There’s an old cliche that says men age better than women, and while such generalized rankings are equally annoying and insulting, we can all agree that French women mature better than any living thing.
Take famous French model and best-selling author Caroline de Maigret, who began her career in the ’90s when she was photographed by Mario Testino and who today carries on as a Chanel ambassador and street style queen (and now, at 45, somehow more more attractive than she did when she walked the catwalk for Marc Jacobs or Balenciaga). She’s also generous, having co-authored a collection of essays and advice titled with longtime friend and writing partner Sophie Mas — an equally chic film producer Older but better but older. The funny, poignant and expression The French series of unexpected reflections range from why you should consider Keith Richards your style icon to how you can stay vital. (“If you show insatiable curiosity, you’ll look younger than a new pair of breasts.”)
We sat down with de Maigret and Mas to discuss the joys of growing up, the evolution of style and the “little surprises that make you feel like you’re not part of the youth club anymore, even though your brain still thinks it is.” one is.”
- 0.0.1 In the book, you describe the process of realizing you’ve reached a certain stage as both funny and painful, like when you go to your skin to have a birthmark checked and they suddenly suggest Botox.
- 0.0.2 People see you as a style judge, but what do you think makes your style unique?
- 0.0.3 What’s that one piece that makes you feel like the best version of yourself?
- 0.0.4 You wrote about how women’s midlife crisis isn’t going the way you envisioned it. What was surprising?
- 0.0.5 Speaking of balance, when was the last time you had to put ice cubes on your face – one of the book’s recommended beauty hacks?
- 0.0.6 Do you feel like an adult?
- 0.1 Timeless wardrobe clips that every woman should own
- 1 An oversized blazer
- 2 A crisp white shirt
- 3 Paragraphs with Attitude
In the book, you describe the process of realizing you’ve reached a certain stage as both funny and painful, like when you go to your skin to have a birthmark checked and they suddenly suggest Botox.
DE MAIGRET: “Or when you go to the gynecologist and she tells you that if you want one, it’s your last chance to have a baby. Or when a girl in her 30s compliments you and tells you that she wants to be like you when she’s old and you’re like, “Wait — I thought we were the same age!” In a way, she’s just giving away yours Skin because your soul feels different. While I love the knowledge and serenity that I’ve gained with age, I just didn’t understand that I was becoming a different woman, the woman who comes after the young woman.”
People see you as a style judge, but what do you think makes your style unique?
DE MAIGRET: “Style is an expression of your personality – the first thing people see about you is your clothes. I go for something androgynous because it suits my body and face the best. You have to try things on and find out what works – and then push a little bit. It’s fun to find the edge in fashion.”
MAS: “When we were younger, we were wilder. It’s funny – as we get older, we try to be more feminine. I think we were afraid of it [feminine] In front.”
DE MAIGRET: “We felt more secure when we were a bit more masculine in meetings.” MAS: “Now I allow myself to try new things. When I was younger and saw a woman with great style, I always thought, “Wow, she’s brave” – and now I understand why. Compared to [when I was in] In my 20s, I have an urge to be more feminine and bold.”
What’s that one piece that makes you feel like the best version of yourself?
DE MAIGRET: “For me it’s a leather jacket – like the one I’m wearing right now. I like the fact that you’re stylish right off the bat. It gives me an edge and it’s like armor – I feel protected in it.”
MAS: “To me it’s a navy blue jacket that used to be part of a tuxedo, but I never really wore the pants. It’s a serious jacket that I wear to feel confident: it’s very classy and timeless, but I can wear it with jeans.”
You wrote about how women’s midlife crisis isn’t going the way you envisioned it. What was surprising?
DE MAIGRET: “It’s a bit cliche, but I thought it was only for men living a second youth with a young girl – then I realized it wasn’t. My crisis brought many thunderstorms into my life. I felt like everything was happening for the last time. My brain started telling me that this was the last time I would be hot or sensual so I better try new experiences and fun, I’ve been with someone for 15 years now. My brain told me it was my last chance to start a new career, which is completely insane. It took me about 10 months to get over this and to realize that you need to work on your past so it doesn’t become your future and to come to the new me that is much more enlightened, serene and calm than before, as well as much nicer to myself and to others. So it’s all for the better, but it’s been tough for me and the people around me. We even had to take a break from writing this book because I went out every night.”
MAS: “We are both optimistic people, so we try to see the light at the end of the tunnel and learn from a crisis. As someone turning 40 this year, I find myself leaving my old self behind. It’s interesting to think about what I wanted when I was 25 and what I want now and try to balance the two.”
Speaking of balance, when was the last time you had to put ice cubes on your face – one of the book’s recommended beauty hacks?
DE MAIGRET: “Last week! [Laughs] Hangovers aren’t the same anymore – your face isn’t the same anymore, your hair isn’t the same anymore. You don’t know how you’re going to wake up! Things change. It’s not that easy, but I still go out a lot. I go to concerts a lot and like to party. I’m a night owl.”
Do you feel like an adult?
MAS: “We joke that some days we feel 18 and some days we feel 86. It varies, but honestly? Probably not. That’s the exciting thing about life. Age should never be an excuse. There are so many things we need to experience. We have to have fun, go out, be curious!”
DE MAIGRET: What does it mean to be an adult? It doesn’t feel like what we imagined. When we were kids, adults were like aliens, and I still don’t feel like an adult when I meet someone who actually looks like one. But then having little kids makes me feel ancient. My son is 14 and I think I’m 80 forever for him. He had a substitute teacher and told me she was that old. I asked him exactly how old, and when he didn’t know, I said, ‘Well, how much older is she than me?’ And he said, ‘Ah! She’s not that old!’ [Laughs] Despite that, I still feel like I still have so much ahead of me.”
Timeless wardrobe clips that every woman should own
An oversized blazer
“We like 24-hour plays,” explains de Maigret. “A blazer is always a good piece; One that’s perfectly sized can take you anywhere.” Wool and Silk Blazer, Raey ($682, at matchesfashion.com)
A crisp white shirt
“It works at the weekend, at a cocktail party with a nice skirt, or at a meeting,” says Caroline de Maigret. “Sophie and I always like to undo one button too many, kind of like Katharine Hepburn.” Cotton and polyester shirt, Banana Republic ($95, bananarepublic.ca)
Paragraphs with Attitude
“Sure, they’re good for going out,” says de Maigret, “but I like a pair of heels for days when I wake up in a good mood and feel sexy and want to take on the world — which I certainly don’t do every day.” Mesh and Velvet Pumps, Stuart Weitzman ($516, at shopbop.com)
This article originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of ELLE Canada. Subscribe here.
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