Frederica Monaco, Mother

Photo: Jake Chessum

What are you doing today?
This is my shopping day. I went to Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, and Saks. I love department stores. It’s easy to return something if I change my mind.

Do you often change your mind?
My style is very classic. I bought a trench coat the other day in a new color for me—lime green. The cut was very good, but I wore it once and decided that I hated it, so I returned it. I like beige.

Tell me about this outfit.
It’s a shearling coat from Joseph, and of course I have my great big Birkin bag. It was a present from my husband five years ago when our son was born. I’m French, so I’ve got some connections at Hermès. We didn’t have to be on the wait list.

How long have you been in America?
Eleven years. I came here to go to Amherst College, and then I worked for the French consulate. I had lots and lots of parties to go to, and I could only wear French clothing. So after I stopped working, I went straight to Ralph Lauren. I love Ralph Lauren because you always know that five years from now, it’s still going to look nice.

Has your style changed since moving here?
American women are much more sophisticated than French women because there is so much more choice. French women are very picky, and they don’t spend so much money on clothing: They choose things that are going to last. And they’re not getting their hair blow-dried and the manicure and pedicure every single week. They are less polished.

Is your husband French?
He’s American—a real New Yorker. We met at Barneys. He thought I was a model. He gave me his card and asked if he could take my picture. Many people give me their cards and I throw them away, but this was different—he wasn’t pushy. A few days later I called him and that was it. We never even took any pictures for a year.

Is he a photographer?
It’s his passion. But he’s in real estate.

Are you glad you married an American?
American men love to be a father. French men are so concerned with the way they look.

Frederica Monaco, Mother