Archive | October, 2011

Paris – Part 2: Lesson #1

31 Oct

This post is the first of what will otherwise be known as:

“What I Learned About Packing for Paris/My Paris Fashion Disasters”

Would this qualify as a fashion disaster? Luxembourg Gardens

 

I was originally going to structure this as one long post but since brevity of words isn’t exactly my forte (which I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’ve been reading this blog), I’ve decided to make this a little series. Also, just as an initial disclaimer these lessons do not only apply to packing for a trip to Paris but for packing for any trip or living life in general!

Now before my trip I thought that I had a pretty good handle on what I was bringing to Paris and what would help me blend into the local non-tourist crowd. Well, unfortunately, despite my best intentions and efforts I think that I may have earned a big fat fail in the fashion department (above and beyond my lack of shopping while I was there). Read on and hopefully you can avoid the mistakes that I made, lol.

 

Lesson #1 – Wash your new dark wash jeans before wearing them!

(especially if you’ll be confined to them for more than 24 hrs of travel)
Yeah, I know, this should be common sense since you have no idea who has put their butt in those jeans before you or what chemicals the fabric may have been treated with. This was complete stupidity on my part but I was so rushed right before leaving for my trip that I: a) just didn’t have time to wash them, and b) didn’t even think about it since I was a little stressed about how many other things I had to do before leaving.

The offending American Eagle skinny jeans

 

I had my travel outfit perfectly planned (or so I thought). A comfortable beige v-neck tank from the gap, a long billowy burgundy sweater from Jacob, my brown Aldo riding boots, the Week 10 Mossimo bag from Target as my carry-on, and of course, my brand new indigo wash American Eagle skinny jeans from the Weeks 29-30 Challenge. I was thinking that I was looking pretty cute and everything was going smoothly until half-way through our 7 hour flight when my husband looked over at me and said “what the heck is wrong with your hands?”. That’s when I looked down and saw that all of my knuckles, my wrists, my palms and even under my nails were blue! And not just a little blue, we’re talking full-out true blue Smurf here. I was completely mortified and to make matters worse, no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get it off in the air plane bathroom!

The top part of my outfit. I'm sure that you can deduce my feelings on the bottom part of my outfit by the look on my face

 

Trying to laugh things off I managed to distract myself from my hypodermic hue by reassuring myself that once we got off the plane we would be at the hotel within an hour and I could take a shower and change. However, to make matters even worse, when we got to our hotel at 10 am we realized that check in wasn’t until 2 pm. So I was stuck wandering around the streets of Montmartre looking like a female member of the blue man group while my husband snickered. Did I get looks? Oh yeah, whether it was the cafe where we grabbed lunch (I went to the bathroom and scrubbed – no luck), the Starbucks where we grabbed coffee (I went to the bathroom and scrubbed harder – now my hands were blue AND red), or just walking around EVERYONE zoned in on my hands (a child actually pointed…sigh). I kind of wanted to crawl into a hole…

Oh and to make matters even MORE worse, check out what happened to the Mossimo bag:

Oh yeah! Nothing like the "weathered look"!

 

Some of the dye came off using the shoe polish brush in the hotel room but sadly, this bag will never be the same again.

So needless to say my jeans were retired for the week and I will never, ever, EVER wear dark wash denim without washing it at least once first (probably even more than once, I’ve worn them again after washing and they STILL bleed a bit).

That’s my first lesson/disaster! Stay tuned for Lesson #2 which will be something along the lines of: “Check the freakin’ weather before you leave!

Weeks 31-32 Challenge

23 Oct

After a brief hiatus it’s time to issue another challenge! This bi-weekly challenge is going to be to find a new black bag. I currently own a great Cynthia Rowley bag that I bought at Winners last year or the year before (I can’t remember):

Cynthia Rowley

 

But I must have been a little hard on it because the straps are starting to fray and look like they may snap any day now (the bag isn’t leather which may also explain this phenomenon):

Now in an ideal world I would be running out and purchasing something like this little baby by Michael Kors:

Michael Kors Jenna Large Tote, $464 CAD Bloomingdale's

Or this bag, also by Michael Kors:

Michael Kors Gia Ostrich-Embossed Leather Satchel, $805 CAD Zappos Couture

 

But unfortunately my cash reserves are not at “ideal” levels so I’m going to see what I can find for $40 or less. I have no great hopes of finding anything leather but I haven’t hit up any thrift/vintage stores in quite some time so you never know what I might come across!

Wish me luck!

Paris – Part 1

20 Oct

I’m back from Paris and finally ready to post about my trip! Just a warning, this is the first of two parts and it will be long!

I have to admit that I’ve been feeling very guilty for not having already posted anything since I’ve been back for a little while. We came home Thanksgiving weekend (Canadian) and had a bunch of family commitments and then had to play catch up on a bunch of other things so it’s been a busy few weeks! Oh yeah, and we also took about 1200 pictures on our trip so it has taken me forever to go through them all! Don’t worry though, I’ll only subject you to a few of them and I’ve decided to pepper them throughout the post just to break things up a little.

Sacré Cœur off in the distance

So back to the trip itself! In short it was absolutely amazing! There are so many things to do and see and the French were really great (too great in some instances, we ended up staying out half the night one night drinking with some guys from Bordeaux and consequently had to postpone our trip to Versailles by one day…oops!). We really enjoyed ourselves however, our trip was BUSY since we wanted to see as many sights as possible. We were only there for one week and trust me when I say that you need much more than a week to truly experience all that this amazing city has to offer!

The gardens at Versailles

Now in relation to my usual topics of discussion on this blog I have some good news for you, and some bad news.

First let’s get part one of the bad news out of the way: I’m ashamed to say this but when I was in Paris I barely shopped at all! Seriously, next to no shopping! I know, it’s shocking and at first I thought that I may have let anyone who reads my blog down, but in my defense I had some good reasons for my lack of fashion follies.

Requisite cheesy Eiffel Tour shot!

First, it is impossible to see all of the major sights and fit some major shopping into one week. It just can’t be done. Everything, both the sights and stores, is open from around 9 am to 5 or 6 pm so you either have to pick and choose a few choice sights that you want to see or you have to forgo the shopping altogether (or only have time for short shopping interludes). I did manage to make my way into a few stores like Diane von Furstenberg, Chloé and Chanel on Avenue Montaigne about 20 minutes before closing on the Thursday but it really wasn’t enough time to truly explore them.

It was probably for the best anyway, the one Chanel purse I picked up had a price tag of 2450 euros which is definitely too rich for my blood! Obviously not too rich for other people though since there was a tour bus’ worth of Asian tourists in the store double-fisting merchandise up to the cash! One girl had to be buying at least 30,000 euros worth of Chanel!

Sitting in les jardins du Luxembourg

Second, and in relation to my first point, stores are not open on Sundays! For a type A North American girl who is used to at least some stores being constantly open or at the very least open on weekends (or later than 6 on weekdays) I totally wasn’t expecting this. I know that I should have since Europeans have a much more relaxed way of life but for some reason the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind!

I wish I could remember the name of this store!

So of course, the one day that we were more leisurely about things was on the Sunday, sigh. At least I saw the outsides of stores like Hermès and some really cool displays in shop windows like beautiful ballerina tutus at a shoe store (can’t remember the name) and shoes with funky faces in the display window of Rodolphe Menudier.

Rodolphe Menudier

Third, you can’t just assume that there is shopping everywhere in Paris. Trust me on this one, when you want to find something you will be in the completely wrong district! One day I needed a new pair of shoes desperately (I’ll elaborate more on this in my next post, there is some “Quelle horreur” involved though) and the area where we were next to the Louvre had no shoe/clothing stores! We spent forever trying to find something but I think that we just ended up walking circles in the same district.

Outside the Louvre

Fourth, plan out what stores you want to see. I had just assumed that I would stumble upon Christian Louboutin, the original Chanel store on Rue Cambon, or another Hermès after our Sunday stroll, sadly I this did not happen. We did manage to spend a little time in les Galeries Lafayette but never did come across Printemps (even though it’s close by) so again, if it’s important to you to go then actually look for it, lol.

The view from the top of les Galeries Lafayette. Hmm, slightly crazy hair from the wind and hot weather...

Also, I had planned to do a little shopping on the Champs d’Elysées and allowed some time for it but when we got there I found that the street was actually really junky! I had an image in my mind of it being a beautiful classy street (probably planted in my head from watching movies) but it was just packed with people and dirty!

Maybe we were at the wrong end of it? We were at the end by the Arc de Triomphe and we did come across Cartier (but didn’t go in) and saw the Louis Vuitton flagship store but LV had a lineup that stretched around the corner and the stores were closing in an hour so we weren’t willing to wait.

Arc de Triomphe

Cute Lacoste concept car at Citroën

Now for my second piece of bad news: it was fashion week and we saw nothing going on related to it! Ok, not nothing, there was an accessories trade show going on in a park but you had to be registered to get in.

Random accessories trade show we came across

We also saw many girls who were most likely models, always buying bottles of carbonated water in Monoprix stores for some reason (my husband kept asking me if I thought they actually got paid because they obviously couldn’t afford to eat, lol), but besides that most of the fashion week related events must have been going on in specific areas that we weren’t near or privileged enough to be let near, lol.

Les Catacombes de Paris

One cool fashion-related thing that we did see though was an exhibit at Le Grand Trianon at Versailles that compared clothing from the 18th century to Haute Couture pieces by designers/fashion houses like Christian Lacroix, Christian Dior, Chanel, Vivienne Westwood and Yamamoto. The pieces were amazing! Unfortunately you couldn’t take any pictures though so I’m disappointed that I can’t share anything that I took with you but here’s a picture that links to a review The Guardian did of the exhibit:

The Guardian

Alright, so after all of that “bad news” you may be thinking that I didn’t actually enjoy my trip, well, you would be completely wrong! Here’s the good news: I loved every second of it!

The Seine

I bought no high-end goods, we didn’t go out for any fancy dinners and I didn’t even wear a dressy skirt or dress once (even though I packed them) but we had so many great experiences and saw so many sights!

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

We visited (in no particular order): the Eiffel Tour, the Arc de Triomphe, Versailles, the Catacombes, Sacré Cœur, Montmartre (our hotel was actually in the Pigalle district, lol), Notre Dame, the Louvre, les Invalides, the Musée d’Orsay, the Luxembourg Gardens, Centre Pompidou and we took a river cruise on the Seine. It was totally worth it to see so many places!

Staying classy at Centre Pompidou. This also a hint as to what will be included in my next post...

Outside the Opera

In front of the Musée d'Orsay

We spent all of our breaks sipping wine or beer in cafes, just relaxing and soaking up the sights around us, it was so nice to sit back and just spend some quality time together. We also had a bunch of little picnics where we picked up our bread, meat, cheese and a bottle of wine and again, just sat down by a fountain or beautiful old building taking in all that Paris had to offer. It was divine and I think that I enjoyed it more than any expensive dinner at a fancy restaurant! As it turned out, this didn’t end up being a “fancy” trip and we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Our one "fancy" dinner in Paris. We once again stayed classy by eating fondue and drinking wine out of baby bottles. If you like fondue you must go to Le Refuge des Fondus it is AMAZING!!! If you don't like fondue then WTH is wrong with you?!

In terms of what I bought I got a great scarf for 15 euros in Versailles, a bottle of perfume at Guerlain and a “Chat Noir” poster (the hotel we stayed at was called Le Chat Noir so it was fitting). So really, not much at all!

The scarf I bought in Versailles

Thinking more about what little I bought I’m actually not disappointed. I think that if I went out and blew a bunch of money on some expensive designer goods I would have been very disappointed in myself because that would have gone contrary to the whole essence of the SpendThrift Experiment. The trip to Paris was frivolous enough in expense and I wouldn’t have done myself any favours by spending even more money when we have other things that we should be putting it towards (like the new furnace we just bought, yay?).

Looking out a window at Marie Antoinette's cottage

So in the end we deemed this trip to Paris the “crazy-busy-let’s-see-as-many-sights-as-can-be-possibly-crammed-into-one-week” trip. Now that we’ve gotten the sights out of the way our next trip to Paris (most likely when we’re more financially comfortable) will be the “designer-clothing-fancy-dinner-relax-and-explore-everything-else” trip 😮

If you’ve made it through this novel to this point stay tuned, my second Paris post will be “Things I learned about packing for Paris/My Paris fashion disasters” so stay tuned!