Gluten Free France


France is a fairly hospitable country for gluten-free travelers. On a scale of Italy, where I could eat cheese-less pizzas, vegan tiramisu, and fresh pasta in every city, to Mongolia- all dairy, mutton, and wheat dumplings- France doesn't fall far behind the US. Every grocery store carries gluten-free cookies and pasta. With so many dedicated gluten-free restaurants, you don't need to risk cross-contamination. Here are a few gluten-free (and zero-waste) restaurants / hotels we enjoyed in other French cities. This isn't an exhaustive list, only the ones I've been to. Even if you don't eat gluten-free, these places are worth the trip!

Loire Valley



Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, Fontevraud-l'Abbaye
A UNESCO world heritage site, Fontevraud composts, avoids excess packaging, and sources ingredients locally. They make gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian meals, served at a private or communal table.

Cute vegan restaurant, tea room, and wine bar with gluten-free / raw dishes and desserts.

L'Orangerie, Cheverny
Beautiful tea room and restaurant with an array of gluten-free plates and desserts, including my first tarte tatin. We went with a friend from the area and he said someone in the kitchen must be gluten-intolerant, because even in a touristy chateau, it's rare to find a place so sensitive to food allergies!

Normandy




Attached to a Clarins spa, in a quiet village just a few hours from Paris, this boutique hotel guarantees gluten-free meals to visitors, including tartes, quiches, and pâtisserie.

Chez Laurette, Honfleur
For a classic establishment (it's been around since the 60s), Chez Laurette is fairly progressive, offering vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free meals and desserts on the bustling terrace.

Vegetarian and gluten-free friendly organic B&B.

Historic farm turned B&B near Omaha Beach, serving gluten-free breakfasts. Each suite is named after a cat breed.


Bretagne 





Le Bout du Quai, Cancale

I stayed with Bretons and didn't eat out much, but this local favorite has a great gluten-free menu and views on the sea. It's where friends go for special occasions. While the region- home to Altiplano gluten-free biere- is full of gluten-free options, celiacs should be wary of galettes. I've never had good experiences with them.

Rhône-Alpes




The Roster, Annecy-Le-Vieux
Run by BMX bikers, the Roster boasts an ethical supply chain and makes sustainable, delicious vegetarian / gluten-free burgers. I didn't try it, but apparently their cheesecake is awesome.

L'Heure Bio, Annecy 
Locals recommend the terrace of this cute organic restaurant, offering vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free meals in a zero-waste friendly environment. They have a fountain for refilling water bottles, put food in your own containers for take-out, and use minimal or compostable packaging. The restaurant also serves ethically and locally sourced meat and fish. I still dream about the gluten-and-lactose-free chocolate fondant. For something fancier, try Impérial Palace, a gastronomic restaurant in Annecy.

La Souleiado, Ardèche
100% sans gluten and lactose, with a stylish hotel and stunning views of the mountains and nature near Ardèche National Park.

Popotte&Co, Lyon
Friendly 100% gluten free coffee shop, restaurant, and wine bar with crepes, galette frangipane, brownies, pancakes, and more.

Le Tigre, Lyon
Gluten free coffee shop serving great breakfasts, detox juices, and sweets with a specialty in artisanal coffees.

Tasty gluten-free food truck dubbed the best food truck overall in Lyon, by all the Lyonnaise (celiac or not) I've ever talked to :)

Organic gluten-free and lactose free restaurant with awesome vegan bowls and cookies.

Giverny




Constructed in 1912 and abandoned for decades, this gorgeous restored residence opened as a hotel a century later. The gluten-free chouquette, beautiful grounds, and Michelin-starred restaurant are worth turning a visit to Monet's garden into a weekend getaway.

La Capucine, Giverny
Famous botanical café serving gluten-free cassolettes and vegetarian meals. It turns into a jazz club every night.

Champagne


Some of my friends are from here, so again, this isn't a region where I have a lot of experience eating out. The first time I visited Champagne, I went to Epernay and stayed at Maison Belle Epoque, which you can rent for weekends and photo shoots. It's a fairy-tale place to sleep, with beds designed by Hector Guimard, who created the iconic Paris Métro signs. For vegans / vegetarians, I recommend Chez Lou in Reims. My sister likes Michelin-starred Bistrot du Forum. Dufresne Damien boulangerie, A l'ère du temps crêperie, and Chateau d'Etoges also cater to gluten-free diets.

Côte d'Azur-Provence



Gastronomic restaurant with private beach and gluten-free / vegetarian options, from penne pasta to chocolate moelleux and ice cream tuiles.

Choopy's Cupcakes and Coffee Shop
Cupcake and coffee shop with gluten free cakes, wraps, pancakes, cookies, and options for dairy-intolerant or vegan travelers. There's even a celiac on staff!

La Mandala, Cannes
Beachside restaurant with gluten-free options.

Gluten-free galette shop. The local specialty of Cannes, socca, is inherently gluten-free (chickpea flour), but cross-contamination makes it risky for celiacs.

Classic Michelin-starred restaurant with seasonal menu, which caters to celiac and gluten-free diners.


Gorgeous hotel between Uzés (where our family lives), Avignon, and Nimes, with gluten-free and vegetarian options.

Risotto & Co., Avignon
Enjoy vegetarian, gluten-free meals in a friendly, zero-waste atmosphere. Their take-home containers are Weck jars.

Le Vieux Castillon, Castillon-du-Gard
My father-in-law recommended this celebrated restaurant, set beautifully in a medieval village. They serve vegetarian and gluten-free meals beside a lovely pool and Relais-Chateaux hotel.

My sister said this was the best meal she ever had. Courses include locally grown veggies, stuffed flowers, and chocolate cups filled with cream and strawberries.



C'est de Famille, Marseille
Dedicated gluten-free restaurant and organic salon de thé. This was one of the first 100% gluten-free restaurants in France when I started coming here in 2011. So cute and bright and clean inside- French country without being cheesy.

Château de Villars, Le Périgord, Aquitaine
Dedicated gluten-free B&B set on nine beautiful acres, offering complete "gluten-free holiday" packages.

Le Calade en Provence, Saint Zacharie 
Comprehensive gluten-and-dairy-free French cooking classes, from pizzas and tartes to pâtisserie, breads, and crumbles.

Le Mas d'Emilie, entre Camargue-Luberon
Gluten-free B&B situated in an olive grove.



My sister recommended this restaurant, tucked away on a pedestrian street. They serve several gluten-free plates and desserts.

Cute epicerie with gluten-free products.

Maison Violette, Avignon
Gluten-free boulangerie. For families with gluten-free children, the daycare Family Sphere offers gluten-free meals.

Languedoc-Roussillon


 

This stunning guest home caters to gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan customers, with dedicated facilities for celiac-friendly food amidst olive groves, cherry trees, and fields of lavender. A dream hameau in the South of France.

La Coutinelle, Montpellier
Wonderful 100% dedicated gluten-free restaurant, tea room, and epicerie serving tartes, tiramisu, and beers, mostly dairy-free. They are committed to zero waste, reducing packaging and composting everything.

Adorable vegan and gluten-free tea room with cheesecakes, carrot cake, tartes, pizzas and more.

Midi-Pyrénées



As I mentioned in my Albi post, we stay with friends in this region, and they cook better than any restaurant! We ventured to Toulouse for a gluten-free meal- including dessert- at beautiful Le Bibent, and enjoyed wonderful gluten-free macarons, chocolates, ice creams, and pastries at Michel Belin. La Reine Margot is a dedicated gluten-free restaurant and tea room serving cakes, patisserie, and quiches. Glouton Frais delivers gluten-free food in Toulouse, and Rodez has a fusion restaurant offering gluten-free plates, Gingko.



Pays-Basque


I biked through here years ago; I still find this the most difficult region to eat gluten-free. I stayed mostly with families and found cross-contamination too much to handle. Fortunately, markets offer lots of raw options. I can't tolerate corn here, possibly because they rotate the crops. One pizzeria, Pizzerio Serino in Hendaye, serves delicious gluten-free food. I would visit again in a heartbeat. Basque Country, surprisingly, seemed so peaceful and quiet. You could hear people uncorking wine bottles miles away in those hills!



Eastern France


I've only been to Alsace and the Alps in the east of France. Gluten-free options are pretty standard- in my pre-vegan days, I liked raclette the best, especially with potatoes. I'm tired of writing, but Relais de la Poste is an excellent, fancy gluten-and-lactose-free restaurant, and Hôtel Villa Rosa offers vegetarian options. In the Alps, I like l'Impossible in Chamonix, which has organic, vegetarian, and some vegan plates. At Caviar Kaspia Courchevel, you can eat a gluten-free potato with- what else?- caviar, and at Le Mangeoire, drink gluten-free vodka with raclette. Cafe Nikki is the cutest place for a hot chocolate in Courchevel I think :) L'Annexe in La Plagne has one vegetarian dish as well as gluten-free tartiflette, while Le Mouflon serves GF Beauforton, fondue, and raclette with Genepi. Be warned, L'Annexe didn't have toilet paper or water in the bathroom when I was there, though the staff is friendly.


French Islands


Maha Prana, Les Delices d'Alice and l'Albatros at Hotel d'Oleron use local ingredients and offer vegan or vegetarian meals. La Coccinelle on Ile de Ré serves fresh, seasonal, 100% organic gluten-free food. We plan on going to Corsica next to visit friends, so I'll update this section soon.



Ok, those are most of the places I've been in France. Rest'O and Smart Green Corner in Bordeaux are wonderful vegan and gluten free restaurants.  If you just want a snack, the tearoom Mona Bordeaux serves gluten free food. The last three pictures are Le Vieux Castillon, Courchevel, and Cannes. I got lazy and stopped posting regionally-appropriate photos.

Paris to Go

Nomos by Guillaume Sanchez

 
 
 
 

It goes without saying that I am not part of Nomos' target demographic. I couldn't care less for Enter Shikari or Kitsuné, but I feel like Taylor Swift really gets me. My dream interior is filled with kittens and pastels, whereas the Nomos crowd favors exposed brick, concrete, and Monsieur Chat. Even before the restaurant opened, it was clear I was overdressed and under-tattooed. This is not the kind of place where people wear color, or supportive lingerie. A car burst into flames right in front of the restaurant and all nine tables still filled up- that's the kind of place this is. 

Guillaume Sanchez, a two-time Meilleurs apprentis de France winner, is a year younger than me and has over a decade of experience under his belt, including Pierre Hermé, Dalloyau, Delmontel, Fauchon, and Ladurée. The Bordelais isn't your typical pâtissier. He doesn't particularly like sweets. His immaculate, minimalist restaurant serves up, not cloying confections, but experimental, performative courses.  According to Sanchez, the Nomos menu changed 39 times in 39 days, a testament to limitless creativity.

My husband plays football with the chef, so we tried his restaurant and were completely impressed. The staff made sure everything I ate was completely gluten-free, from a coffee and avocado starter with opaque Spanish rosé, to nori in sherry vinegar creme followed by vanilla eggplant. They asked if I was allergic to anything even before they knew I was celiac. That never happens in Paris!

After dinner, Sanchez treated us to a round of maracuja-coffee cocktails topped with pink peppercorns. The service was perfect and surprisingly zero-waste. Place settings come wrapped in real linen napkins tied with twine. Metal stirrers whip frothy egg whites on cocktails. Apart from beautiful tables and courses, something about the sleek black kitchen and mix of Sanchez's friends and neighbors engenders conversation. Halfway through the night, I teetered over to a group of tattooed girls sitting in the corner. They all smiled at me right away, told me where they bought their dresses, and laughed when I said I was American. Like they didn't already know.

My husband agrees this was the best meal we've ever had. All meals should begin and end with ice cream! Though I could be intimidated by the inimitably Parisian crowd, I never felt out of place or excluded. The atmosphere was welcoming, unpretentious, and fun, and Guillaume seems very nice, greeting every diner personally. Don't be fooled by the pretty plating- each sequence will fill you up in a way I previously thought only Chipotle bowls could.

 

Nomos

15 Rue André del Sarte
Métro: Chateau-Rouge, Barbés, Anvers
Reserve online here

Nomos is in the greatest neighborhood, around the corner from our old apartment in Montmartre, across from the APC Surplus shop (I hate APC). As for dress code, all the guys wore jeans. Women wore mini-dresses, jumpsuits, or t-shirts and shorts with heels. True to my inability to pick up on social cues, I wore an overly formal, completely thrifted outfit. Whatever, it felt right.

Sources

Dior dress
YSL heels
Cartier watch

Paris to Go

Samantha's Minimal Wardrobe



Samantha writes:

I turned 29 this year. As I shed the last few pounds of baby weight from my second pregnancy, I began to plot out what I wanted to wear by creating a Pinterest board. Without following through on the idea and really getting a grasp of what I envisioned, I stupidly bought a few things (which, go figure, I now regret). Back to the drawing board I went, and finally arrived where I am now.

I threw off the idea of buying new and reverted to my old thrifting habits. My wallet is much happier. I spent a few days off the computer and picked up a pen and paper. I wrote down the trivial, mundane things I did during the day, and everything in between, to get a good gauge of my activity levels. Here is just a snippet of my list: Laundry, dishes, gardening, going to the library, going hiking, visiting the zoo, grocery shopping…. In completing this list I realized, for the next few years at least, my dress-wearing days were over. I’m on the floor daily with my kids, and to me, this didn’t seem like a good match for dresses. In my ill-advised shopping panic, I bought a new pair of jeans. Now, not only were they were too big, but the last time I wore them, the metal buttons on the back pockets scratched one of our 100-year-old dining room chairs. Out go the jeans.

After a week of thought, I came up with the following concept. I don’t think this will last forever, but for now, I’m happy.

Concept for Spring/Summer 


Clean
Simple
Classic
Female Indiana Jones

Colors


Any shade of camel/brown/taupe
White
Navy
Purple
Olive green
Once I realized how I wanted to dress, the rest was simple. On my local thrift store's half off day, I showed up early and spent the day piling things in my cart to try on. Since I decided no dresses, I avoided that section. Instead, I wrote myself a list and determined to stick to it.



Dresses

I know, I just said I wasn’t wearing them. This is my one and only exception. My husband picked this out and brought it home for me. We don’t attend many fancy events, but I still feel happy that it’s in my closet. I have a pair of shoes I specifically wear with this, but forgot to grab them for this picture. It's my LBD, but purple- I love the color and I always feel classy wearing this (above, I wore it to a dear friend’s wedding).


Purses

This is an area where I recently upgraded, in my own opinion. Up until 10 months ago, I carried name brand bags. With a baby in the house again, I quickly got frustrated with lack of space, even with a “large” name brand bag. I’ll be selling my pile of them, and never look back. On the left is a tobacco leather tote- I’m pretty much loving it. I use this bag 85% of the time I leave the house. It fits 4 diapers (we use cloth, so they take up space), spare clothes for the baby, my wallet, my phone, my misc. bag of Band-Aids and oddities, a blanket, a cup, and a few toys with room to spare. It has thick wide straps that don’t dig into my shoulder (Coach flew off the edge to failure in this regard) and is very sturdy. I’m currently mulling around the idea of getting a zipper put on the bag to keep it from losing things when tipped over, but I won’t make a move on that until I’ve thought about it for at least six months. To the right is a chocolate brown cross body. This is my quick trip bag. It holds my wallet, 1 diaper, spare baby clothes, a blanket, a cup, a toy, and my phone. I’ve had this one longer, it’s worn in nicely and also a pleasure to carry. I can say that I'll probably never buy another purse again, and that’s ok with me.


Tops

Right now I’m semi-ok with this number. I’m looking for a nice purple blouse and maybe a denim chambray shirt, but I’m in no hurry.

  1. Open cardigan. I mostly wear this around the house. I get cold easily indoors during summer, especially at restaurants when they all crank the air up to 60°. 
  2. Striped shirt. Comfy and cute. I wasn’t big on stripes but I figured I’d give the classic b&w combo a chance. If this only lasts one season I won’t be too sad. 
  3. My absolutely favorite shirt. 100% cotton, sheer, I generally roll up the sleeves. I bought this in my panic phase and it’s the one piece that stuck. I’m seriously contemplating ordering a backup…. 
  4. Simple t-shirt. This gets a lot of wear too. 
  5. Thrifted silk wrap shirt. It’s so lovely and more of a cream color in person. I’m debating having it altered to sleeveless just because of the weather here. 
  6. Sheer long sleeve shirt. It hardly ever gets cold outside here, but when it does, layering is the best option, as it almost always hits 70° before the day is over. I wear this surprisingly often. 
  7. Navy t-shirt. Comfy and classic, blue looks pretty good on me. I picked it because otherwise I would have ended up with another white shirt. I figured I need some kind of variety. 
  8. This button up is approaching the donate category. Thankfully, I thrifted it, or I’d be more annoyed. I quite like the color (it’s actually olive green), but it’s a smidge short. (It’s taken me over 2 weeks to write this all out and I haven’t worn this once. Out it goes.) 

Bottoms

We are in a constant state of being hot. All the time. I knew I had to be careful in this category. Since I recently outgrew my new jeans, but was still too heavy for my old jeans, I decided to forgo jeans this summer and see how I felt.

  1. Linen pants. I love these. They’re a pretty camel color, and instead of slit pockets, they have cute, high cargo pockets. They are insanely comfortable.
  2. These are linen too. I’m not in love with the color, but I do love the fit and everything else about them so it’s balanced. If I can find a pair of semi-dark brown linen pants, I’ll either donate these, or move them to my "wear while gardening" pile. 
  3. Shorts. I actually don’t really care for shorts. Here in FL, shorts are almost a joke. Most of the time they barely cover the person’s butt, very unattractive (to me anyway…). However, we get outdoors frequently and so, shorts it is. They wear well, and I’m pretty pleased, despite my initial thoughts. 
  4. Grey skirt. This is a major iffy piece. It’s jersey material, and while it’s comfortable enough, it’s very thin… I don’t find myself wearing it often, and if that pattern continues by the time “Winter” arrives it will be donated. (Update: I’ve decided to donate this too; I haven’t worn it in over a month. No point in dragging out the inevitable.) 


Shoes 

Thankfully, I’ve never had a real shoe problem. In fact, when purging my closet this was the easiest part. Hardly anything changed.

  1. Hiking boots. Husband thrifted these two years ago for me. Nothing like $100+ shoes for $7. We went traipsing through the woods at a local state park a few weekends ago and I survived the giant trail puddles from the recent rain beautifully.
  2. Black slip on flats. These are replacements for the pair I wore all last year. I’m still breaking these in, but I’m not sure I like them as much as my old ones, due to slight changes in the pattern. 
  3. Wedges by Steve Madden. These I debated for 30 minutes at the thrift store last week. They go beautifully with my color scheme and in the end I’m glad I bought them. I see them on re-sale sites for $20-$150 so I’m pretty smug I got them for $3. 
  4. Simple black sandals. I just can’t seem to wear these out. I got them about five years ago and they’re still going. However, they have a fiddly ankle buckle. I’m considering replacing these with a purple sandal. 
  5. Clarks super low wedges in brown. These babies are perfect. They’re about three years old and fantastically comfy. I love, love, love them. 

Accessories


  1. Vintage 50’s straw hat. I have a whole collection of vintage ladies' hats I’ll be selling. I really, super love this one so I decided to hang onto it and try to wear it more. 
  2. Belts. These help my keep my pants up when I’m in between sizes. I feel like they help me look not sloppy when I wear layers. One belt is thick and worn in, and one is just a place holder. I’m on the hunt for a slim leather braided belt. 
  3. Scarves. Two blue, one printed, one ombré. One brown / neutral scarf. I wear these pretty frequently. I’m still without a good raincoat, and I used the brown one as a head cover in the drizzle just yesterday. 

Jewelry


Sadly, I have a bunch of jewelry I’ll probably never wear. These are the pieces I keep in my closet with my clothes. Everything else is buried in a drawer in my dresser…

  1. Vintage 30s/40s flowers and glass choker. This piece is inherited- my husband gave it to me, and previously it belonged to his grandmother. I’ve worn it with my purple dress, and with a plain t-shirt. It’s so happy and fun. 
  2. Amber and amethyst necklace. I made this for myself. I love it and always get compliments on it. 
  3. Rings. I wear my wedding band and a moonstone ring daily. I also wear a blue topaz ring I received from my grandmother several times a week. 
  4. Necklace. This was the first gift husband ever bought me. It’s a trio gold toned coin necklace that goes with everything. 
Phew. Typing all this out makes me think I still have more clothes than I need. I see another closet downsize in the future. All in all, I’m pretty content with my wardrobe. It rains a ton here in the spring/summer, so I’m currently hunting for a great raincoat but I’m trying to take my time and pick the right one. But really, that’s it. Eleven items of clothing, 29 things if you count everything (minus the two things I got rid of while writing this novel).

Thank you for sharing, Samantha! I love your approach and strategies for thrifting, and the necklace you made is so lovely :)

Paris to Go

Wardrobe In Review

 
 
Updated post here.

Because I shop secondhand, I don't do wardrobe planning in the traditional sense. I don't pin outfit ideas, watch fashion shows, or read trend reports to get a jump on the upcoming season. If you do, and it inspires you and makes you happy, that's great! Me, it just made me feel anxious, like nothing I already had was good enough, like I needed more- when, in reality, I didn't need anything new at all. For me, love at first sight is usually more successful than a cold, analytical approach. Sensible purchases, made to fill some assessed wardrobe hole, rarely ever last more than a season. Periodically, I take only a few minutes to review the condition of my items, determine what needs to be removed, replaced, or repaired, then glance at the inventory of a few favorite secondhand stores, in case something catches my eye. A minimal wardrobe shouldn't mean Spartan self-denial.

Looking over the in-and-out-flow of my closet helps me re-examine shopping habits and avoid future purchasing mistakes. I gave away / sold 18 articles of clothing before moving here, leaving me with literally 15 items (plus nine pairs of shoes, and one bag). My old, hand-me-down boots and sandals gave out almost instantly. Uncomfortable shoes went to Vestiaire Collective tout de suite. I purchased and grew tired of three dresses and four sweaters- a lot of turnover for three years. Evaluating the purchase date, number of times worn, and reasons I like / dislike a particular garment not only determines the true cost of each item, it reveals my personal style. To stay in my closet, clothes should make me happy, boost my self-confidence, and fit the way I want to dress right now, not the way I might want to look in the future. Paris closets don't have room for imaginary, what-if scenarios.


ItemPurchase dateCompositionReason purchasedTimes wornThoughts
Mackintosh coatMay 2013 (c. 2011)Waxed cottonIt started pouring outside, so I ducked into a vintage shop for shelter and fell in love500+I love that it's made of proper, heavy waterproof fabric, but has a guilty-pleasure monogram lining. Trying it on, I felt Parisian for the very first time.
Winter coatDec 2014 (c. 2008)Cashgora, virgin woolI immediately had visions of myself wearing this in a Tolstoy novel120 already- it was a long winterNormally, logic would prevent me from buying a snowy-white princess coat for slushy Paris. A lifesaver during the Arctic cold snap- the coat I always dreamed of as a little girl.
Navy dressNov 2012 (c. 2008)Wool, silkI hoped this would make me look like Carla Bruni-SarkozyEvery weekI can't explain it, but I feel powerful in this dress, as if the bodice was a conquistador's breastplate. I never get tired of the style, and it fits no matter how my body changes, à la Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Pink dressNov 2013Polyester, viscose, elastaneMy husband bought this because it looked the same as my navy dressEvery weekMy go-to when I want to look polished. Doesn't wear as well as wool, but the color adds a subtle glow and matches everything. People ask if this dress is new even after seeing it 100 times.
Paul and Joe dressNov 2011Wool, silkThe kimono-style sleeves reminded me of my family500+, maybe moreI love the smoothness of the wool and how comfortable this is on hot summer days.
Bow-front shirtdressAug 2014 (c. 2002- est)CottonWhen I imagined Paris, I always thought women wore full-skirted shirtdresses like this. Couldn't be more wrongOver 300 (now I'm just making up numbers)The swishiness of the skirt is highly gratifying. As with all of the above purchases, it fit like a glove without initial tailoring, and is machine washable.
Red dressMar 2015Crepe, silkIt's red and Dior
30
I'm never satisfied with my wardrobe unless there's something red in it.
Petit Bateau linen t-shirtsAug / Dec 2014LinenThey looked so light, carefree and Jane Birkin-y on the hangerAlmost everydayMy body changed and now these hang like maternity tops. Men give up seats on the Métro because they think I'm enceinte. They're so pretty and soft though, perfect tucked into a skirt. 
J Brand jeansSometime in 2011Cotton, elastaneI thought these were the same as Emmanuelle Alt's jeansAt least 3x a weekThese fit no matter what weight I am and still look new.
SkirtSept 2011Virgin wool, silkI always wanted a mermaid skirt, and sneaking one into a corporate setting thrilled me2-3 a weekIndispensable- matched every top I've purchased in four years. In perfect condition. I love the heft and sheen of the wool, and the LV logo pull appeals to my vanity
SneakersMay 2013Leather, undisclosed syntheticsMy husband bought this because he didn't want me to have foot problemsEvery weekDespite Nike's severe ethical and environmental failures, these are like protective turtle shells.
HeelsAugust 2011Patent leatherI fell for the Richard Prince monogramHundreds of timesComfortable if I walk less than 10 km in them, these get more compliments and start more conversations than any other shoe.
SandalsFeb 2011, c. 2010?Suede, juteI thought bright green was a neutral and the color would convey that I was a sustainability majorHundreds, only special occasions nowThe kind of shoe that matches nothing, yet goes with everything, so bright and out there I can wear it with all my clothes. The kind of shoe wardrobe analyses might preclude me from buying.
Bow pumpsOct 2014Patent leatherAt heart I'm actually a 70 year old womanAlmost daily, my cobbler wants to kill meThese didn't need a cobbler until last week- they look new. Best shoe ever. Perfect for lots of walking, cute with jeans or skirts.
BootsDec 2014Leather, rubberMy 15 year old boots finally wore out, and these were warm and kind of cuteEveryday until MayPracticality told me to get Ugg boots. These are shapelier and give a little lift but are comfortable, waterproof, and easy to clean.

I kept pieces I could tell a story about, things that made my heart flutter or embodied some cherished memory. Based on this, I learned 1) I like below-the-knee hemlines 2) Layers don't work for me 3) I should stick to body-skimming silhouettes instead of flowy ones 4) I have a princess complex 5) I gravitate towards statement-making shoes that don't match anything, yet go with everything, bringing variety to my wardrobe. I have trouble selecting sweaters and cardigans- I left the Uniqlo cardigan off the chart because I have nothing to say about it. It's scratchy and I merely tolerate it. This year, I'm determined not to repeat my mistakes. I always buy boring, practical sweaters that don't bring any enjoyment, so a pretty tailored jacket or hand-knit might be the answer.

The chart also shows I'm still seduced by designer labels. Minimalism need not be about prestige- in middle school I bought a Forever 21 camisole for $2 at a thrift store and wore it until I left for Paris. I once bought a Dior shirt from the same place that was a piece of garbage. The idea that a designer label is required for quality is largely unfounded, and most people here wear chain store clothing, though they may invest more in accessories. Still, I don't like Uniqlo, Forever 21 et al. (and a lot of expensive designers, for that matter) because of their practices. While I'm not opposed to buying these brands in a thrift store, they don't work for me. They fit funny, or the fabric is weird. One exception: Secondhand H&M gloves. The leather stretched more than I expected and they look mannish now, but they're still perfectly warm, in good condition.

At any rate, I don't believe fast fashion is ever all anybody can afford, because I couldn't afford H&M or Forever 21 until recently. Going to the mall was a cruel exercise, since I barely had the cash to cough up $59.99 for jeans. My clothing budget is now $50 a month, which I rarely spend. Everything on this chart cost less than mall clothes. While not everyone will find luxury items in thrift stores, I hope this illustrates the fact that there are alternatives to fast fashion. Since there were no thrift stores in my town, before I could drive, I made skirts out of scrap upholstery fabric and wore them with my dad's old shirts, which I refashioned.

Another thing I've learned from my wardrobe evaluation- I like to wear my "nice" clothes everyday, which is something I think Europeans do more than Americans. I don't see the point of letting good stuff take up valuable real estate, only to remain unworn.

Paris to Go