Fashion Friday: French Lessons

Photos by Garance Dore.

So here’s the thing about Parisian women: they are all beautiful. I’m not even kidding you, as I sat in cafe after cafe I could not help but be in awe of not only their fashionable dressing but also their innate genetically blessed gorgeousness. It is one part inspiring and one part a really fast and easy way to make yourself feel frumpy and gross. :) This came to a head at our last dinner in which the drop dead beautiful hostess- wearing not a speck of makeup on her slightly tanned face and dressed in an oversized men’s shirt tucked into slouchy boyfriend jeans with fabulous heels escorted us to our table (after I picked Andrew’s jaw up off the floor). I thought “if I wore that I would look like an idiot playing dress up, but this girl sashays around looking effortless, cool and sexy all at once! How is that???”
So I made a list of the things I noticed about Parisian women’s style in hopes of cracking their secret code!

1) The number one thing you need to dress like a French woman- the fitted black blazer. They were on at least 50% of the women. Even Andrew noticed.  While a few slouchy boyfriend styles were seen, most women had on a perfectly tailored (very important- tailoring) black blazer over everything!!!! I’m investing in a good one (rather, taking my lovely Theory one I already have to be refitted close to the body).
This one by Elizabeth and James would world perfectly.

This one by K Karl Lagerfeld gets you a top Parisian designer label for much less than most of his clothes- $385.

If buying an investment piece isn’t in your budget right now try for one at Zara– they are all over Paris and I saw plenty a Parisian girl on a budget walking out of there with bags of stuff!
2) The second thing I noticed above all was another top layer- the shrunken leather motorcycle jacket. Also layered over everything and anything- especially dresses! In black or brown (or even a color), I saw them everywhere. I tried to find one for myself there, but alas, I choked. The damn Euro made everything so expensive.
This one on left by Levis works nicely with it’s distressed look. But I’m REALLY loving this one by Cole Haan!
  
Marc Jacobs makes a perfectly Parisian one- but it’ll cost you a pretty penny! So you might try a faux leather one by Ann Taylor!
 
 3) Boots are THE footwear in Paris.  Tons of ankle booties and flat slouchy knee high ones as well, but the trend I noticed above all- COWBOY BOOTS! I was quite surprised- with jeans, tight and skirts, everything! I am so pleased since I really love me a good pair of cowboy boots!
I didn’t see many high heeled tall boots, probably since Parisian women are always walking or riding bikes!
These Dan Post boots in brown or black would suit any Parisian woman. For a more beat up look try these by Justin.

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 For high flat boots these look perfect- they seemed to like them in suede and looking a bit “tougher” or equestrian.

For ankle booties you can go any which way-open toed, with hardware, slouchy and grey or wedge!
4) Layering. Lots and lots of layering. Tights were on tons of women- under jean shorts, dresses, skirts- you name it. Scarves as well, wrapped on many a Parisian neck. A classic look you’d see would be black tights, black ankle booties, a feminine mini dress with a shrunken biker jacket or blazer and a scarf. Take these pics from the Zara site as great examples (the girl on the far left needs a scarf or some bold necklaces though!) The key seemed to be not to think TOO hard about matching or what goes with what but rather having fun and playing loosely with items they loved!

5) Skinny pants. I barely saw one pair of bootcut jeans anywhere in Paris. It’s all about either a really skinny leg or a really wide slouchy leg (but mostly skinny). I felt totally comfortable and chic in my Jcrew Minnie pants! And I’m coveting this outfit on left from Zara again…lots of animal print seen over there as well, which pleases me to no end!
5) Beauty-  Andrew commented on the fact that he loved that Parisian women wore far less makeup than their American counterparts.  It’s true, it appeared that they all had glowing skin, bare faces with a hint of cream blush, lip balm and some mascara.  Or just a bold red lip and nothing else. What’s amazing to me is that they seemed to have a glow, and yet chain smoke like fiends!!!! Perhaps the key to their glow is all that bike riding and walking?
Here is a look I put together that I think really represents the day to d French woman (yes, they do wear a lot of striped shirts!) I aspire to dress more like them this year and was so very inspired by their joie de vivre and embracing of the fun and creativity involved in getting dressed!


The Last of Paris & Blog Woes.

First off, sorry for the hysterics yesterday. It was a scary day.  My domain name was set up to be automatically renewed- with a card I had to cancel long ago and forgot about- and the notifications from Google went into my junk folder. So right when it expired, the lovely GoDaddy.com put it up for auction and sold it yesterday for $700 without my knowledge.  I think I have retained it though, legally I have a week to reclaim it after sale and the process has been initiated, so please cross your fingers that all works out.  If there is any issue with this domain though, please note that the blog would automatically be transferred back to the old blogspot address of www.elementstyle.blogspot.com should anything happen. I don’t want to loose all my amazing readers I’ve worked so hard to gain! Thanks for all your concern. Also, I know that the page has been loading slow- I’m in the middle of having the blog redesigned to be better and faster so you all can enjoy it more easily! Reveal to come later this month!

Now, back to important things. Like Paris. These are the last of the photos I have to share from our cultural adventures at the Louvre,Musee d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and other architectural splendors.
First off, the Eiffel. It is HUGE. Really huge, and it causes you to just be speechless in amazement pondering the actual construction of the thing.  I captured this little boy who expresses it just right. We went to the top (froze our butts off) and marveled at the lack of skyscrapers in Paris. It was beautiful.

Ahhh, the Louvre. We went straight off the overnight flight from Boston.  It is the most massive museum I’ve ever been to and it was almost too overwhelming!
We waited in this line at 9 am and then made a run for the Mona Lisa since I know it gets crowded fast. you can;t get close and it’s a bit underwhelming in it’s size, but it still amazed me.
I noticed a lot of a certain color scheme in a lot of the art that I just loved- greeny turquoise, bright red and pinks.  I would love to do a room based on these colors! I simply adored these works…
Big enough for ya?
this hall was mind blowing. The level of detail work on the ceiling nerly made me fall over! Not to mention these doors and the fantastic jeweled goodies inside the room!
You are going to laugh at my lack of cultural depth on this one, but when I saw all this jewelry the first thing that came to my mind was “This looks like Banana or J.Crew!”  Perhaps Jenna Lyons gets inspiration from such historical collections?
This sculpture left us in AWE. We stood looking at it for some time.  The ability to carve marble into “cloth” like that is just beyond my comprehension.
Outside the Louvre is the beginning of the Jardins des Tuileries which is truly spectacular- with it’s rows of trees, carosel, sculptures and cafe carts….
An example of masterful city planning- you can see all the way to the Arc de Triomphe!
In the Marais we came upon one of the most beautiful agrdens I’d ever seen…
Everywhere you turn is another work of amazing architecture! Above is the Palace Vendome.
This building was covered from top to bottom in growing green plants. And the Arc, well, it speaks for itself!
The Musee d’Orsay came on our last full day and we were BEAT. But we did as much as we could and I wish we had had more energy and time to take it in because the art is just spectacular!!! There was a huge model of the museum at the entrance and you could compare the real deal to the miniature…
There also was a massive model of the Paris Opera House that is any girls dollhouse fantasy! :)
The level of detail makes you think “I’d go crazy doing that!” And then you notice underfoot, under glass, is this gigantic model of Paris! They must have gone blind putting that thing together!
Oh yes, and the art….

I fell in love with this painting.  The patterns and colors just made me swoon. And I found it really lovely and interesting that each gallery was painted a different color- even as bold as purple- which isn;t typical of a lot of museums and it was clear the colors were so carefully planned to make each grouping of art really stand out.
Oh, you know how I love pink walls! This color scheme reminded me a lot of Miles Redd’s work, actually!
The Impressionist gallery is unrivaled. Andrew was aprticularly excited to see Van Gough’s painting of his bedroom since as a little boy his mother decorated his room based on this work!
After all that, we needed a break and this picture captures me at my happiest- in a little outdoor cafe, with wine and a croque monsieur in the sun!
For our last dinner we went back to where we started, over looking the Louvre at an incredible table at Cafe Marly and toasted the splendor of Paris!

I hope you all enjoyed my three day tour of Paris! It is going to be a trip that stays in my heart for a long, long time. Until I can return. Tomorrow tune in for my post about what I learned about dressing from watching all the amazing women of Paris!

And a happy anniversary to Andrew, my very funny and tolerant hubby of 4 years today. Check out our spread from Inside Weddings here to see what a gorgeous day it was!

Shopping, Eating & Falling In Love With Paris.

A lot of you have been asking about where I stayed on my trip. This was a hugely stressful choice for me, as with most decisions in my life, I want them to be PERFECT.  Unfortunately, the health of the dollar vs. the euro didn’t help my cause and all the great boutique hotels I wanted to stay in (L’Hotel , ahem!) were running about $600 a night for a normal room. Not in our budget.  So after many hours of researching we decided on Hotel du Louvre , smack in the center of the city across from, you guessed it, the Louvre.  I was being a bit of a spoiled brat and anticipating that this place was going to suck because it wasn’t a “high design” hotel (even though it was still about $400 a night!). I am happy to report those feeling were completely unfounded and that I deserved to be smacked for even thinking that.  It was the PERFECT hotel for our first visit. The location was incredible- we never needed to take the Metro and could walk everywhere in the city we wanted to go.  Our room was large by European standards (especially the bathroom- two sinks and a big bathtub) but all I really cared about were my FRENCH DOORS! I squealed when I saw our room had them overlooking a darling square of cafes, and whipped them open to let in the sounds and smells of Paris.  The staff was lovely, spoke English very well and our room was spotless! I would certainly recommend it to those visiting Paris in the near future!

The room (had a desk, big closet and mini bar as well)
The large bathroom and adorable patio off the hotel’s restaurant

Now, I have so much to say and show from Paris but I have been dying to tell you about my favorite store in all of Paris.  I read about it in the last issue of Town & Country and from the cute picture of the front of the store I knew it would be worth finding ( hello vintage red Mini Cooper Fiat 500!).  And boy was it!  Named Merci and found in the Marais, I can only equate it to a huge Anthropologie on French steroids.

Can you stand the cuteness?

This place has three levels and several “wings” and every inch of this store is so creatively curated it almost looks too good to disrupt by checking things out!  In the entryway there is floral shop with walls painted black so the flowers really pop (which I forgot to shoot and am kicking myself for). You then come into a huge vintage cabinet with art above and inside each cubby is a little diarama of small goodies!  In the main space there are coffee cups and mugs hanging from the ceiling by strings and I totally flipped over this, of course.

I of course plucked a coffee cup down and am drinking my coffee out of it right now.
On the second level is clothing, which i also forgot to shoot because I was distracted by a  Stella McCartney blazer.  Up even further is the furniture and decor area. Bonjour.

In one little wing is a kids section- beyond darling- loving the brach hanging from the ceiling with lights!

In the basement is a section selling cooking supplies and a gorgeous cafe that was PACKED.  The big glass windows look out into a gorgeous courtyard with ivy growing everywhere.

The lower cafe is below left, it was SO amazing.  On the main level you can walk down a hall with floor to ceiling antique books for sale and find another smaller casual cafe! The lighting and wall color was SPECTACULAR.
After all that beauty I needed a break so went in search of an outdoor cafe because it was such a gorgeous day.  I have no idea where we went but it was our best lunch- we had amazing salads with huge chunks of homemade mozzarella and yummy ham and thought we had ordered two GLASSES of wine but instead we got this.

Damn metric system will get ya every time. Needless to say, after this lunch we were nearly skipping (stumbling?) through the Marais like true idiot tourists.
While I’m talking of shopping, I guess I’ll mention a few others. Also while in the Marais (amazing for shopping) we walked by this shop with a window full of gorgeous green bottles stacked floor to ceiling. I had to go in to find out what they were for.  It was an olive oil shop, Oliviers & Co., with the sweetest man who had us taste about 6 different varieties (and some mixtures with gourmet balsamic vinegars too) and taught us all about them.  We were totally enchanted and bought like $75 worth of stuff. Come to find out, there is one on Newbury Street. I felt like a bit of a dumbass, but it was such a fun little experience and the shop was gorgeous!

I also got to go into a smaller Flamant store, which i had blogged about a while ago. It was so lovely, but we were so tired and our feet hurt so much I barely took it in. But it did seem very WS Home meets Restoration meets an antique shop.
I think our favorite breakfast was at Eric Kayser in the Saint Germain neighborhood.  It was a drop dead gorgeous bakery full of such amazing things you wanted to try every single one.

But a cafe au lait, fresh squeezed OJ and an almost chocolate croissant did me JUST fine!

And for the very best part of our trip.  Andrew booked a dinner cruise on the Seine all by himself (pat on the back) and it was the most spectacular thing I’ve done in a long time.  We rode in style in a glass roofed boat at what had to be the best table in the joint!

We were greeted with a bottle of champagne…

AND a bottle of red wine, which thrilled Andrew. Clearly.
I was pretty pleased myself.

We took a 3 hour cruise at dusk and in the darkness of the Seine and it was absolutely BREATHTAKING and worth every penny.

When the Eiffel Tower lit up in twinkly lights I almost cried.

It’s impossible to capture the beauty of this since my camera needed to not be on flash and therefor blurred a lot of the pictures. But if you go to Paris, DO THIS. I insist 110%.

People were camped all up and down the Seine having impromtu picnics or making out wildly, like this last couple.

And we even passed this random huge group of people dancing to classical music! it was like out of a movie (most of Paris is so unbelievable that it seems like a movie…)

Seeing all these pictures again makes me miss it so much.

The Streets of Paris.

First off I want to thank Marni from StyleCarrot for posting while I was gone. Secondly Blogger went ahead and changed it’s post editor formatting while I was gone and I have NO IDEA how it works now and am very frustrated. So I apologize if this post looks hideous.
Secondly, I already miss Paris. I even said “Merci” to the lady at Starbucks this morning, followed by a crimson shade of embarrassment crossing my face and a little tug at my heart that I was no longer in the land of “Merci”. I cannot wait to go back.
The best thing we did was just wander the streets of almost every neighborhood by foot and become totally enamored by every detail. The street lights. The window boxes. The doors. The smells. The gorgeous people. The sound of the language. The architecture that makes America look so very young. The cafes. Everything about it made me gasp “Ohmygod, this is so gorgeous” at nearly every turn. I could have gotten lost for days on those streets and never been bored or worried. It’s just that beautiful. Despite the aches and pains after HOURS of walking in ballet flats (travel tip: suck it up and bring sneakers. BIG mistake that I did not!) I still wanted MORE MORE MORE. The amount there is too see just walking the streets is overwhelming to the point of a near meltdown. In fact I’ll admit this now, I performed the most incredible shipping choke of all time on this trip due to the overwhelming nature of Parisian shopping abundance. I bought next to nothing. I will explain on Friday. Until then, a few snaps from my walking adventures.

I nearly threw myself across the street when I saw these Goyard trunks stacked up outside the shop….
And then I saw the monogrammed dog dollars inside and melted into a puddle of “I die”.Everyone rides bikes. Darling men in business suits and ties ride bikes with baskets to work. It is beyond charming (99% of Parisians seem to smoke as well, which was jaw dropping for us!)

Every inch of this city so beautiful. Every. Damn. Inch.

The vintage signage and even the damn security gates are drop dead.
The streets off St. Germain proved to be some of my favorites- down this side street we found some of the most amazing cafes, flower shops and boutiques…




Hello powder blue Aga oven. I *heart* you.The signage at the cafes killed me- the chalkboards with gorgeous writing just made you want to read everything!

I could have taken about 200 photos of just doors but I resisted. And now wish I had not.

The breathtaking Champs Elysees!
Typical Parisian Sunday!
After a long day of walking ( most days we walked for 8 hours straight) a little white wine by the french doors in our room was such a relaxing, marvelous way to relax before dinner. A few nights a street orchestra played below us and it felt like I was in a movie!

I could certainly get used to this lifestyle!Much more to come!!!! For now, au revoir!!!



Bonjour!

I’m back, and ladies and gentleman, I have fallen madly in love.
Words can’t describe and pictures can’t capture the breathtaking beauty and charm that is Paris.
I never expected to fall for a city like I did for Paris, even though everyone told me I would, and as I sit here on my first morning back and attempt to write my first post about it words are failing me!
I have 400 pictures and yet I feel like I am missing 5,000.
So today I’ll post some, tomorrow some more and so on until I feel completed. And Friday I will do a special “what I learned about fashion and dressing in Paris” post because by just watching women walk by I feel I had a full education on French style.
I have a few things to attend to first, but I’ll be back this afternoon with my first installment.