Interview Style

Interview with Jennifer L. Scott

Today’s interview is with Jennifer L. Scott, writer and author of Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris. I first came across Lessons from Madame Chic while at Anthropologie – after I had finished browsing, I headed towards the couches to rescue my husband, when I spied this book on the table. It was a thoroughly charming and enjoyable read, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview the author herself. Enjoy meeting Jennifer!

Jennifer L. Scott_C Kevin McIntyre

Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?

My name is Jennifer L. Scott. I am a writer residing in Santa Monica, CA.

You recently published a book – Lessons from Madame Chic. Can you share a bit about the process you went through, start to finish, to complete this book? 

Lessons from Madame Chic started as a series on my blog, the Daily Connoisseur. It was called, “The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris”. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I started my blog so that I could get in the habit of writing daily. I had so much more to say on the subject than the short blog posts I wrote, so I knew that I had to write the book.

I never expected this level of success. I thought a few hundred people might read it if I was lucky. Since publication it has been embraced by thousands of people on an international scale. It’s been truly wonderful.

JenniferLScott

In your book, you describe how Madame Chic herself is fully made up and ready to go bright and early in the morning, by the time everybody else wakes up. That’s very intimidating to me! Can you share your “morning routine” and what you do to be appropriately ready?

Looking presentable during the day is very important to me so I try to get up 20 minutes before the rest of the family to get ready. In this time I quickly bathe, do my hair, apply a 5 minute “no makeup look” and dress for the day. Picking out my clothes is effortless because having a capsule wardrobe makes the choice for “what on earth to wear” quite easy.

In Madame Chic, you also introduce the idea of a “10 item wardrobe”. Can you share more about this concept? How closely do you stick to the 10 item rule?

Adopting a 10 item wardrobe will liberate you from the tyranny of the overstuffed closet. Most of us have too many clothes. Clothes that don’t fit us. Clothes we don’t even like. Clothes that we never wear, but for some unknown reason, hang on to. By creating a capsule wardrobe for yourself of around ten core items, plus extras, you can hone in on your true style, wear your best on a daily basis and not fret every morning over what to wear. The 10 item wardrobe is not restrictive and does not need to be taken literally.  You can have ten core items, or twenty if it suits you. It is the concept and the lifestyle change you take from it that matters. I adhere to the ten items pretty closely and thoroughly enjoy the process.

On that note – what are some of the most worn and cherished items in your closet? 

Because I have so few clothes they all get heavily worn. This summer I’ve been wearing my silk dresses— some of which I dry clean, some of which I launder at home— and they are all wearing in rather nicely. My blazers and ballet flats are very cherished as are my winter coats. I tend to purchase high quality accessories, shoes and outerwear, which complement my day clothes nicely.

Jennifer looking chic...even on crutches!

What’s a lesson about building the perfect wardrobe that you have learned over time?

One must be patient and make careful and calculated decisions when adding to the wardrobe. Become discerning and only let quality clothes that speak of your true style hang in your closet.

I live in California and unfortunately do have a penchant for wearing yoga pants in public. Is there any possible way to marry this with the Parisian way of life?

Yes. Only wear yoga pants when doing yoga.

You describe Madame Chic as frequently cooking beautiful, perfect meals for her family. What would you suggest for an aspiring Madame Chic who works full time? Do men ever play a role in traditional “female” tasks in the home, and what role should they play?

For someone who works full time, make friends with your slow cooker. It’s lovely to start a meal in the morning and come home to a delectable roast in the evening. Keeping a well-run home is a group effort and men absolutely play a part in helping it all run smoothly. Old fashioned concepts of women doing all of the housework are very outdated. Most men enjoy cooking, for example, and in many households I know, the men do all of the cooking. It’s just a matter of finding the right balance for your family. My husband is excellent with the kids and thankfully has a job that allows him to be with them a lot throughout the day. It’s about creating a harmonious balance with your partner and coexisting in concert. It’s not about being a martyr. Men and women both should enjoy the process.

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I admire the French culture, as many Americans do. In your experience, what are some aspects of American culture admired by the French?

I think the French admire our friendliness, openness and sense of adventure.

What are some of your other passions and hobbies?

I am passionate about gardening, cooking, reading and classical music.

Finally…please share something surprising about yourself!

I am a fanatic for mysteries and hope to have my own mystery series published one day.

 

I had to laugh to myself again when I read Jennifer’s reply to my yoga pants question – so far, I’ve been really limiting my public wearing to weekend Whole Foods runs. Baby steps, Jennifer!

Thank you to the lovely Jennifer for sharing of her wonderful insights on style, cooking and Parisian life here with us today. For more of Jennifer, you can visit her blog, and find her book on Amazon

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  • Pat
    October 10, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I’ve seen her book!

  • Groupthink7
    October 10, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Hello Katherine, First I would like to say, I admire you and love your blog. Your blog is my best blog ever to visit. Anyways, this interview is so crazy. Before, I came to your blog today, I was reading the story of Jennifer L. Scott this morning and on the train. This is tres crazy. I have taken your advise and downsized my purse collection along with shoes and clothing. I found that the older that I get, I need less stuff. I found it hard to not buy things especially working at Ann Taylor part-time. Now, I buy things I absolutely love, no matter the cost. Meaning, buy less but pay more. So far, I have bought me a Vince Shearling I have been eyeing. I wanted a black Shearling for a long time and I finally found one that fits my frame. Although, it cost more than a monthly mortgage, I love it. That means I will have to buy less. I always admired the simplicity of the French. My colleagues at Ann Taylor make fun of me for wearing neutral colors. This interview was well needed. Thanks and Many Blessings!

    • Katherine
      October 10, 2013 at 11:02 am

      Thank you so much for your very kind comment 🙂 How funny that you were just reading about Jennifer!

      Your Vince shearling sounds beautiful (I LOVE shearling) and black will be perfect and super easy to maintain as well. Wear it in good health!

  • Becky
    October 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I have been following Jennifer since the beginning of her blog, and reading her book was a ‘lightbulb’ moment. Over the past 2 years, I completely purged, and curated my wardrobe to a small, delightful one that I enjoy wearing. No more hanging on to clothes I seldom wear. If something comes in, something must go out. Between Jennifer’s book, and the blog the Vivienne Files, I have become much more discerning about what I buy. In fact, on the Vivienne Files blog, I love the author’s mantra that she doesn’t need to own everything that is beautiful! A good reminder when shopping! I’m almost 60, but you are never too old to learn!

    • Katherine
      October 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      That’s a fantastic quote from the Vivienne Files and so true!

  • best of BKLYN
    October 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Re: the yoga pants issue- go buy a pair of Uniqlo’s legging pants. They have pockets, look like pants, and feel like yoga pants. It’s a win-win, and they’re perfect with longer tunics and stuff.

    • Katherine
      October 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      I just looked them up, they look great! Thank you for the recommendation!

  • Ava
    October 10, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Hi Kat! 🙂

    I must be the only person here who was not familiar with Jennifer’s blog, but I will surely read it now and share w my friends 😉 Thanks!

    What I liked about this post, surprisingly, was that it was focused on her blog and book. Normally, I get all excited when you interview guests bc I love seeing what fabulous accessories they had to show-and-tell :-). I expected myself to be a bit bummed out by the lack of her showing us her accessories especially given her tenets of style but I guess it leaves more the imagination 🙂

    Great post! Thanks, Kat!
    🙂
    Ava

    • Katherine
      October 10, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Ava, so glad that you enjoyed it and the focus on her book 🙂 Also hope that you scored at the H Manhassat sale with lots of goodies!

      • Ava
        October 11, 2013 at 7:01 am

        (sniffle) no, not me. I wasn’t able to make it out there but my friends who did . . . boy oh boy. Can we say insanity?

        Apparently the store was wiped out by day two, go figure!
        :-/

        But friends got various enamels, scarves, ties, and leather goods at (very minimum, though in many cases more) fifty percent off.

        And it was enamels that are currently at regular price at all the other stores — how do I know? All my friends went and checked just to see if the styles they happily purchased would be discontinued/stopped, nope. Talk about luck!

        🙂 Next time, right? 🙂

        LOL!

        Ava

  • Clarice
    October 10, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Love this interview and your blog !

    • Katherine
      October 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm

      Thank you very much, Clarice!

  • Adele
    October 10, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    The yoga pants answer was brill, & so true, shame on you Katherine!!!!!
    Have a fab weekend Katherine xoxo
    http://www.intotheblonde.com/

  • amy b.s.
    October 11, 2013 at 8:04 am

    the yoga pants answer really is awesome.

  • Marlene @ chocolatecookiesandcandies
    October 11, 2013 at 9:15 am

    I’ve learned to make do with a lot less since moving to the UK. I took with me 1/10th of the contents of my wardrobe and got rid of everything. I’ve learned that getting rid of stuff is harder than buying them!

  • Beau
    October 11, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Thank you for the interview, Katherine!
    You have a chic community of readers and with your permission I would like to ask for style advise.

    On the third pictute lovely Jennifer featured with LV Totally bag.
    I’m concidering getting it since it has all the features that I like in an everyday versatile (work/weekend/travel) tote with one exception – monogramm canvas…

    Dear Ladies, is LV monogramm canvas TACKY or CHIC?
    To your refined eye, is LV Totally monogramm canvas tote diaper bag lke or elegant?
    Thank you.

    • Katherine
      October 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      Hi Beau,

      I understand your hesitation with monogram canvas and I’ve been through that myself. To me, it’s really all about how you wear it. I love LV monogram canvas bags on women who USE the bag as precisely that – a bag- versus a status symbol, a giant logo on their arm just to be waved around. I think even the most expensive, croc Birkin bag will end up looking tacky that way so it’s not limited to LV canvas.

      I think Jennifer wears the bag very well and I also liked how Angelina Jolie wears hers (if you just Google Image search Angelina Jolie LV bag). You can see that they actually wear their bag, that it gets used frequently. Based on how you describe yourself and your past comments it’s clear that you would be using the bag the same way, so my vote would be elegant on you 🙂

      • Groupthink7
        October 14, 2013 at 10:26 am

        I actually have LV Cabas Mezza bag. I am wearing it now. I bought the bag back in 2007. It is my commute bag. I travel back and forth on the train and in between two jobs. This is definitely the perfect work horse bag.

  • Tippy
    October 11, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I was thrilled to see this interview when I came to your blog this morning! I read Jennifer’s book on a recent vacation and it inspired me to really drill down my wardrobe. In fact, her book along with your blog have been a huge help (especially your post on the closet trim down for bags–I’ve refered to that post countless times!).

    • Katherine
      October 11, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Tippy, thank you so much, I’m so glad that the post was helpful to you! I still keep trying to keep my bags to a minimum but it’s definitely a challenge!

  • Groupthink7
    October 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    That is how I am feeling about the Celine Luggage. I have a black one from two years ago and I am thinking about selling it. I like it; however, I don’t love it anymore. I see it everywhere. Katherine, do you think the bag is a bit trendy now?

    • Katherine
      October 14, 2013 at 9:57 am

      It is a trendy bag but I think it got popular for a reason – it’s obviously super easy to use and can fit a lot. If you don’t love it anymore though, I would think about selling it 🙂

  • sesy hasan
    October 13, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Kat,
    I particularly like the book signing picture. She looks relaxed, natural and not over coiffed. Her appearance doesnt scream “iam having a celebrity moment “, and that’s what I like. Great!

    • Katherine
      October 14, 2013 at 9:56 am

      Yes she looks lovely in that photo!

  • Mary Zech
    October 14, 2013 at 11:17 am

    I love Jennifer’s book! It’s full of great tips and ideas. I’m re-reading the parts I highlighted again. It’s funny how I need reminding every now and then to keep looking presentable, use and wear my best things, etc. Love this interview! Charming.

  • http://spiritofcarolina.com
    November 1, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Currently it sounds like WordPress is the best blogging platform out there right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on
    your blog?