Feature Friday Interviews will now run weekly. These interviews feature rare and wonderful individuals who embody characteristics of The Liberation Artist: living outside the status quo while writing their own rules and carving a unique path to self-defined success. This week I am thrilled to feature author, editor, blogger, and connoisseur, Jennifer L. Scott.
I first encountered Jennifer in 2008, when I stumbled upon her post about “Vicki Cristina Barelona” and film etiquette. I was hooked. Hooked by her writing style, her awesome insight, her intelligence, and wit. To soon discover she was a fellow Francophile was pure heaven!
Jennifer stood out to me for these reasons, and because it was clear she was an independent thinker, committed to blazing her own trail. She does so in the most delightful way, though. Pursuing the beautiful in life, she embraces an elegant simplicity that is so very, very French. It is, in many respects, a reflection of the style of minimalism I so very love – not focused on the number of items, per se (or lack thereof), but rather only accepting a certain standard of quality. For me, that is an important goal – filling your life with quality, rather than quantity. Jennifer does this in spades.
Jennifer’s talents don’t end there. She has a very approachable way of introducing one to the finest thing in life, in a very accessible way. Not for the sake of “keeping up with the Joneses” or to show off a brand label, but rather the pursuit of genuine quality in life.
Jennifer pulled together her unique life views, many of which bucked the American system, into a book wherein she shared lessons learned while living in Paris. Rejected by agents, she self-published the book, to later have it picked up by Simon & Schuster. With the launch of “Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris,” Jennifer’s work highlighting the value of quality and discernment of what one brings into their life, has taken the world by storm, and is now an international best-seller. Additionally, Jennifer’s blog, The Daily Connoisseur, has had over a million visitors. It is with great delight that I share this interview with you today!
JENNIFER L. SCOTT
Jennifer L. Scott is the writer and editor of The Daily Connoisseur and is a regular contributor to Huffington Post Style.
She lives in Santa Monica, California with her eccentric husband, adorable daughters and distinguished Chihuahua.
Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris is her first book.
You went to France and came back a changed person. Can you share with us briefly what this journey was like – did you resist the different lifestyle at first, or easily assimilate?
It took a while for the lessons I learned while living in Paris to set in. When I came back to California, I easily jumped into my old life but as I did so, I felt like I had a delicious secret— this amazing Parisian experience. But I did not immediately incorporate the changes into my American life. It actually took a number of years (and for me to mature a little) before they took effect.
While your messages regarding style are clear, there seems to be a deeper message too, one I would sum up as having to do with the curation process itself, and how that impacts one’s life overall. It almost seems that once one begins choosing their “Yes!” it de-selects the things that don’t belong, and creates a ripple effect across one’s life, improving it across the board. Is this accurate? Do you feel the overall quality of all area of your life have been impacted by what began as simple curation, so to speak?
Yes, I would say that is accurate. I like the analogy of curating, as with an art exhibit. As an exhibitor, you obviously wouldn’t just let any piece of art join your exhibition, you would be very selective and make sure that everything you display tells a story and is loved. This is absolutely the way one must think not only of their wardrobe, but everything they bring into their life.
How has your philosophy impacted your wants and desires? You are clearly more selective – do you find yourself shopping less than most Americans, shopping only with specific intentions, rather than as ‘sport’ or ‘hobby’?
Yes, I probably do shop for clothes less than the average American. This didn’t used to be so. I used to shop for sport. I was always browsing the shops, both literal and virtual. But now I only buy something if I need it. If I happen to be out and find something I love that wasn’t exactly needed, I’m not opposed to buying it, but it doesn’t happen very often.
Embracing a different approach to life as it exists within one’s culture takes courage. Did you experience self-doubt along the way, questioning whether you can really bring this home to the states? If so, how did you push through that hesitation?
I didn’t experience self-doubt, I just decided to look at it like a fun experiment. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I get a kick out of exploring (what I call) the fine art of living on my blog, the Daily Connoisseur, so it was all fun for me… even with the bumps along the way.
Have you always lived a bit outside the box, so to speak, or was it simply the life-changing experience of your trip that ‘woke you up’ to this lifestyle?
My life changing trip coincided with a very transitional time in my life anyway— when I was graduating from college. Prior to living in Paris I was a college student, living campus life in a dorm room. I wasn’t thinking too much about lifestyle and living well— I was thinking about grades and exams and parties! But graduating, and going out into the world made me reflect on the way I wanted to live, now that I had the freedom to choose my life path.
How does living an alternative kind of life impact the way friends and strangers alike engage with you? Can you share some of the positives and negatives?
It hasn’t really impacted me in a negative way. Sometimes my family think I’m crazy, and probably a little difficult, because I can be particular about how I do things, but overall they just accept me for how I am and the way I choose to live. I am always on a journey of bettering my life and I’m just grateful to have family and friends (and readers!) on the journey with me.
How has living this way shifted the way in which you engage with the world at large, for instance how does it impact the activities or pursuits you choose, etc?
I have been inspired to follow my passion in life, especially with regard to career. It is this drive that helped me self publish my book and eventually get signed by Simon & Schuster. I was met with opposition when initially looking for literary agents, but nothing would stop me from telling my story. I knew that there would be people who would want to read my book, and thankfully, I followed my passion and went forward with writing it.
Many are surprised to learn that your very French influenced wardrobe is basically a capsule wardrobe. I think here in the US we have grown to believe that the French must have endlessly stuffed closets, given the association between the French and fashion. However, you have found this to not be the case. Can you explain the idea of the capsule wardrobe, and how this can actually lead to a more elegant look and simplified life?
A capsule wardrobe, like we mentioned earlier, is a curated wardrobe. It consists of a small number of clothes— items that all go together to tell a story. Items you love and feel stylish in. This leads to an elegant look and a simplified life because you have cut out the clutter and noise that an overstuffed closet provides. Without the extraneous clothes you can hone in on your true style. It is a marvelous and liberating feeling.
If someone were to want to make a start toward embracing the life of a connoisseur, in addition to buying your book, what would be the first step they should take?
Try to be in the present moment as much as you can. Try to enjoy every aspect of your life— even the ones that aren’t traditionally enjoyable. Always do your best and, lastly, have fun!
You clearly walk your own path, rejecting the ‘safety’ that comes with gently folding into the status quo, instead demanding a higher quality life for yourself and your family. Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for our readers on pursuing a life of quality, the life uncommon?
Follow your instinct. Don’t let others dissuade you from following your dreams. Pause when agitated. Take your time and relish the small things in life. Smile. 🙂
If you want to learn more about Jennifer’s work, please check out her blog, The Daily Connoisseur, and her awesome book, “Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris.” You won’t regret it!