Monday, January 31, 2011

News, Views, This, That. . .

A friend of mine, an American who has lived in Paris most of her life and is prone to dark moods and depression, explained to me at length the other day how this winter is the worst, grayest, longest, most energy sapping one she can remember.

I don't find that to be the case, in fact not at all. French Elle, it seems however, may agree with her -- or more likely, in the case of the magazine it's simply a mid-season editorial gambit: "adding some color to your neutrals." 

Above: Top, top, skirt from Asos; a collection of Mulberry bags; a to die for Yves Saint Laurent dress; a dopey Top Shop blouse in mustard yellow (in case you didn't notice the color); a yummy suede jacket from Jerome Dreyfus and -- surprise, surprise -- Repetto ballerines.

The fashion people seem hung-up on various tones of yellow from the, what I consider very difficult mustard family to brighter versions all the while avoiding outright lemon. On offer was an inexpensive yellow pencil skirt paired with a black sweater and black opaque tights -- very cute I think and on the right woman ageless. The best part of this combo was the fact the yellow was a torso length away from the face where, in my opinion, in most cases is exactly where yellow belongs.

Balenciaga bag.

I have, btw, changed my opinion about yellow bags. I think you've convinced me, although I'm not presently in the market for one.

Other News. . .

My lavender, microwaveable replacement Teddy was delivered on Saturday. It's true, he must be a cousin of the late Ted because they don't look like twins.

FYI, I have ordered two (yes TWO!) Teddy Bears for the giveaway. For those who have not told me if you would like to participate, please tell me now.

My cough medicine is making me hallucinate. It's sort of pleasantly unpleasant. (Thought I would mention this in case what I'm saying makes no sense.)

Off to Paris. . . A demain.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Next Week or La Semaine Prochaine

Next week is filled with what I like to refer to as my annual revisions, similar to taking my car into the garage to have everything checked out. In other words, the banal once-a-year doctors' visits: eyes, teeth (more often if needed), dermatologist, etc.

Along with yesterday's confession about entertaining, here comes another one: I really, really, really don't like doctors. In all cases mentioned, and not, I really, really, really like the individuals with whom I have made my appointments. However, I would rather see them at, let's say -- a cocktail party for example. 

I'm giving you the back-story because I know what I have planned for next week on our calendar, but don't know for which days. All rendez-vous are in Paris and I can never predict how long I will wander/dawdle before or after. 

So, without a specific daily commitment, here is what I (and perhaps Cherie) have planned for next week:

On The Agenda For The Week Ahead. . .

Surprises, of course.

Manners -- possibly a series if I get carried away, which is often my wont as you know.

My 20 item wardrobe -- this will definitely be a series. (Do join me if you feel so inclined.)

News, Views, Etc.

Cherie -- please send in your questions. (It's one way of keeping her under control.)

And, who knows?

A demain. Hope your Sunday is sunny like ours.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Weekend In The Country

Under construction: A partially set table that needs some straightening, a closed curtain to cover the radiator, and more plates.

As you may recall, if in the unlikely circumstance we invite more than six guests for dinner chez nous I need an ambulance idling in the driveway. I'm that hysterical. Even a couple of coupes as I work, doesn't work.

On such rare occasions I obsess even more about the setting of the table. That way I figure everyone will be wowed (although I have serious competition from my best French friend who sets the most gorgeous tables and has no fear of having 24 at table) and be more sympathetic toward the food. And, never do I let a coupe reach empty during the cocktail hour. That usually helps too.

At any rate, we're have a verrrrry small dinner party tonight. On the menu: bouillon; pot au feu; two cheeses, Camembert and a chevre; vanilla ice cream and tuiles cookies from our brilliant pâtissier.  Great bread from our equally brilliant boulanger and couple of nice wines -- as yet unchosen.

Et voila.  Wish you were here.

A demain.

Friday, January 28, 2011

On-The-Street (Sort of. . .)

Another gray day, another series of pictures inside the boutiques in my corner of the world. You can see how everyone is keeping herself snug in layers and her individual choice of neutrals. 

No one I saw -- even among the subjects I chose not to photograph -- was wearing that famous "pop of color" so many of you long to see.

These are the separates that keep on giving, year after year. Nice, easy pieces for the country -- items ready-to-wear, mix and match, no fuss, no stress.

You're probably wishing I would add some Paris glam to the mix. I promise I will in the near future. It takes an enormous amount of energy to spiel my spiel on the streets of Paris. 

Out here, everyone falls into formation when they see me coming and patiently waits until I give them the OK to walk the walk. 

"Bonjour," snap, snap, "Merci,  Au Revoir" and I'm out of there. No fuss, no stress.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

News, Views -- You Know the Drill. . .

Cherie is not feeling up to par, which makes her even more unpleasant than she is when she's in fine form. "Good mood" is not part of her genetic makeup on good days and on bad days, well she mustn't be allowed out of her bed. 

As a result, let down once more by her unpredictable nature, I am on my own, forced to cobble together what I hope will entertain you. At least it won't offend. 

Let's get to the headlines.

Old (er) Is the New Young Again (Whatever)

Several French publicity agencies were asked to propose a "look" for the future. The idea behind the exercise, as I understand it, was to come up with an ideal that portrayed an aging population in a positive way that would -- surprise, surprise -- flatter the subjects and thus lead to -- are you ready for this(?) -- more sales. Of course, the blah-blah supporting the proposals said the notion behind the campaign would be to make, in the case I'm featuring here, women feel good about themselves. 

Or, as the director of Publicis 133, Emmanuelle Guillon, told Figaro Madame magazine, regarding the ad with the gorgeous woman with white hair, explained: We want "to show the good signs of aging, to show wrinkles under the condition that they are as beautiful as possible."

She went on to say the substance of the marketing for the future was to send the message that a woman wants to "age better" and "not less."

Well, hello?! 

Pretty-Funny (as in sort of funny strange)

Am I the last girl on the block to see this canvas sack? It features a  Birkin bag embossed on each side and even in the fold on either end -- that's sort of clever -- like the real thing.

One cannot help but wonder what Hermes thinks of this. I remember when I would write in a story "a Chanel-like jacket" a week or so later I would get a letter from Chanel lawyers with low-level threats. I can't imagine the company is still wasting postage on that exercise. After all, it was Chanel herself who said, "Imitation is the highest form of flattery."

If you're interested in owning a "Birkin" for under $35, click here: Thursday Friday

The sack is called "Together" -- I guess that means canvas, Hermes and clever marketing.

Are Good Manners Demodé?

I considered mentioning the table manners of Julie's husband in the Julie & Julia film, but decided, "Oh, no, just move on." To my delight The French Touch blog author said she thought they were revolting (my word). I thought they were appalling. 

Maybe I should do an entire post on politesse. What do you think? Why are so many people forgetting that good manners are kindness in its most elevated form?

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Inside Her Armoire, The Real Story

Why I've avoided today's conversation for two years, I'm not quite sure. It's not that I haven't thought about it on multiple occasions, but for one reason or another I didn't "go there."

La pomme de terre chaude (the hot potato) subject is the myth that chic, stylish, elegant Frenchwomen own about 20 perfect items and work with them every-single-day. In this fantasy I suppose they are allowed a good number of accessories to keep these well-chosen pieces "fresh and new" every-single-day.

It's nonsense. 

What I do believe to be true, however, is that they are probably capable of pulling off such a feat. But they don't. They don't unless they're writing a blog about such a challenge and then the writer is most likely not French. Someone is probably writing that book as I write this post. It's sort of like the Julie & Julia blog/book/movie. 

Now I'm thinking, "Get on it, you fool!" I could do it from "a certain age" perspective and maybe, just maybe Meryl Streep could play me in the film, right after the bestselling book rocks the New York Times bestseller list for months. (Sorry, I digress.)

What most Frenchwomen have is a core wardrobe around which everything is constructed, but the core ripples out -- it gets larger and wider. The essence is: shape, neutral color, clean construction, morphability, and, yes, obviously quality. Morphability, which is not a word, but you get the idea, allows them to get more mileage (or kilometers, if you will) out of well thought out purchases.

Wear today and forever clothes below. . .

Coco, of course. A woman could easily wear this dress today and tonight and tomorrow.

Ines de la Fressange proving a triple strand of pearls and a lady-like brooch look young and forever, just turn up white cuffs, add sunglasses. (See the white shirt? I know, I know. . .)

Fanny Ardent, note the boots AND the flattering unbroken black line.

I believe stylish Frenchwomen have fewer clothes than say, an American with the same wherewithal, for the simple reason -- my opinion -- she is more secure. She does, and this is not a myth, wear the same things over and over and over. When she slips on her 10-year-old LBD for example, beneath she is not only wearing divine fripperies, but also her Gallic attitude. Do you know how much style attitude brings to clothes? Exactly.

Some have argued that armoires and small, closet-less Paris apartments are responsible for finely edited wardrobes, perhaps that's true, but frugal by nature, Frenchwomen do not spend carelessly. They add to their wardrobes with clarity. We all know they buy the best of the best within their means and then, even those with couture in their closets (yes, I know plenty of women in Paris with swoon-worthy closets -- both in size and content) might from time to time  run into Zara for a silk shell, Monoprix for a scarf, H&M "for something amusing." These fillers won't last a lifetime, but they cover a specific need and meld with the rest in such a way that one would never suspect the countess is wearing high and low. 

It is also true that more, more, more is not part of the French esthetic. And it's liberating. It's a thrill to wear something which makes one feel so good about herself, so comfortable, so right, so chic because it was perfection when it was purchased 10 or 15 years ago and nothing like it has been found since. The best compliment a Frenchwoman can receive from a friend is, "I love you in that dress." 

Let's never forget either, an elegant Frenchwoman's wardrobe is all about her although it may be sparked with a touch of the latest and the greatest from a current fashion season and if the latest and the greatest happens to be an investment that works in her grand scheme, quelle chance, she'll grab it. 

Finally, an elegant woman's wardrobe is constructed, piece by piece with careful, intelligent planning. That's why she can count on it, that's why it falls together so effortlessly. That's why she needs less. And, I do believe she has far fewer mistakes in her closets than most of us. That instantly gives her more room in the armoire.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Back From The Big City. . .

Let's get down to business.  The subject at hand: as I said earlier today I hadn't seen "Julie & Julia" until last night. 

Here are my thoughts:

1.) Meryl Streep was extraordinary, she WAS Julia Child. The voice! I couldn't believe it.

2.) "Julia" made me fall in love with Paris all over again. Her childlike curiosity, her giddy appreciation of everything French, the sweet way she charmed shop owners, the way she swooned over a perfect mayonnaise. Wonderful.

3.) Yes, a little less Julie and a lot more Julia would have made the film blissful perfection for me. Every time the scenes left Paris, I felt let down. Yes, I appreciate the context, but still. . .

Inside Dehillerin, the famous cookware emporium in the 1st arrondissement. One could spend hours there. 

4.) The apartments, the cooking, the kitchens, the cookware, the joy of cooking (!), the delight in discovery, the markets, the food -- well, you know. I wanted MORE.

5.) Before anyone points out, and rightly so, that the idea was the blog, cooking the book in one year, Julia saving Julie and so on, you may be (probably are) right. Still, I hold my ground.

6.) More power to Julie for her phenomenal success. Her idea was great. She probably realized most bloggers dreams.

Now, this is what I loved most about the film, the love affair, the kindness, the amorous looks, the shared humor, the mutual support between Julia and Paul. I was teary as I watched their portrayals because I have always heard they were deeply in love. A friend of mine, who was also a spy (and a fabulous cook), knew her and said it was lovely to see Julia and Paul together. Everything about them seemed easy and right, no temper, no hysteria, no me, me, me. Is "civilized" the word? Yes, but not as a facade, but rather as part of respect for their couple, their love.

I received my first "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" (which I haven't btw) from my mother as an engagement present -- for my first marriage. I particularly appreciated her appreciating the book because, and she admitted this herself, she was one of the world's worst cooks. I knew it was time to get out of bed and get dressed for school when I smelled toast burning -- Monday through Friday. She just never got the hang of the toaster.

My book is now splattered and tattered, but I cannot part with it, both for Julia and my mother.

On another note: Murphy left a question which I plan to answer tomorrow because it's been on my mind for quite some time. The question is: Does the average, chic French woman own only about 20 items or is this an urban legend? I'll tell you tomorrow.

Off To Paris. . .

Completely unexpected. Will obviously take advantage of the opportunity to look in the depths of some soldes bins and see what's lying on the floors of the boutiques. 

You never know. . . I once found a perfect navy turtleneck at a Chanel invitation sale when I tripped on it.

And, I have a few things to say about the movie "Julie & Julia" when I return. I know I'm the last person on earth to have seen it. We watched it on DVD last night.

A bientot. (Don't have time for accents.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

French Pharmacie RX & TLC

If you're not feeling well, my experience tells me, it's better not to feel well in France.

First off, your doctor will come to your bedside. (The last time a doctor came to our house was when I was a child living in Lewiston Heights, N.Y. [outside Niagara Falls] to treat a classic case of chicken pox.) 

For my latest bout of flu, it wasn't necessary to have Pascal (he's also a friend) visit me. 

Prepare for a digression (it's important that I tell you this): Pascal gives the best shots of any doctor in the whole-wide-world. He talks to you non-stop, gives your arm a slight pinch and then he walks away. Mission accomplished.

Back on subject: Pascal was not necessary for a run-of-the-mill, banal flu so My-Reason-For-Living-In-France headed to our pharmacie -- in the town where I take my on-the-street photos -- and directly to Christine.

This is what she gave him for me:

1.) Effervescent Doleprane, a paracetamol, 1000mg., three per day. (She then wrote MAX -- as in no more than three -- in capital letters on the box because I have a reputation for thinking in some areas of life more is definitely more. This sentiment does not, contrary to what MRFLIF thinks, apply to medications.)

2.) Probiolog, two per day before meals. Upon reading the notice I discovered to my amazement the little gel capsules have one billion (!) bactéries vivantes (!) -- these live bacteria things are VERY big over here as in Danon yogurts with bifidobacterium lactis for example. And, if I wish, I can continue to take Probiolog every day for the rest of my life. That will require more investigation on my part.

OK, that's it on the med front.

But, Christine didn't stop there. She gave MRFLIF a dinner menu for me. 

It consisted of:

1.) Cooked carrots. (Fresh, obviously, we're in France after all.)

2.) Rice.

3.) Two yogurts.

4.) One banana with the yogurts.

Dee-vine. I highly recommend the meal.

You will be pleased, more than pleased I'm sure, to hear this is the final chapter in the saga.

Footnote: As I was typing I was thinking, "Hmmm, everyone must be so sick and tired of hearing about Teddy and you are all so lovely, I think I should do something fun."

How about a microwavable, lavender scented, soft, cute, comforting Teddy of your very own? I will send you one. Tell me if the idea interests you and I'll draw a name -- or two. Teddy has, I've been told, a large extended family.

A demain.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Good News & Next Week's Program

Late Friday night, I received the following text message: "Seche tes larmes: Teddy a un petit frere!"

"Dry your tears: Teddy has a little brother!" 

You can imagine my delight. The message included a photo of his petit frere looking perky and ready for adoption. The message came from the friend who gave me the late Ted who met his maker on Thursday. My-Reason-For-Living-In-France, the individual responsible for Ted's demise, is now in a quandary about whether his remains should be recycled into the paper/plastic/carton bin or the regular garbage. (We know he doesn't belong in with the wine bottles.)

We've opted for paper/plastic, if that doesn't work, we'll bury him.

If perchance you don't know what I'm talking about, slide on down to the post beneath for the obit.

Enough about Ted, we must move on. . .

On the calendar for next week:

Lots of surprises, news and views.

My pharmacy story.

On-the-street (I promise. I just couldn't drag myself out from under my quilt this week.)

Cherie may be returning from her extended -- forced -- vacation. Her huge fan base is clamoring for her pithy, snarky, insightful commentary on the fun-filled world of fashion and observations from the fast lane.  (At least three of you have inquired about her whereabouts and begged for her reinstatement.) 

If you have any questions for her, now is the time to pose them.

Footnote: You are all so adorable. Thank you for your kind words about Ted and moi meme.

Friday, January 21, 2011

R.I.P. -- Ted Is Toast

Long story short: I have one of those flus not included on the list for the flu shot I received in October. (That explains my absence yesterday and the length of this post.)

Where some may see adversity, I see opportunity. I am in the throes of the ultimate detox. Merci Mother Nature. I have a great story to tell you about France, friends and pharmacies when I can leave the room connecting with my chambre.  It's a tale about relationships and the extraordinary contact one has with one's pharmacist -- more on this after my nap. (That's one of the benefits of being unemployed. I have unlimited -- unpaid -- sick leave.)

Now back to my famous Teddy Bear who is no longer in this world. Last night I said to My-Reason-For-Living-In-France, "Would you please do something for me?" His eager reply was, "Anything." (He always says that.)

"Merci par avance," said I. "Would you be so kind as to pop Ted into the microwave and nuke him for three minutes so I can put him against my aching back?"

Five-ish minutes later he came in with a smoking Teddy Bear wrapped in a towel. Ted no longer smelled of his famous lavender to help me sleep. He was burned to a crisp and brought tears to my eyes, not because he was beyond emergency intervention, but because he was giving off toxic fumes. One of the dogs had a coughing/sneezing fit. Hilarious.

End of chapter one. More later.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Les Soldes, Decisions, Decisions. . .

My oh, if I could I would Chloe coat.

The fork in the road approaches, which way to turn? Do I take the fashion high road or do I ignore all the warning signs and do my own thing? 

Les soldes offer opportunity, theoretically. What to buy; what not to buy; what's in, or more to the point, what will have "in" staying power -- if one even cares -- what's fun, what's done and round and round it goes. 

I neither specifically want nor need anything, but what if by pure serendipity I find better or best out there? I know what I'll do. I'll see an opportunity and leap upon it.

French Elle has decided in its infinite wisdom to give us directions on the bumpy road to error free markdown shopping. The problem is, I really don't care. Of course I don't want to look like a fool, but I already avoided that trap by not pairing heavy woolen socks with delicate heels even though Elle highly recommended the combo.

Now the magazine is telling me NOT to buy the one thing I would buy if I could, the "time stands still, never demode, investment camel hair coat" from Chole. If I am so inclined, Elle has given me permission to purchase a pair of camel trousers. I don't care. I don't like them. I don't want them. I want the coat, which is now deemed too classic, too preppy, too boring.

We're advised to ditch our headbands that look like tiaras. Whew, avoided that at the outset and now I know not to grab one on markdown. 

Louis Vuitton

We're not supposed to buy the Mad Men 50s skirts. I didn't and I wouldn't, but I don't see why someone else might find them appealing. And why not?

We may keep the socks, because they're warm and winter continues. The question of how we should wear them from this point forward has been judiciously avoided.

Ah, and our marinière, we can buy another and keep the one we have, BUT -- pay attention now --  we may not wear it the way we always have, straight up. We must "mix it up" somehow with other stripes, prints, under a shirt, over shirt, you get the idea. (The cocktail pictured above is from Donna Karan's 2009 spring/summer collection to give you an idea of the idea.)

As we all know, fashion is a business. What we sometimes forget is that style is not. Frenchwomen rarely -- unless they're in the biz -- forget that truth. 

Another safe bet, pictured above, the sac cartable from Proenza Schouler (I would never buy a yellow bag, but in another color perhaps).

Of course the magazines report on the latest and the greatest and then a few months later tell us it's time to move on, the greatest is no longer the latest. That's what I find fun about fashion and it's why I continue to buy magazines, but I no longer look at them in the same way. 

I don't care about fashion per se. Yes, it's amusing to see what creative designers are doing, yes it's interesting to see the current color spectrum, the cuts, the influences (Mad Men), the whimsy, the wildly crazy. It's pure entertainment. And, let's face it, there is always something out there that makes our hearts flutter with the thrill of the spectacularly unexpected.

But, I know what I can wear and I don't care about the rest unless by good luck something new fits into my grand scheme. When I veer off my path, I'm always disappointed.

That's what I've learned from Frenchwomen and that's why I would rather sit in a cafe and watch the real deal parading down the street. Talk about creative dressing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Shopping "Les Soldes" A La Française

Once again, no one does it better. 

If you've been searching for the precise meaning of "there is a method to her madness," here follows a case study on the subject:

Frenchwomen shopping during the two major State mandated markdown periods in France -- summer and winter (never mind those other two seasons) -- when the frenzy of hysterical bargain hunting is in full tilt are the very definition of the concept.

To an outsider, a casual observer, the scene appears to be madness. It is not. Frenchwomen are not riffling through the boxes, bins and sales racks to walk out the door with armloads of items marked down 50 to 60 percent they will ultimately never wear. They do not compromise their style principles at the alter of "half price!" 

If an item didn't work for one reason or another before the markdown-- shabby finish; too short; shoulders not perfect; color won't work with anything; jacket doesn't cover (fill-in-the-blank) properly; great piece, but chartreuse makes me look chartreuse; sleeves are an awkward length, it's tight through the bust (or hips or waist), but I'll re-start with Dr. Dukan tomorrow -- it won't work any better with the markdown.

Granted, in their infinite style wisdom, Frenchwomen know how to re-purpose pieces. Maybe that sweater dress could be a tunic; the gorgeous fuchsia sleeveless (yikes!) pleated charmeuse
shell would be a lifesaver under a cardigan or a jacket; what if my seamstress could add a band of contrasting black in another material to the LBD I've been looking for all my life, but this one is too short, and so on.

Forget about out of kilter shoulders, yes a superb tailor could re-make a jacket or a coat, but trust me, it's not worth it and might not work. And, it's expensive. Keep looking.

There is no such thing as mindless shopping. Compromises end up unworn and therefore the most expensive clothes a woman owns. 

Frenchwomen are frugal by nature. This mindset has nothing to do with their wherewithal. They think before they spend. 

1.) What does this go with that I already own?

2.) Does this give me several possibilities?

3.) Will I regret the color?

4.) Should I stay with a neutral and hit the accessories later?

5.) If I can't wear it with at least X-number of pieces I already own, is it really a bargain?

6.) Will I really wear it?

7.) She will have already tried, at regular price, a new seasonal shape, i.e. the long, full Mad Men inspired skirts for example. She will ask herself, "Is this me or not? Does it make me look silly or stunning?" If she likes it, but thinks it's too expensive, she may wait, ruminate and buy one during the sales. 

(After all, she has the tops to go with it. It's not that much of a deviation. . .)

8.) If, theoretically, she would not have purchased something at regular price, she will not buy it on markdown. Either you like something or you don't. It's simple.

This is what Frenchwomen know:

1.) At this point in their lives they are more than aware of what works on their bodies.

2.) They buy the same items over and over. Now wait, that means for example, if they have found the perfect jacket for their figures, they buy it in the same cut in different fabrics and colors. It's always the same, but it's never the same. See?

3.) Rarely do they buy a "one off" unless it is so brazenly spectacular that they know they must have it. Then they make it their own and wear it over and over. A friend of mine found a red, white and blue sequined bustier featuring a star-spangled motif at the bottom of a huge dusty box in a boutique in the Marais. She loves it. She wears it. We all think it's fun, funny and fabulous. And it comes with a great story. Who could ask for anything more?

I found a black sequined pencil skirt a few years ago, yet to be worn, but waiting for that perfect event. I envision it with a black cashmere turtleneck sweater and my black satin Chanel shoes with the gold platforms. Where there's life, there's hope. And, it cost nothing! Almost.

4.) When possible, as unglamorous as it may seem in the heat of the moment, sales are a good time to replace favorite basics -- if they can be found. Out go the old t-shirts, in come the new. It's unthinkable to wear iffy white tees. What about your black cashmere turtleneck or v-neck, maybe back-up is in order. You'll be glad you did, later.

With a little luck the blazer of one's dreams could be out there, a pencil skirt, a pair of gray trousers that really fit, another white shirt -- you know you can never own too many. Frenchwomen think long term. What's more chic than jeans, a white shirt and a blazer cut with razor sharp precision? 

What about a luscious jewel-toned velvet blazer a la Audrey Tautou? It's an investment.

5.) Now may be the time to add a dash of color, but in so doing it's wise to stay true to the fits that flatter.

But that's not all. . .

1.) If a season's fad is synonymous with fabulous for a woman and she is lucid in this realization, she will indulge now. She will spend the least amount possible on it and wear it immediately. She'll then pack it away and keep it until it magically turns into vintage!

2.) Rejoice and replenish. Frenchwomen love their lingerie and this is their time to splurge. And splurge, they do. In this category they can be wildly frivolous, but the dividend is a heady mood enhancer. Priceless.

3.) Bijoux de fantaisie, costume jewelry, can be found at giveaway prices and who can resist? Not Frenchwomen. Baubles and beads, frankly fake, are so much fun and add zest to the rest.

4.) Scarves. The rule is simple: scoop 'em up and run. Polka dots were big this winter, they're big this spring. There is no better time to stock up. Think gifts as well. 

Frenchwomen do. So do I.

5.) A pair of ballerines? Absolutely. A girl can never have too many. And, maybe in a wild, wow color. Pourquoi pas?

6.) Belts, grab 'em.

7.) Leather gloves. Color, color, color.

8.) Super pricey bags, worth a look and serious consideration. Le sac cartable continues through the year, FYI. 

9.) Floral prints carry on. A blouse might be a reasonable option, if one wears flowers. There is always the scarf option which gets my vote.

Now, let me offer a Franco-American tactic for shopping the sales. My method keeps my ditzy brain on message and has in the past prevented me from literally buying the same things. (I've mentioned to you on several occasions how many pairs of black pants I own. Enough said.)

I keep, at all times, a notebook the size of a paperback book, tucked in my purse which by category lists all the major pieces I own. Another page (or two) is dedicated to items I would like to one day find. Occasionally I see something in a magazine -- it can be a look, i.e. the way the bits were put together or something specific I like -- I rip out the page and slip it into the notebook. 

This method helps me buy less and buy better. It also gives me a fresh, inspired overview of what I have and what I don't need.

Et voila, end of story.
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