Thursday, March 31, 2011

paris stealth style,

The other day in Bordeaux, eating lunch near the Grand Théatre before heading to the Gare St. Jean, I challenged Pater to find me a well-dressed woman -- or just any woman -- wearing colour. We watched for twenty or thirty minutes, checking out each wave of passers-by released from the tram at nearby Quinconces.  Almost no colour at all. Everyone was in neutrals: blacks, greys, taupes, mushroom, navy, sometimes a daring cream.  It's much the same in Paris where I took these shots, exemplified by the smartly-dressed woman of a certain age above. Also note the chic but sensibly flat shoes.
The broad swath of colour manifested in this woman's scarf (clearly cashmere, by the way it holds dye, caresses, has a weight and movement of substance) is the regular exception  -- also noted adorning Catherine Deneuve's character in the movie we watched just 'round the corner in the marvelous Pagoda theatre last night. It's the latest Deneuve film, quite lovely, although our grasp was limited given that we watched it en français.  And La Deneuve herself is amazing -- some of us really do get better with age  . . .
This woman's attire was impeccable -- a few simple pieces, each unassailable. Her chien seemed to be wearing Hermès although I could be mistaken.
Check out his gorgeous leash and have a second look at her shoes. Sensible, but oh so chic.
I'm throwing in our celebrity sighting of the week -- do you recognize this guy? Today we passed William Hurt on Rue de Grenelle. . . the camera stayed in my bag.
The photo above might be too hard to read with all the shadow, but this woman "of an age" was very smart in her black, the graphic punch of the coat making just enough of a statement without demanding attention (as Duchesse suggests in her recent post)
I couldn't resist departing from my focus on smartly dressed women "of a certain age"when I spotted these two young women. Likely still in their teens, they were clearly exulting in their temporary status as Parisiennes. The one on the right had a quirky "Art School" style that was fun to see while the one on the left had a very sophisticated sense of how to punch up classic choices.
They played at walking a catwalk, clearly working out a dream . . .
I don't suppose you can see well here, but the young woman posing has pumped up her classic blazer-and-jeans combo with red shoes -- a predictable enough choice, yes, but I was impressed by the green clutch she's waving over her head as she poses. And they were just having such fun -- infectious!
Back to the more relevant to most of my readers -- again, you'll note the clean lines, neutral tones, and chic, yet sensible, shoes.
I've been seeing this jeans and blazer combo all over -- and as Lisa discussed recently, the blazer shoulders often have just a bit going on at the shoulders for a modern touch.
The common notes, were I to summarize, would have to be the clean lines, neutral tones, and, generally, shoes that one can walk in easily. Fabrics hint at luxe, bags are often sizeable -- of good quality, bien sûr, but fairly simple. And the look is always anchored by a very good haircut.
We've done so much in Paris the last few days that I'll soon have to take a deep breath and try to tell you all about it -- bois de boulogne, pre-Raphaelite/photography show at Orsay, a peek into the Louvre (not doing that again for another 20 years!), discovered new bistro in our 'hood. But I suspect my next post will instead show you some men on bikes -- a bit of guy style as well . . .

Meanwhile, any comments you'd care to leave about what you're up to or what I'm up to -- and, of course, you'll make guesses about our celebrity sighting, right?

14 comments:

  1. I'm taking a totally wild guess on the guy, based on the shape of his jaw...Chevy Chase? (On our last trip, I ended up at Cafe Flore sitting at a table next to Nate Berkus and a friend. He could tell I recognized him, and way gracious enough to smile and say "hi." Nate Berkus is an American celebrity interior designer.)

    Thanks SO much for snapping and posting all of these pictures. From year to year, I can see the basic elements of Parisian style stay the same (dark neutrals, clean lines, good fit) even if the accent colors or prints (marinière stripes, yay!) may be tweaked from season to season.

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  2. Not Woody????
    Love the photos - you're making me wish so much for my next trip to Paris. If you've time, do visit the Cognacq Jay museum in the Marais - it's a gem.

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  3. Exactly what I thought! Woody!! Oh you lucky lady! I love Woody Allen and his films. Though he did go a bit wacko with his young bride, I still love him!

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  4. Lovely photos Mater. The lady in the third photo (blonde ponytail) almost looks like she could be Mai Tai, she of the lovely scarves and delicious bags.

    I had no idea about the celebrity, but having read the guesses above, yes, it could be Woody. What fun! P.

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  5. And hooray for the good haircuts. I am interested to hear that you are still seeing jackets with a bit of something something on the shoulder. It looks as though your good weather continues.

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  6. I'm so glad you included the photos of the two young women doing a photo shoot, no matter what women of a certain age are wearing!

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  7. Too easy Woody Allen!!
    I love the idea of those girls playing around with their camera, I love how confident girls are today, I would have really struggled at their age to do something like that.
    I love your photographs but they do only serve to remind me why London is better, after the 50th ubiquitous chic ensemble do you not ache for a bit of WTF? Seriously!

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  8. Thanks for posting these enjoyable pictures. I would never even notice a celebrity, too busy checking out the shoes and clothes. But it does make me glad at times to be an American and have color in my wardrobe. My beautiful suburban French neighbor always wears color but always in a simple sweater, dress or blouse, never head to toe. And yes, the hair is casual but always trimmed perfectly.

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  9. A wonderful summary! Should answer the question some women ask: "How do I not look like a tourist?" I love the quiet unusual neutrals (and the classics like navy). In my experience French women do wear colour... at sunny, hot holiday locations :) and I have seen the occasional periwinkle coat.

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  10. Pseu: Yes, that's my impression as well, although since we usually come in the late spring/early summer, we've previously since Parisian style at its more relaxed and more colourful. Still, as you say, consistent elements . . .
    Anonymous: We were in the Marais yesterday, but I don't know that museum -- I'll put it on the list. We're planning a few more visits back (Pater's not yet had his fill of falafel!)
    and yes, to both Anons and Lesley and Patricia . . . it was Woody AND the young bride he went a bit wacko over ;-)
    Lisa: What I meant about the shoulders was not that they're still the same exaggerated ones of the Balenciaga version, but just as you pointed out in your post, a gentle nod to that glorious but exaggerated shape. These I'm seeing are classic, discreet, but just a touch of gathering at the shoulder, very nicely tailored.
    Terri: Aren't they great?! I'm so pleased when I see young women enjoying their possibilities, spreading their wings.
    Alison: I do rather miss the FTW attitude and it will be a welcome antidote in a few weeks (although we'll miss having a glass with you!). I love Paris but constantly remind myself to resist some of its insistences. And of course it reminds me as well -- it's full of contradictions if one only looks past certain arrondissements.

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  11. Jane M: Like you, I'm glad to have what I consider a broader palette, but I enjoy watching what can be done in a tighter range. It forces my eye to be more attuned to subtlety, I think. And, as you suggest, colour isn't precluded but used more judiciously.
    Duchesse: Exactly so. And when they do wear those colours (and today I was noticing the exceptions that proved my rules), they do so with a confidence that does away with any sense of demanding they be looked at. There's not so much obvious attention-seeking.

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  12. Wonderful photos. It's nice to know that Parisian style is not complicated.

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  13. Susan: It's true -- in fact, I'd say it's a question of doing more with less.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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