Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Paris: What I Wore, What I Bought, What They Wore

Every time I travel, I realize that I could pack less.  We realistically could have been able to get through most days with jeans, a sweater, and something to dress up a bit for dinner.  The items that were out of my bag continually look like this:
Stud earrings – Majorica, ballet flats – Cole Haan,  fingerless gloves – Echo, sneakers – Munro,  jeans – Eileen Fisher, tee shirt – Eileen Fisher, scarf - Julie Egli


Our weather was changeable - most days we started with jackets and ended up carrying them my late afternoon.  I found that I really enjoyed my fingerless gloves - they're sort of whimsical compromise that proved to be just warm enough.  And my ballet flats were great - they have enough support to be comfortable and excellent for walking.  Despite all of the stereotypes, you could wear jeans every day in Paris and blend in completely, so my black waxed denim jeans got a lot of action.

But I went shopping... of COURSE I went shopping...
Dress – French Trotters, tee shirts – Muji,  cashmere sweatshirt – James Perse, sneakers – Bensimon,  ballet flats – Geox 

I always drop in at French Trotters, and I generally find something I can't resist.  This dress was perfect for me - I wore it the next day after I bought it, with my black tee shirt, black tights and flats.  It's going to get some major mileage this summer...

The tee shirts from Muji were a no-brainer.  And this isn't the exact cashmere sweatshirt that I bought, but it's very similar, and again will be a garment that I'll wear non-stop in the cold weather.  Bensimon sneakers are hard to find in the US, and I've always wanted to try Geox shoes, so finding them deeply discounted made this an easy decision.

The unifying theme with all of these things is the tomboyish, relaxed feeling that they share - a clear reflection of my days working from home, and my evenings walking for miles and miles with Belovedest.

There were some pretty clear trends apparent on the streets in Paris - first thing we both noticed were the short trench coats that many of the women seemed to be wearing.
Yellow – Windsmoor, animal print – Juna Rose, floral – Aquascutum, green – Ted Baker, geometric print – Samya 
And it was delightful to see clusters of umbrella that WEREN'T BLACK!!!  Which made me rethink my longstanding policy of always owning a black umbrella - it's not like I have my umbrella out eternally, and so it doesn't have to match my whole wardrobe - a little bit of whimsy might be a great idea.

Black white and green – Kate Spade New York, pinwheel – Marc Jacobs, zigzag – Jonathan Adler, hexagon print – Jonathan Adler, cards – Jonathan Adler, striped – Burberry, turquoise print – Marc by Marc Jacobs, red floral – Jonathan Adler

And without question, the very second that the sun came out, so did the ballet flats - they were in every shop window, and as soon as there was a break in the clouds, they were on every female foot.  As long as you get a pair of shoes with reasonable support and structure, there's no reason that ballet flats can't be as comfortable as any other shoes.

All flats - Butterfly Twists

Another more subtle trend that I noticed was the juxtaposition of patterned shirts and sweaters.  These were worn in a particular way - the shirts were buttoned all the way to the neck, and the neckline of the sweater stood away from the shirt collar just a bit, so that the contrast of patterns was noticeable.

Black and white checked shirt – Comme Des Garcons, black and white sweater – Viyella,  red gingham shirt – Barbour, red and navy sweater – Dash

Beige floral shirt – Forte Forte, beige and white sweater – Mango, red floral shirt – Fred Perry, red striped sweater – Missoni

Blue and white shirt – Stella Jean, navy floral sweater – Theory, brown striped shirt – Loro Piana, leopard sweater – Michael Michael Kors

Other than that, the most noticeable things were the subtle but uniform self-care that we saw on women - good skin, good hair, overall fitness, and a sense of vigor and confidence...


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44 comments:

  1. I am glad you and Belovedest had a great trip. Your analysis on Parisian women is very interesting! I have noticed that the amount of care that American women spend on themselves is negligible. I only know one women who has regularly scheduled facials.

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  2. I love your new purchases. You really make me feel so much better about wearing the amount of black I do. :)

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  3. I was in Paris in October. I wore clothes similar to those shown, and fit right in! People kept asking me for directions in French, which was very amusing, since I too was usually lost. When I said I didn't know where "Place quelque choses" was, they'd switch to English as though that would help me find it. Pretty amusing, but very nice ladies.
    I wore slightly loose black jeggings, black shoes, a black long sleeved tee and a green patagonia vest. Before I left, I added a beautiful scarf from the Louvre museum gift shop. It is now my favorite scarf.
    I was packing very minimally since I continued on to do a Himalayan trek, and would have to schlep everything I brought up a mountain.

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  4. Love hearing about the whole trip, especially the trends. I have a print button shirt and a striped cotton sweater, both part of my spring capsule. I'll have to combine them and see how I like it.

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  5. What a wonderful post! Your description of what the French are wearing is so interesting. I'm not planning on traveling to Paris anytime soon, but maybe by wearing some of the trends you mentioned, I can pretend.

    BTW, what ballet flats have you found that offer support? I asked in my local shoe store and they more or less said there was no such thing! (Not that I'll be wearing ballet flats soon, apparently...it's snowing again here in southern Wisconsin. Bleeeh!)

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    1. Thierry Rabotin - they're blindingly expensive, but you can literally walk for miles in them. And I'm finding that my new Geox might work out well. Check for Merrill and other "comfort" brands too - Nordstrom is maybe the best place to actually get some help from shoe sellers.

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    2. At the other end of the cost spectrum ... I have two pairs of Naturalizer flats that I can wear all day, anywhere ... and I have sore feet in lots of other shoes.

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    3. I've heard great things about Naturalizers - thanks for the information!

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    4. Privo ballet or mary jane flats work for me. Some Clarks as well (ironic, I know it's the same company, but the fit is not the same) Keens if you're willing to go a little more athletic (Merrell used to fit me but they changed their last ~5 years ago and don't fit me well since then). Cole Haan have some nice options but are too narrow for my foot.

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    5. Thank you for the suggestions. I may have to make a trip to Nordstrom. Lately, I've been wearing an orthotic (not custom, but not cheap) in my shoes for support. Munro has removable insoles, but I haven't found a Munro flat that I like. Love Cole Haan styles and concept (Nike Air) but like, Hoya, can't find any that fit. Ecco is another brand that might work. I checked out the Thierry Rabotin online...oh, yes they are dear but look very comfortable.

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    6. I have two pairs of Camper Right Nina ballet flats and I can walk for miles in them during the day and then go out to dinner. (I'm not as chic as Janice. :) ) Most comfortable shoes I've ever owned. They have rather supportive rubber soles plus a very comfy wide elastic strap that keeps the shoes on your feet. Great for travel.

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    7. I too have problem feet and find it harder to put outfits together because of specific needs for my shoes.
      I may put an outfit together but do not have appropriate shoes to complete it, so I start again.
      I have had some success with Ziera and Paul Green .
      Could we have a post where we have a wardrobe based on shoes?
      Hope you will excuse my strange idea.
      thanks
      Irene

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    8. I tried on some Aetrex ballet flats with a slight wedge that were near perfection. Unfortunately I would have needed to purchase two pairs as one foot is a half size larger than the other which is fine in a laced up or buckled shoe but not in an open one like a loafer or ballet flat. They were offered by The Walking Co.

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    9. I can not say enough good about ECCO shoes. Wonderful!

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    10. G.H. Bass makes very comfortable cute ballet flats with good support. On my trip to Europe, I had two pair (two different styles) that I wore everywhere. Here's one of them: http://www.ghbass.com/product/moya+ballet.do?sortby=ourPicks

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  6. I am going to Switzerland, Germany and Austria in the fall and was questioning whether I should leave the jeans behind. You have convinced me that one good pair would work. Since I want to keep the suitcase light, I may wear a darkwash pair on the plane. I also have thought about wearing boots since they seem to be everywhere, yet I prefer ballet flats and flats in general (no doubt in rebellion against the necessity of wearing boots here six months of the year.) My sister-in-law laughs when I talk about packing this soon, but I enjoy the day dream.

    Did you see many people sporting knee high boots in Paris?

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    1. Some knee boots, but LOTS of ankle boots. Lots and lots and lots...

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    2. A lot to ponder here, and a lot of great looks. I never get tired of black and white, and I love colorful coats!

      I also love the shirt-under-the-sweater look, but find it adds too much bulk. I wish they'd bring back dickies.

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    3. Sisty, I read a tip on the bulk issue--put a snug camisole over the shirt before putting on the sweater. It does add another layer, which can affect comfort, but it gets rid of the annoying way the shirt placket poofs over the tummy and makes the sweater bulge.

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    4. Kristien62, for what it's worth, I find that my feet are too cold in ballet flats in northern Europe in the fall (the late fall, anyway). I prefer ankle boots as a compromise instead of knee-high boots. They're warm but lighter and less bulky than tall boots, since footwear is always the heaviest items in the case. Have a great trip!

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    5. Thank you, Laurel. I do wear ankle boots and find them comfortable. They would be a good alternative to the bulkier knee boots. And a good excuse to buy a new pair!

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    6. To Kristien62: I would not advise you to wear flats on your trip to Germany, etc, on the Fall. Usually the weather is simply too cold for that. Closed shoes and boots are fine, ankle height or otherwise. Eventually leather sneakers, if you like it sporty and the wetaher keeps dry. Have a good trip (when time comes)! Gretings from Germany :-)

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    7. Thank you, Weisserose. I will take your advice, especially since we will also be spending some time in Switzerland and I assume the Alpine weather might be a bit cooler. I am so looking forward to the trip!

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  7. A cashmere sweatshirt - decadent wonderfulness! Is some lady mugs you on the street and takes it off your body .... it was not me!!

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  8. Thanks for the fashion preview! I have found that no matter how little I bring, I always have at least 1-2 little worn items that could have been left at home.

    Do you think the aura of self-care you note is in part from all the walking people do in Paris?

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    1. Part of it's walking, part of it is that their hair isn't overdone, nor their makeup, and I saw astonishingly little nail polish on anybody. They seem to handle the important stuff - fitness, health, haircuts etc. and not do a whole lot of gilding of the lily. Maybe the occasional red lipstick...

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  9. I am really interested in packing light...I hope to have a carry on when I go to Paris so all this information is great!
    I have been bitten by the Marinere striped tees too...enjoy your holiday!

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  10. loved this! and am intrigued by fingerless gloves...i'll admit, i find them sort of pointless, as it's my fingers that tend to get the coldest. but maybe keeping the hand warm, keeps the fingers warm? i actually wished for gloves at night in san francisco this past week...my fingers were very cold!

    which geox shoes do you have? i have a pair of loafers i got for a steal on a sample sale site, and was going to bring them to SF, but decided on sneakers instead. just from trying them on, they seem comfortable, and good for lots of walking, but i wonder. then again, i walked miles and miles and miles in rome a couple of years ago in ugg moccs that i can't bear to wear anymore, but they were generally comfortable then.

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    1. I found a pair of Geox ballet flats at less than half price - I think they must be last season's. We were up in Belleville, found a discount store, and the rest is history!

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  11. Thanks for the update, Janice. I'm a long-time lurker and have been inspired by the bright trench coats and jackets that you've posted over the past couple of years. I'm off to Paris in about 3 weeks to meet up with a group of sewing friends and will be making a jade green trenchcoat in the next couple of weeks to wear with navy underlayers and, perhaps, a bit of white in there as well. What would you suggest for accessories?

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    1. Good navy walking shoes, some pearl earrings, and head to a Diwali store when you get there and ask them to help you choose a scarf. Have a wonderful trip!!!

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    2. Perfect - many thanks. A group of fashion obsessed ladies in Paris in the spring - I don't think we can fail to have fun.

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  12. I love ballet flats for kicking around all spring, summer and fall. None of mine are comfortable enough to walk for miles and miles in but lunch and an hour or two of shopping...absolutely! But then, no shoe feels as comfortable as my light-weight hikers.

    A year ago when I was in Paris and it rained, I felt that all the Parisians were in black trench coats. Color felt out of place. Has that changed?

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  13. Loved this summary! Your new clothes blend beautifully w/ your wardrobe. My guideline when traveling is to skip brands I can get at home, though break that occasionally, e.g., James Pearse. Also, always buy lingerie in Paris, but you might not be showing us that ;)

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  14. I, too, never seem to get my packing list exactly right. I used to see this as some kind of failing but now I realize that I make my best guess before leaving as to what my activities and the weather will be, and things don't always turn out as planned. If I'm ready for every eventuality at my destination but those eventualities don't come to pass, so be it. Sounds like you had a great trip, which is the main thing.

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  15. Have you ever considered doing an occasional wardrobe for men? We're going to Paris in the fall.I feel confident with my wardrobe, but my husband needs help! He wears slacks,a blazer and a tie for work; Levis and a pullover on the weekends.

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    1. May I, a woman who visits Paris regularly with her husband comment? It helps to decide where you will be in public. Only the a handful of formal, elegant restaurants require jacket/tie but the urban French man's sportswear is of high quality. The jeans are crisp and fit well the belt is very good. Not saying this to scare you, but French men take their haberdashery seriously- at least in Paris. No running shoes at dinner, no sports logos off a court. Also-except for ties and the beloved muffler-grown men do not wear bright colour.

      For fun and comparison's sake see this delightful post:
      http://parisbreakfasts.blogspot.ca/2011/07/french-man.html

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    2. Many thanks! The articles I've read for men in Paris tend to suggest a more formal look than my husband would like to wear or feel comfortable wearing on vacation. I know he'll be pleased with your answer!

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  16. Some lovely bits there, thanks for sharing. I'm pleased that I've got a similar jade green trenchcoat from Marks and Spencers - I'll be wearing it when the weather gets a bit (or a lot) warmer in England.

    I've also got a colourful umbrella (red with white polka dots) that is really sturdily made with vents so that it doesn't flip inside out in the wind from The Guardian online shop. Mighty useful.

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  17. I was amused by your comment of always having a black umbrella. I make a point to always buy fun, pretty umbrellas. I like having a touch of whimsy in my utilitarian things.

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  18. Thank you so much for this! Heading to London & Paris next week & I keep adding items to my list "just in case", when in reality I should stick to my gut instinct as relates to my core pieces, with a few mix & match accessories.

    Perfect timing for me!

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  19. LOVE all those flats - perfect for 6 ft me. Hadn't heard of that company but will definitely order some! And love the patterned raincoats too. Wish I had one for this trip...leaving within hours for a week in Tbilisi, Georgia - and excited to say that I succeeded in getting everything in two little carryons!

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  20. Had a brief two day stay in Paris in September 2012-a dream come true-I needed an overcoat nearly the whole time. I brought a classic tan trench coat and picked up a printed umbrella at a newsstand. All the Parisians seemed to be in black and mostly leather jackets. Ultimately I walked the champs-elycees having a Carrie Bradshaw moment of confidence and excitement just before locking eyes with one of the most handsome, well dressed men I have ever seen wearing a similar tan trench. I already felt appropriate despite standing out a bit but my sartorial choice was fully validated by that sighting.

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  21. The shirt/sweater combinations are the kind of pattern mix I do care for. Probably because they are mostly classic and the colours harmonize. Love them all. Also, agree with your take on bright, whimsical umbrellas. Why not?

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