Paris, France remains one of the most inspirational cities in the world to me when it comes to fashion, style and design. The elegantly designed buildings with the terraces, beautiful windows and moldings set the mood as you drive into the city. People around you are speaking French, a poetic language I don’t understand but love to hear. And the shopping? There’s a reason why people from all around the world travel to Paris to shop for coveted designer items.
One of my favorite streets in Paris is Avenue Montaigne. Chez Francis is a casual restaurant overlooking the Seine River with a diner style setting, but with an open patio. During my latest trip to Paris, I casually spent an afternoon lunching and shopping. I started at Chez Francis with a solitary lunch, just watching the people bustle past. After lunch, I meandered down Avenue Montaigne and browsed in Valentino, Chanel, Gucci and other designer stores. If you’re a creative individual, especially a women’s wear designer like me, this is the one of the best places to go for loads of inspiration and a brush up on your construction and seam finishing knowledge.
When you do go shopping in designer stores, it’s important to think about the way you are dressed. I personally like to do my hair and makeup and wear an outfit that fits into what I believe Paris fashion is about. If you’re dressed too casually or a little shabbily the store attendants can give you a lot of attitude and make you feel like you are out of place… I’m speaking from experience here! The reception I get when I am dressed up in a silk and lace dress paired with a designer handbag and a good pair of shoes is exponentially better than when I meander into the store wearing casual sandals, a t-shirt and jeans. I don’t have more money when I’m dressed up, but they don’t have access to that information. The first thing they see is how a woman is dressed, and they want women that love and wear fashion in their stores.
Another thing to think about is that the majority of Americans don’t dress as chic as the typical Parisian woman does. I’m an American myself, so not trying to riff on anyone’s style. However, after spending a significant amount of time in both Paris and New York, I can tell you with certainty that the average Parisian women are several steps ahead of the average American women when it comes to dressing themselves. Walking through the streets of Paris, you’ll see locals dressed in tailored dresses, stockings and chic low heels. Even the girls wearing jeans complete their outfits with style, tucking and layering their pieces in a way that makes me want to take several styling courses from them. Knowing we as Americans do dress more casually than many other countries is something to think about when you’re traveling. Break out the pieces you’ve been saving for special occasions.
Dressing up to go shopping is part of the fun! Shopping is an experience that you play a big part in creating. If you are dressed nicely, you’ll feel more confident of yourself. When you enter a store feeling self confident, you’ll be able to chat with the staff, who should be willing to talk about the brand and products with you in a way that is educational and helps inform your purchases. It’s also important to be level headed about shopping and spend money on a few items that you’ll love for years to come instead of feeling rushed to make purchases you won’t like in a month. If you already feel great, you’ll be free to focus on what you really want. Quality over quantity makes a big difference in your closet over time.
Shoes: Bagdley Mischka