Whether it's because I've run through its busy streets and visited some of its less polished corners, or whether it's because I've visited quite often, or whether it's because I'm lucky enough to know a few Parisians or observant enough to notice many more whose garb is really not so different from what I see at home . . . I'm not sure. I do know that while I don't want to stick out as a tourist anywhere I travel, some of our activities mark as as such immediately. Walking around during the daytime with one's husband? or sister? And speaking English to one another? Even when I'm out on my own for a few hours, and even though my French is not bad, the fact that I approach someone with my North American open smile is often a dead giveaway, and the switch to English is made automatically (I keep the conversation in French anyway, pleading my need to practise). Besides, much of the fuss that's made about dressing for Paris involves often unexamined issues of class that I find, well,irritating at the very least. Plus, hey, it's a very cosmopolitan city, and its residents are comfortable with much more diversity than often gets imagined in those "What Can I Wear in Paris" scenarios.
But that's not to say that I don't want to look presentable, nor that I don't enjoy trying to channel a certain amount of that Parisian "je ne sais quoi." As much of it as one can fit into a carry-on case, at least. I think I did okay this visit, especially considering that the contents included a pair of running shoes, two short-sleeved technical tops, a long-sleeved ditto, a running bra, two pairs of shorts, two pairs of socks, AND my running belt with its two plastic water bottles! I could have managed with one of each, and generally do when I travel with Paul,
We had a few days with temperatures in the mid to high 20s (Celsius, bien sûr), and I was very comfortable in this long silk skirt (light, sheer silk layer over a cotton lining -- so pleased to find it in Rome last year as so many silk skirts have their ventilation properties ruined by a polyester lining). The JCrew linen sweater was perfect with it -- cool enough, but arm-covering to ward against sunburn. I was able to squeak two wearings out of the white top without having to wash it, and I didn't notice anyone looking aghast at me that second day . . .
I loved wearing my new Levis. A slimmer boyfriend in a really light wash (Rolling Fog, it's called), I loved this particular mix with them. The creamy scarf, the dove-grey merino "sweatshirt" (J Crew) and the nude flats (Vince). Honestly, I could have worn this every day, happily.
Instead, if the day was a bit cool, I wore my blazer and carried a tiny just-in-case umbrella in my bag. This was really not enough the day that it poured, but for a few hours' discomfort, I managed alright. I should say that I really dislike this photo for the goofy expression of my face and for the possibility it suggests that I need to throw out all my skinny jeans or, at least, only wear them with boots. But I'm trying to stop doing that thing, that self/selfie-hating thing. In fact, my sister and I resolved not to do that, so when she sent me this photo from her camera, I tried just to think, "Oh good, there's a photo of my blazer-and-skinny-jeans-and-scarf-tied-in-that-new-way, all in Père Lachaise Cemetery." So here it is. btw, in this, and in all the photos, you can also see that my hair is perhaps my biggest impediment to appearing Parisian. Observant though I generally am, I don't often see anything comparable on Paris streets. Mind you, I don't see too much of curls like mine back home either. Everyone's so damn handy with a straightening iron or their curls are more neatly articulated. . .
And then my sister sent me this, taken at night as we walked along Rue Soufflot, I think, towards Blvd. St. Michel -- she was trying to catch the twinkling Eiffel Tower, but of course the camera was overwhelmed by all the lights between us and The Iron Lady. The denim-wearing lady's back, though, that she got. . .
Didn't end up wearing two white t-shirts, nor white tank, nor white-and-navy striped T. Had another linen sweater, taupe, that I did wear but isn't shown here. Ditto a grey T with a gold metallic elephant design and my long-ish Vince tissue-weight merino pullover which was great for layering on coolish days that warmed up. Silk pyjama bottoms and a long black T for hotel-room lounging modesty. Left the runners behind (an old pair, brought with abandonment in mind), so there was room for my few purchases. I could easily have done a second week, even without laundry facilities. And with laundry? Easily a month. For different versions of a Paris-suitable wardrobe that fits in a carry-on, check out Sue at Une Femme -- she's the champion, and she's leaving for Paris this week. Leslie at Hostess of a Humble Bungalow just got back from a very well-planned first visit to Paris, and she looked very smart there in a black-and-white palette. And Susan at High Heels in the Wilderness put together a simple, chic, very packable travel wardrobe for a trip in France she's just finishing up and which included a week in Paris. Both Sue and Leslie do a more polished Paris What I Wore than I do -- what about you? Where would your comfort zone be? Or do you think it's all very Tempest in a Teapost? Mountain/Molehill? (As I note above, I wrote this before I posted my piece on running in Paris, where the comments indicate that some of you, especially Brits or other europeans, feel the latter.)