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!
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.
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.
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.
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.