Paris is the promise land for men and women who have style agendas. It is no secret that Parisians have a reputation of turning their noses up to outsiders in order to protect the ‘holy’ soil of monarchs like Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Coco Chanel and Louis Vuitton. However, it looks like the tides have turned on the banks of French fashion as the head designers for all four of these French purebreds are now British (John Galliano for Dior), Italian (Stefano Pilati for YSL), German (Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel) and American (Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton). While an ongoing war between fashion capitals competing for the most innovative and thought-provoking fashion week is inevitable, it looks like the trend in warming up to global perspectives has started to show signs of ozone holes in Paris, France.
While San Francisco’s Bay and Paris’s Seine are oceans apart, I have noticed many style savvy flavors that translate with no language barrier. In honor of globe trotting style, I would like to share a few French fads that I have picked up in the land of (French) poodles and (French) kisses.
The history that resides in Paris is alive in every stone that I step on as I know that I am sharing cobbled history with figures like Marie Antoinette and the Emperor Napoleon.
As I hit the street for the day, (sadly not in ruffles that resemble cakes with my hair piled a foot tall with my human umbrella holder) I remember the history that walked before me. The French savor the value of historical style. Fashion has changed dramatically from the time of Napoleon’s elaborate costuming, but I will contribute my respect to the past through stylish hints.
To flair your own personal style with a baroque whisper, keep an eye open at flea markets and antique shops for ancient pin medallions and elaborate broaches. Decorate a simple jacket with your antique finds for a one-of-a-kind look and contribution to the yesteryears. Boys, you can make this as manly as you want with only concentrating on war pins– a true definition of a ‘decorated’ war hero. Ladies you can sparkle and shine like your favorite queen with a keen eye for your knight in shining armor.
Clothes are not the only way to channel antiquity. Kings and queens try an old area hair-do which can enhance your modern wear. Kings, make sure to part your hair with dignified purpose and Queens, just how high and elegant can you stack your locks on your crown?
Being a stranger in a country is not always a comfortable position. All energies are focused on looking like a local and not sticking out as the annoying American. While I did my best to study ‘la mode’ of Parisians before I journeyed across the Atlantic, there are certain aspects of ‘my mode’ that will forever be a dead give away as to my true roots. I have decided to embrace the fact that I carry my large camera with me everywhere I go with a slouchy bag over my shoulder that carries my foreign life. I have not yet mastered the mixture of heels and cobblestone so I navigate mostly in flats while French ladies grace rugged Parisian streets with four inch stilettos.
I have managed to wipe the gawking grin off my face in amazement of the Parisian beauty that hits me on every corner. Instead, I have concentrated my excitement to reside in my heart so my foreign appearance is less evident. With that, I have come to realize that my alien status is actually an advantage at times as I see grandeur in the architecture, the natives, and the culture that local Parisians are too familiar with to take notice. Just like San Francisco is a city that foreigners flock to, which allows them to view the native unrecognizable beauty in our city. So may I suggest on your next day off in the city, style yourself as a San Francisco nomad with a camera swinging around your neck as your statement piece and a fanny pack ready to stow the treasures that you find. Take in the sights as a stranger with no map to encourage you to get lost in your own city.
This tip is not just about how to wear your clothes, but instead how to be foreign fashionable to find the San Francisco style that you have been blind to. Make sure nothing is Bay City ordinary for you. While I will continue to meld to the Parisian beat, I will embrace my vagabond voyager style.
With the current weather conditions in the United States: rain dampening West Coast and snow stifling the East Coast, style depends on warmth and practicality when venturing outside. Much of my orientation in Paris has been outside on walking tours, finding transportation, basically finding my way. I have come to realize the importance of fabulous outwear to keep myself warm and stylishly cozy.
If you have a “go to” coat that works well with your style then play off it to change up your look to match your mood. If it is extra chilly, wrap a colorful scarf around your neck for turtleneck warmth and create funky knots in the scarf. Play with a lot of volume in your neck area and cinch your waist for sexy portions. Layering scarves with different texture can give your black trench a makeover for the evening.
Ladies try to trade the belt that goes with your coat, or even add a belt to your outer layer. Tie your look off with a statement cinch right around your waist to feminize your outerwear to form a perfect curve.
And for you guys, who feel like you look the same every time you step out the door snug as a bug in your rug, don’t be afraid of hats. A man who wears a hat, be it a loose beanie, fedora, or cap, shows confidence in his own skin and suaveness. Plus, it is a good option to a bad hair day.
Have a “Style File” request for la mode in a different zip code? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Blogspot: lamodeinadifferentzipcode.blogspot.com) to contribute to the fashion report via France.