January 30, 2020
I remember where we ate dinner Tuesday night!!!!
(it’s the small victories, right?)
We stopped at Breizh (pronounced brezzz) Cafe for crepes in the late afternoon, because… well… we were hungry! And these crepes – if you eat both a savory and a sweet one – will hold you over for at least 1 meal. This café is very trendy – lots of tourists – and you often have to stand on line to get in. We got lucky and wandered in because we were eating between traditional meal times. It’s worth considering, since this is a really tasty place. That said, you can find good crepes in about a million places around the city, including the people standing behind a crepe griddle, handing crepes over to eat while standing…
WHEW! I thought I was losing my mind on this one…
We made it to a museum! I’m happy that I don’t have to choose, but if I DID have to pick my favorite museum in the world, it might be the Modern Art Museum at the Centre Pompidou. Modern art isn’t to everyone’s fancy, for sure, but for the purposes of The Vivienne Files, modern artists who didn’t care about being true to life used nice tidy abbreviated palettes that lend themselves to nice tidy wardrobes.
I’m dreaming about what could be done with these…
This first one cries out for a summer wardrobe in soft shades of beige, with those pastel accents. One could certainly include a bit of black or navy too…
Black wardrobe, bright accents. Can you imagine this heroine?
I LOVED this painting; it has so much depth to it, literally. Up close, you can see where paint was squeezed directly out of the tube in a couple of places! But the colors here… brown and beige, with black , denim blue, ivory and warm rust. Lots of cabled sweaters feel right…
Okay, this might not really suggest a wardrobe to anybody but me! But I get a lot of inspiration from the reminder of all of the pattern and print possibilities within monochromatic limits.
This shows so well how black can serve as a neutral with warm olive, camel, beige and rust. I know we were all told that we should never mix warm and cool colors, but I’m sort of disobedient about that…
I can see this heroine with all sorts of grey in her wardrobe, but that warm beige shows up too. And BRIGHT accents – red, turquoise, and occasionally pink. There are even blocks of a reddish-brown that might indicate some leather goods?
Maybe we’ve seen this before? This is a true ode to neutrals – black, white, grey, beige and denim blue. A lot of possibilities exist within the confines of just a few colors!
Where We Ate
Dinner was at the madly hip Au Passage, which is tucked away in a wee alley in the 11th Arrondissement. It’s one of those places that intimidates me, for no good reason. I’m not crazy about odd cuts of meat, and I can live indefinitely without eating offal. Thus, we had to be a bit careful about what we ordered…
It was worth the trouble – the food here was excellent, and the people-watching might have been better! Fashion week does bring some of the most interesting people out and about, and they were crawling all over our neighborhood.
Wine list is also pretty amazing, if you’re into that kind of thing. We indulged…
And THEN we went out for a cocktail at Dirty Lemon. I had something called the Porn Star, I think. That brain cell might be long gone, but the memory of the passion fruit juice and vanilla vodka is still there. I might try to replicate this drink at home…
Fifth Trend Spotted
Lots of black and white houndstooth and Prince of Wales plaid. Mostly in scarves, but also in coats, skirts, pants, the occasional sweater. I can’t swear if this is a legitimate trend or if it just catches my eye because I love black and white so much!
Sixth Trend Spotted
Big sweaters over long skirts… It sounds like 1 of those “don’t” proportion ideas, but it was everywhere. It looked warm and snuggly, and made the women wearing it look warm and feminine. Paired with ankle boots, or occasionally sneakers, it would be warm and comfortable for long days!
Oh dear… At this point, I’m going to have to surrender any pretense that I know what we did when…. For some reason, I am not good at keeping a journal of what I do when! It’s going to make my biographers CRAZY when they try to reconstruct what I’ve been up to, someday.
But I still have so much to share…
I was able to get dressed every day without barely opening my eyes. While many people might hate wearing such a monochromatic wardrobe, I didn’t at all mind. I had my Barbour coat on about 90% of the time, so it wasn’t really as if anybody except Belovedest and people in restaurants ever saw what I was wearing anyway…
There aren’t a lot of shop window images in these posts, because I found it painful to take off my gloves too often. It wasn’t particularly cold – certainly not by Chicago standards – but sometimes when my hands hurt from fibro, even a little bit of cold is too much!
But I had to snap this one – the slouchy softness of this just appealed so much to me! I could see chucking all of my black and suddenly wearing lots of soft colors.
Still, this must have had an effect on me…
When we went to the Galleries Vivienne earlier in the week, I stopped into a shop that I’ve ALWAYS found intimidating: Wolff & Descourtis. A lovely place. Beautiful scarves. The manager is one of the most lovely people you will ever meet in any country. And she talked me into this:
I was absolutely stunned to have someone tell me that I should wear pink. But as I stood there and looked at myself in the mirror, with this glorious, huge (55 inch square!) chunk of silk draped around my shoulders, I had a revelation…
The French 5-Piece Wardrobe! A way to experiment with a color without going hog-wild with 20 things.
This is now in my closet:
My assortment isn’t exactly these same things – I got all of my stuff at the most amazing Uniqlo in the Marais. (it’s worth visiting even if you NEVER buy Uniqlo, just to see how they converted an old, posh home into a really cool store…)
So yes, for the first time in… decades, I believe, I’m wearing a color that’s not a touch of red! We shall see how this works out; so far, nobody has noticed that I was wearing a pink sweatshirt all day yesterday. I think that we think about these things much more than anybody around us ever does!
Seventh Trend Spotted
Lots of stores are trying to be more environmentally responsible. Or at least they’re telling us that they are – these things aren’t always what they seem. But even in the world of “green-washing” (pretending to be environmentally concerned while really just using buzzwords to appeal to consumers), this is a step in the right direction.
This is from one of the athletic shoe stores in the Marais, while sold Veja shoes. They were SO busy all the time; someone is supporting this!
I always notice the street art – there’s so much of it all over the city, and some of it is quite nice. I found this very touching:
it says “Fragile” on all of the little labels on her heart… sigh…
Much of the street art is just interesting:
Many things you see are charming (and are the umbrellas above the little girl related to all of the umbrellas we saw stenciled on the pavement?):
And there are always lots of political and social messages to be seen:
But you don’t have to look further than any shop or market to see things that are amazingly lovely. There were very early strawberries in the markets, and they were arranged like precious jewels in boxes for sale – about 40 big strawberries. I regret not getting a photo to share… But check out this broccoli:
It was so pretty…
And these are “chardons” which are just plain old thistles where I grew up! They were gorgeous…
Hmmm… a few more important recommendations. If you have any spare museum time, and you want to go somewhere that’s seldom crowded, but always beautiful, consider the Musee Guimet. It’s quite near the Eiffel Tower, and is wonderful. They had a special exhibition of Korean inspired clothing from the designer Lee Young-hee. Stunning. If I was going to be completely eccentric, I would wear the white dresses with the sheer jackets EVERY DAY FOREVER. In my dreams:
The rest of the museum is pretty amazing…
I’m running out of steam here! Too much thinking about my trip makes me want to toss all of those (as yet unlaundered) garments back into my bag and get on the next plane back! That happens when you’re smitten with a city, right?
But I have to tell you that if you get a chance to eat at a place called Les Enfants Rouges (very near to the Marche des Enfants Rouges), you should do it. Trust me… Eating in the market itself is a challenge – there are a handful of counters that serve prepared food, and they are ALWAYS busy. But getting reservations at this restaurant is an easier way to enjoy the foods of the market, in the hands of a really great chef:
The best scallops I’ve ever had, with some kind of sauce that made me want to lick my plate. I refrained from that, but I might have done a bit of bread-swabbing in a moment of recklessness.
And for dessert I had a Mont Blanc, which is basically a meringue topped with candied chestnuts that have been pushed through a ricer so that they look like light brown spaghetti. The meringue was seasoned with a touch of pepper, which was sort of mind blowing. And I will eat anything with candied chestnuts in it, no matter what!
Let me leave you with 2 images that make me nostalgic, and which really convey the overall feeling of our vacation.
This first is a glorious, almost Dutch master painting, bunch of flowers, which were setting ON THE SIDEWALK outside one of the brand showrooms for fashion week:
These would get kicked over, or stolen, in my neighborhood in about 5 minutes! But there they stood…
And the lingering holiday decorations brought light and cheer to grey winter days:
Lots of red Chinese lanterns were everywhere, too. Paris can find cheer in the post-holiday season that is so long…
p.s. EIGHT YEARS AGO (holy chubby Buddha of blogging…) I linked us all to a site that helps isolate colors from any image that we have to upload. It’s still there, and still useful…
I recently got new specs and new sunglasses. Becasue I get prescription glasses I take time to choose because I need to live with them for the next 3 years. I decided to say nothing just to see how many people noticed and not a single person did!! So yes I agree, was it really worth as much thought as I gave it? Obviously not!!
Always love hearing about Paris. Your love of Paris sines through. The lanterns are probably to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
They definitely were for the Lunar New Year – they were ALL OVER the place in Paris. We couldn’t figure out if it was done by the city, or by the Chinese/French association. No matter – they were such lovely bits of color…
Love the Picasso. Could the color gold be used with the grey, white, and black instead of beige? I just may re-organize my wardrobe based on this painting.
Absolutely – I think that would stunning! Go for it!
Taste of France says
Great post! I love the mix of fashion, food, art and travel tips.
I heard the most interesting podcast about the history of color, and for a long time pink was considered pale red (and very masculine). So if red is your usual jam, it isn’t surprising that a saleswoman with a good eye would see you in pink.
Enjoyed the art! Although I am not as enamoured of Paris as many others your trip sounded like so much fun. Love street art. Re pink—always hung back but bought 2 pieces last summer as an experiment and it is an uplifting colour. Especially for those of us looking at many more weeks of winter. Since it’s no new clothes year I am allowing myself to browse consignment stores for pink….hard to find the right shade
Thank you, these posts about your trip have been very enjoyable to read with my morning coffee. I would love to see wardrobes based on those paintings, especially the third one and the fifth one. Also just wanted to say I packed for my last big trip with just black & white modal tees (more dressy and hang dries) black pants and a pair of jeans. I took a camel cardigan and chambray shirt. I loved how easy it was to get dressed and out the door.
Pink is my favorite color, so I was thrilled to see it here.
Robin Jillson says
I have chosen the “street art” with the blindfolded woman as my new palette — it’s a sensational mix of black, grey, carmine, and gold. If I squint, I can turn the beige-y background into ivory. What a fantastic color combo! I also want to say that with all the unhappy news that has come from Paris in the last year or so, it is lovely and heartening to hear about your trips.
Supposedly pink is for everyone because we all have blood in their capillaries (so, everyone apart from zombies, I guess), it’s just a matter of finding the right shade. The conversation usually then devolves into that warm vs. cool, what’s your season/undertone conversation that I can’t stand because I always turn out to be “none of the above.” Sorry to hear about the painful hands; cold does seem to crawl into the joints and nest there. I don’t know how you survive Chicago winters; I wouldn’t. Thanks for the restaurant tips—love a good crepe.
Thank you, again, Janice! I have enjoyed this morning post! ❤️
Would love to see a wardrobe built around your thistles photo.
Second the motion.
Beth T says
Ahhh… I think I can happily manage that for you all! It would be my pleasure…
Please, Please and Please. That shade between blue and purple that my Mother called periwinkle.
Me too – love that color.
A good cool toned pink is often hard to find. That was the color of one of my favorite dresses as a child. Over the years it has moved in and out of my wardrobe, but I have started bringing it back in as I occasionally find things that I like. Nice to see that Uniqlo has some.
As for Paris, I love, love, love the many things you are describing in your posts.
You are helping me see modern art in new ways–enjoying focusing on colors, textures, shapes instead of “making sense” of it.
Everybody’s sense of what’s in a painting is different; I think maybe that’s why I feel drawn to modern art – I don’t have to have the “right” answer that the experts tell me. And I’m always looking at new and beautiful color ideas and combinations. I figure if it made it into a major museum, it’s okay to use on The Vivienne Files!
Your travel photos are great. Would love to see a modern capsule based on the Filette au Cerceau by Pablo Picasso.
I agree! It’s on my list; I have a hunch that I will eventually end up using ALL of these paintings somehow…
That scarf is gorgeous. Just gorgeous. As well, I find, living in a cold climate, that “late winter” is a whole different season of its own. The days get longer so there is more light but it’s still so cold. Your beautiful new cozy, warm pink wardrobe additions with that great scarf are perfect for this time of year.
Thanks for such a wonderful post.
I remember wearing the long skirt, boots, and big sweater look some time ago – late 80s or early 90s maybe? though we did longer knee boots then. In any case, I was a lot slimmer then so could probably carry that look better than I could now! Still, I like that look and mostly just laugh at those “never do this” proportion advice type things. Those “rules” change so often.
Pink = black for me ? Always have at least one pair of pink shoes in rotation.
You would! You’re that kind of gloriously imaginative goddess…
Beth T says
Your floral scarf is sensational and the pink clothes I would happily add to my wardrobe. They are ‘proper’ pink, not the pinks with undertones of peach, salmon or even brown which shops describe as ‘pink’. I love going to the market early on when the stalls are decorated with fruit and veg. It is a delight to behold. Your photo of the thistles suggest that spring is just around the corner.
Pink has been annoying this last few years; I was thrilled to see someone has big and influential as Uniqlo address the color properly!
And yes, one of our favorite things to do is visit the markets. The care that is taken with the food is inspiring, and the beauty that the vendors find in the most humble of foods is a reminder of the value that even the smallest things if we just care to look, and truly believe there’s something there to find.
Beth T says
Last summer I bought a navy full cotton skirt with white polka dots from Uniqlo in Oxford (UK). I’m now thinking that a pink top will be just the thing to go with it. Have you ever been to Oxford? You would love the museums (Ashmolean and the Pitt-Rivers, and there is a Museum of Modern Art), the colleges (concerts in the chapels and open air plays in the summer gardens), the Covered Market, the quirky shops as well as high end stores, wonderful places to eat…. We also have seven day opening in the UK so no chance of places being closed!
Book Goddess says
Thank you so much for the beautiful art, especially the Kandinsky! Fabulous descriptions of Paris experiences. I am so ready to go!
What a packed post. It must have taken forever to put this together! I am thinking about basing my wardrobe around the muted neutrals in the second Picasso above. Maybe just for the basics though, as I love beautiful colors. The unique peachy pinks in your window display photo would draw me in.
As an aside, do you visit Montreal? It’s an easy quick trip for Midwesterners. I love the street art, beautiful churches and parks. Even the Metro stations have interesting art/architecture. And of course, you can practice your French ;)
Never mixing cool colors with warm colors? That is a good guideline for wardrobe beginners. But this is art. Artists have a masterful eye for color, proportion, scale — all of it. If one wants to move from beginner to master, follow the greats. Begin with a scarf. Now it’s all making sense. And since this is Paris, begin with a silk scarf painted by a master, and purchased as a souvenir in one of the great art museums of the world. It is time to return to Paris.
I love le Marais. Just stayed there in October – so many interesting things to see, do and eat right in the neighbourhood.
And in a week where the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is being commemorated, it’s worth noting that le Marais was the Jewish district of Paris – and with the collaboration of the French government (and many of the local population), thousands of children and their parents “disappeared” to the death camps. I was happy to see that on local schools there are plaques (and sometimes a permanent vase for flowers) to make sure we truly do not forget what happens when you allow hate and racism to flourish.
Thanks for all your posts – and I just love the new scarf!
Oh, those plaques outside the schools can always make you reflect. Some day I’m going to buy a HUGE bunch of flowers and put a few at a lot of schools, as well as at some of the plaques where they commemorate the death of people during the liberation of Paris. It would be a sobering, but wonderful, day of love for a beautiful city…
Your new scarf is beautiful, and as someone else mentioned, pink is just a pastel version of red, so of course it would look great on you !
Things must be a changin ‘ ! I have often read that Parisians , at least in the past, have considered eating while standing to be quite an American gauche way of food consumption ! Only a sit down meal was considered to be apropos !
Thanks again for the “ tour” !
Oh, if you’re thinking about the counters at the market, they WERE sitting down – on stools that were packed in tighter than I think I could have fit! Many things have become more casual in Paris; I never dreamed that I would spend days wandering the streets wearing Adidas shoes and feeling perfectly comfortable! But when it comes to food, they’re still quite serious…
Glad you finally went to Wolff et Descourtis. I have been there 3 times ( and left with a scarf each time). VIctoria will definitely steer you away from less flattering options, and open your eyes to colors you hadn’t thought about. Beautiful scarf to tie pink into your black wardrobe!
I’m already budgeting for a return visit! I don’t know WHY I was so intimidated; beauty is normally very alluring and beckons you into entering. Something about this store always made me nervous; maybe I know that I was going to want to buy EVERYTHING THERE… (only a slight exaggeration, as you can appreciate!)
I was drinking a pornstar martini as I read this post. It is my favourite cocktail (not that I am well versed). What a busy time you are having, you make me think I must hop the channel and visit Paris.
PS I love your new scarf.
It looks busy because I’m cramming 8 days into 2 blog posts; we really had quite a relaxing time! We slept until we didn’t want to sleep any more, we wandered about until we wanted to sit down and drink something (usually coffee, but occasionally something… stronger…), we shopped for what we wanted, laughed, hugged each other, kissed RIGHT OUT IN PUBLIC…
Really, the perfect vacation. I would do it for 8 days every 2 weeks if I could figure out how to get everything else done in the other 6 days!
It’s funny: I was encouraging to give in to pink in my last comment, and here we are :D The 5-Piece Wardrobe seems like a very smart way to do it. I’ve been craving pink for a while now too (though a warmer shade), so I might try this too.
The new scarf is so beautiful! I hope we’ll get to see some of the ways you’ll use it.
Can’t wait to see some wardrobes based on that wonderful art, too!
Janice, I love your Vivienne Files! In the last 3 months I have gone through the WHOLE thing by using your Archives by Date. I’ve been in love with clothes since I was about 3 years old. I think you are the greatest fashion blogger on the Net. And reading about your trips to Paris has been eye-opening for me. I’ve been to Paris 3 times but you have given me very new viewpoints since you have spent so much time there and done so much exploring.
I’m so glad that you had the courage and the brilliance to create this blog as your career. It has helped a lot of women including me.
You’ve made my day; thanks for taking the time to leave a comment that makes me feel SO HAPPY! I just really wanted to share some insights that I’ve gleaned through long years of wardrobe mistakes, and help other people avoid those same errors.
Can’t thank you enough for your WONDERFUL website – it has been an enormous help! A few words for flower lovers and gardeners about your “chardons”: they appear to be a species of Eryngium (perhaps giganteum?) or Sea Holly as it is commonly known. A well known variety is ‘Miss Willmott’s Ghost,’ named for the English plantswoman who liked to surreptitiously sow seed of this vigorous plant whenever she was a visitor to a garden, thus leaving her hosts with a gift that would most assuredly keep on giving. To further stir the imagination, the plant looked ghostly and spectral in the twilight. More info on culture here: http://www.perennials.com/plants/eryngium-giganteum.html. I love the blue violet and silver gray together!
Thank YOU for this fascinating information about the chardons – this make me ever more eager to do a post about them! May I copy your information into that post, for some wonderful background on the plants?
Of course, please feel free to share. I thought perhaps there might be another plant-nerd out there like me who would see the photo and want to grow them! This particular genus is not widely known in the US but is easy to grow and low maintenance. Here’s a link to more photos: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=eryngium+blue+sea+holly&t=ffsb&ia=images&iax=images. The colors in real life range from an electric blue to blue-violet to amethyst. The colors are so vibrant that sometimes, it looks like someone spray-painted the flowers. And the appearance of the color can change depending on the time of day – must be the angle of the light. I like the juxtaposition of spiky foliage and flower bracts with the very fragile-looking flowers on the central “cone.”
And if there are gardeners out there who would like to grow cardoons, they do very well anywhere you can grow artichokes. I grow them for their lovely blue-gray foliage and exquisite blooms which look like thistles on steroids: https://www.wearefound.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/outdoor-garden-cardoon-plants-700×464.jpg and http://www.nathankramer.com/garden/omaha/041002-19.JPG. Unlike artichokes (their close cousins), it is the leaf stem that is eaten and considered a great delicacy in French and Mediterranean cuisine.
It may sound odd, but flowers and plants often provide inspiration for my wardrobe color combos. Nature can be very daring!
LOVED hearing about your Paris restaurant adventures – hope to travel there next spring. Yum!
I love those clear pinks – so much better for my colouring than the blush/salmon version that’s been out lately. Loved reading about Paris!
What a fun trip report! Love that you are adding a bit of pink. Am I mistaken that you wore pink on your honeymoon? – nancyo
I did! and I just found the Etro scarf that I bought for my honeymoon in my scarf drawer. I knew in my heart that I would want it again some day, if only to wear with black and white. NOW, it’s front and center in my French 5-Piece Wardrobe in pink, pink, and MORE pink!