I recently returned from a week-long trip to Paris, my inaugural jaunt to the city of light and love. It was every bit as enchanting as I had hoped and dreamed it would be, and the most magical part was, of course, the fashion. The land of berets, stripes, and scarves has a reputation for being über-chic, and it did not disappoint. After only a couple days, it became very apparent to me that Parisians care about style beyond the physical level: it's not just an appearance, but also, more deeply, a reflection of their lifestyle choices. Parisians would never dream of leaving their homes in anything remotely ill-fitting, not only because it simply looks better to be styled and put together, but also because as a general rule, they prefer to put effort into themselves and enjoy life. (These values are also demonstrated by the astounding city-wide cleanliness, the citizenry's penchant for long lunches involving wine, cheese, and copious amounts of bread, and the fact that the entire city pretty much shuts down on Sundays — an extremely foreign concept to this spoiled New Yorker.) Even the children are stylish! What follows is the story of my first trip to Paris, told through the fashions I wore, saw, swooned over, and remain in love with.
The Requisite Stripes
Several weeks prior to my trip across the Atlantic, I discovered this amazing bodysuit at American Apparel. I tried it on and loved it, but didn’t buy it, and it continued to haunt me after that poorly thought-out decision. First I saw it on Ciara, and then I saw it in a rap video. Clearly, it wanted to be with me, so I returned to the store a couple of days before departure and bought it in blue. I wore it my first day out on the town...
Un Peu de New York à Paris
… and stumbled upon this random street sign whilst walking along the Seine. I took it as a good omen, brought to me by my sincere desire to sartorially assimilate into Parisian life. Vive la stripes!
Fruit of the Loom
I spotted this window gem while walking near Metro Châtelet. It brings together three of Parisians’ biggest loves: food, cookware, and an amazing hat. I believe I also spot a couple of stripes, you know, for good measure.
Put a Stache on It
Proving that even Parisians have a sense of humor, Eleven Paris has produced a line of t-shirts depicting fashion icons such as the inimitable Karl Lagerfeld and his muse Kate Moss, all posing with finger mustaches. Underneath the portraits, the line: “Life is a joke.” Maybe so, but at their 40 euro price point, these tees don't play.
Even Parisians Once Wore Shoulder Pads
After my encounter with the great mustaches of Paris, I was all the more refreshed by a vintage adventure that led me to the discovery that, yes, even Parisians once wore shoulder pads. I tried on this dress with utmost sincerity, because I adored the pattern and fabric. Had it been a bit (read: a lot) shorter, less broad, and the proper fit, the lewk could have been epic. As it stood, it just looked matronly. And not even Paris can make matronly look good.
All Denim Everything
The vintage store adjacent to the land of shoulder pads offered the excellent opportunity to browse cutoff denim jackets, vests, and shorts while enjoying extremely loud techno remixes of popular American hip-hop songs. This vest was a tad big so I left it on the rack, but I did appreciate being introduced to what amounted to the European Search and Destroy (give or take a few spiked leather whips).
My Very First Chlo
My Parisian vintage triumph came when I found this Chlo
True Beauty is Internal
... at which time I discovered two brass-bound holes into which the wearer is meant to place cards, money, and other small items. The bag won’t hold much, but that is irrelevant because it is so unique and interesting.
The Blue Tights That Got Me Mistaken for a Parisian
In another win for American Apparel, these tights brought me my shining fashion moment in Paris. On my way home one night, I was walking on the metro platform when a Parisian woman approached me and began speaking to me in French. I put on my most sheepish grin, apologized and told her I don’t speak French very well and that I hadn’t understood her. She smiled and said, “It’s okay. I speak English.” She then pointed to my tights and asked me where I had purchased them. I was over the moon; an authentic French woman not only asked me about my clothing, but she mistook me for one of her kind! I could try, but words would not suffice in describing how giddy this interaction made me.
No But Really, Parisians Like Mustaches
This giant Lancel ad looms over the underground entrance for the Louvre. Of course it’s an ad for the bag, but undoubtedly the most eyecatching element is the huge Salvador Dalí mustache drawn on the model’s face. It was at this point that I began to seriously wonder about Parisians’ complex relationship with facial hair. L'art, l'amour, la moustache!
Double-breasted stripes. Satin. Shorts. Floral patterned wedges. Little more needs to be said.
This Pump Is Made of Chocolate
Perhaps no one can compete with Paris' red-bottom shoe boss, but a red top made of chocolate is a start. Since we ladies often treat and lust after shoes as objects for literal consumption, it makes total sense to me that a boulanger in Paris would construct a chocolate shoe. These would look amazing with the chocolate eclair that swiftly became my permanent Parisian accessory.
The Power of Accessory
Speaking of accessories! I don’t smoke at all, but one of the big things I learned about Paris is that it is very good at impressing upon visitors the great power of the consumable accessory. Whether a glass of wine, a cup of espresso, a baguette, or, oui, a cigarette, consumable accessories are a part of life in this city, and even the most astutely healthy individuals might find themselves puffing away. But it's okay! It's not your fault — it's just the magic of Paris. Also, in the hierarchy de chic of said accessories, cigarettes are definitely somewhere near the high end of the scale. So I gave in to the powers that be and later asked my lungs for their forgiveness.
My Easter Basket
Easter Sunday happened to fall in the midst of my adventure, and since I essentially made this trip by myself — though, admittedly, I had several friends who served as gracious hosts to me while I visited — in lieu of family time and chocolate eggs, I attended the Sunday morning service at Notre Dame. It was an unforgettable experience, and I made some new friends while I was there. On the way out, I spotted these beautifully delicate bracelets at the gift stand. Blue is my favorite color, and has been very significant to me since I started practicing yoga, so I was immediately drawn to these two. The turquoise one is for me, the royal blue for my mama.
Finally, my absolute favorite part of Paris fashion is that the children are just as chic as the adults. Regardless of age, they are all decked out in scarves, hats, handbags, skinny jeans, fitted trousers, pea coats, capes, and a number of other grown-up looks. And of course they're made all the cuter by the fact that they are speaking French. About halfway through my trip I became obsessed with these mini Parisians and dubbed them chiclets. My new mission in life is to find a Frenchman to fall in love with and marry, so I can have a gaggle of chiclets I can dress in adorable outfits. I know, I dream too small.
All photos, writer's own.