Book Review: Lessons from Madame Chic

If you're wondering what I was doing this weekend besides --of course-- cooking, cleaning, going to a birthday party, the beach, and our favorite burger joint...I was reading. This book was THAT good. I made time during an extra busy weekend to blow through it and I enjoyed every... single... moment. This book was fun!! I randomly picked it up at the library on Thursday morning during the 5 minutes I have to peruse the non-children's books before my two year old's gleeful screams get us thrown out of there. The name caught my attention Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris. Admittedly, I'm a bit of a Francophile. My family is from New Orleans: a city with a strong French influence. Also, I took French language classes from the sixth grade all the way through my junior year of college. Needless to say, I'm pretty intrigued by French culture. As a stay at home mother of three, I could seriously use some style secrets.

What I loved the most about this book was its emphasis on simplicity and finding the beauty in everyday, ordinary occurrences. I was kind of expecting it to encourage a sort of lifestyle that would not be practical for me to attain, but the advice shared in this little gem could be practiced by any woman at any stage of life with any income.The book is broken up into three parts. Part one covers diet and exercise; part two covers style and beauty, and part 3 covers how to live well. The chapters are small and easy to digest. The brand of femininity that the author proposes is refreshing and inspiring. I left the book with a deeper resolve to find and bring beauty into every area of my home and life.

To give you just a glimpse of what you'll find in Lessons from Madame Chic, I'll share two of the chapters that inspired me the most. First let's talk about Chapter 4, "Liberate Yourself with the Ten-Item Wardrobe." While the author, Jennifer L. Scott, was living in France, she noticed that most of the French rely on a ten-item wardrobe and wear, " the same clothes in heavy rotation -- unapologetically and with great panache." They concentrate not on quantity but on quality, and not on trendy items but on classic pieces that will last more than one season. They aim to not have just a bunch of clothes they like but a few items that they love. After I finished the book, I headed over to the author's blog, and I found that she had posted a video of her ten-item fall/winter wardrobe. It's seriously inspiring. Her clothes are stylish, classic, and modest in the best way. Right now I'm in a bit of an awkward stage. I'm somewhere in between my pregnancy and pre-pregnancy weight so only half of my clothes fit. After looking critically at some of my clothing, I'm realizing that in some ways I still dress like a college student (all those post-college years I spent working in college ministry probably have something to do with it), and I could use a more mature look. After all, I am 31 years old. I can't wait to try out the ten-item wardrobe.

Another chapter that I found particularly interesting was chapter 15: "Practice the Art of Entertaining." In this chapter, Ms. Scott notes that, "France is truly a dinner party culture." The families she spent time with threw elaborate dinner parties at least once a week. My husband and I have found that really the only way to make friends as adults is to invite people into our home. The French start their dinner parties and even just their everyday meals with family with appetizers and drinks. This aperitif is usually served in the living room and used to break the ice and whet the appetite. This is something I hope to incorporate into our family's dinner party ritual. I'm usually the kind of hostess that has dinner ready to go when the guests arrive and I'm bustling around making sure everything is just right instead of relaxing and putting my guests at ease. I think the apertif could help calm me down and enjoy my guests.

There's so much more that I could say about this book. I enjoyed every chapter and will be incorporating so much of what I learned into my everyday life. Check it out!