Oh shopping. Who doesn’t love a nice day out with friends, casually strolling the streets, slowly gazing into windows, admiring the newest displays and adorning ourselves in today’s top fashion. We shop to dress our bodies to show the world who we are. It is a statement; of creativity, art, and personality, a statement of who you are and who you want others to see. A simple outfit can take you from an errand-runner to a ready-to-network star, even in the most mundane places like the grocery store or pharmacy.
Take a cue from the Parisian woman who dons red lips for the butcher and bread-maker, who pedals to work in heels and full skirts, who will get her outfit on even to stay home, as it is part of the everyday ritual, a custom meant for herself, to feel good about who she is and how she feels in her own skin (or should I say silks).
As the elegant and wise French entrepreneur, Mathilde Thomas, of Caudalie, has said, “Beauty is an art de vivre (art of living) for French women. It is about choosing only the best and understanding that you are entitled to…look and feel beautiful at the same time. We know that…there is no ‘right’ way to be beautiful. It’s about how you feel about yourself, no matter what your age.”
Follow these tips when shopping and you will no doubt leave les magasins filled with bags of style sure to evoke your own certain je ne sais quoi.
In Paris, many stores are small, boutique-like, and often the only person in the store is the proprietor. In the states things are less personal but a good Bonjour is always a must.
Many of us flock to sample sales, pop-up stores and flea markets with the notion that we are on a race, that we must fight to get the best deal and the best items. Sure, who doesn’t love a great deal, but also take the time to enjoy yourself and relish in the moments of self-indulgence. You deserve it.
It seems that French women always know whats going on in the fashion world. Whether this is due to their uncanny methods of being in the know, their connection to what some say is the fashion capital of the world, or perhaps a genetic ingraining of style and good taste, we may never know. But one things for sure, you will never find a Parisian woman looking like she feels uncomfortable. Trends are important and can help guide our fashion palate, but in the end the most important thing is how the clothes fit and feel on your body alone. If you feel beautiful, you will look beautiful.
Don’t get me wrong, grocery stores and big chains are definitely a thing in France but many people prefer to buy the majority of their items at specialty stores and street markets. Better quality, fresher ingredients and products made in house, more unique pickings and of course you get a more personal shopping experience, often times creating a close relationship with your local pastry-maker or lingerie designer.
If there is something more important than fashion in Paris, its food. Don’t skip lunch while out shopping, or worse, don’t grab something to go and eat while you shop! Breakfast, lunch and dinner are important landmarks of the day to the French and must never be missed or experienced in a rush. Find a nice cafe, perhaps settle into an outside table, perfect for people watching, and enjoy your moments to sip slowly, chew mindfully, and savor every second.
Though the French are not ignorant of the reusable bag, these are used more for necessity shopping, like food or everyday thing. Take the bag that is offered at the store, it will allow you to remember the places you have been as well as can often be used as a nice gift bag for the future. Well, maybe just keep one and keep adding to it, lets save some paper ;)
It’s always a good time to cleanse the eyes and reset while gazing at local or famous art. Culture is a big importance to the French, of course you’ve got to build your conversation points! Get inspired by the colors and shapes made permanent on canvas, admire the textures and workmanship of statues and textiles. Go back to the shops feeling refreshed, with new eyes..
Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and the list goes on. Brand names and high fashion go hand in hand and are very important to French fashion culture. How could it not when so many renowned brands have emerged from the country? But brand names are not the only thing that France has given to the fashion and design world. Sometimes the best finds are in the back corner of a non-distinguished shop, laid out on a blanket of an outdoor bazaar, or in a store you’ve never heard of before! Let go of reservations and go free into the shopping mecca!
Ever shop somewhere so beautiful that you forget what you even went in for? Lucky for Paris, many of its shops and bigger department stores are found in very old buildings, leftover palaces and noble homes, ornate shops that though evolved in business remained standstill in time and decor. Yes, indulge in whats inside to shop, but also take a moment to soak in the surroundings. If the building doesn’t impress, notice the displays and layout of the place. Someone created that for you to enjoy.
The French “Happy Hour”. Need I say more??
Wherever you are shopping, take these tips with you and remember, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy all the gratifications life has to offer.
Pauline, Apparis Bloguette
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