Tag Archives: Paris

Paris – Part 2: Lesson #2

3 Nov

Continuing on with my series of posts entitled:

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

You're guess is as good as mine on this one...an "exhibit" at Centre George Pompidou

 

Here is my next lesson (if you missed #1 you can see it here):

Lesson 2 – Pay attention to the weather report!

And by this I mean, actually pay attention to the weather report! Just because it’s Fall doesn’t mean that you should pack for Fall even when the forecast is calling for unseasonably warm and sunny weather!

The gardens outside of Napoleon's tomb at Les Invalides

 

When we got to Paris it wasn’t just a little warm, it was about 30 degrees (celcius) and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! It was absolutely gorgeous for the first 5 of our 7 days and we enjoyed it but we would have enjoyed it even more if we had packed some summer clothes!

A testament to how hot it was, and this was after cooling off in the Louvre!

 

I kind of had a feeling that it would be hot but I figured that in Paris the street fashion would have still moved ahead to Fall and wouldn’t be stuck in the last season…boy was I wrong! Everywhere we looked people were decked out in summer clothes!

I had packed some skirts to wear but they were heavier and the only shoes that I brought to wear with them were either heels (not so good for sightseeing) or also too heavy/warm for the heat (except for one pair that didn’t work out, see Lesson #3 which is coming soon). I would have KILLED for a pair of sandals and we tried to find some but of course, none of the stores were carrying sandals anymore, NONE!

Riding boots were great later in the week when it cooled down, not so much in 30 degree weather. Jardins du Luxembourg

 

We looked everywhere from Les Galeries Lafayette, to random stores, to H&M. We could not find one single pair! Yet every girl on the street was wearing a super cute pair of leather gladiators. Sigh.

So many girls were wearing gladiator style sandals, I kind of thought that they were going out of style though?

 

Now if I wanted suede boots or anything covered in fur I would have been in luck (H&M I’m looking at you!). I still don’t understand why we couldn’t even find dressy sandals/evening wear sandals, don’t people wear them for fancy nights out, even in the winter?

Thankfully I did pack some tank tops however, a tank top, jeans (not the pair from Lesson #1 of course) and clunky shoes became my uniform. Not the most fashionable look…

Don't even get me started on these shoes...Outside Les Invalides

 

Thank god for tank tops though and air conditioning! Centre George Pompidou

 

I don’t care next trip, even if we travel to Siberia I’m packing sandals and a summer dress just in case!

 Next up in my lesson series Lesson #3: If you thought you broke your shoes in before your trip you’re probably wrong.

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!

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!

Off to Paris!

30 Sep

In a few short hours (ok many hours since we’re flying out of another city) I’ll be on my way to Paris! As I mentioned in my results post yesterday, thank you so much for all of your comments about whether or not I should give myself a shopping challenge while I’m there! You’re all awesome! I have decided to take your advice and just sit back and enjoy everything that Paris has to offer!

Unfortunately, I won’t be posting anything for the next week or so, but hopefully I’ll have some great pictures and stories to share when I get back. And of course I will be indulging my shopping habit to some degree so I will be sure to share what I bought with you 😮

It’s crazy but when we booked this trip we didn’t even realize that we would be in Paris for FASHION WEEK!

Vogue.com

I am so looking forward to people watching and maybe even snapping some pictures of famous or at least beautiful people (in a subtle non-creepy, non-paparazzi way of course!).  Plus there are a few events going on that we’re going to check out like the Diane von Furstenberg flash mob that’s supposed to happen on the Champs d’Elysées on October 5th to celebrate the launch of her new fragrance at Sephora. So fun!

Alright, I’m off to finish some last-minute packing (yes, I’m still not done…). Expect a full trip report upon my return!

Au revoir et à bientôt!

Vacation Dilemma: Challenge or Disconnect?

26 Sep
With less than a week to go I’m starting to think more and more about my trip. Have I started packing yet? Umm no. But I have started worrying/obsessing over what clothing I’m going to pack and how the heck I’m going to fit everything in my suitcase and still have room for any purchases I may be able to squeeze out of my credit card! I know, the horrible burden one must bear for a trip to France!

Louis Vuitton 2009

 On the topic of Paris purchases, I’m in a debate as to whether or not I should take next week off of the Experiment. Part of me wants to give myself a challenge while I’m there (would something like a “Parisian scarf challenge” be too cliché?), but part of me just wants to disconnect from everything so that I can sit back and just absorb the whole experience.

Hermes

I’m on the fence about this one…thoughts?

Weeks 27-28 Challenge

4 Sep

Wow, I can’t believe it, this challenge actually marks the half-way point of the SpendThrift Experiment! It’s crazy to think that I’ve been at this for 6 months now! I think that sometime in the next week I’m going to have to do a little recap of everything that I have bought for the Experiment so that this half-anniversary sinks in, I still can’t believe how quickly time has flown by!

Although some parts of the experiment have changed a little (like rule tweaks here and there) and other parts have changed a lot (like switching from one week to two week challenges, oh and that whole getting a real job thing…) I think that I’ve managed to keep the essence of what I originally set out to do. Hopefully the next 6 months are as great as the first and I continue to get some great deals and fashion finds 😮

Ok so now onto the challenge! Continuing with my “I need a new wardrobe for Paris!” theme, I have decided that I need a pair of skinny jeans to pair with my brown riding boots (I’ve had these for a few years and am wearing them in a few pictures from earlier challenges) and the black motorcycle boots that I added to the Weeks 23-24 Challenge (I promise that I’ll write Part 2 of the Triumph or Tacky? for this sometime this week!).

Rag & Bone $185

 

Now I have to admit that I am approaching this challenge with some trepidation. As I’ve mentioned before I am not a tall woman, nor do I have long thin legs (my legs are definitely on the more muscular side) so finding a pair of skinny jeans that are actually flattering could be difficult. However, I think that I’m up for the challenge and hopefully I can find something that works with my body type. For the time being I’m going to use the jeans above from Rag & Bone as inspiration.

Wish me luck!

Weeks 23-24 Challenge

7 Aug

 After a little 2 week hiatus I am feeling refreshed and in the mood to blog and am ready to declare my next challenge!

You may notice that my next few challenges will have a theme to them. They will be focusing on classic, stylish pieces that are also practical for a girl on the go who is sightseeing and touring the city. Why am I specifically looking for articles of clothing that fall into this particular theme you may ask, and where might I be going? Well, prepare yourselves because…

Mel and her SpendThrift Experiment are going to Paris!!!

Free pictures of cities

 

Originally I thought that I might have the opportunity to go to France through school but unfortunately that fell through. When I discussed my disappointment with my husband he amazingly suggested that we just go to Paris anyway!

Ok, first of all who is this man posing as my husband and where is my real husband?! Second, if this actually is my husband I may need to take him in for a psych evaluation because taking your wife who is obsessed with fashion and is smitten with all things designer to the fashion capital of the world must qualify as insanity. Third, we booked our hotel in Montmartre which is conveniently located next to the department stores…there must be some catch otherwise he has completely lost his mind!

A map depicting my husband's sudden bout of insanity

 

In his defense I am turning the big 3-0 in November (eek!) and he did mention that this would be a great way to celebrate my transition from the 2-something digits to the 3s (not that turning 30 actually bothers me, I figure that in my 30’s I’ll eventually be able to afford to REALLY shop! The glass is half-full here!). AND he did also point out that I am still broke and that Paris=being more broke so there won’t be any money to shop while we’re there (ha! ok, he does have a point there). He also pointed out that my credit card could conveniently be left at home by mistake…fat chance of that happening! Short of posting my picture in every boutique I don’t think that he’s going to be able to put a kibosh on my shopping. HOWEVER, the closest I’m probably going to get to Chanel, Christian Louboutin, or Hermes is leaving finger and nose prints on the glass of the storefronts (sniff!).

Needless to say I am extremely excited about my trip! Now here’s my dilemma, I want to fit in while I’m there and not stick out like a tacky tourist! I understand and speak French so language isn’t a problem (of course my French accent is nowhere near a France French accent and I get tongue-tied and forget words when I’m nervous or excited so obviously no one will mistake me for a French woman…among other obvious reasons of course!). However, I would like the clothing that I wear to be chic, tasteful and practical for early October weather.

So, here’s my first challenge, to find a pair of stylish yet very comfortable flat shoes that will get me through days of exploring streets and museums while also keeping my feet intact. Obviously white tennis shoes are out:

Quelle horreur!
 
 
But I still want shoes that are comfortable and preferably black. My current black ballet flats are kind of stretched out now so they are a little loose and may not be a match for cobblestone streets, and I think that I want shoes with a bit more support and cushioning. So I think that I’m looking for something like a pair of black Pumas:
 
 
  

Puma Espera III $70

I say that I think that I’m looking for something like these because I’m still not positive that these are the style that I’m going for or if they will be “Paris-appropriate”. I’m also not sure if I’ll be able to find a pair of Pumas for under $40 which complicates matters a little…

What do you think? If you are fashion conscious, have been to Paris and have any input or opinions on what kind of walking shoes I should buy please let me know! I would appreciate any advice you can give!

À bientôt!