Style Evolution



When I was in Cleveland, I found my old school agendas. In them, I catalogued outfits and wrote things like "I heart Hayden Christensen."  I don't pretend to think anyone cares, but based on old photos, notes, and memories, here are my year-round wardrobes for the past decade or so, as accurately as I can remember them. This might be interesting to people who feel minimum closets can't incorporate colors, prints, or patterns; are impractical for four season-climates, students, travelers, corporate settings, apartments without laundries, etc. Bottom line is, wardrobes smaller than mine are possible for everyone. They might not make everyone happy, and that's okay. A minimal closet doesn't necessarily mean an ethical or sustainable one, as my experiments with fast fashion show.




Middle school to college

Dresses 11
1 gingham thrifted H&M
1 leopard print thrifted H&M
2 bright blue thrifted H&M
1 grey H&M
3 plaid- two thrifted: one white, one red and black. One purple that my friend made
2 rainbow striped thrifted dresses- one white, one black
1 black polka dotted dress (tiny beige polka dots), thrifted

Tops 24
1 red tie-neck, 3/4 sleeves, Urban Outfitters hand-me-down from my mom
1 purple ruched Velvet brand v-neck, thrifted
1 fluorescent green square neck ruched top
2 long sleeve fluorescent square neck tees, one yellow, one royal blue, thrifted
1 black sweater, H&M
Thrifted khaki military shirt
1 mint cardigan
1 silver sweater, thrifted
2 thrifted tank tops- one black Forever 21, one purple
2 thrifted camisoles
1 Free People tie-dye purple and blue blouse, thrifted
1 pink thrifted blouse
1 floral Wet Seal blouse, thrifted
1 leather blazer, H&M
1 Gap purple and red striped t-shirt, thrifted
1 velvet blazer, thrifted
1 powder blue v-neck, thrifted
1 fluorescent orange merino wool sweater, thrifted
Thrifted embroidered peasant blouse
Neon crop top
Bright blue lace bustier
Leopard H&M jacket

Bottoms 15
3 pairs jeans, Junya Watanabe, J. Lo Glo, and Paper Denim and Cloth, thrifted
Three pairs leggings- velvet, zebra, and the



leggings I have now, thrifted
2 skirts I made myself, one toile, one denim
Two pairs shorts, thrifted
Five skirts- one floral print, one linen, one white, one rainbow wool plaid, one black, thrifted

Coats 6
Camel coat, thrifted
Blue coat, thrifted
Leopard print coat, H&M
Lavender trench coat, thrifted
Pink satin bomber jacket, thrifted
Velvet blazer, thrifted

Accessories 36
One fluorescent pink studded H&M pleather bag, thrifted
One heart-shaped red H&M purse
Six rings from various fast fashion chains
Two pairs giant earrings I made myself
1 leopard print H&M hat
Doc Martens I spray painted gold
Thrifted mittens
2 pairs boots- one black hand-me-down, one leopard print
Pink leather Gap sandals, thrifted
3 pairs heart shaped sunglasses- purple, white, and yellow; thrifted
Nike sneakers
Tan wedge Nine West heels, thrifted
Ivory bow-back Steve Madden heels
Brown espadrilles
Leopard print, black, purple, plaid, navy wool, and red tights
1 beige Levi's bag and 1 black leather Michael Kors bag, a gift from my aunt and uncle
2 fluorescent velvet Gap belts, thrifted
One purple velvet belt with vintage elephant buckle, thrifted
Pink fluorescent Gap flats
Floral flats
Saddle shoes
Gold sandals

Total items: 93

I lumped these years together but didn't own everything at once- when I had the camel coat, I hadn't yet thrifted the blue; I bought ivory heels for my high school commencement; a friend gave me Doc Martens freshman year of college and I sold them a few months later. I threw away a lot of stuff back then. Coats stayed on their hooks year round, and out of season clothes went into a trash bag at the bottom of the closet. When I moved out, my wardrobe was effectively reduced, because a lot on this list actually belonged to my mom or sister.






First two years of college

Dresses 10
Red H&M sweater dress
Colorblock satin H&M dress
Yellow Calvin Klein cotton dress
Red Calvin Klein cotton dress
Grey Calvin Klein Dress
Red Limited dress
Khaki Ann Taylor shirtdress
Lavender H&M floral dress
White plaid Urban Outfitters dress
Bright blue Anthropologie dress

Tops 16
Mint cardigan
Bright blue satin H&M blouse
Pink peplum Forever 21
Black Forever 21 tank top (thrifted)
Green J Crew tank top (thrifted)
Black H&M sweater
Black H&M cardigan
Purple ruched Velvet brand v-neck (thrifted)
Green fluorescent top
Red H&M t-shirt
Floral Wet Seal thrifted blouse
Green J Crew cashmere cardigan (thrifted)
Green linen t-shirt (thrifted)
Dior shirt (thrifted)



Powder blue top from TJ Maxx
Leather H&M blazer

Bottoms 9
Two pairs jeans, Junya Watanabe and Paper
4 skirts- black, floral, linen, white
2 pairs leggings- black and velvet
Black H&M skirt suit

Coats 2
Blue thrifted coat
Thrifted lavender trench coat

Accessories 12
Leopard print, black, and beige knit tights (people thought the lacy knit was a skin disease)
Thrifted mittens
Nike sneakers
Black patent pumps from Target
Green suede Steve Madden heels
Black boots
Leopard boots
Urban Outfitters gladiator sandals
Brown espadrilles
Thrifted black studded leather bag
Three rings and a bangle bracelet

Total items: 53
I lived in a house without laundry, so having less pieces year-round minimized the number of trips needed to clean everything. For my first job, I wanted to look more professional; a mix of Crayola brights and fast fashion was my idea of corporate attire. Though a full-time student, I felt I could finally afford to shop at the mall, and bought a lot of disposable clothing, which didn't satisfy like thrift store finds. I started consigning unwanted clothes then.





Kate Middleton phase and 1st trip to Paris

Dresses 8
Red H&M sweater dress
Grey wool Valentino dress
Red Limited dress
Khaki Ann Taylor shirtdress
My grey wedding dress
Paul and Joe dress, bought in Paris
Powder blue Cavalli dress, bought in Paris
Blue floral Express dress

Tops 11
Ivory lace Ann Taylor
Red H&M t-shirt
Gap peach zip front chiffon-paneled t-shirt
Two green J Crew tank tops
Two Forever 21 tank tops, one navy, one black
Black H&M sweater
Black H&M cardigan
Green linen t-shirt
Apple green cashmere cardigan

Bottoms 4
Two pairs shorts



The black skirt I have now
One striped Anthropologie brand skirt
(I didn't live with my sister anymore; she kept the Junya Watanabe jeans during this period)

Coats 2
Black wool J Crew coat
Zara trench coat bought in Paris

Accessories 10
Silk scarf I took from my mom
Brown espadrilles
Dior sunglasses bought in Paris
Green Steve Madden suede heels
Tan Jessica Simpson espadrille-sandal-heels that broke on the street
Tan Skechers sneakers
Black hand-me-down boots
Black Louboutin patent pumps
A purse I took from my mom
Black knit tights

Total items: 35

All items secondhand unless otherwise noted. I worked at a summer camp for kids with serious illnesses and also in a corporate setting, so my year-round wardrobe reflected the dichotomy. I didn't have laundry in my building and couldn't afford dry-cleaning, forcing me to pare down to minimize costs. I started traveling, which crushed acquisitive tendencies like a box of macarons in a carry-on. Traveling meant a tighter budget, and I returned to shopping secondhand almost exclusively.





Post-undergrad and subsequent trips to Paris

Dresses 11
Grey wool Valentino dress and Alexander Mcqueen dress
My grey wedding dress
Black Paul and Joe dress, bought in Paris, and the same dress in pink
Orange Paul and Joe Ryana dress
Black Dior dress
Black Chanel dress
Red sleeveless H&M dress
Hot pink vintage YSL beaded dress
Blue Dior dress

Tops 16
Black and navy Forever 21 tank tops
Black H&M sweater
Black H&M cardigan
Black silk Alexander Wang blouse
Black Equipment lace button-down
Nude Equipment lace button-down
Black sheer Equipment silk top
Louis Vuitton silk shell
Express silk shell
White Valentino ruffle button-down
Grey wool funnel-neck J. Crew top
Short-sleeved white Ann Taylor blouse
Green J Crew linen t-shirt 
Beige Vince leather jacket
Red silk Prada
Red Etoile Isabel Marant sweater


Bottoms 5
The black skirt I have now
Junya Watanabe jeans
One red H&M skirt (actually my sister's)
The same leggings I have now
Current Elliott floral print stiletto jeans
Black Alaia skater skirt (purchased at the Alaia shop)

Coats 2
Green Banana Republic wool coat
Floral brocade Versace coat

Accessories 13
Beige Miu Miu boots and black studded heels
Black heart-shaped Forever 21 purse
Black Louboutin patent pumps
Purple Alaia cage heels and Alaia flats
Black knit tights
Dior and Alexander Wang sunglasses
Gold Newbark flats
Leopard print Louboutins
Green suede YSL here and grey-pink LV heels
Embroidered silk scarf

Total items: 48 (all secondhand unless noted)

Here's where I started falling for designer items. As the secondhand market became more savvy and expensive, so did my wardrobe. I worked full-time in a corporate setting with a strict dress code. I lived in a studio without laundry, and didn't have a closet or dresser, so I put everything on a small garment rack and steamed clothes during showers.




Pre-Paris move until 1st year in France

Dresses 8
My grey wedding dress
Black Paul and Joe dress, bought in Paris, and the same dress in pink
Black Dior dress
Red wool Valentino dress
Bright purple silk-cotton Alberta Ferretti dress
White and blue toile print Bernie Dexter dress from my sister
Blue Dior dress

Tops 12
Black H&M sweater and red Etoile Isabel Marant sweater
Navy Uniqlo blazer
Navy and black Forever 21 tank tops
Green linen t-shirt
Black lace button-down
Nude lace button-down
White Valentino button-down
Grey wool J Crew top
Black silk Alexander Wang blouse
Short-sleeved white ruffle button-down
Blue gingham top (worn with floral jeans)

Bottoms 6
The black skirt I have now
J Brand jeans
One pair beige M Missoni pants
Grey Isabel Marant pants




Floral print Current Elliott jeans
Black Alexander Wang pants
Leggings

Coats 2
Grey wool hooded J. Crew coat
Trench coat I have now

Accessories 15
Black boots (hand-me-downs from middle school)
Miu Miu black studded heels
Longchamp bag
Black Louboutin patent pumps
Purple Alaia cage heels (in black, here)
Black knit tights
Dior sunglasses bought in Paris
Black Alexander Wang for Linda Farrow sunglasses (in white, here)
Black Alaia flats
Black and white Alaia flats
Green Nike sneakers, a gift from my husband
Ancient Greek Sandals
Grey and pink Louis Vuitton heels
Green suede YSL heels (in orange, here)
Watch
Silk scarf
Wedding ring

Total items: 46 (all secondhand unless noted)
I ruthlessly halved this list before moving, then realized what I kept was impractical for car-less city life. The past few years were trial and error as I adapted my style to a new environment. I don't like wearing all the bright stuff I used to in Paris. Certain shades don't look nice in the weather or against the buildings, I think. When I dressed that way, people immediately knew I wasn't from here and would bother me on the Métro or street. Now my wardrobe is at the point where I still have variety and can add a few pieces without being overwhelmed. I definitely wouldn't say I was fashionable, but I feel good in and truly love everything I wear, which is more important. Photos 11 and 12, Emanuela Cervo. Photo 14, Emanuele D'Angelo.

Paris to Go

Conscious Shopping Guide



According to a report from Tearfund printed in the book Eco Chic, here's where your money goes when buying clothing. Despite this, the idea of having a small wardrobe seems old-fashioned and restrictive to some. Thanks to fast fashion, home laundries, and advances in synthetic fabrics, people don't need the discipline to buy less anymore. As fashion became more egalitarian, natural fibers and ethical production methods were perceived as luxuries. With so many cheap options available, investing in sustainability is considered profligate, even unrealistic. Having a high-quality, eco-conscious wardrobe isn't necessarily expensive, however- the main investment required is patience. Here's a quick guide to fair and responsible shopping. Since individual values differ, there are no recommended brands, websites, or stores, but general guidelines to minimize purchasing mistakes and social / environmental impact.


To read this chart and further information on ethical shopping in Chinese, click here (thank you Melody!)
Image Map


HOW TO SPEND IT

Spend

T-Shirts: Since you wear them close to your skin, they need to be washed more and should hold up to repeated use. Look for opaque fabrics that aren't flimsy, preferably linen, which carries a price premium. I like white tees because you can bleach any stain out with lemon juice and sunshine.


Jeans: You pay more for humane treatment of workers; better quality, wastewater treated denim; Italian rivets and buttons; stitch count, and non-toxic washes. Fit is more reliable on premium jeans- I like J. Brand because they're made in an LA factory, sizing is consistent, jeans are long-lasting, and they don't have a lot of weird embellishments.


Lingerie: Invest in a great base because it affects everything- the way clothes look, the way you stand, and both your comfort and confidence level. Quality lingerie will last years with proper care.


Shoes and bootsI never understood why people paid so much for good shoes until they became my main mode of transportation. Quality, breathable footwear and proper cushioning ensure comfort and orthopedic health. Think long-term by investing in special items that complement all your outfits and will serve you for years to come. Protect your investment by maintaining them with the help of a cobbler.


Coats: It's the first thing people see you in and can elevate both your outfit and their impression of you. A good coat should be lined to withstand daily use and a solid, closely woven material to ensure abrasion resistance and durable wear. Focus on fit and details like shaped seams; choose a color you won't get sick of easily. Decorative epaulets or embellishments make cleaning difficult. Belted trench coats tend to be more versatile, since they adjust if your weight changes.
Save

Hosiery: Whether you pay $200 or $2 for stockings, they all run the same. I've had Wolford and Agent Provocateur tights rip on the first wear and $0.40 silk thrift store finds last forever. The exception is stuff like Swedish Stockings, or wool tights- it's worth investing in higher quality, ethically sourced wools.


Knit sweaters: It's not worth spending $2000 on a Loro Piana sweater, in my opinion. They pill like anything else (maintenance reduces this, but nothing is wholly abrasion-resistant). You can find great-quality knits in thrift stores or from local producers and humane mills. A tailor can retrofit luxury styling details.


Evening clothes: You won't wear them much, and most places are dark anyway. These are the easiest items to buy secondhand, so it won't be a tragedy if somebody clumsy or sweaty messes up your stuff.


Summer / beach clothes: Between the salt, sand, sun, and sweat, summer clothes take a beating. They should merely be washable and breathable. Don't spend a lot on things you'll only wear a few weeks of the year. Obviously this doesn't apply if you live in a warm or humid climate, but you can buy a pair of ethical, handmade leather sandals and some summery linen or GOTS-certified hemp for a reasonable price.


Handbags: This will be controversial, but there are so many nice, quality handbags on consignment or being made by small-batch designers. Even though Longchamp's manufacturing practices are abominable, the Pliage is the lightest and most practical bag I've ever owned, and it's essentially indestructible- washable, plus the store fixes them for free. A lot of luxury handbags are just not well-made enough to justify the price tag. Louis Vuitton canvas comes to mind.



SECONDHAND SHOPPING TIPS

  1. Go to well-lit, edited stores, particularly ones organized by color or type of garment, so you don't wade through piles of garbage. I also hate dark shops, messes, musty smells, and overstuffed clothing racks; something must have happened in my childhood to make me this way. 
  2. Don't buy if there are odors, stains, or yellowing, because they might not come out. Collar and underarm stains are the worst. Avoid discolored or faded fabrics and anything with signs of pilling, holes, or threadbare patches, particularly around the elbows and knees. 
  3. Focus on items you want to add to your wardrobe. I only look at the colors red, navy, hunter green, and neutrals like light pink, white, grey, beige, etc. That way I'm not in danger of getting something that doesn't match what I already own (a good rule of thumb is an item should match at least three existing pieces in your closet). Jewel tones tend to flatter, look nice from season to season, and complement everything. I also feel prints belong in a small or capsule wardrobe- just not mine. Leopard print, stripes, and some florals match everything and combine well.
  4. Start feeling fabrics. Is the material resilient? Is it see-through? Can you wash it? Check the lining, stitching, care tag, etc. If shopping online, concentrate on brands you know are consistent in sizing and fit you well. 
  5. Try on all items or verify the measurements. Long sleeves and hems can be tailored, but if it doesn't fit in the waist or bust, forget it (skirt and pant waists can be taken in- buy to fit the widest part of you). Don't buy stretched fabrics, gaping blouses, and items containing worn elastic. Shoulder seams can generally be altered to align with your actual shoulders. Tailoring coats is usually cost-prohibitive.

As I got older, the secondhand market became more expensive and brand conscious. I looked over my clothing purchases for the past six years and it worked out to $429 a year ($35.76 a month), including things like bridesmaid dresses and everything I've sold. Secondhand is my preference because nothing uses less resources than something that already exists. Plus I'm used to it, I guess. I grew up thrifting (thinking about ethics and sustainability was a luxury!), I hate regular shopping, and haven't found ethical, fair-trade clothing that fits my particular needs and lifestyle. Yooxygen, Asos Green Room, Alternative ApparelRe/DONE, and The Reformation skew a bit too Coachella for me; Groceries Apparel, The White Briefs, Honest By, Everlane, Zady, RennesOf a Kind and Modavanti don't often carry pieces that match my aesthetic or suit my body. Others may find it advantageous to support sustainable brands. In France, Ekyog is organic and environmentally-conscious; Valentine Gauthier, Freelance, Le Mont St Michel, Agnes B., Bompard, Maiyet, Veja, and Armor Lux manufacture ethical items. Upcycled Paris brands Les Recuperables and La Petite Rockette are dedicated to reducing waste in fashion, and ethical online marketplace ShopEthik carries a selection of vegan, recycled, eco-responsible designers.

I went through periods where I had lots of items that fit perfectly and were in good condition, but I didn't like them anymore. I wore them until I found a replacement or fell back in love, which often happens when you find new ways to wear pieces or alter / refashion items. If you don't wear certain clothes, sell or donate them, because they age in the closet. Housekeeping manuals frequently recommend passing unused, unworn items along after a year.

In practice, it's easier for me to apply these principles to shopping for household goods and gifts than clothing. Our household purchases are few; the items are largely zero-waste, secondhand, or made by local artisans. I give handmade, cash, or experience gifts where appropriate. As far as clothing and accessories go, I have five pieces purchased new (three purchased years ago), and several things made in China. After reading this article on the myth of the ethical shopper (thanks Nadia!), I'm determined not to buy anything that makes me complicit in the mistreatment of humans, animals, or the environment.

Paris to Go

Emily Post on Minimalist Wardrobes



Timeless excerpts from Etiquette, 1922:

THE SHEEP

Frumps are not very typical of America, vulgarians are somewhat more numerous, but the greatest number of all are the quietly dressed, unnoticeable men and women who make up the representative backbone in every city; who buy good clothes but not more than they need, and whose ambition is merely to be well enough dressed to fit in with their background, whatever their background may be. Less numerous, but far more conspicuous, are the dressed-to-the-minute women who, like sheep exactly, follow every turn of latest fashion blindly and without the slightest sense of distance or direction. As each new season’s fashion is defined, all the sheep run and dress themselves each in a replica of the other, their own types and personalities have nothing to do with the case. Comfort, convenience, becomingness, adaptability, beauty are of no importance. Fashion is followed to the letter—therefore they fancy, poor sheep, they are the last word in smartness. Those whom the fashion suits are “smart,” but they are seldom, if ever, distinguished, because—they are all precisely alike.

THE WOMAN WHO IS REALLY CHIC 

The woman who is chic is always a little different. Not different in being behind fashion, but always slightly apart from it. She gets the latest model perhaps, but has it adapted to her own type, so that she has just that distinction of appearance that the sheep lack. She has even clung with slight modifications to previous styles and has continued to look the smartest in spite of all the kaleidoscopic changes of fashion the rest of us have been through.

FASHION HAS LITTLE IN COMMON WITH BEAUTY 

Fashion ought to be likened to a tide or epidemic; sometimes one might define it as a sort of hypnotism, seemingly exerted by the gods as a joke. Fashion has the power to appear temporarily in the guise of beauty, though it is the antithesis of beauty nearly always. Even the woman of beautiful taste succumbs occasionally to the epidemics of fashion, but she is more immune than most. All women who have any clothes sense whatever know more or less the type of things that are their style. 

There is one unchanging principle which must be followed by every woman, man and child that is well dressed—suitability. It means equally that you must not buy clothes out of proportion to your income, or out of keeping with your surroundings.

WHEN IN DOUBT 

There is one rule that is fairly safe to follow: When in doubt, wear the plainer dress. It is always better far to be under-dressed than over-dressed. If you don’t know whether to put on a ball dress or a dinner dress, wear the dinner dress. Or, whether to wear cloth or brocade to a luncheon, wear the cloth. One does not have to be dowdy as an alternative to being too richly dressed.

ON THE STREET 

In walking on the street,—if you care to be taken for a well-bred person—never wear anything that is exaggerated. If skirts are short, don’t wear them two inches shorter than any one else’s; if they are long, don’t go down the street dragging your hem and sweeping the dirt up. Don’t wear too much jewelry; it is in bad taste in the first place, and in the second, is a temptation to a thief. And don’t under any circumstances, distort your figure into a grotesque shape.

WHEN THE INCOME IS LIMITED 

No one can dress well on nothing a year; that must be granted at the outset. But a woman who has talent, taste, and ingenuity can be suitably and charmingly dressed on little a year, especially at present. First of all, to mind wearing a dress many times because it indicates a small bank account, is to exhibit a false notion of the values in life. Any one who thinks well or ill of her, in accordance with her income, can not be too quickly got rid of!

It is tiresome everlastingly to wear black, but a very striking dress can not be worn many times without making others as well as its owner feel bored at the sight of it. “Here comes the Zebra” or “the Cockatoo!” is inevitable if a dress of stripes or flamboyant color is worn often. She who must wear one dress through a season and have it perhaps made over the next, would better choose black or cream color. Or perhaps a certain color suits her, and this fact makes it possible for her habitually to wear it without impressing others with her lack of clothes. But whether her background be black or cerise it should invariably blend with her whole wardrobe, so that all accessories can be made to do double or quadruple service.

DON’T GET TOO MANY CLOTHES 

Choose the clothes which you must have, carefully, and if you must cut down, cut down on elaborate ones. There is scarcely anywhere that you can not fittingly go in plain clothes. Very few, if any, people need fancy things; all people need plain ones. A very beautiful Chicago woman who is always perfectly dressed for every occasion, worked out the cost of her own clothes this way: On a sheet of paper, thumb tacked on the inside of her closet door, she put a complete typewritten list of her dresses and hats, and the cost of each. Every time she put on a dress she made a pencil mark. By and by when a dress was discarded, she divided the cost of it by the number of times it had been worn. In this way she found out accurately which were her cheapest and which her most expensive clothes. When getting new ones she has the advantage of very valuable information, since she avoids the dress that is never put on, which is a bigger handicap for the medium-sized allowance than many women realize.

A FEW GENERAL REMARKS 

The fault of bad taste is usually in over-dressing. Quality not effect, is the standard to seek for. Machine-made passementerie on top of conspicuous but sleazy material is always shoddy. Cut and fit are the two items of greatest importance in women’s clothes, as well as in men’s. Good style in men’s clothes is unchanging. To buy things at sales is very much like buying things at an auction; if you really know what you want and something about values, you can often do marvellously well; but if you are easily bewildered and know little of values, you are apt to spend your good money on trash. A woman of small means must be (or learn to be) discriminatingly careful, or she would better have her clothes made at home.

Read the full text herePhoto, Emily Post.
Paris to Go

Brunch by Inès: Secret Gluten-Free Brunch in Paris

  
  

My husband and I always hated brunches. I hated them because I don't think breakfast and lunch should be relegated to a single meal. My husband hated them because he thought they were pretentious. As he explained, "It's like, oh, we're grown-ups, so we can't do anything fun anymore- let's have brunch!" Enter Brunch by Inès, an intimate and friendly clandestine brunch which smashed our previous conceptions of the couple's weekend staple like avocado on toast. 

Every Saturday and Sunday, Inès- a fashion brand consultant- serves up fresh, original recipes in a secret Parisian loft filled with treasures from far-flung travels. The food is healthy, organic, and gluten-free. Each portion is more generous than the last, homemade from seasonal ingredients. This weekend's menu included thick slices of citrus-tinged linseed loaf with fluffy banana bread, red fruits, homemade granola, carrot-ginger soup with sprouts, quinoa salad and an incredibly rich, amazing raw carrot cake that was like cinnamon-dusted sugarplum fairies doing pirouettes on my tastebuds. Usually I think quinoa is wack but here it was so flavorful, almost buttery. I actually ate my husband's bowl while he was in the bathroom and when he came back, he couldn't believe my gluttony. At any rate, the quality and sheer amount of food wowed my paleo-averse, os à moelle-loving husband. He told his friends- all of whom approach boucheries with the same incandescent, irrepressible delight as kids in candy stores- "It was a great experience. I ate raw, vegan, and gluten-free and loved it anyway." There was such a warm, welcoming atmosphere, and it's the best deal in town, with heaping helpings of each delicious course presented beautifully. We can't wait to go back.

Inès is the sweetest, most gracious hostess, and her gleaming, light-filled loft is just as glamorous as she is. She prepared brunch for a full house in high heels! Someone told me once that in France, you're supposed to leave a little food on your plate, out of politeness. Nobody did that here. People around us cleaned their plates, and many took leftovers home. I made Inès pose for a picture but felt creepy and deleted it, so instead head to the Brunch by Inès Facebook and Instagram for sneak peeks of Paris' best-kept secret weekend destination.

Brunch by Inès

Secret, undisclosed location in Paris
Menu: 30€ per person for a ton of delicious food!
Click here to make a reservation.
Paris to Go

My Outfits


This post has been updated. Click here to see my current wardrobe.

These photos are a joke, but here are my grown-up Garanimals. As can be expected, having a few well-loved, multitasking pieces forces me to get creative with styling and combinations. Finding new ways to wear them keeps my wardrobe from getting stale. Note: I know it seems wasteful to use my Macbook to take pictures when the city I live in is essentially one giant backdrop for fashion bloggers. I'm not a fashion blogger, though, and I'm horribly un-photogenic and uncomfortable in front of the camera, so I decided to shoot these with help from two fluffy assistants. Toffel appears throughout and Kar mostly just sat on my clothes.

The items


Khaki cotton dress, secondhand, similar here
Black silk-lined virgin wool skirt, secondhand, similar here
Black patent pumps, secondhand, here
Nude patent pumps, secondhand, here
Waterproof leather boots, here
Green J. Crew cotton t-shirt with silk trim, thrifted, similar here
J. Brand Heartbreaker jeans, thrifted
Gap Pure Body grey cotton t-shirt, thrifted
Pink fitted dress
Navy silk-lined 100% wool dress, secondhand, here
Red silk-lined dress, secondhand, same style in grey here 
Gap modal dress, thrifted, similar
here
Nike Sky Hi dunks
Wool-cashgora coat, secondhand, similar here
Uniqlo beige cotton cardigan, secondhand, not pictured
Longchamp Le Pliage sac shopping small, secondhand, not pictured
Green trench coat, secondhand, not pictured. Similar here
Sunglasses, not pictured, same model in tortoise here
Wedding ring, gold infinity ring gifted from my sister, and watch

These are all the clothes and accessories I have now. Imagine t-shirts over the black dress, and sneakers, a cardigan, or trench coat with each item, and you have all my outfits, year-round. I sold my green sandals, grey pumps, and three dresses, consolidated into black heels and a modal dress. My at-home wardrobe consists of that dress, t-shirts, leggings, and jeans, but with a change of shoes they're ready for the pool, running errands, dinner with friends, etc. I prefer to let the subtle details of each garment, like pretty folds and strategic pleating, standalone instead of adding separate accessories.

 

Apart from my linen t-shirts, nothing needed replacement. I only mended an unraveling seam on the pink dress. We'll see how long the cotton t-shirts hold up. The Gap one has tiny holes where Kar massaged my stomach, which is too bad, because I love the fit and opaqueness of it. In Paris, it's popular to wear loose tops tucked into skinny pants cropped at the ankles, but that makes me look stumpy. I stick to a reverse silhouette: figure-skimming on top, slightly flared on the bottom (I can always roll my jeans if I decide to try the cropped look). I like pants hemmed to graze sneakers and heels, so I can wear boots under or over them. Proportion is paramount- waistlines just below the ribcage, mid-length skirts and t-shirts cut into hips. 

It seems stupid to switch shoes and call it a new outfit, yet people do ask sometimes if I bought something new or I'm wearing something different. Well-chosen shoes change the way you carry an item- the way you stand, the way a garment hangs. They're an easy way to freshen a wardrobe without buying much. I'm pretty happy with my clothes and find myself falling in love with old favorites again. It helps that I don't feel the need to stand out all the time. While nobody seems to notice if I repeat an item, my purposeful non-style has the unexpected effect of being a little subversive. Click here or here to see how I wear these pieces in the real world; here and here to see how these adapt for winter.

Paris to Go

Montreuil



This weekend, we went to Montreuil for Portes ouvertes des ateliers d'artistes. We visit a few times a year, since friends live at Métro Robespierre, and my husband likes the growlers at Deck & Donohue. North of Paris, just past Vincennes, Montreuil was once famous for its peaches, espaliered by plaster solar walls. Alexandre Dumas immortalized the retired King's Musketeer who first brought a basket of Montreuil peaches to Versailles. Prized by European royalty, the cultivars- reputedly the best in the world- were the inspiration behind Escoffier's peach melba.

 

In the 1970s, Montreuil was home to La Main Bleue, a Philippe Starck-designed discotheque in the middle of a mall. Subsequent decades saw the city devolve into a hotbed of social unrest, organized crime, and drug dealing. The famous murs à pêches went untended and abandoned. Walking around Montreuil, there are glimpses of Paris before Haussmann; a recently launched urban renewal program saw the construction of new, eco-friendly housing units in the impoverished suburb. Fields and community gardens cropped up in the center of commercial districts, where cats nap amidst fallen peaches. Former industrial warehouses were converted to mosques and ateliers. Once a destination for Parisians fleeing small spaces and high rent prices, Montreuil is now home to artists, teachers, refugees, and entrepreneurs. 



The concept of portes ouvertes is this: artists invite visitors into their homes, explain their work, and serve tea, cookies, and juice. It's a great way to buy original pieces direct from the creators, but the fun mostly stems from peeking into converted industrial loft spaces. Everyone covers up their belongings with sheets and curtains, so you'd think you were in a gallery if the oven and dishwasher didn't give them away.

We saw wooden cubist sculptures spanning three stories, canvases embroidered with human hair, naturalist paintings, comic books, and light installations. Some things were too pretentious for me. I think esoteric art is a cop-out and an attempt to conceal limited or nonexistent talent; I also think Taylor Swift is the voice of a generation, so what do I know. Two artists I loved were Daniela Capaccioli and Valeria Polsinelli. Daniela does intricate, transparent wire sculptures, suspended from skylights in her pristine, minimalist loft. We want to buy jellyfish and raindrop sculptures from her, the only problem is how to hang them out of the cats' reach. Valeria just returned from a trip to South Korea with her husband, a beekeeper, which immediately endeared her to me. She came to Paris from Italy thirty years ago and began experimenting with mishima, a traditional Korean slip-inlay technique. We bought a set of her beautiful celadon sake cups- they remind me of teacups my grandmother used. The glaze is non-toxic and food-safe, and all the materials can be re-used infinitely. You can throw pots and take classes at her ceramic studio, Graines de Terre. Another highlight was Le 116, a contemporary art center in a former hotel particulier on Rue de Paris. It is friendly, unpretentious, and showcases the beauty and value of restraint, with an expertly curated collection, thoughtful lighting, and friendly staff.

 
 
 

We bought a nice drawing of Space Invaders attacking a broccoli forest from a 16-year-old boy, who displayed more talent, technical skill, and imagination than any drug-addled poser in a black turtleneck and horn-rimmed glasses. His mom told us they lived in Montreuil for two decades because they couldn't afford Paris. Developers displaced their neighbors to build a "bar for bobos" next door. There's no good English translation for her reaction, but the basic sentiment was longtime residents now find themselves in a douchecanoe with a vintage forklift for a paddle, a sentiment many Montreuillois echoed.

Everywhere you see signs of gentrification gone too far. There are men at Le Rendez-vous des Chauffeurs waiting decades for visa papers; kids rapping to protest the bulldozing of ancient trees; young Malienne mothers unable to buy food because affordable shops were replaced by organic epiceries. I'm oversimplifying, but Montreuil reminds me of Detroit or Cleveland, with the population density of Beijing. It's worth a visit if you're going to be in Paris for a long time, to see the restored murs à pêches, pick up a growler of zero-waste beer, and sample the work of some of France's best new artists. Photos by me, Emmanuel, Kanika, and my husband.

Paris to Go