There’s no doubt about it, every time I go to Europe, I realize that life there is just different.

Not just that, European women are some of the chic-est beings in the world, they have fabulous style, and ooze confidence.  I always remind myself not to pack too casually when we go to Europe. European women, French and Italian women in particular, have amazing style!

This week I’m away to Italy with Mr. FrenchGardenHouse, for a fall flash antique buying trip to Parma, Italy.

{I’ll be sharing more about that in a later post in October!}

We will be attending a huge Antique Show, with a special group of American interior designers and antique dealers.  The Mercanteinfiera in Parma is a big show, dealers from all over Italy and the rest of Europe bring their best to this show.  I hope you’ll follow me on Instagram when I’m there.

Parma is the home of Parmesan cheese and Parma ham. So I’m looking forward to some amazing Italian cuisine, too!


Hoping what I packed will work for the chic streets of Italy, as I’m really only taking a minimal wardrobe.  I want to have lots of space left over to pack the treasures I find there to take home for the shop. The larger antiques I can’t resist will be shipped via container but those won’t arrive until December or later.

I like to hand carry the more delicate pieces that are small when we travel to buy antiques for FrenchGardenHouse. {I saw these candleholders last year in Europe, and am secretly obsessed!}


To embrace the European lifestyle, here are a few tips {rules, according to my grandmother} that will have you feeling tres magnifique!

Everything I know about gracious living I learned from my European grandparents. My grandmother, Aleida Verheuvel, had an incredible sense of style. She taught me to always act like a lady, to create a warm and welcoming home, how to arrange flowers, and to invite neighbors and friends over for tea. She was a force to be reconned with. I miss her every day!


BEST DRESSED.  I’ve mentioned this before, and I get a lot of teasing from my American-born girlfriends because I never go anywhere without a little make-up on {lipstick and mascara} and some accessories, ever.

There isn’t a single woman in Europe who would go outdoors in sweat pants, unless she’s jogging. period.  Everyone has a fashionable coat, a scarf, and great shoes.

For Europeans, looking good is a way of life. Even a quick trip to the market requires a certain level of chicness.


Some of my grandmother’s suggestions rules:

  1. There is no excuse for imperfect grooming.
  2. Find styles, colors, shapes and fabrics that work for you, stick with those. Trends come and go, what fits and looks good on you is forever.
  3. Buy the best you can afford. Cheap fabrics looks just that, cheap. Invest in real cotton, linen, cashmere and silk. {okay, on that one, there are nice polyesters out there that look amazing these days. The key word is “look amazing.”}
  4. Fit is everything. Take clothes that fit poorly to a tailor and have them professionally tailored. If something will never fit your body right, donate it.


You don’t have to live in a chateau to have a pleasing home, it’s not too difficult to make your home welcoming and a nice place to come to. Bring some beauty to your world.  My grandmother had fresh flowers in her living room every week, as do almost all European women.

Flowers don’t need to be all that expensive,  you can pick up a little bunch at the market, or cut a few flowers from your garden. There are times that I clip branches from our front garden and call it an arrangement, they look beautiful {at least I think so!} in this art deco vase.

Orchids or another type of flowering plant are a good substitute.



The whole concept of picking up a coffee and drinking it while driving somewhere is so foreign to European women.  When they drink coffee or tea, they make it an event.

A memorable break to spend savoring every sip, alone or in the company of a friend.


The same is true of savoring a drink together when they entertain.  When you are invited to a European woman’s home, it may well be a long visit. Often starting with a drink together, then dinner, then coffee and dessert, drinks again with a “nibble”, and sometimes another meal late into the morning hours!

Many Europeans live in smaller homes, so as the English say “needs, must.”  A welcoming drinks station can be in the living room, like the stylish bar HERE >   European women use their beautiful things, and are so adept at creating little beautiful vignettes almost anywhere.

You will not very likely find paper plates when European women entertain. They use their antiques, their silver, and their best glassware for guests.

Vintage Murano Goblets


My grandmother always said that perfect manners are the most elegant accessory any woman can have.

Though I rebelled as a little girl, I found myself saying that very same thing to my girls when they were young. Hopelessly old-fashioned? What do you think?

  • no woman is elegant and chic when swearing
  • good posture makes every woman look classy, and slimmer too!
  • smoking is never elegant
  • leave lots to the imagination….low-cut, skimpy and tight clothes are not for you!

For more posts like this, this is one of my most popular posts ever:




Here you can see last fall’s buying trip to Europe  >



CIAO for now!  The shop is open 24/7, all orders will be shipped after October 2nd.



  1. I loved every single word of this post!!!!….I hung on every word from you as you are certainly the epitome of a “lady of grace and style” Have a most wonderful, wonderful time in Italy. Oh I love those candlesticks too!

  2. Thank you so much Shirley! Looking forward to sharing about the great Italian adventure when we return!

  3. I love what they do with scarves. European women always look so chic with their scarves. Paired with just a plain black dress, their scarves bring a flash of beautiful colors that frame their faces.

    1. I agree, Jewel! A scarf is the perfect accessory, isn’t it? It makes every outfit look elegant, you are right!

  4. I agree with Shirley, I hung on every word. Looking forward to seeing the lovely items you buy on this trip. Enjoy this time with your husband as well as the work time.

  5. I agree with both Bonnie and Shirley. I loved reading this post this morning. I think people are a little too casual these days. I hope that you have a wonderful trip and find lots of wonderful treasures!

  6. Candi Duncan

    Oh! The candlesticks! Love them too. Wonderful post. We who had wonderful grandmothers are blessed. Hope your suitcase comes home packed tight, full of treasures! My last trip to Paris I had to buy a extra suitcase I got so carried away at the flea markets, but what fun unpacking everything.

  7. A wonderful post, especially the words,from your grandmother. Enjoy all the temptations you are bound to encounter.

  8. Elizabeth Beekman

    What a lovely way to start my day – savoring a cup of coffee along with your inspiring words – I look forward to seeing all the treasures you discover! Thank you. Elizabeth

    1. Elizabeth, thank you so much for joining me and for taking the time to leave a comment. It is so nice to meet you here.

  9. Gloria

    I live in Raleigh. I have noticed more and more young women wearing dresses and smart shoes. What an improvement from the last six or eight years of torn jeans and sloppy clothes. I have not been to Italy for ten years. I wish I cold be in your suitcase with those gems you always find. Maybe you will find more linens to temp me LOL.

  10. Ginger Valdes

    Lidy, I love this post! I went to a small private Catholic school, taught by nuns from France. They thought us French (because they didn’t speak much English) and the etiquette of being a chic lady. Those very things you mentioned were a mantra, but included no gum chewing, or putting your hands on your face or fingers in your mouth. I’m indoctrinated! Enjoy your trip!

  11. Ginger Valdes

    Mother Agnes would be very upset that I used the word thought instead of taught! Also wanted to say how fascinated I am with the gorgeous angel you use in your vignettes! She’s a beauty!
    XOXO, Ginger

  12. Bonnie Sullivan

    As I sit here this morning in my shorts & PARIS tee shirt (comfy for plant shopping) I realize that even dressed like this I Always wear small earrings!!!!
    Absolutely ? the articles, and look forward to every Tuesday.
    We here in Houston, have a long road ahead of us to get things back to normal. So many of us lost such important
    Mementos…, art work, etc., Where do they begin???
    My family was Blessed in a big way because we had just moved and most of our furniture was out of the house
    that had water. Unfortunately, that house was, and is, For Sale.

    Thank you Lidy, for your lovely articles and pictures !

    Bonnie Sullivan

    1. Bonnie, thank you for saying you look forward to the blog posts. I actually struggled with what to pre-write for the time when I’m on a buying trip, because when things happen where people loose homes, or the lives of the people they love, everything else seems meaningless and trite. I hope that I in no way give the impression of not caring, because my heart hurt with the people of Texas and Florida in a major way. Many of our clients live both in Texas and Florida, and I prayed for their safety. Because, while I sell antiques and hope to make your homes beautiful and a place of refuge from our crazy busy world, my heart is heavy for those who lost everything meaningful to them. In the end, I decided to email many of my clients personally right after the storms to make sure they were safe from harm, and continue to write about beauty and lighter things. Thank you Bonnie, I am so happy that you are safe, and that you are in a small way encouraged by my little blog posts. xo

  13. Ciao Lidy! Love love this post. In fact, I’ve gone back and re-read it several times. Have a wonderful trip to Italy. Here’s a little secret: although I write a blog about French decor, I am currently taking a class in Italian, hoping I will be able to talk to locals the next time I visit Italy. Italians are so friendly, outgoing and full of life; I just love them. My downfall is wearing jeans. So comfy, so resilient. Could I get away with them with a nice top and some earrings? Looking forward to seeing your loot! Pat at Bringing French Country Home

    1. Ciao Pat! I am currently speaking about three words of Italian and using English and hands and feet otherwise. The best way to shop Italy is with an Antiques Diva Guide, because they speak Italian and can do some negotiating in Italian. Wearing jeans is great! I wore jeans on this trip, with stretch {so they are almost like wearing pajamas}, and a nice shirt or top, and jewelry. It’s about the caring for yourself more than about what you wear, and European women in general have that down. xo

  14. I am so excited for you and your husband and your upcoming trip, Lidy. I’ve never been out of the country other than Canada and Mexico, and I really have to start nagging at my guy!!! ;-D

    Wonderful, thoughtful post. I’ve read articles about French women and their daily habits, which make American women sound like sloths. You did not allude to this in any way. I don’t think I’m alone when I say I agree with you on every point. Making your home beautiful, minding manners, wearing some makeup and nice clothing when you go out, You represent yourself visually. The younger set can get away without makeup or popping into shops with cute little outfits, but we mature women, we need to put our best foot forward.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings! Have a fab trip!

    Jane x

  15. Lidy, such a lovely post. My mother always put her make-up on before her day started. She was beautiful and elegant! Have a wonderful trip and I will be looking forward to your Instagram

  16. Thank you so much, Pam. I think all of us these days can use a small reminder to live each day in the most beautiful way possible. I am not speaking of expensive clothing, or luxurious things, merely of us, taking care of ourselves to live our best possible life.

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