Long And Lean… The “New” White Shirt

September 19, 2014

The New White Shirt, French Essence, Vicki Archer

Do you remember white “grandpa” shirts? Like over-size tuxedo shirts.

Bib fronted, slightly longer with or without pintucks… with or without detailing… and usually a wingless collar or mandarin style neckline.

They are back.

They might not be called after “grandpa’ anymore but that’s the thing about fashion, it’s a revolving door.

This season I am seeing the “new” white shirt everywhere.

It’s a great look… and the beauty is that there are plenty of these whites to choose from.

The key… finding the right length.

If you aren’t of glamazon height, too long and they will swamp you… the taller you are, the longer you can go.

Mine comes about midway.

I’m wearing the “new” white shirt with the Dannie or the Pixie pants.

This shirt looks great on it’s own but particulary good when worn with a cropped jacket.

Like a biker style leather or a “Chanel” style tweed.

The tails hanging out and the nipped in nature of the jacket slims the waist.

Add a pair of heels and a fabulous necklace and this shirt can go anywhere.

I love it when our fashion favourites collide… xv

 The New White

divine extravagance

marni  cotton  //  stella mccartney  poplin  // title a washed silk

happy medium

akris punto  //  karl lagerfeld emma  //   theory nyle cotton

don’t refrain

**j.crew thomas mason collarless tuxedo shirt on sale

 ps there is 25% off j.crew new season with the code SHOPFORFALL

don’t miss out on those pixies or the dannies

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Playing Truant… Wolf Hall

September 18, 2014

Wolf Hall, The Aldwych Theatre, London, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Have you read Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel?

I hope so… and if not, I believe you are in for a treat.

Let me digress…

Yesterday I played hookie… it felt like that.

I went to a matinee performance of Wolf Hall in Covent Garden.

Lunch first and then three hours of gripping theatre from the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The best girl’s day out of all.

I felt like a naughty schoolgirl playing truant.

I should have been working on French Essence.

Yet how could I refuse such an invitation… and besides, what is the point of being in this amazing city if you don’t take advantage.

The play is a standout, especially if you are an English history fan and a Henry VIII one at that.

Even though the outcome of the play is a given, the facts have spoken for themselves for hundreds of years… the story is as fresh as its origin and the execution of the screenplay by Hilary Mantel… in a word, brilliant.

“England in 1527. Henry VIII has been King for almost 20 years and is desperate for a male heir. Intent on divorce he demands that Cardinal Wolsey persuade the Pope to grant him an annulment. With every month that passes without progress the King’s anger grows. Into this volatile court enters the commoner Thomas Cromwell.”

Sitting, listening and watching this powerful performance had me in awe of these actors and their trade.

How grateful I was to escape into their world, to be entertained by their characters.

Apart from the gripping plot and the austere yet quite perfect set I couldn’t help but feel drawn to the costumes.

I need no excuse for fashion inspiration.

Velvet and ruffles… a richness of costume that left me wanting to embellish my own wardrobe.

If you chance to be in London in the next few weeks… try and secure a ticket… the run has been extended.

You won’t be sorry… xv

Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies

49 Aldwych

London WC2B 4DF

+44 (0) 844 200 7981

Where To Eat

The Delaunay

55 Aldwych


+44 (0) 20 7499 8558

**Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies both by Hilary Mantel

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The Art Of The Thank You

September 17, 2014

Thank You, Vicki Archer, French Essence

I have been meaning to write about the art of the thank you for some time.

I am worried that, “thank you” is loosing puff… being forgotten or relegated to one of those meaning-to-do jobs.

This upsets me.

I am a great believer in the power of those two small words.

They won’t change the world but they do make it a more gentle and civilized place.

Saying thank you is easy, it’s fast and it costs nothing… What is difficult about that?

Saying thank you gives friends, family and aquaintances great pleasure… it turns strangers into willing accomplices and brightens up many a dull day.

Writing a thank you is even better… by hand perfection,

by email, a poor second but so much better than nothing.

I understand that life is busy and we communicate constantly with each other through social media.

Perhaps in our mind that is as equivalent as a thank you.

We are attached to our mobile devices as if our lives depended on them… and for some that is the case.

I am guilty… and hate myself for these lapses… but I hope that I have not lost sight of the difference.

I would like to think that the younger generation are the only guilty party. Not so.

It is true, they are not well versed in the art of the thank you.

Not all, but many don’t have any idea that saying thank you is customary.

As for a thank you note… not on their radar.

An archaic custom that no longer deserves respect.

Sadly it is rife in our generation too… myself included.

I do take the easy way out… write an email when I should put pen to paper.

I justify the laziness with all sorts of lame excuses. The truth is none of them cut it.

Being thanked, whether verbal or written makes us feel good, makes us feel appreciated and in some cases makes us feel loved.

It’s time to return the favour.

Have I said thank you for being such wonderful readers, such lovely friends? Never, ever enough.

Thank You… xv

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Leather… The Edit…The Why And The How

September 16, 2014

Question? Can we wear leather?

At what age does wearing leather become a fond memory?

I believe that if leather is worn sympathetically it is another ageless fashon win/win.

There are limits and leather, like any other contemporary piece, has them.

These limits apply to women of all ages.

For example, I am a great believer in one piece at a time.

Wearing top to toe leather is a tough one to manage and best left to the biker world.

Olivia Palermo, Leather, French Essence, vicki Archer, Google Images

This season there are touches of leather everywhere. Tops, pants and skirts are detailed with strips, patches and panels.

This is fantastic news for us.. we can “get the look” without being overwhelmed.

I do love it when fashion speaks my language.

Like the leopard, it seems that this season is as much about the leather.

How to wear leather when it’s not something you thought you would ever be wearing?

I truly believed that leather and I had parted company. We haven’t, we have re-united and I think we are working well together.

I started slowly… with those Dannie pants I mentioned… and now I have been brave enough to move on to the Pixies with the leather panels.

The trick is to wear them in a classic fashion… simply and without over embellishment.

Next I’m picking up the Collection panelled pencil skirt, wearing it with an over-sized sweater, opaque tights and flat shoes.

Heels or booties for the evening.

Plus either the Dannie or the Pixie pants ( i’m greedy and going for both )

and that is my winter “office” wardrobe finalised.

Add the tuxedo jacket and a soft blouse and I’m ready to be taken out somewhere fab.

I have put together my favourites for you in the leather edit below.

Be brave, xv.

The Leather Edit

Olivia Palermo, Leather, French Essence, vicki Archer, Google Images

j.crew pencil skirt with panel  //  **halogen pleated skirt on sale  //  classiques entier panelled skirt  // dvf midi skirt

**halogen mixed tee  //  **halogen shell  on sale  //  autumn cashmere sweater  // ** j.crew pixie pants on sale

p.s i forgot to mention…

if you are on the go and prefer reading french essence on your mobile device… i have a new phone friendly design

have a look at vickiarcher.com… i think it’s pretty and most importantly… easy to navigate… xv

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French Essence News

September 15, 2014

Paris, French Essence, Vicki Archer

I spy with my little eye

Yes… that’s me in the background.

Always snapping somewhere.

It doesn’t matter how many times I visit Paris, or anywhere for that matter,  I always see something new.

I think enquiring eyes make us eager for change… and that’s what I love, change.

I am excited to tell you that my French Essence email delivery will be changing from today.

The emails will look a little different, not greatly.

I am hoping that they will slide into your inbox without issue and be super easy to navigate.

As a regular subscriber you will receive all the blog content plus an extra little something from me.

It could be my latest shopping find, it might be an article of interest or just a few extra words.

The email has been designed for flexibility, for your convenience… to click where you are interested.

If we are talking fashion, there will be a daily edit… so you can get right to it.

Weekly, I will be sending a personal note with a round up… Play catch up if need be.

Little by little, I will be able to offer much more content and in a way that isn’t overwhelming to the inbox.

That’s my main game to create a bespoke service for you,

I want to tailor make your French Essence experience, make it personal and relevant for you.

This is only stage one of much, much more to come.

I have so many ideas I am working on… I can’t wait to show you.

And a surprise… but if I told you all about that now…  it wouldn’t be… a surprise… xv

If you haven’t signed up and would like to… it’s easy… just fill in your details.

P.S don’t miss the altuzarra for target collection from joseph altuzzara… it’s FANTASTIC

available at net-a-porter

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When In Doubt, My Top Three… #itstheweekend

September 14, 2014

Saint Laurent, Heidi Slimlane, French Vogue, French Essence, Vicki Archer

It’s London, it’s Fashion Week and I am in the mood to dress up.

When I don’t know what to wear I bring out my top three.

A tuxedo jacket, slim black pants and a great pair of heels.

Like a uniform, they take the stress out of being fashionable.

Yesterday I bought the black Dannie pants with the leather trim from J. Crew.

They are seriously fabulous.

Flattering, comfortable and super cute with their small embellishment of soft, buttery leather around the waist and pockets.

The back zip and slight give in the fabric makes the Dannie sit beautifully.

Run don’t walk for a pair.

Saint Laurent, Heidi Slimlane, French Vogue, French Essence, Vicki Archer

My tuxedo is going over the pants.

I admit to a little secret, I’m a jacket junkie.

Especially when it comes to a tux… I like to think it’s a signature look.

The truth is, the tuxedo jacket is very kind to most bodies and can be worn everywhere.

Number three has to be the heels.

They will send me on my way with that extra bit of flair.

I like to dress simply when it comes to clothing… with accessories… I think we can push the limits.

Why not? Elegance and flair have always been a dynamic duo.

The rest is easy… a simple tee or blouse underneath and a dash of colour on the lips.

Or be brave and wear a bow tie.

My top three… They never let me down… xv

Saint Laurent, Heidi Slimane, French Vogue, French Essence, Vicki Archer

The Top Three

j. crew dannie leather trim pant

**after six stretch wool tuxedo jacket  //  rag & bone leather trim tuxedo jacket  //  saint laurent silk satin trimmed

and for the heels

nina melizza pleated satin sandal ** beautiful, elegant and reasonable

sjp carrie tee-strap pump **that tee bar is always a winner peeping out from the slim pants

aquazzura belgravia cutouts ** last weekend i wore the belgavia’s for ten hours straight… and survived… the most comfortable heels, ever

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Do Vitamins And Supplements Work For A More Youthful Skin?

September 12, 2014

eat your way to more youthful skin, vicki archer, provence, french essence


Our discussions yesterday lead me to think about vitamins and supplements in the quest for a more youthful skin.

Knowing what to eat to improve our skin and understanding what vitamins and supplements to add to our daily diets is a landmine of negotiation.

 Frankly I find it confusing.

I read an article about the benefits of one vitamin or mineral, I buy them and after a time I forget to take them… or even more problematic, I read something else that supercedes the routine I am on.

Perhaps the easy solution is one multi vitamin per day… to cover our bases and leave it be.

I don’t know of anything that is ever that simple.

I like to keep up with current developments, read about new trends… after all nothing in life is stagnant and skincare is no exception.

Our diets are not as rich as they once were so it makes sense that we need to make adjustments and additions.

I have been reading a great deal about CoQ10… some hail it as a wonder for the skin, a must take.

Have you tried this one?

Or what about Glutathione, the antioxidant wonder?

Glutathione is one of the strongest antioxidants produced by the body and it reduces free radicals and helps eliminate heavy metals from the bloodstream.

Apparently low glutathione levels have been linked with the ageing process.

As we age, production reduces as we are exposed to toxins and stress.

I thought I would like to throw open the discussion, to ask you about your supplement routines.

I am not an expert in this area and I am permanently in a quandry over this subject yet at the same time I find it fascinating.

What works, what doesn’t? Have you the answers?

I want to try these but would love your opinion first.

Let’s chat… xv

remember to check with your doctor before starting any new supplements… always a good idea

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Eat Your Way To More Youthful Skin

September 10, 2014

eat your way to more youthful skin, vicki archer, provence, french essence

We all know that what we eat ultimately is reflected in how we look.

There are so many articles and broadcasts proclaiming “wonder foods” that sometimes I find all the information too complicated to negotiate.

I am a great believer in making lifestyle choices easy.

Easy means we can maintain the regimes and see the results.

At the beginning of the year I decided to eliminate sugar from my diet… as much as I could without becoming evangelical and bad company.

I ate certain fruits in the morning but I left behind my love of sweets, processed foods and wine in the quest for weight loss and health.

The result was not only did I shed pounds, but also my skin looked so much better and brighter.

Like the addition of sleep, the lack of sugar really, really paid off.

My skin feels less dry and softer in texture… the “happy” lines are still with me of course but overall I noticed a great difference.

I have not been as religious over the summer and can see that my skin is not as good.

Naturally, sugar is banished again… and as much as I miss the bubbles, the delicacy of a soft rosé or a glass of good red, a little vodka with fresh lime now and then does the trick.

What are the natural ingredients to promote healthy skin? What should we be eating on a regular basis?

eat your way to more youthful skin, vicki archer, provence, french essence

Eat And Drink More


Green vegetable juice, the more vegetables the better.

Hot water and fresh lemon, particularly in the morning, but excellent all day long.

Green tea for the anti-oxidants and to alleviate problem skin.

Ginger… lots of fresh ginger… drink it with tea, mix it in with salads… add ginger to juices.

Eat vegetables with colour… go green, go violet, go rouge… don’t skimp, be generous.

Tomatoes, in particular for improved skin… this does not suit those with any form of arthritis.

Agave syrup or honey instead of maple syrup… so much better.

Onions and beetroots for internal balance and gut health.

Berries, lots and lots of berries.

Brazil nuts for selenium, a powerful anti oxident.

Yogurt for good bacteria and balance.

Fish… the right ones with plentiful Omega 3’s.

Changing our diets takes time and patience. Glowing skin does not come without dedication.

What else should we be eating to benefiit our skin?

Beauty… Isn’t she is a complicated subject… xv

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The Best Kept Beauty Secret… #6

September 9, 2014

count raniero gnoli, italy, architectural digest,  french essence, vicki archer

Can you guess?

Sometimes I think this one should have been the #1.

One of the best kept beauty secrets is sleep.

So obvious but not so simple to achieve.

As we age sleep does not seem so easy to come by… or at least not that deep contented, non tossing, nil turning slumber that is the greatest re-juvenator of all.

Sleep refreshes the body, the mind and as a delicious side effect relaxes and brightens the face.

A therapeutic sleep makes me feel and look years younger.

My face is smoother, my eyes brighter and the shadows underneath lighter.

Enthusiasm and energy levels are elevated…  the day starts with a spring not a drag.

I envy those who can drop off to sleep within seconds of hitting the pillow or those who can down an espresso at midnight and be fast asleep at 12:30.

That is nothing short of miraculous to me.

Good sleeping is an art and an exercise for some.

It’s not a given and for many of us a good sleep requires routine.

I understand that to sleep well there are essential ingredients.

Morning exercise is key… it energises the day and calms the evening.

Drinking and eating play their part… too much of either and sleep becomes troubled.

Managing stress… we can’t eradicate stress altogether but we can wrestle it under control.

Then there are the practicalities.

Bathing before bed quietens the mind and body.

A tranquil bedroom… soft lamps, drawn curtains and a scented candle. Quiet ambience induces un-troubled sleep.

The type of bed and bedding… sheets or duvets, blankets or quilts. We all have our preferred style of bed-making and as creatures of habit we want what we want.

What kind of pillow to sleep on?  That is almost a discussion in itself.

And what about the rituals to sleeping well, the little habits that ensure our dreamlike hours?

I have a few that follow me wherever I sleep… at home in France, in London or on holiday. I cannot go to sleep without them.

I wear a silk eye mask … it makes all the difference to sleeping well.

Ear plugs… they soften, not silence the sound. I am fanatical about the French brand Quies… these are far better and more effective than the foam varieties. They come everywhere with me.

Reading before bed is a natural calmer and de-stresser… playing on the phone or watching the iPad, not so relaxing… tempting, but not an aid to sleeping.

Sleep should be one of our health and well being  priorities… we might all need different amounts of sleep…  but none of us can live without it.

The beauty benefits… a positive side effect…. no complaints about that.

Any secrets to sleeping well that we should know about? xv

The Best Kept Beauty Secrets

#1  //  #2  //  #3  //  #4  //  #5

for a more practical approach… the french essence beauty edit

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Leopard Fever… It’s Catching

September 7, 2014

Everywhere I look I see leopard spots… leopard fever has struck… and it’s catching.

On the street, in the shops and featured in the fashion magazines.

Leopard has always been “the new black” … a favourite of the French woman and loved by fashionistas the world over.

This year it would seem that the lovely leopard is bigger and brighter than ever.

Leopard, Emmanuelle Alt, Vicki Archer, French Essence PicMonkey Collage 2

Leopard print never dates and it is ageless.

Leopard looks just as fabulous on someone at 20 as it does at 50, 60 and 70.

Think Anne Bancroft in The Graduate.

Leopard print is like a dash of red lipstick… it brightens and livens.

A fashion win/win.

Whether a slither on the foot or the whole way with a dress or jacket, leopard can turn the plain into the striking.

Leopard is an extra but also an essential in the wardrobe.

My only rule… one piece at a time. Why? Because exotics can bite… xv

Leopard, Emmanuelle Alt, Vicki Archer, French Essence

1.  red valentino  jacquard coat  //  2. diane von furstenberg serena pumps  //  3.  ** theia print cocktail dress

4.  roberto cavalli dress  //  5.  nina ricci faux fur coat

6.  jimmy choo flats  //  7.  ** elizabeth and james edina skirt

*sigh* 8.  oscar de la renta evelyn flat

Full Leopard Edit

there is so much leopard to love and i wanted to show all my absolute favourites

some of them in the divine extravagance category, others simply irresistible

dressed to perfection

dolce&gabbana the investment of a lifetime  //**  jean paul gaultier very beautiful and more affordable

wear it with black 

** tamara mellon peasant top  //  red valentino  stretch silk blouse

wear it with white

st john collection skirt  //  lafayette 148 new york midi skirt

on the feet

**moveover pointy toe flat //  **carola pointy toe pump  //  **lina calf hair bootie

wrapped up

st john coat  //  pink tartan trench  //  red valentino skirted coat

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Somewhere New To Discover… Buly In Paris

September 5, 2014

Buly Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

I love a new discovery…especially one as heavenly as Buly.

Buly in rue Bonaparte in Paris is an old parfumerie and skin care house re-invented.

Buly opened in April… imagine a French version of Italy’s Santa Maria Novella.

Husband-and-wife team Ramdane Touhami (the former co-owner of Cire Trudon) and Victoire de Taillac-Touhami (the former head of communications for Colette) are the re-inventors.

The French Pharmacy has reached new heights.

Buly Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Entering the store is like walking back through time… the presentation of the products is sumptuos and old world.

Timbers and marbles, waxed and shined.

Decorative and luxurious.

Buly Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

I wanted to feel and smell everything.

The candles in their marble cups with co-ordinating scented matches… the soaps, the hand and body lotions… even the toothpastes.

Every product was packaged so temptingly… they were irresistable, to the touch.

Buly Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

I tested the fragrances… fortunately Buly was not over run with customers and the lovely sales assistant indulged me.

My favourites… Tuberose and  Bergamot, especially Bergamot.

The scents are light and fresh… alcohol free and gentle on the skin.

Buly Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Buly is one of those shops that makes you greedy… I could have happily taken one of everything.

It was impossible to leave Buly empty handed.

 I did succumb to the Bergamot fragrance.

Buly Paris, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Buly says this about the correct use of perfumes,

Good perfume adapts – to the person and the personality. It must neither precede nor follow the wearer too intensly; it shouldn’t emanate too imperiously.

Thus, it neither inconveniences but always delights. 

Modest as well as faithful, it imposes nothing. It lingers but never clings – it is politely perceptible.

If you are planning to be in Paris, this boutique is an exquisite destination.


6 rue Bonaparte

75006 Paris

+33 1 43 29 02 50

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Ten Simple Beauty Tricks That Really Work

September 3, 2014

Ten Simple Beauty Tricks That Really Work, Vicki Archer, French Essence

Sometimes beauty becomes complicted.

There are so many products and treatments that are meant to make us more fabulous… and of course, many of them really do… but I still revert to my old fashioned ways when I have time.

My mother gave me many tips and others… I have picked up along the way.

I am sure you have some tried and true beauty tricks that work a treat… here are mine.

1. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is brilliant to whiten the nail tips.

For shiny hair a lemon juice rinse can make all the difference.

A few drops applied in the sun will enhance the highlights.

2. Ice Cubes

Who doesn’t have the occasssional puffy day?

Ice cubes applied underneath the eyes and over the face are an instant and de-puffing pick me up.

3. Asprin

We all know over a certain age we should be taking aspirin and especially before a long haul flight.

Asprin is also really effective in clearing spots. Grind a couple into a powder, mix with water to make a paste and dab on the spot.

Gone or at least less noticeable.

4. Lipstick

Forgot your blusher?

Apply lipstick as a cream blusher on your cheeks, preferably the same colour as on your lips.

5. Eyelashes

Heat the eyelash curler with the blowdryer  for a few seconds before using… lasts longer and works better.

6. Petroleum Jelly

A light smear across the eyebrows will enhance the shape.

A thin coating of Petroleum Jelly/Vaseline across the back of the heels will help wear in new shoes.

7. Honey

Honey for the face, the body or the hair is always a tonic.

Messy, but as a hair mask, wonderful.


Rubbed over the face and left to sit on the eyes… yes, I think it works.

Apparently cucumbers contain hydrogen which is cooling and helps to sooth and soften the complexion.

9. Silk

Sleep on a silk pillow to avoid lining the face… a silk eye mask helps with that too.

10.  Conditioner

When shaving the legs, use hair conditioner. This moisturises and smoothes the legs

Shall we add to the list? Tell me yours? I’d love to know your beauty tricks… and try them… xv

P.S … has anyone some fabulous remedy for age spots/sun spots? 

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