Category Archives: Paris

To Buy or Not to Buy: Shopping in Paris

After an hour or so of browsing the racks in a fabulous store, you head to the fitting room with an armload of garments to try on. Some things are a definite, immediate “no.” And when you see others in the mirror, you know you’ll be returning home with them.

But then, there are always those pieces you just aren’t sure about. You pose in front of the mirror, looking at the garment from all angles. You really like A, B, and C about it, but you aren’t sure about X, Y, and Z. Do the positives outweigh the negatives? Are you worrying too much? Is it just the fitting room lighting? Or will you still have the same concerns when you look into your own mirror at home?

We’ve all been there. Even with over two decades of experience as an image consultant, I still find myself spending a lot of time deliberating over potential outfits. Over the years, though, I have honed my “fitting room instincts.” I’ve gotten much better at deciding what I’ll actually wear and what will hang unworn in my closet.

When my husband and I took a trip to Paris in October, we spent some of our time shopping. (Who wouldn’t?) While I was trying on clothes, I asked Barry to photograph some of the outfits I was considering so that I could share my thought processes in a blog post. So without further ado, here’s a look at my Paris shopping experience. I’m sure some of the considerations I share will sound familiar—and hopefully, the final decision I made about each piece will be helpful to you the next time you just can’t decide whether to buy or not to buy.

RedDress2RedDress1

I loved almost everything about this red dress. But the final decision was that it was just a bit too short for me, although Barry gently disagreed. The bottom line is, if something about a piece will make you self-conscious or uncomfortable (even if others love how it looks on you), it’s better to pass. The first rule of creating a fantastic image is feeling comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing.

BlackDress This great dress and the sweater top with the cool cuffs did get my approval. The pieces I tried on in Paris weren’t a perfect fit, though, so I had alterations made. (As a reminder, always invest in alterations if a garment’s fit isn’t ideal—and don’t reject a piece you love if alterations can be made. Good tailoring always takes clothing from “okay” to “outstanding.”) I bought this particular dress one size too big in the hips so it would fit my chest and had it taken in. The store also sent a larger cardigan for me.

BlackDressAltered1This photo was taken after alterations were made. Notice the ruched fabric on the sleeves of the cardigan. It matches the dress. Cool, right? I think the cardigan with its fabric cuff is a younger, more modern way to top off a sleeveless dress instead of wearing a jacket. This combination will be a timeless classic for my closet.

BeigeDress1 BeigeDress2

I am a beige lover at heart, and this outfit now belongs to me—including the Rex Rabbit scarf. There really wasn’t anything I disliked about it. An immediate “yes”!

BeigeDressCoat BeigeCoat

I considered this beige jacket as an alternative to the jacket above with the ruffled hem. If it worked, I thought, it could be worn with many items in my wardrobe in addition to the dress. However, this was a classic case of liking an item in theory more than in practice. I just didn’t enjoy the shape of the jacket on me or the bulkiness of the tie belt, so I passed.

BlackCoatI tried on this coat because I liked its unique design featuring asymmetrical ruffles, but decided against buying it because once again, it was a little too short for my taste. It’s usually easy to alter a garment that’s too big or long, but much more difficult to tailor something that’s too small or short.

BWDressThis dress was interesting because of its diagonal color blocking, but after much thought I decided it wasn’t for me. There’s a lot of black in my closet, so I am trying to buy less black unless I absolutely love a particular piece and don’t have anything like it already.

HermesScarfA stop at Hermès led to the purchase of this fabulous classical scarf, which goes with everything. I particularly liked it because of its oblong shape, which is new at Hermès. (I’m not a huge fan of the square.) In addition to the great colors, I also liked that the scarf incorporated four of Hermès’ most popular designs. All in all, it’s a wonderful piece of Paris to add to my accessories collection.

UltraseudeCoatI didn’t take pictures of these items in Paris, so Barry snapped this photo at our home. This unlined ultra suede jacket will be perfect in my wardrobe. The reddish brown color works well with my color palette. The necklace, which is a brown chain link with golden pearlized circular stones on top, is unique and works well with the brown and golden tones I wear often. After I tried them on, there was no doubt that these two pieces would be coming home with me.

I originally looked at the purse in a larger size, but ultimately decided to purchase this smaller version. It holds a file for business and all my personal items and doesn’t become too heavy. The bag works as a neutral and meshes well with my wardrobe. And I think all three pieces in the photo above work together nicely!

So there you have it—a quick look at how I made my shopping decisions in Paris. Ultimately, my advice is, if you love it (or think you love it) and it fits (or can be altered), buy it—just make sure to double-check the store’s return policy in case you change your mind. However, if you’re having doubts in the fitting room, it might be best to wait, because in my experience, they won’t disappear after you get the garment home.

Happy shopping!

Packing for Paris—and How I Wore It

Without a doubt, one of the most frustrating aspects of traveling (outside of airport checkpoints, maybe) is packing for the trip. Inevitably, you want to take more clothing, shoes, and accessories than will comfortably fit into your suitcase. Even as an image consultant with plenty of experience in creating a variety of looks using just a few staples, I often find myself packing, downsizing, and repacking ad nauseum before traveling.

That’s why I wanted to share with you what I packed and wore when my husband and I traveled to Paris from October 2 to 6. I was so proud of myself for limiting the contents of my suitcase to a relatively small amount of items that I could mix and match. I hope that seeing what I took to Paris and how I wore it will make packing for your next trip a little easier.

Here’s what I took:

Clothing: An Armani navy blazer, an Yves St. Laurent raincoat, four sweaters (white, beige, orange, and black), taupe jeans, Worth black leggings, and dark denim jeans

Shoes: Black boots, black AGL flats, and my favorite Pancaldi bow pumps

Accessories: Three scarves (including an animal print pashmina), jewelry, a leather Michael Kors handbag (the strap could be lengthened to wear cross-body) and a small black bag for evening

My strategy was to take neutral basics (black, beige/taupe, and navy) and spice them up with key colored and patterned pieces. I wore the denim jeans, the white sweater, the navy blazer, and the ballet flats on the plane. I actually had some extra space in my bag, which was convenient because…well…who wouldn’t want to do some shopping in Paris?

ParisPacking1ParisPacking5

And here’s how I wore it:

Day One: Barry and I arrived in Paris. Since our hotel room wasn’t ready, I wore the clothes in which I’d traveled (a white sweater, jeans, and flats) while we shopped and ate lunch at L’Affable. After settling into our hotel, we had a fantastic dinner at L’Epigramme.

Window shopping in Paris

Window shopping in Paris

Dinner at L’Epigramme (I bought the necklace I’m wearing earlier in the afternoon while shopping on the Left Bank.)

Dinner at L’Epigramme (I bought the necklace I’m wearing earlier in the afternoon while shopping on the Left Bank.)

Day Two: We went to Versailles, saw the new Frank Gehry building in the Bois de Boulogne, and visited the Musée d’Orsay. I was a busy day, and we must have walked 4 to 5 miles (but my AGL flats held up beautifully!). We ate dinner at a great restaurant called Spring.

Outside the Palace of Versailles

Outside the Palace of Versailles

A delicious dinner at Spring

A delicious dinner at Spring

Day Three: Barry and I crossed the Seine, walked through the passageway at the Louvre, saw an interesting Nike display at a running event, and shopped the rest of the day on the Rue Saint-Honoré. We ate dinner at Graff, a wonderful local restaurant on the Left Bank near our hotel.

We loved walking along the Seine.

We loved walking along the Seine.

Another memorable meal—this time at Graff

Another memorable meal—this time at Graff

Day Four: We shopped through Le Marais and visited the Place des Vosges and Notre Dame Cathedral.

Walking through the Place des Vosges. I purchased the Yves St. Laurent raincoat I’m wearing on a previous trip to Paris!

Walking through the Place des Vosges. I purchased the Yves St. Laurent raincoat I’m wearing on a previous trip to Paris!

Of course, we had to walk past Notre Dame Cathedral on Île de la Cité!

Of course, we had to walk past Notre Dame Cathedral on Île de la Cité!

At some point during the trip, I wore everything I brought, so I’d say packing was a success! In my next post, I’ll share some photos from our shopping stops and explain why I bought the pieces I chose.

Stay tuned!

Stay tuned!