Tuesday, April 5, 2011

evaluating the valise wardrobe

I thought it might be time to report on the "travels with carry-on project" for those who think I'm crazy to live out of a small valise for six weeks, most of them in Paris.

As you might know, the weather has been much better than anyone could have dreamed, with numerous days in the high teens, and several in the low 20s posing the biggest challenge to my wardrobe. Even so, I've found my black stretch NYDJ jeans very useful, having washed them three times -- which means they've had six days' wear. The black pencil skirt has made 5 or 6 outings. I'm quite sick of black, I have to say, and although my head tells me it's always au courant, I nonetheless would much prefer to have brought taupes and greys and browns -- requiring a whole extra suitcase, I suspect.

As for my dresses, they've made 2 to 3 outings each, the three of them. By switching between the black patent brogues and the black fitted knee-high boots, as well as by switching up jackets or cardigan, I think I've coaxed sufficient variety out of them -- Pater's the only one in danger of getting bored (besides myself), of course.

One thing I have regretted is my choice of scarves. Limited because the dresses I've brought are all prints, I had a limited palette of solid scarves available, especially since I was thinking of ones that would provide warmth for the supposedly chilly April we might have. The cashmere-silk turquoise one above won out over a fine cashmere soft mauve. At home, I love the clear brightness of this scarf to cheer a wintry grey day in January OR to honour the emerging buds of spring. Here, it's simply too bright. I realized this the first time I wore it out, have forced myself to try it again and had Pater snap a shot to confirm my perception. It's back in the suitcase now and unlikely to come out again until we're on the plane. Meanwhile, I've been checking out scarves in the Bon Marché and have scoped out a few in interestingly muddy tones -- I'm just waiting to drag Pater or my GF in for a second opinion. It's a purchase that might stretch my credit card (I'm ogling the cashmere, loosely woven, so gorgeous and just a teeny bit of edge via colour and weave) but not my suitcase -- in a pinch I can wear more than one around my neck on the plane, right?

I'll also admit that I picked up a pair of black Repettos with a very small square heel -- if I'm regretting anything about this purchase it's that I turned my back on all the wonderful colours -- the nude patent was tough to resist. Mind you, the trip's not over . . .

I also picked up a pair of platinum ballet slippers at a funny little shoe store around the corner which sells a very limited range of what can charitably be called comfort shoes. But the price was reasonable and the soles were thick enough to provide some buffering against the Paris trottoirs. I've already had a day's wear out of these and they do the job very well. And I just had to buy these to wear with the new dress I bought -- also a must-buy to get me through the warm sunny days. Also bought leggings at Monoprix to make this dress work. But it went perfectly with both the purple cardigan I'd brought and the new pale seafoam one I bought at Eric Bompard (somehow, a week after I bought this, it's still in its tissue wrapping -- I'm perversely trying to hold out with my limited wardrobe on this one).
I love this dress, heavy enough silk that a slip isn't required, will dress up or down, with an overall multi-coloured print that is charming rather than overwhelming -- and of which I have two of the colours in matching cardigans to change up the look. The only problem is that the depth of the V required some attention given the bras I'd brought along. So I'm off with a GF today on a lingerie-shopping trip. Seems like the perfect excuse to me for a fabulous day of Paris Retail. Pater came along with us on the trip where we acquired the dress (Andrea's a very charming shopping pimp and directed me to the tiny boutique which carried this Irish line -- she chats happily with all the shop owners and we're always treated well when she's along). He's going to bow out today and enjoy a day reading Le Monde in the cafe and the park, perhaps adding a nap to help fight his fading cold.

We may trip over more shoes while we're out (I've got a Mother-of-the-bride gig ahead to justify them), but I'm wearing my dress to keep us on mission. . . . I'll admit I've only ever bra-shopped on my own so this will be a new experience. How about you? Are you a solo lingerie shopper or is that also a girlfriend outing? Of course, the ultimate would be a shopping trip with K-Line, lingerie blogger par excellence -- and speaking of/to K, here's a teaser:  went to a Madame Grès exhibit yesterday and have a zillion photos which I will be posting bit by bit.

Now off I go to meet my GF at the Metro -- a bientôt


  1. Wow, plenty to absorb in this post. Interesting about the scarf - sometimes I buy a bright one, but it always languishes unworn. It's the warmer, deeper 'muddy' tones that work on me, sadly, even though I'm drawn to the pretty colours like a bowerbird.

    It sounds like you've done extraordinarily well with your carry-on wardrobe. And frankly, it doesn't matter so much if you have to carry more back, does it? You deserve the additions! And when someone admires your dress/shoes/cardi, you can say casually, 'oh yes, picked it/them up last time we were in Paris'. Sigh.

  2. Scarves are a real nightmare to get right, I find if one is too bright it can be toned down by twinning with another, but then you might get too hot. You can easily justify the scarf by the cost per wear ratio as they get far more outings than most clothes do and never date either.
    The temperatures are unbelievable, especially when I think back to the foul Easter's I have for the last 3 years.
    That floral number is so bang on trend and really suits you especially with your curls.
    I am a solo shopper and I don't 'do' underwear, I loathe it and wear underwired vests or jersey bras, I am 40B, so imagine the choice that gives me!!
    I want some names please, what make is your dress? And those shoes are divine, names!
    Oh and thank you for your birthday wishes, another year closer to the big 5-0!

  3. Love your new dress! I cannot WAIT to see your photos of the Gres exhibit. I'm so glad you went! It wasn't open when I was there in December, much to my chagrin.

  4. The silk dress and tights, adorable! Reading this post with great interest. We will be there in 2 weeks with only a carry on bag each. Watching the weather trends closely. Can't wait to hear more about the shopping for lingerie. Ooh, la la. I shop solo for foundation wear, lol.

  5. Oh I too am eager to see the photos of the Gres exhibit. But this post is so full of interesting things it is a joy to read.

    Your new dress and shoes are lovely and you look very stylishly comfortable and au courant. I was just looking at some nice print dresses but haven't found the right one for me -- yet.

    I agree about the scarf being too bright for Paris, and know you will find a lovely new one; I agree that scarves are a worthwhile investment because they get so much use and have a far longer wardrobe lifespan.

    What is interesting about the color of your too bright scarf is how much location and style influence each other. I had noticed this long ago, when we traveled and was pleased when I got the palette right for a trip as it seemed I so often got it wrong and when I first went to Milan I finally understood Armani's color palette for example.

    So this is a long winded way of saying that although our color choices are at least partially dictated by taste and personal coloring, I increasingly think that environment plays a greater role than we tend to credit. Pieces can overlap but the way of looking at color especially tends to vary with the light and the environment, especially the light.

  6. Oh what a dreamy post...Repettos, a cheery printed dress and tights...and now more shopping.
    As a lingerie lover myself I'll be most interested as to how the French experience compares.

    Good luck with the scarf acquisition and more than one on the plane or get pater to throw one on his neck :)

  7. Love your new dress! And work that v-neck :)

    I also oogled your trench...the cut but especially the length.

  8. Yes, the dress is lovely! It's almost a stained glass effect - so pretty! P.

  9. Love the dress....tres chic! I continue to be impressed with
    your carry-on wardrobe. How are you managing with beauty
    products in the one quart bag...that restriction is my nemesis!! Also, many thanks for your wonderful travel posts. I am enjoying the trip....

  10. I love your silk dress with the platinum flats. The colors look great on you.

    I am enjoying your trip!

    Karen (sil) :)

  11. You are doing a magnificent job! Bras: Bon Marché has fabulous lingerie dept. Of course there are lingerie boutiques on every corner too. I always buy- half the price of what the French brands cost at home.

  12. Eeek! I can't wait to see photos and to hear more about the joy of lingerie shopping in Paris. What could be finer?? You are too sweet about me. It would be so fun to go lingerie shopping with you. On that topic, I received a couple of "basics" from Figleaves today. Happy to say the fit on each was perfect (I've owned them before so it's not rocket science, but still nice). I was explaining to a friend about one of them, describing the candy pink lace fabric - whereupon she told me "pink lace is not a basic - under any circumstances". I got a total kick out of that. I say, buy as much lace as you can find. It goes under everything. Trust me. :-)

  13. Sounds as though you are doing very well with the wardrobe you brought. Interesting discovery about the turquoise scarf--context is all? Eager to hear about the lingerie shopping. Having had anyone fuss over that since I purchased maternity bras.

  14. Tiffany: It's probably true that even at home, while I love the brightness, it's not as flattering as the muddier tones -- but there, because I'm in my own element, I'm less aware or concerned about how it looks. And yes, it will be a pleasure, with whatever scarf I do buy here, to casually refer to its Parisian provenance.
    Alison: I swear, the lingerie shop we went to had charm and fit in every possible size. As for the dress, Avoca. The shoes, really, are a comfort shoe -- Eneka. No way could a Repetto stand up to the paces I put these through!

    CoutureAllure: I knew there was a reason I took so many photos -- they may bore some of my readers, but I'll know someone's keen to see them. It was a wonderful exhibition, and I'm sorry you weren't able to see it.

    Marguerite: Ines may deem leggings a no-no, but they seemed the perfect solution -- no way could I suffer for style in footed tights NOR were my way-too-white legs ready to bare. Lightweight leggings were the perfect solution. As for the lingerie shopping, the GF element was a new one for me, but she was very helpful and we had fun.

  15. Mardel: Your analysis seems right to me -- I would add to the light, the buildings, the cultural elements of a place is the fact that one is a different version of oneself there as well -- see what I've written to Tiffany above.
    And are you kidding me? You haven't found a print dress yet? Your wonderful Stella McCartney?!!! I saw it here in bon Marché and O. M. G.!!!!
    Hostess: What a great suggestion -- I'll take full advantage of Pater's neck as a scarf-holder (although I suppose I should take care with the colour choices;-)

    Jillian: You made me chuckle -- I'm not used to the deep V, but, especially with the new bra, Pater seemed to appreciate it when I wore it last night.
    The trench is a Burberry and it's a really useful length, I agree.
    Patricia: That's true -- a very softened stained glass effect, but I see that now you've pointed it out.
    Pavlova: Maybe that's worth a very quick post -- coming up soon.
    Karen: Thanks! Sweet of you to follow along and to take time to comment.
    Duchesse: Actually, your recommendation at one point that every woman who gets to Paris should make sure to buy lingerie here has been echoing in my head the last trip or so -- this time, I decided to make it a reality. And now I'd be sure to repeat the experience, for sure"!
    K: Not sure I'll do photos, but I can assure you there was lots of lace. And I followed your advice and bought panties for every bra (sometimes I only splurge for the more 'special' ones) -- indeed, I even bought two different panties to match one. Your influence is wide, m'dear!
    Terri: The lingerie has only been an indulgence of the past few years -- before that, budget constraints and my diminuitive attributes kept bra-shopping low on my list.

  16. You are right, it is the light, the buildings, the culture, but they all seem to fit together in each place.

    And yes, I do have that stunning dress, but I would also like a smaller print. I love that dress but I also want a more versatile dress. Woman cannot live with one dress alone, at least not this woman.

  17. Mardel: In fact, I'm becoming more and more a fan of dressing in dresses and can't see much wrong with building a wardrobe, prints and all!


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