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!

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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.