26 Jul 2016

Notes From Paris: The Essentials

Notes From Paris on vickiarcher.com


I made a few notes in Paris this past weekend.
Not literally notes but I took some time to watch the passing parade and make a few reflections around this.

The talk of Parisian women is endless, never ending and sometimes can almost feel too much. They are simply women like all of us and there are plenty of incredible women in our world. As much as I want to be the devil’s advocate and “take a break” from commenting about them, like it or not, I do find them different. Not good, not bad but consistently unique.


I truly don’t think they understand the fuss at all; they are who they are and that’s kind of that.



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I don’t believe they follow trends in the same way we do. They wear the same classic look, year in and year out but change up the weight of the fabrics to suit the season. Gucci might be parading patterns all over the runway and florals might be the dress du jour but French women aren’t buying into this trend. They are still wearing black, allbeit loose forming slip/tee dresses and sheath styles. They are wearing neutrals, plains and simple styles. A short boot, a flat and a stiletto pump are still the shoes, despite the season, with the addition of a flat open sandal and sneakers. It would seem to me that the Parisian girls like sneakers as much as we do.


I haven’t been in Paris in peak summer for some time, always favouring the cooler months.

The women I saw were practically dressed but retained an air of elegance and style. They were wearing simple dresses or jeans (still jeans) and tees; the monochrome being particularly popular. White jeans and a black tee with a pair of flats or sneakers never fail; I wonder why we forget this essential look sometimes. The LBD was relaxed and cool, with an emphasis on the slip style of dress.


And so often the red or the plum or the fuchsia lipstick; the shade less important than the depth.


It was too hot for jackets and yet I saw many lighter weight moto style jackets thrown on the backs of café chairs or peaking out from shopper style handbags. They look perfect over a slip dress.



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I realised what the Parisian women get right, why many of them are smart about fashion. They wear a style they are comfortable with, a classic look not dominated by seasonal trends and not something to change the world. They adapt it over and over but at the end of the day the ingredients are the same.


Parisian women do their own thing; in a strange way they wear a uniform of sorts. It happens to be one the world loves. xv


p.s and the Parisians do love that messy hair.




Notes From Paris: The Essentials

eileen fisher round neck  //  ***lafayette bateau neck  //  eileen fisher ballet neck  //  madewell moto jacket



golden goose sneaker  //  superga sneaker  //  ***stan smith sneaker



images, clémence poesy by signe vilstrup

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26 Comments

Taste of France

Being in the south of France with a fan blowing on me as I type, I cannot even think about jeans or jackets. A little sundress (and yes, most of mine are black!) is the answer for deskwork. When walking around town, a crisp chemise with 3/4 sleeves for coverage against the sun and capris or a skirt.

Reply
Pamela

So interesting – we must walk in v different parts of Paris because in June I saw lots of attractive French women of all ages wearing colours, and some even with patterns. Even took photos because they looked so good. Best wishes, Pamela

Reply
Vicki

Are you sure they were French, Pamela ;) ;)

My husband and I played a little game as we wandered around the streets last weekend… making note of any patterned fabrics we saw… (I made him help with my research, poor man!) :)

Reply
Pamela

Some in cafes or restaurants. Speaking French – like natives. Can easily pick English or American accents when people speak French. Very few Americans speak French fluently without accents, eg we were at a table next to a nice American woman who kept talking about the Roo Cambone and wondering why taxi drivers couldn’t understand her. Also the Americans last year who asked if we’d seen the Bone-nards. We didn’t know what they were. Turned out it was Bonnard. Pamela

Reply
Pamela

Also in places like the marches ephemeres, eg – the Ceramic Market and the Poetry Market in Place St Sulpice. Pamela

Reply
Vicki

I understand all too well… I still have trouble with the French accent… and am still misunderstood.. But I persevere :) :)

Reply
Pamela

When I was at school, thousands of years ago, I learned French from an Australian teacher who’d lived in France for years. She was wonderful, inspired us all with her stories about life there and her travels around. She was however also a stickler for good pronunciation and made us all work hard at it. Wouldn’t accept anything less than perfect. My first trip overseas (other than the UK where I’d gone to live) was to France. We travelled around to all the areas she’d loved and described with such enthusiasm. Have been going there (along with many other places ) ever since. Best wishes, Pamela

Mimi Gregor

I have recently embraced this way of thinking about my wardrobe, and it has certainly made my decisions about what to wear easier. Just a few classic pieces for each season, in neutral colors, that work well with one another. I can reach into my closet and pull out things at random (if I’m feeling cheeky!) and wear them with the knowledge that they will work together. It helps that I no longer buy/read fashion magazines. They are geared to the young and feckless, who do not know their own style yet. They seduce women to shop for things that they don’t need. I know what styles look good on me, and it doesn’t matter if something is “trendy” — if it doesn’t make me look good, I don’t buy it.

I wish I could embrace the French mindset for hair (i.e. messy bedhead). Even though I love the look on other women (usually long-haired women), when I find myself looking that way, and torturing it doesn’t make it come around, I plop on a hat!

Reply
Anita Rivera

Ahhhh….yes. I do understand. AND, I feel vindicated because I do not go for trends. I stick with what looks good on me, what I love, but I do realize the need to upgrade a certain look with just the right ATTITUDE. I have even had students (some young boys, I mean, elementary school age), who have commented on my dress style. For me it is this: is it comfortable, functional, STYLISH and chic, without overriding my features. One colleague said to me, “You wear your body.” I liked that; I am small and cannot wear certain cuts of dresses, but I wear what goes with the flow of my body.

The shoes: always heels. Toujours les talons. What what a French teacher be without her occasional talons? But mine are consistent because I LOVE THEM. I feel elegant, which makes me thing that the French women wear elegance like a garment. Oh I could talk about this all day long too, Vicki!

(love the messy hair)

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FrenchGardenHouse

I am a huge fan of this type of wardrobe, most of the time I wear the ” staples” with a trendy shoe ( the perfect place to follow a trend!) Here in California, bright colors often rule, and I do have a few linen shirts in bright colors. But I leave them at home when traveling in Europe, I always feel like a “wrong” when wearing those there. Simple, classic styles, in as luxurious a quality as I can afford, are what fills my closet and suitcases.

Once in awhile I get lured into buying a pair of pants in color, this spring I bought a beautiful petal pink pair, but I have to be honest, when I wear them, it feels a little ” off” and I usually end up donating them.

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Mumbai

I agree with Mimi and Anita…not going for trends and find your own style.
Don’t know where you walk through Paris but I have unfortunatelly seen very
less chic women dressed in that style you described. …and as I wrote already
in an other post….chic women you can see in every city.

Reply
LA CONTESSA

Learned about the UNIFORM from our dear friend HEATHER!!!!!!!!
Yes, it is STUNNING but I GOTTA have some COLOR!!!!!!!!!!
It does a BODY GOOD………..
YOU should jump on that TRAININNO and scoot to PARIS once a month just to SEE CARLA!
Time for a NEW BOOK VICKI………………io espetto…..VA BENE?!!!
XX

Reply
Heather in Arles

Why I think this classic style works so well is that it is all about the woman shining through and not about the clothes. Especially when a French woman is ‘bien dans sa peau’, it is effortless and alluring. Of course, there are a lot of hot messes out there who are French too, no one is perfect but les parisiennes get it right so often because they don’t try too hard and are true to themselves more often than not. It is less about Street Style and more about Me Style.

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Janice

I love the messy hair look on the right person. On Clemence Poesy it looks perfect. She is young and beautiful. I just watched the series The Tunnel where she carried that look very well. If only it was so easy to look as elegant yet carefree as the French do so well.

Reply
Sue Willis

Hi Vicki
Please could you post some new photos of Paris and Parisian style
It is wonderful to see those candid shots of Parisians and Paris
Also where to shop in Paris
Many thanks,
Sue

Reply
Vicki

Yes I will Sue… I didn’t take many shots last weekend.. I was too lazy!
A shopping list… great idea.. I will definitely write that.. :)

Reply
Sally

Hi Vicki
Im late to everything this summer and even later to comments ( apologies ) Ive had to recover from injury in a fall earlier this year so internet shopping will be my only resource for some warmer weather clothes and I would adore a simple black summer dress. It would be so useful, versatile and enjoyable to wear exactly as you describe the Parisian ladies.
I don’t have this in my wardrobe…… a post with any ideas ??
I do hope you are having a lovely summer
Sally x

Reply
Sally

Hello dear Vicki
Thank you so much for your reply, bless you I am much better for all the physio… and happy to be busier again…thank you for the link I will go straight over. Your styling and fashion is so well received I remember buying my first pixie pants at your recommendation.
Your friendship is so much appreciated, I have just been reading your ‘ in conversation’ post today it is wonderful, and very touching that you are sharing with us.
I am smiling that your first love is French, with a side order of Italian :) I lived down on the cote d’azur on and off for some years, in Italy but very near to the border of France and I know exactly what you mean. I miss it every day
Love to you dear Vicki
Sally x

Reply
Sara Redlich

I have had the life’s pleasure of observing the essence of a Parisian woman through a dear friend living in Paris. Though, she barks at her fellow Parisians dressed in black; she would never step beyond this signature French code of dress . Flare is reserved for subtleties such as a scarf, a bag,
a broach or the soled flamboyance of the classic Louboutin heel . One can always distinguish a French woman even from afar. For beyond the dress is the classicisum of a demure which
my dears, is impossible to replicate.

Reply
Dianne

Raised by a french mother, I inevitably have picked up the simple french style. Whenever I have tried too much bright, contrasting pattern or colour, I feel like a billboard sign! I’ve been given the compliment that I would look good even while wearing a flour sack (and this with times of my life when my weight has fluctuated)! LOL As a result I feel more relaxed and hence confident. I do like pattern, but it is usually varying shades of the same colour and at times a very subtle contrast. A patterned, sometimes colourful scarf does wonders to enliven an outfit.What works for one’s body shape at the time is important. Thanks for your posts Vicki; I do enjoy reading everyone’s responses!

I recently was seated beside a woman who is from France but teaching here. She is appalled by how we are enamoured with people who “speak the real french” as they say, and went on to comment on how divided within France everyone is about the “real spoken french”. Also she stated that dialects abound all over her country and the “real french” is a fabrication of the few. We had a good chuckle. The main thing is to be able to communicate, be understood and kind to each other.

Reply

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