with culture and current affairs and be prepared to argue your corner.
- Don’t feel that you have to wear a suit in all business and formal occasions. Take your style cues from the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg and Vanessa Paradis and inject a bit of insouciance into your wardrobe.
After the talk, we were treated to a cheese and wine tasting session. The swooningly French owner of wine bar Antidote off Carnaby Street, where the event was held, talked us through a fromage menu straight from the supplier of many of London’s Michelin starred restaurants. A soft, tangy goat’s cheese spread thickly on crusty brown bread and drizzled with &Terra rosemary honey (available from Frenchologie) was my favourite – it was so divine I swear it made my taste buds shout ooh la la.
Click through the gallery below to check out some of the fine Frenchologie pieces that were on show last week (including Jo modelling some very cool jewellery), and gawp at the cheese and charcuterie porn. Warning: this is probably going to make you very hungry.