December 14, 2012

Book Review: "Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris" by Jennifer L. Scott

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Going to Paris is a dream of mine. I made it a goal to pay for my own trip before I turn 30... time is running out! Reading Jennifer's book "20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris" I felt was a great way to get introduced to the French culture. I know that there are many cultural differences between Americans and the French but this book pointed out a few that I was not aware of.

Americans have bad eating habits. This I know but wasn't aware that Parisians never eat on the go. Like most European countries, they make a meal a priority. They sit down to patiently enjoy a breakfast to start their day. Lunch is usually held at the local cafe over good conversation and dinner is 3-course sit down feast. If you maintain a healthy 3 meal diet there is usually no need for stuffing unhealthy snacks in your mouth throughout the day. They also don't believe you should multi-task while eating, it takes away from the experience (I'm terribly guilty of this!).

Parisians have a 10 item wardrobe. It freed you from a jam packed closet full of clothes that didn't fit and you'd never find an occasion to wear. With a smaller capsule wardrobe, each piece is special and dear to your heart. It does not include jackets/coats, special occasion clothes, accessories and shoes. Freeing up the clutter allows you to experiment with your wardrobe like you've never thought possible. Parisians were not ashamed to wear the same items in rotation unlike Americans.

French women have a stripped down beauty routine. I knew and love this about the French. You won't see acrylic nails in Paris or heavy makeup. They invest in quality skincare products and go for an au natural makeup look everyday. They keep well manicured nails but nothing bold or over the top. They practice good posture to give them confidence which completes an outfit. I love their philosophies except I do like to wear bold nail art (just not fake nails!).

Seek out the arts. I live in New York City, there are plenty of museums, plays, live musical performances to take in but I rarely make time to do so. I occasionally visit an exhibit when it's related to fashion and I love it. I need to go more often for inspiration like the Parisians. They really incorporate it into their every day lives. It was important to them to cultivate their minds. Turn off the reality TV and put away the gossip magazines and pick up a book.

Jennifer was also gracious enough to take time to answer a few of my questions. Here are her responses:

1. What was the writing process like?
Lessons from Madame Chic started as a series of posts called “The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris” on my blog, the Daily Connoisseur. I received such an interested response from readers, I decided to expand on the lessons I learned and record them in a book.

The writing process for this book was a lesson in discipline for me. I started Lessons from Madame Chic right after having my first baby. I had to fight through the exhaustion many new mothers face by working at night after the baby had gone to bed. At the time I thought, why on earth am I doing this?, but now I am happy I was so strict with myself.

2. How did blogging at The Daily Connoisseur prepare you for being a published author?
Writing a blog is great preparation for being an author because it instills discipline in you and keeps your writing chops active. You also acquire a great understanding of what your readers want to read, which is very helpful.

3. What was the best (or favorite) advice you learned from Madame Chic?
My favorite advice from Madame Chic was to always use the best things you have. We all go through life saving our best for ‘special occasions’. The trouble is, special occasions rarely occur. Once I accepted that I deserve to use my best on a daily basis my life changed in profound ways.

4. What is the biggest misconception we have about Parisians?
Many people think Parisians are rude which is not the case at all! They just aren’t as openly friendly as we are in America. They tend to guard their thoughts and emotions and only share them selectively. Some people call this rude, I call it cultivating an air of mystery.

5. What advice would you have bloggers who are looking to publish their own book?
Build your audience with your blog. If you are unable to get published the traditional way, you can always self publish your work, in which case your blog reader-base will come in handy. Blogging is a fantastic marketing tool for any published author to help spread the word about their book.

I initially self-published Lessons from Madame Chic after facing rejection from dozens of literary agents. The self-published version did really well and became a best-seller. A few months after self-publishing it, Simon & Schuster picked it up! So the moral of the story is: never give up.

Thanks Jennifer! What have you read recently?



  1. Sounds like a great book and looks like it has some great tips. I rarely eat on the go too - I love long sit down meals (we had a 2 hour 'team lunch' at work the other day).
    I so wish I could have a small capsule wardrobe too! My overflowing wardrobe stresses me out!

    1. Yeah a 2 hour lunch would never happen in the states haha or at least in NYC. I was always the odd one at work who wanted to go out and sit somewhere rather than eat in front of my computer.

      I'm trying to slim down my wardrobe as well. No more impulse buys!

  2. This does look like a really fun book. And one with such an eye catching cover as well.

  3. What an interesting post Kim, I will have to check this book out. It's also cool to hear the author's perspective about her book. I would love to visit Paris again- I've been once, but it was only for a few short days and I feel like I only saw the tiniest sliver of that amazing city.

    1. Aww yeah I feel like I need to live there in order to soak it all in :)


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