19 Nov 2014

The Art Of Focus


The Little Black Dress, The Top Ten French Wardrobe Essentials, Vicki Archer

The art of focus.

How do we stay focused, how do we find focus?

How much focus do we need to achieve our dreams? Even the everyday requires a solid focus.

By now many of you have received and read my little e-book.

The Top Ten French Wardrobe Essentials  was made with passion, with humour and with great focus.

I knew that I wanted to create a small guide that could be fun to read and that would include essential information. Our wardrobes can work anywhere and everywhere if we have these ten items on standby. I know that we know, but a reminder is a way to re-invent our combinations and re-enegise our fashion choices.

I could not have made this e-book without the help of two young people who are extreemly focused. Leo Greenfield, a fellow Australian and very talented illustrator and Chloe Watts, a digital and technology guru. Working with Chloe and Leo was such a pleasure from the moment we started the discussions until the moment I pressed “send”.

The “dream team”.

I may have had the vision to create this e-book but these two had the focus to make it happen.

Working with those who have the same level of focus is a joy and a privilege and I cannot thank them enough.

Leo understood immediately ” our women” and Chloe, in her indomitable way, made it happen.

These two are going places and nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to watch them both taking risks and striving high.

Focus is not only a gift but also a quality that we can build upon.

Focus requires discipline and determination. We can do that.

Like exercise, the more we focus the more we can focus.

Strong focus, like self-confidence, makes me feel positive and happy. There is nothing better than the feeling that comes from a job well done and knowing that sheer perseverance made it happen.

Staying focused is the key and probably the hardest part. The rewards from hard work, the pleasure it gives and the realisation of an idea when it comes full circle does it for me.

How do you stay focused ? Any tricks we should know?

If you would like a copy of The Top Ten French Wardrobe Essentials enter your details in the subscription box below. An email with instructions on how to download the e-book will be sent to you.

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lisa | renovatingitaly

It’s the initial gathering of ideas for me, drawings, images and words that give me a focus. Once I’m in the flow it’s natural and easy. Now we have a wonderful addition to our team who is giving us a clearer direction and yes calling us to Focus…..to move forward and to set clear goals for 2015.

Love your book and the passion you bought to it, great work and Bravo to your ‘dream team’ xx


Thank you Lisa… Goals are so important aren’t they? I also find where I am brings me into focus… I am much more focused in London than I am in Provence.. :) It’s too easy there to sit back and just enjoy… which is necessary too…

Stephanie Anderson

Vicki YOU just keep getting better and better! Sitting down with a hazelnut latte and reading your blog and now your wonderful gift is one of my favorite moments of my day! Focus? Oh my GOODNESS I am probably the least focus person in the world but I seem to be able to pull it off! Please tell Leo his illustrations are FABULOUS !

Anita Rivera

Good morning Vicki! I want so badly to focus on my dream of writing and putting together something as meaningful, fun and LOVELY as this one day; my job however doesn’t allow me to do so RIGHT NOW…but if I am granted a long life beyond my work, then I hope by then I will be seasoned to do so.

FOCUS? That has been my middle name since childhood. Some family members even laughed at my gumption, my intensity and determination to get things done that I wanted. My “secret” is to do exactly what you mentioned: to build upon what you already have until you have this monument of knowledge and skill. Never give up, and once you have achieved a certain level, move up the ladder.

How I love your new book. And as I look at this drawing (as a total amateur illustrator) I see that this type of free style is NOT easy. You found the perfect artist to make something so difficult look so free and easy.

I can’t wait to have a quiet moment to read your book again!



You and me both, Anita… although I do think that I am becoming even more focused as I have grown up.. ;)

Leo has a natural gift and I found that he was able to interpret exactly what I was saying… he really made the women that I have seen so often on the streets of Paris come alive. I know that I am so much more familiar with them than you are as I have had time to “get to know them’ but I felt he really drew my vision so brilliantly.

And yes, we will never give up… :)

Deborah Peterson Milne

Vicki – your new website is absolutely great. Bravo to your dream team for a job done so well. I must admit, staying focused is not an easy task for me. I tend to ricochet off the walls; I now can better recognize this behaviour and tell myself to tick one thing off the list at a time. I believe truly successful people stay much more focused than I do! Congratulations on your 6th anniversary. You have brought great advice/stories/ photography, etc. etc. to all of your readers and are invaluable. I look forward to the next 6 years with you. xxoo Deb

Jenny Barton

Focus for me is divided between strategy and tactics. Strategy is your long term goal, your vision if you like, while tactics are the methods you use to get there. Both require huge focus, but while the vision doesn’t change too much, sometimes the tactics have to. So you need to be strong and determined, but flexible at the same time. How fortunate that we women are past masters (mistresses??) at multi-tasking!

Caroline Lacroix

Merci beaucoup Vicki pour le TTTFWE, c’est très intéressant et les illustrations sont très réussies! I
read this morning an article in the December issue of Glamour about the end of “le mythe de la Pari-sienne”… Aïe! And there was an article about the cool attitude (I don’t know if you say that in English) of Australians.


Aussies are very cool Caroline… :))
And let’s hope that the Parisians don’t let us down… I am sure they won’t.. :)


So many times on my way to being focused on a project I wander off on an unexpected path, and it can be a truly wonderful experience. When I ‘must’ be on track with something, I make a list and keep checking it. Needless to say more lists may be required in my life.

Heather in Arles

This was a perfect post to be your first after the new launch – the word “focus” sums up nearly everything you stand for to me – even when you are being funny, you are focused! Quite a feat! ;) When I was an actor, I had the great fortune to study under the great Earl Gister who encouraged us to be, to do “like a laser!” which was great advice and certainly seperated the wheat from the chaff.

Alas, all of these years of living in Provence have softened me so that I have hardly an ambition left but when there is something that I truly care about, focus comes into play. I would say that when I am doing yoga on a regular basis my focus sharpens…but then again I need focus in order to actually unroll my mat and do the yoga! Arraggh!!

PS. Please add my name to the list to compliment Leo. His women are so fabulous. And I was pleased as punch that there was a redhead too. :)


We love redheads… I was one once.. actually I have been every colour… perhaps I shall re-visit that stage… I’m getting bored with the natural… ;)


Dear Vicki
It is certainly much easier to stay focused on anything one is passionate about!
Love, love the new look!
The Arts by Karena


You are such an inspiration! I wake up everyday excited to see what is new on your site. What will I learn about today. What will be my thought for the day. I have learned so much and have been introduced to so many talented and exemplary women and their work like Sharon Santoni, Carly Coulson, and Coty Farquhar by reading your website. I hope that I will be able to be like you all when I grow up ;) Thank you so very much to bringing an awareness of beauty to my life.


That’s such a lovely comment to read and I am so happy you feel like that Lydia. If you surround yourself with the tangible and especially the intangible beauty in your life you will always be rewarded…
I am in superb company with thsoe women too… :)


Vicki, So fun to see what your focus and passion have created. The internet does NOT help me stay focused. Nor do all the shots of espresso I feel compelled to consume each morning. Bad habits but so good. My best defense against my naturally unfocussed nature is my exercise routine – I do Barre3 a yoga/ballet/pilates combo, every day without fail, typically in the morning. It’s great for the concentration, balance and the posture.

Here’s to focus and productivity! XOXO


Vicki, it has been my experience that vision is as important as focus. You will not bring something into form without both. As a life coach, I always say, you don’t need to be good at everything, you just need to find someone to help you who is. This has been proven in my own life many times. I spent the first several decades trying to do it all myself and the minute I let go of that belief, my life took huge leaps forward. You’re inspirational to me and so many others so you must be doing it all right!!!!

Patricia Flournoy

Bonjour Vicki,

My email for your new book didn’t get to me…May I ask you to send it again?

Thank you,

Kim Webb

Well done Vicki on the new website and the e book, both are great reads – you definitely are an
inspiration , you make me realise that we should all continually push ourselves , thank you

Monique@The Urban Mum

Oh such a tricky subject – especially with all the distractions these days – it always feels like a thousand things need to happen at once! Focus for me comes from morning exercise (so I begin with a clear head), a little coffee, an organised workspace – and my LISTS (I love lists)…that is not to say I don’t still stray….x PS love the gorgeous illustrations, everything you touch is so very stunning, thank you for making our worlds a more beautiful place…..

D. A. Wolf

Love, love, love your new look! (It must have required a good deal of focus to pull this off! Gorgeous.

As for my focus, usually I simply start in on something and I’m there. If it’s a “work thing” (any number of possibilities), it’s rarely an issue. However… lately? I manage on the “work things” but everything that is about my personal goals (and myself) – well… my focus is on the fritz.

I’m thinking I need a vacation (haven’t had a real one in nearly 6 years, and that was a working vacation at that)… Or maybe I just need to go shoe shopping!



Hi Vicki
Great topic, vision certainly helps me, it’s there as a seed and slowly I collect the things to bring to fruition, then physically put focus into what I want.
I’ve been planning (had a vision) of a mediteranian garden, so I made lists, collected soil,manure,plants – geraniums, white paint,brushes blue pots etc and set too. The lattice wall I view from the lounge is done, looks bright and Agean

Angela Constanti

Congratulations & love the new web format. My love of France & my desire to travel started when I bought your books. Until then, my focus was family and work. Europe was so far away, from Sydney but also from my mindset. Our first trip, now five years ago, filled a void I didn’t know existed. Looking forward to our second trip & revisiting St Remy:)

JoAnne Bassett

I would love for you to send me the link for your ebook thank you. I have subscribed for years and do enjoy your blog and the new website. Thank you. JoAnne


Hello dear Vicki
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post and it reinforces my mantra!
To achieve ones goals and challenges requires absolute FOCUS!
With each of your post topics – you seem to read my mind – how do you do this Vicki? ha ha!
I’m printing off my abridged version of your “TOP TEN 10 FRENCH WARDROBE ESSENTIALS” to carry in my handbag at all times.
It’s imprinted in my brain, but just in case I stray, I know with a quick glance I will put that impulse piece back on the rack! Those core pieces can be dressed up or down in many ways.
THANK YOU for the inspiration and confidence you have given me via French Essence.
Leo’s illustrations are charming – he listened and understood perfectly what you wanted to achieve – a rare gift in today’s world!
Vicki, I feel there is a new book in the air – am I right?
Merci à bientôt

Robyn Douglass

I remembered a daily click in the past where you posted pix and information on this topic and I really enjoyed it. Looks like I may be too late for this one but I am giving it a go just in case. Thank you for your inspiring generosity. Be blessed Vicki xx Robyn


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