Lessons from Madame Chic

Sunday night I was watching Un Bonheur N'arrive Jamais Seul which came out in cinemas this past summer in France (Happiness Never Comes Alone in English). It stars Gad Elmaleh, an actor I adore, and Sophie Marceau who I find to be a gorgeous representation of the French woman I would die to be.

She is beautiful, always well-dressed, and her hair and makeup are always subtle. She is not too skinny or too fat, classy, and quietly sophisticated.

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Sophie Marceau in Un Bonheur N'arrive Jamais Seul
Sophie Marceau in Un Bonheur N'arrive Jamais Seul: even in a simple man's shirt she looks devastating!

I have written before about my fascination with French women. To me, they are an enigma, something I can try to imitate. I know I am not the only one who admires these women. Trust me it only takes one trip to France, or to encounter one French neighbor who has immigrated to the U.S., or a French teacher to get you intrigued.

Madame Chic

That's exactly what happened to Jennifer Scott, author of the new book Lessons from Madame Chic, which releases today. Jennifer first traveled to France as an exchange student and found herself living with the classic French family and then a second experience with one that was less conventional.

She got to experience both sides of bobo (bourgeois and bohémienne) and despite their differences, their tenets of health, beauty, and fashion aligned.

Jennifer has taken the “20 stylish secrets [she] learned while living in Paris” and shares them in her book. With the lessons she learned and now shares, you too can channel Coco, Audrey, or in my case Sophie. But let me give you a word of caution:  it isn't easy.

However, Lessons From Madame Chic is an excellent guide to making the work achievable and worthwhile. There are recipes and clothing suggestions – everything you will need to set you on the path to your inner Frenchwoman!

Jennifer Scott author of Madame Chic
Jennifer Scott author of Madame Chic

She has a very conversational style and the book flows very well, she recaps every section highlighting the main tips and tricks. It's a must-have book for anyone seeking to emulate that unique flair and joie de vivre that French women possess.

If I were you I'd pick up a few copies for all your girlfriends, the holidays are around the corner and it is a perfect gift. You can catch more of Jennifer on her blog, The Daily Connoisseur, where she has been blogging for several years.

If you don't believe what I have to say, maybe the New York Times will convince you!


  1. I really admire how French women embrace/enhance their own natural beauty instead of forcing a look or haircut that is trending.

    1. @Jeanne, that classicness about them is what I admire most.

  2. Carol Baxter says:

    I love how French women build well-edited wardrobes. They don’t buy items in bulk or purchase just because something is on sale. They thoughtfully choose clothing and accessories that they truly love — those items that make the most of their figures and personalities.

    1. @Carol, could not agree more. That is definitely something I have tried to replicate.

  3. I admire older French women who continue to look really good in simple makeup and simple clothing choices while maintaining sophistication.

    1. @Jennie, so true!

  4. Cindy White says:

    Loved – Lessons from Madam Chic. I bought a copy for myself then 2 copies for neices last year for Christmas. Now I think I need the hardback! It’s fun and informative and a great little reference book.

    1. @Cindy, I couldn’t agree more!

  5. Maureen C says:

    I adore Marion Cotillard; she always appears to have a casual elegance about her.

    1. @Marion, she is amazing.

  6. I’ve been following Jennifer Scott’s blog for a while, and one of the most fascinating traits she has discussed is the idea of cultivating an air of mystery, as the French do so well. I feel like in America we often feel the need to over-divulge information. For example, when I first meet someone my natural instinct is to ask what they do for a living. In France this is such a social guffaw, and I think being selective about who we tell certain things to should be the norm.

    1. @Amanda, it is really hard to not be so American when it comes to this topic, I can tell this was tough for me when I lived in France!

  7. C. Catherine says:

    My favorite aspect of French women is that they don’t lose their identity when they become mothers. They are still chic and pulled-together. They still have their own interests and although they love their children, they are still facsinating. It is not as though they “turn off” their femininity until their youngest is packed off to college. I for one would love to go to a party where the mothers discussed interesting things, rather than talk all about their children and complain about their spouses (this also falls under the “Maintain an Air of Mystery” section). Even though you are a parent, you can still be a woman.

    1. @C.Catherine, amen to that statement! I have had friends who have become someone I no longer recognized after having kids, they should take a lesson from the French!

  8. I have learned so much by reading Mireille Guiliano’s books about the French woman’s lifestyle! Since I enjoyed her books, I am anxious to read Lessons from Madame Chic.

  9. Krysten H says:

    I love how they keep their wardrobe so classic and spend their money on quality, not quantity. I also like how they focus on food and conversation at dinnertime and not sit in front of the TV while eating.

    1. @Krysten, it took me a while to learn how to do my closet that way, but it totally works!

  10. Carol White says:

    Sophie Marceau has to be one of the most effortlessly beautiful women ever. Of course, she’s French – simply styled. I’m looking forward to reading Jennifer’s book.

    1. @Carol, I love her. I think you will really enjoy the book, it is a good read.

  11. Now that the miserably hot and humid summer is over, I plan to start making an effort to wear a scarf at least a couple days/week. I love the look!

    1. @Mary, I wear scarves in the hotter weather, but then again San Francisco isn’t humid!

  12. One French trait that I find intriguing is the attention to the quality of food. Buying locally, eating locally – cheese and wine are great examples of this in France. And not depriving yourself of the great pleasure of enjoying food, quality over quantity.

    1. @Monique, I think that is the most important one of all. If you eat well your health and beauty will follow.

  13. Jessica T. says:

    I love and admire Joan of Arc, because in a century (in a millenium!) when women were not allowed to have a voice, as a simple peasant girl, inspired thousands to follow her and led an army to several major victories. If that’s not the definition of “je ne sais quoi”, I don’t know what is.

    1. @Jessica, that is such a great pick and you are so right, she epitomizes a woman that we should all try to emulate.

  14. I have never understood why in our American culture people’s unique beauty and differences are so looked down upon. Women feel forced to wear makeup with the idea we have to look like something other than we do. We feel self-conscience because clothes are made for the masses and actually fit no one. I LOVE how French culture is different and says you are beautiful, lets accentuate the best! Lets alter the clothes to fit us (real people) and be positive and enjoy life! Use only a tiny bit of makeup to enhance the beauty that is already there and take care of ourselves properly ! To me, the French are just using common sense there.

    1. @Alisha, well said and I couldn’t agree more. The US is a melting pot yet they try to set one standard for beauty for everyone and it just doesn’t work! When I first lived in France it took me a while to “get over” people of TV having unibrows – we are so used to that not being cool, in France they don’t care, they go with it!

  15. I find that French women are not afraid to age. They really take care of themselves but they also learn to let nature move on rather than fight it in an artificial way.

    1. @Ophelia, it’s true they embrace it and take it head on!

  16. For me, the lovely Audrey Tautou is the quintessential French woman.

    1. @Sheila, I could not agree more. She has been hiding out lately, I am not sure what she is up to, but I am now curious to find out!

  17. Mireille Guiliano is a French woman whom I greatly admire; her books have changed the way I eat and think about food, finally embracing pleasure and eating what I love without guilt. I also agree with the comments above about motherhood in France. I’m trying to stay chic as I raise my toddler, challenging but worth it. I know that French women aren’t perfect, but they certainly inspire me to make the effort every day.

    1. @Courtney, I love Mireille book to, I refer to it often.

  18. I love the idea of completely accepting–no! reveling in!–who you are and how you look without all the doubt and insecurities we Americans spend so much time on.

  19. Rhiannon Perry says:

    I love everything about Audrey Tautou! I starting getting curious about french women after reading Bringing Up Bebe. Having a degree in child development, I was completely fascinated by their approach to child rearing.

    1. @Rhiannon, I haven’t read the book because I don’t have kids, but I might just read it anyway. I read another French culture book which had parts on child-rearing and I learned some things about the dynamic between my husband and his mother which were fascinating!

  20. I have always admired Jeanne Moreau. She has absolutely the sexiest voice ever! As she has grown older, she has become even more alluring, beautiful, and mysterious. You just know that she has a past, and it is most certainly an interesing one. Her mystery and sense of intrigue and enigma are two of her greatest attractions – she is never too forthcoming and you are left wondering if you will ever solve the mystery of just who she is (probably not, which only adds to her glamour!) Truly a great actress and fascinating Frenchwoman.

    1. @Sophie, that is a great choice – I love watching old movies with her in them.

  21. I love the classic, well edited wardrobe. The scarves…quality over quantity.

    1. @Courtney, those are my two favorite aspects to the French women’s wardrobe! I am hopelessly addicted to scarves!

  22. Irene @ Speed Chic says:

    How is it certain gals can pull of that white button down shirt thang and make it look so good? I always look like I am off to my husband’s office, dressed as my husband, in those things! Thanks for the book suggestion, looks like fun and Happy SITS day!

    1. @Irene, it is all about the cut, look for more feminine cuts to avoid the “my husband’s shirt” look, trust me, I made this mistake for quite a long time. I love white shirts, but white is not always as forgiving as darker colors when it comes to the belly, so I don’t wear them as often as I’d like!

  23. I love Clotilde Dusoulier! Her blog and books are fantastic… I love her attitude towards food, life, and storytelling.

    1. @Michelle, that is an excellent choice, she is wonderful!

  24. Elizabeth says:

    I love all French women who age gracefully and always dress for the occasion.

  25. The French woman I admire most is Leslie Caron. I grew up watching classic musicals, and I still remember the first time I saw “Gigi,” and then of course the unforgettable “An American in Paris.” There was just something different about her from other actresses – the je ne sais quoi that is so undefinable, yet most definitely real. The way she spoke, the way she carried herself, that inherent combination of confidence and femininity, simply can’t be duplicated. And I think she’s still just a beautiful today as she was then – maybe more so.

    1. @Jodi, that is another good one and I have both those movies! And yes, not completely duplicatable, but we can try 😉 !

  26. Ginger McGuire says:

    I appreciate French women’s approach to food: enjoy everything, from fresh fruits to decadent desserts – they appear to keep it all in balance without over indulging.

  27. Jo @ Let's Face the Music says:

    I admire a French woman’s aloofness. It saves one from being bombarded with all kinds of foolishness. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

    1. @Jo, that mysteriousness and mystique is one of their most alluring features! Paris is very much the same way to me!

  28. I admire the way the quintessential French woman makes everyday experiences more elegant. As Jennifer mentions in the original blog posts, Madame Chic’s family ” enjoyed a three course (minimum) sit down dinner every single night.” What a lovely way to live!

  29. Ana Bertolucci says:

    I admire my French grandmother, Eleonore. She is 90 years old and still effortlessly and incredibly stylish. Although she has lived in the U.S. for most of her life now, she still exudes “french-ness”! Everything from her French accent to her beautiful skin, gorgeous white hair, and classic way of dress. She cooks delicious and simple real food meals for herself, sets the table with cloth napkins, and always makes everything appear so lovely. She still enjoys a glass of red wine in the daytime and always wears lipstick. She is always put together and such a classic!

    1. @Ana, your grandmother sounds like a beautiful and amazing woman and the very essence of Frenchness!

  30. Sounds like a fascinating book.. I love French women’s sense of style, it’s so effortless and chic. But most of all I love their confidence!

  31. Lady Jennie says:

    I keep seeing that movie for sale and I wonder if it’s worth buying. You didn’t mention if you liked it. This book looks really good, although once I started living here permanently, I pretty much gave up on trying to be French. For better or for worse.

    1. @Jennie, I did like it…a lot…I’ve watched it twice already.

  32. Terri Betz says:

    French women also have a collected calm about them that I admire! I wish to be so in control and cool and collected! The mysterious factor is hard to pull off for me. 🙂

    1. @Terri, you and me both!

  33. Natalie Ginnow says:

    I am interested in reading this book. I truly desire the simple elegance and confidence French women display. They take the time to enjoy their meals, and seldom over indulge. A glass of wine at dinner, then a small square of dark chocolate for dessert. An espresso and croissant is like a taste of heaven. Yes, I wish to emulate their way of life, and Joie de Vivre.

    1. @Natalie, I couldn’t agree more, they know how to live!

  34. Thank you for letting me know about this book…I totally want to read it! French women always look so effortlessly amazing, I need more of that in my life. And Jennifer Scott is gorgeous.


    She seems like a insightful writer. wish i knew this sooner. 🙂

  36. Barbara Stenby says:

    I find french women and french film fascinating. I have always wanted to go to Paris but have never been past Jersey. It is on my bucket list to stroll the Champs-Élysées
    I will definitely check out Jennifers blog !

    1. @Barbara, I hope you get there one day. Until then, you can just add a little French to your life!

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