May 10, 2012
I’ll never forget the first time I was “perfumed” in Paris. After spritzing and sniffing numerous scents at a parfumerie in the Marais, I settled on L’Eau d’Issey by Issey Miyake, a citrusy floral just right for warmer weather. The chic saleswoman held the tester aloft angled in my direction. “Je vous parfume, mademoiselle?” she asked, dousing me head to toe in a scented shower of Issey.
Not since have I worn quite so much scent but will admit to feeling quite glam that afternoon as I trailed its sweet essence through the streets of Paris. It was an early lesson in the seductive power of fragrance.
That was more than ten years ago and I’ve tried many perfumes since. While I love the idea of a signature scent, I can’t seem to commit to just one. With so much wonderful choice and temptation, why settle? But whether true to one fragrance or scent schizophrenics like me, French women are united in a deep devotion to perfume.
Posted in Parisian Living | 8 Comments »
December 15, 2011
When I popped home to the UK in November, London was already in full festive swing with Christmas trees, festive songs and neon lights galore. Sent back with a Cadbury’s chocolate advent calendar adorned with an oversized Santa, I was ready to start the Christmas season with a bang.
Yet once back home across the pond, I realized Paris hadn’t joined in on the fun yet. I was ready to start in on my advent calendar and temperatures were plunging, but where were all those tell tale signs that our favorite mid-winter festival was fast approaching?
This set me thinking. What exactly is a Parisian Christmas? What happens in the cold windy days leading up to the big event? I set out on a mission to discover the seasonal delights that France’s most romantic city had to offer.
Although the Christmas shopping frenzy begins relatively late in Paris (thankfully, shops only step into gear at the end of November), once it gets going, it really gets going. Stores go all out with light shows and designer-crafted window displays – always tasteful, bien sur. First stop? Paris’s iconic department stores. Whilst London has toy-filled Hamleys and elegant Harrods, Paris showcases its trademark sophistication with Les Galleries Lafayette and the neighbouring Printemps, where Karl Lagerfeld’s touch marks this year’s displays: think Chanel-clad rock ‘n’ roll dolls strumming their electric guitars and 20m Christmas trees. Continue Reading »
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February 28, 2011
Chic and Elegant Paris fashion – Paris in Pink
What is it about Parisian women that always leaves me staring as they ever so briskly pass by, thinking, how do they always manage to look so (for lack of a better word), chic? They appear to be dressed with a casual confidence, never looking out of place and drawing just enough attention. Each detail and accessory is carefully chosen, creating a color palette of distinctive greys, blacks and neutrals, with just a touch of color. Timeless. Elegant. And always classy. This ‘dress-code’ is most creatively displayed in the ‘bobo’ parts of Paris where ‘bourgeois’ meets ‘boheme’. The result is a never-ending fashion show on the streets of the Marais, Saint Germain, and often in between.
Longing for Paris summer fashion – Paris in Pink
What’s their secret? I have a few theories.
Timeless. Parisians are avid shoppers but not necessarily considered consumers. They choose quality over quantity and when the Soldes hit Paris, they spend the time necessary to find that one signature piece to add to their collection, which will naturally work with all the other pieces. Shopping becomes a curatorial experience. Thus, there is no end to the possibilities and no need to follow the latest trends. Rather than mimic a mannequin, a Parisian woman will simply use this model for inspiration. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living, Shopping | 20 Comments »
January 14, 2011
Casual shoppers, beware. The French sales are just around the corner and many a French fashionista is getting ready to pounce on items she has secretly coveted all Fall. In all honesty, though, the soldes are often the one moment of fashion folly many Parisiennes allow themselves. For decades, one market has proven remarkably resistant to passing trends: Paris. Despite jumping at the occasional fad (the Balmain-inspired shoulder pad, the hardware-adorned gladiator sandal), Parisian shoppers — both young and old — follow certain cardinal rules in their shopping habits, year-in and year-out.
The key to this eternal French chic may lie in a natural sense of restraint and discernment. In considering her past wardrobe choices, a French woman is less inclined to wonder, “What was I thinking?” because (most likely) it’s what she’s still thinking: invest in high-quality staples and err on the side of understated elegance.
An Hermes scarf, guaranteed to never go out of style (Paris in Pink)
Here are the most time-tested items that can aid your journey towards impeccable Parisian dressing. Continue Reading »
Posted in Parisian Living, Shopping | 22 Comments »
May 11, 2010
I can already tell I’m going to get into trouble with this post, but I’ve never been afraid to ruffle a few feathers (especially of the French variety), so here goes. As a female ex-pat, living in Paris is no guarantee that you’ll automatically become a local. If you’re not a Parisienne and you want to be, these are the rules.*
1. Cultivate austere beauty. Today’s Parisienne has natural beauty down to an art: very little make-up and a fresh-faced complexion. Hair should be un-“done” (bonus points for bangs and / or a careless ballerina-inspired bun) and brown. With a few rare exceptions, blond hair is a red flag that screams foreign and/or fake. Beware! You want your look to seem unstudied—even though we know it’s not. For inspiration, look no further than Jane Birkin and Jane Birkin 2.0 (her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg).
2. Don’t smile much. You might be surprised to learn that smiles are, in fact, a limited resource in Paris. They’re not to be wasted on the undeserving, and they play no part in most daily interactions. When deployed, a well-timed smile is a Parisienne’s deadliest weapon, but your default expression should always be set somewhere between deadpan and “subtle scowl.”
3. Nail the “I don’t think so, but I guess if you do…” look. When someone says something you find wrong / distasteful, don’t openly object. Passive judgment is much more effective. Just raise your eyebrows, and look down / sideways to see if anyone else is noticing how absurd the statement was. Note: This is also a good way to establish solidarity with other true Parisiennes in the group, who will undoubtedly be giving the same look.
4. Be thin. But not just thin, a particular kind of thin that I like to call “healthy frail.” Other than a few moments spent standing on a mysterious vibrating plate from time to time, Parisiennes don’t really exercise. As a result, they don’t really have muscles, so they’re diminutive but vibrant, waifish but not gaunt. Damn them. Continue Reading »
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February 5, 2010
Valentine’s Day is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of holiday. But whether you’re a cynic or a romantic, single or attached, you can probably justify making room in your life for a little Parisian luxe. Kim Petyt, an American wedding planner in Paris and author of Parisian Party, has a few gift ideas for lovers and haters alike…
Continue Reading »
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November 28, 2009
Last week’s headline in The Telegraph read: “A decree banning women from wearing trousers in Paris is still technically in force, it emerged on Monday, making the laissez-faire French capital theoretically stricter than hardline Sudan in the fashion stakes.”
The article went on to describe the origin of this law and its evolution over time.
- 1800: Law stipulates that “any Parisienne wishing to dress like a man ‘must present herself to Paris’ main police station to obtain authorization’”
- 1892: Amendment to the law states that trousers are permitted “as long as the woman is holding the reins of a horse”
- 1909: An extra clause is added to allow women to wear trousers when “on a bicycle or holding it by the handlebars”
Despite the fact that this law is still in place, it’s safe to say that pants (and the women who love them) are alive and well in Paris.
Continue Reading »
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