Nine Fashion Lessons I Learned From French Women A trip to France is an opportunity to check yourself in the fashion and confidence departments. I spent a lot of hours on trains, walking for miles and dining in several French cities and towns,including Nantes, Bordeaux and Paris, carefully studying what French women are wearing these days. Here’s what I brought back with me to share with you. De Rien.

  1. Women dress like women 

    Sometimes when I look in the mirror at my hoodie, ripped jeans and Converse, I wonder, what exactly sets me apart sartorially form the 12 year old boy I sat across from on the bus yesterday? I get it, it’s comfy. The weeks that I was traveling, staying in towns, villages and cities of France, traveling by bicycle, metro and on foot, there was something that struck me. Regardless of age, women dressed like adults. The styles varied wildly, it could be feminine, masculine, edgy, sophisticated.. but, I got a clear sense they were not trying to dress like a teenager.  They did not dress like a 12 year old walking home from school. Their clothes spoke of a personal standard.

  2. Your clothes and make up should be flexible enough to do anything

    Not just one thing (like sit in an office). You should be able to bicycle through traffic, run to catch the bus or have spontaneous afternoon drinks (Did I mentioned it was France?)

  3. Tight isn’t always right

    The coolest looking women I saw were wearing loose, semi-structured, skimming togs – snug was less common; tight, rare  Surprising? If one were to hypothetically get sucked into the infinity scroll of Instagram, and see beautiful women of note, e.g. your friends on a night out, models, magazine spreads and influencers, you’d logically deduce that sexy = tight.  This is not the rule in France. See #2.

  4. Leggings are mostly not a thing

    Sure they’re in every store you can name and Millennials are stockpiling them. They are much harder to find on the streets of Paris than you’d think. At least on their own, passing as outerwear. My conclusion, French women are better than me.

  5. Shape is Embraced not Hidden

    The shape of your body (or your age for that matter) need not stop you from rocking the fashions. The confidence of the French woman, combined with an innate style and knowing means that large small, lopsided, flat chested, big-booty – they manage to make it all look good.  (Side note: Our friends at Smithery are rockstars at dressing for your shape.)

  6. Skinny jeans and booties are everywhere

    In the words of one my most fashionista friends “skinny jeans aren’t going anywhere,” and France is proof positive (Nantes in particular, what’s up ladies of Nantes?). The skinny jean trend has been with us well over a decade and it refuses to die. It will be the embarrassing fashion flashback of the future. Booties became the go-to skinny jean combo and now it’s an endless parade of skinny-jeans-and-booties-wearing soldiers everywhere. Even guys.  Perhaps we’re about to reach our saturation point?

  7. The secret is in the shoes

    Having said that, booties are not everything. This might be my favourite observation, not least of all because I love shoes.  Fancy shoes can change everything- fancy sparkly tennis shoes with a shift dress; silver flats with ankle jeans,  high-heels, biker boots  with a skirt. And obviously, #6. The French woman’s shoe game is on fire.

  8. Less is more

    Edit, edit, edit.. When I was casually stalking the street style of French women, young and old, it was easy to take it all in with a glance. It’s a simple aesthetic. A great scarf, a cute overcoat or sparkly flats – just one of these items was enough to elevate a look. Make-up was the same. Barefaced with a pop of colour and easy hair is their MO.

  9. Cold weather is just another fashion season

    I was there when the temperature was starting to get chilly. All the same  fashion rules applied, just in chic layers with nary a puffy coat to be seen.

 

 

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Vacay Splurge: 13 Tips From a Luxury Travel Pro – Pt. 1 It might not happen every year, but once in a while, you need to splurgeREALLY splurge – on a vacation. A trip where you fly first class,  where everything about your experience  is beautiful, delicious and stress free. This is how the A-listers, the Royals, the 1% roll all the time.

If you’re not familiar with the travel habits of the Kardashians or goop and her relations, you might need a primer.

In a 2-part series, I hit up  luxury travel blogger extraordinaire Wandering Carol  ( Voted a Top 10 Luxury Travel Blogger by the readers of USA Today)for a two-part interview to get all the expert tips on traveling in style.   Be warned, you might get hooked.  Here’s Part I.  (We’ll share Part 2 next week)

HOW DO YOU DEFINE LUXURY TRAVEL?

I think luxury travel is ‘experience.’ It can be a splurge, a moment, a perfect hotel, a new destination, beautiful finishings in a hotel room … even a walk in the woods. I’m so grateful to be able to travel at all when so many around the world don’t have the opportunity, so I think travel itself is a luxury.

WAS THERE ONE PARTICULAR TRIP WHERE YOU REALISED, “HEY, 1000 THREAD COUNT SHEETS > BUDGET HOTEL”

For me it’s been a gradual process. When I was in my twenties I thought a 3-star hotel was luxury – it was certainly a step up from a hostel. Even on a slim budget, though, I was fascinated by the world of luxury hotels, so I might step into a hotel bar for a drink. Now I want to sleep there as well.

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Poolside luxury

 

 

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LUXURY AND NON-LUXURY TRAVEL?

The biggest difference between luxury and non-luxury travel is probably convenience. Not having to seek out public transportation from an airport when you’re jet-lagged is total luxury in my mind. Taking taxis, eating at an expensive restaurant, but, best convenience with luxury travel is being able to travel business class. It’s a gracious way of getting from point A to point B with better service, better meals and much more comfortable seating. That said, I’m not lucky enough to always travel business class.

WHAT SHOULD WE BE FOCUSING ON WHEN WE WANT TO SPLURGE ON OURSELVES FOR A WEEK (OR TWO) AWAY?

Everyone is different so you need to pick your priorities. For many people a hotel room is just a place to sleep. Not me. My splurge is a fabulous hotel with a beautiful lobby, maybe some old world elegance and great facilities such as a pool and a sauna. I also like a great bar where I can have a glass of champagne.

For many people, a splurge equals good cuisine. In that case, you’ll want to do some research before you leave as to what the best new eateries are, or what are some iconic restaurants such as Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel de Paris in Monaco. Now that’s a splurge.

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Monaco skyline

 

PRICE DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN QUALITY, SO WHAT ADVICE COULD YOU GIVE TO MAKE SURE YOU GET TRUE VALUE FOR YOUR $?

Again, I think it comes down to deciding what it is that is meaningful to you. If you’re not a wine lover, then ordering a Château Lafite Rothschild with your steak might not be value for your money. If you’re not into designer bags (I love designer bags) then spending thousands on a Chanel Boy Bag in Paris won’t be true value for you. (But it would be for me.)

When it comes to hotels, comparison shopping is a must. Check out different sites such as tripadvisor and booking.com before booking, but also check the hotel’s own website for specials. The same goes for airfares. And check dates. It might be worth your while to travel a day earlier or later if the price is drastically different.

When it comes to fine restaurants, consider going for lunch instead of dinner, or ordering the set menu.

OUR TASTES CHANGE AS WE GET OLDER. ANY ADVICE FOR TRAVELING IN YOUR 40S VS YOUR 20S OR 30S?

Go at your own speed. You don’t need to party all night and sightsee all day. You’ve done that. (Or was that just me?) I find that I’m much more interested in getting away from big centres now, and find more pleasure in a slower pace of travel. And I really appreciate going to a good spa, especially to a wonderful spa town in Europe with hot springs and grand old hotels.

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Bodrum, Luxury hotel at night

YOU TRAVEL A LOT – WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL PACKING COMMANDMENTS ?

I’m the worst packer ever. I never seem to get better. I can’t seem to travel with fewer than four pairs of shoes. (Actually, it’s five. I was trying to sound practical.) That said, the one thing that helps is to have your wardrobe accessories based on one colour. Black purse, black shoes. Then your wardrobe kind of falls into place.

 


Click here to read Part 2. Carol wraps her advice on traveling in luxury and answers more questions, including her top three places around the world, and, and her where she almost spent her 40th birthday!

Carol Perehudoff is the mastermind behind WanderingCarol.com – a luxury travel blog for those who love to laugh. Her travel articles have appeared in a number of publications including enRoute Magazine, the Chicago Tribune and the Toronto Star. Based in Toronto, her passions are slow travel, hot springs and the South of France – and she is often gripped with the desire to be elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram or visit her Facebook

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