I’ve been shopping. Quelle surprise! In Ottawa. Which probably seems funny since I just came home from a month in France.

Actually, I rarely shop for clothes when we travel. One reason is that I always have a wish list for any particular season; I always know what I want and what I need to go with what I already have. I’m anal about clothes shopping; I rarely buy anything on impulse. And as such, shopping while on a trip, especially an extended trip, usually doesn’t work for me. Oh, sometimes Hubby and I split up for a half day; he does something he wants to do and I go round the shops. We’ve done this in Melbourne and Sydney, and I bought a couple of things, but mostly I just wanted to get an idea of the fashion scene in those cities, especially local designers that we never see in Canada. Another reason I don’t usually shop in strange cities is that I don’t know where to start, which areas might suit me, so a half day will never be enough time. There are other reasons, like suitcase space, and fear of buyer’s remorse when I finally get home and it’s much too far to go to return an item. So unless it’s a dedicated shopping trip (or shopping day) like outlet shopping in Naples, Florida last year, I don’t usually indulge my passion for fashion when Hubby and I travel. At least, I don’t indulge it by buying. But I do look. I love to look at people and in store windows, but mostly at people. And there were a lot of people to look at in Paris when we were there in early May.

I’d been a bit intimidated by what to pack for Paris. I remarked on this in a post in April, that Paris was freaking me out like no other city I had ever visited. The famous Paris fashionista mystique. Thanks to my research and planning, and to lovely reader comments on my posts, though, I felt quite ready for Paris when we finally arrived. Yep. I’d packed jeans (blue, white, cropped, not cropped), a pair of dressy-ish joggers, a raincoat, a windbreaker, a long cardigan, five tee shirts, a sleeveless gingham blouse, a jean jacket, a dressier jacket/blazer, two scarves, one pair of loafers, one pair of flat sandals and sneakers. Some things I wore a lot, some not so much mostly due to weather constraints. Alas, my lovely, new, dressy tank never made it out of the suitcase. But there were a few things that I was really glad I packed.

Like my sneakers. I took this shot the first morning we were in Paris, near our apartment in the Marais. An almost perfectly choreographed arrangement of sneakers. Three different styles, three different colours. Love the cropped black pants in the foreground.

And as I looked at this scene, I glanced down at my red-trimmed Stan Smith Adidas, and said to myself, “I was right on the money with these babies.” They looked right at home on the streets of Paris, those sneakers. And they were super comfortable. I wore them everywhere. On a bridge over the Seine, near Notre-Dame,  with my APC striped tee, cropped Citizen of Humanity jeans and my new Helmut Lang blazer.

Or in the Jardin des Tuileries, with my crepe joggers, red Gap tee and my Michael Kors coat. And a scarf, bien sûr.
Or even much later in the trip, in Provence, with my C of H jeans and striped tee again, and my red Columbia windbreaker, when we picnicked on the beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. The mistral winds were whipping up the sand and making white caps on the water. But I can never resist going in the ocean, even if it is only up to my ankles. Even if it is bloody freezing despite being the Mediterranean in the south of France, and not the Atlantic Ocean off Prince Edward Island.
I wore that black and white striped tee-shirt everywhere, as you can see. And my cropped Cof H jeans; these jeans are awesome. They have enough stretch that they never seemed to bag at the knees, and they’re really comfortable.
And my black Helmut Lang jacket turned out to be a winner. With blue jeans, or white jeans, I wore it out for dinner most nights. That is, when we did go out for dinner, which wasn’t all that often given that we stayed in self-catering accommodation much of the time.
And I was seriously glad to have packed my Michael Kors coat, instead of my Gortex jacket. It was more presentable for walking Paris streets and still waterproof enough for the day we waited in line at the Eiffel Tower, in the rain… and the hail. And warm enough for those days when it was pretty darned windy. Ha. I love this picture. Given its texture and the amount of product in it, my hair does NOT stand on end without some serious provocation, people.
And at the last minute, the day we flew out of Ottawa, I threw my light Columbia windbreaker into my carry-on bag. It was great for walking or hiking, and on those warmer days when I didn’t need a long coat, but a tee shirt wasn’t enough. I left it in the backseat of the car most of the time, just in case I needed it, and I even pulled in on one day over my tee shirt, and jean jacket at a particularly breezy and cool lunch spot. Sometimes those last minute ideas are the best, eh?
Yep. We did a fair amount of people watching in Paris. Sitting in those lovely sidewalk cafes. You know, the ones with the woven seats all lined up to face the street, like the patrons are all watching a film, pretending to talk when really they’re all just sitting there watching Paris walk by. Sitting there people watching we saw lots and lots of scarves. In fact scarves are pretty much de rigueur in Paris. (Readers, you didn’t steer me wrong there.) And neutral palettes with a pop of colour. So I felt right at home in my black and white and denim with a splash of red. And good coats. I wish I had a shot of the iconic Parisian lady of a certain age in her slim tailored pants, sensible heels or chic flats, looped scarf and neatly buttoned coat or blazer. She was everywhere in Paris.
Now, lest you think that I did no shopping at all while we were in France… I must tell you that Hubby and I visited the Marché aux Puces at Saint-Ouen on our last day in Paris. And while there, I did do a little jewellry shopping. The Paris Marché aux Puces was on my list of things I really wanted to do while in France. It was right up there with standing in front of 74 rue Cardinal Lemoine, where Hemingway lived, visiting the Vimy Monument, and driving one of the iconic mountains the cyclists climb in the Tour de France. And the flea markets at Saint-Ouen did not disappoint.
And while we were there I bought this little silver and cream vintage brooch. It looks great on my Helmut Lang jacket, I think.
But, you know, as much as I loved our trip. It felt really good to get home. To see (or just talk to) family and friends after a month away. To catch up on my reading. To have access to my entire closet instead of just my suitcase, to change up my travel purse for my real purse. And do something about my seriously fried hair.
Oh, and meet up for lunch with old friends. And shop a bit, afterwards. This is what I wore earlier this week to do just that. Have lunch with a bunch of ladies with whom I worked for years and who I meet three times a year, for lunch and laughter and catching up. We’re all retired teachers, our group dubbed by one of us the “To Hell With the Bell Lunch Group.” You gotta love that name.
And after lunch, I shopped. A bit. At one of my favourite stores, Green Tree Eco Fashion on Richmond Road in Westboro. And I bought  couple of things which may feature in a future post. We’ll see.
I’m not done talking about our trip yet. I still have a couple of travel posts left to do and some really cool places to to tell you about: our drive through the Gorges du Tarn, medieval Figeac, and the Loire Valley. But shopping yesterday made me realize how much in fashion withdrawal I have been. And I just needed to feed the habit, by doing a fashion post. I’m good now….satiated… sort of. And I will really need to do a book post soon. I hardly read when we were away, so I’ve been reading up a storm since we came home.
So much to do. And all the time in the world to do it. Sigh. It’s good to be back home.
What do you miss most when you travel?


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From the archives


Courage of Their Convictions. Or Not.

Do "influencers" have the courage of their convictions when it comes to promoting slow fashion and mindful consumption? Maybe yes. Maybe no.

Thinking Aloud About Clothes

I've been thinking aloud about clothes lately. And reading Linda Grant's wonderful book The Thoughtful Dresser, in which she does the same.

The Prodigal Child Returns

I‘m home in New Brunswick this week. The prodigal child returns, so to speak. I’ve been drinking tea, chatting, and spending time with Mum.

43 thoughts on “Paris Etc… What They Wore, What I Wore”

  1. We travel to Europe at least twice a year to purchase antiques for our store. The minute we land back in the US, we head for a tall glass of iced tea and chips and salsa. Glad you made it back home and I'm ready to hear more of your adventure. Theresa

    1. Thanks Teresa. For me it's just being able to sit down with a good cup of tea and a piece of toast. Oh…and get my hair done, of course.

  2. Honestly, I miss my grandkids most, but also, unless I've stayed completely in self-catering, I miss being able to have my cup of tea, properly steeped, first thing in the morning. . . I also really enjoy having two bathrooms again. . . 😉
    Wasn't the flea market fun?!! Love that brooch, and I agree that it's a great way to keep memories of your trip close at hand.

    1. We were so happy that one B&B we stayed in had a tea pot in the kitchenette. I was impressed. And utilized it a lot! I loved the flea market. I usually but small piece of jewellry as a memento of major trips…and think of the fun we had every time I wear it.

  3. I am following eagerly your reports on your travel! The brooch is a wonderful souvenir, so lovely.
    What I miss most on travelling is the specific sourdough bread I am used to, a good coffee and a stroll through my local bookshop.
    I look forward to your next book reviews for new tips!
    Mary-Rose (from Vienna)

    1. Thanks Mary-Rose. I can imagine you get great bread and coffee where you live…not so much here in Canada. I loved the bread in France.

  4. Thanks for a great travel fashion post! I'm stewing over my upcoming packing list, and this helps a lot, especially the shoes. I can't seem to find any shoes that are both cute and comfortable. Basic sneakers may just have to do! You looked great in all the shots.

    I miss my bed most of all, with my shower a close second. Good coffee can be a problem, depending on the location. I doubt it will be a problem in Europe,

    1. I can never find cute comfortable shoes. My feet are very narrow, so I can't wear Birkenstocks or Mephisto sandals. I always get blisters from ballet flats and they have no support. I was thrilled when sneakers became chic.

  5. I miss my bed too , no others are as comfy as mine , Other than that – the garden . We dump the suitcases & rush out to see what has flowered in our absence. You look great in all your outfits , very insouciant ( I like that word )
    Wendy in York

    1. Thanks Wendy. I was amazed at how comfortable all the beds were everywhere in France. All futons, I think, good and firm. Such a compliment to be called "insouciant"…I like that word too.

  6. You looked absolutely great in every photo! I'm impressed with your ability to stay away from "home" for a month. I have to admit that I feel a little homesick after two weeks of traveling. So sad, isn't it? I, too, don't "shop" much on a trip like this just because there is so much more I want to see and don't want to waste the time especially if I might never be back so your purchase was splendid! I love your posts. Thanks so much for reminding me of my time in France…….Janie

    1. Thanks, Janie. Most of the time, we are in places new to us and I agree there is just so much to see, that shops get short shrift.

  7. Hmmmm. Unlike many of you, I shop all the time when traveling! But then, I'm in product design so it comes naturally (or so I tell myself!) I love to wander streets, shops, brocantes and find mostly small, portable items. But clothes? Yes, I will certainly buy some. Shoes? Yes, my two, identical pairs I bought at a street vendor in Aix are my summer favorites! Daughter and I had a great time looking at so many shops in London last year, and will be repeating it in Rome this August. So, yes, shopping is very much a part of my travel "routine"!!!

    1. I think if I were returing to a town or city, and had some idea of what it offered, and if were travelling with a girlfriend or sister I would shop too. Like if I went back to Paris…then definitely.

  8. I m especially happy when we travel as a family and everyone comes! I m lucky to be at the airport now flying to Italy with my daughter. 🙂 I m glad you were happy with the clothes you chose for France …. always nice to return home …

  9. Hi Susan, you did really well with your packing, you look chic and appropriate in every photo. I especially like your Michael Kors coat – I have something similar (but from Sears) and it was useful when we were in Germany last fall.

    Your Helmut Lang jacket is fabulous – I would love to find something like it in navy.

    1. Thanks Patricia. I am particularly loving that Helmut Lang jacket. The fact that it is collarless makes it really versatile. I can throw a scarf over it or tuck in under a coat so easily.

  10. Your holiday wardrobe seems to have worked very well for you and your new brooch is a very pretty souvenir. Depending on where I am I usually manage a little shopping although sightseeing would be a priority. Am always attracted to jewellery (so easy to transport!) and when in Italy or Spain always manage to buy some footwear. I'm not surprised you didn't find time to read much while you were away but look forward to hearing what you've been reading since you returned. I just finished The Green Road by Anne Enright winner of the Booker prize – a very enjoyable Irish family saga. Love your hair, it's looking blonder. Iris

    1. Hmmm. I must look up that novel. If you enjoyed it I probably will too. My hair…well… I lightened it a bit last month so my roots wouldn't show as much when we were away. And it was so bleached from the sun….I was really blonde by the time we got home.

    1. Thanks Cindy. Stuart Weitzman loafers from last fall. Love his shoes, great for narrow feet like mine. I love the tassels. And they're really comfortable.

  11. You look pretty fabulous in all those outfits! (I was in Paris in March for a few days… I lived in my black jeans, one warm gray jacket, and a black & white scarf. Iffy temps in spring.)

    So happy to meet you! (And I managed to recoup one of your comments… Merci!)

  12. So happy to see that you've linked up with our #stylefocus Lifestyle Linkup this weekend. It seems you packed to perfection for Paris. Love the candid shots of you-what a fun trip! To be in France for nearly a month sounds like a dream to me–someday! As a school psychologist I just started my summer break-I know you can relate! Love the name of your lunch group LOL!!
    Enjoy your weekend!

  13. I love that pin! A perfect souvenir! I think you look chic, chic, chic, and cold 😀
    I nearly froze the last time I was in France. I long for the the time when we can spend that much time traveling.Thanks so much for sharing your inspiration with us on @stylefocus!! xox

  14. Glad to have just discovered your blog, since I totally love traveling in France, care about what my fashion is (though not so much the rest of the world's fashion) and enjoyed your post. It brought up lots of happy memories, having recently returned from Le Sud. But I write, instead of staying in the shadows of silent readers, as a cyclist who has a climbed a handful or more of the Tour de France climbs … don't tease, please … tell us about what you rode up:-) Thanks for the post.

    1. Thanks Suze. I am seriously impressed that you have ridden up a Tour de France climb! I didn't mean to tease about them…I wrote an earlier post describing our drive up Alpe d'Huez and Mont Ventoux….while I love to bike and love the Tour…I am no mountain climber. lf you clink on the Tour link in the post you can read the Tour de France post.

    2. Thanks for the link hint Susan. I am back in your comments with an apology … this morning, getting ready for work, I was thinking about your post and specifically your cool shoes, and thought OMG, I hope,she didn't think I don't care about her fashion! I loved this post, and you make me brave enough to think about tennis shoes,which I don't wear. It is the what's the newest newest new thing in fashion that I don't much attend to. So, there was no intended offense there! Can't wait to read your other France posts!

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