Surprising discovery after shopping in Paris

In the great tradition of not knowing what to pack for a vacation in Paris, I decided not to think about it too much and just threw some basics in my suitcase.

I checked the weather forecast, which quite naturally indicated that it was going to be hot, sunny, rainy and cold on the same day. So, I packed jeans, t-shirts, a cotton sweater, and sneakers. Also, a pair of velor flat sandals that I can walk for miles in comfortably — but I can pass through a fancy boutique or restaurant.

What else? A light trench coat, a few silk blouses and designer sweatpants. Hoop earrings. A classic black shoulder handbag and soft raffia tote. Do.

I would buy everything I needed when I got there. I had a small shopping budget – maybe a really nice coat, another pair of shoes.

But first I had to know what the Parisians wore. These stylish fashionistas can destroy you with just one look at your poorly tied scarf.

I would scout, do a bit of stealthy recon and find out exactly what fashion item I was missing, the essential piece would make me look like an insider.

Two faces of fashion

I headed to the two department stores on Boulevard Haussmann, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, to get a general feel. By the time I combed each floor and swept the Bon Marché department store on the Left Bank, it was clear.

Fashion is pretty much the same all over the world. Like the economy, it has been pushed into two extremes. There is fast fashion on one side and queues at Louis Vuitton or Chanel on the other. There’s a drastically reduced middle ground: this classic French woman with a great haircut wearing a sleek coat and a cute shoe.

The internet tells us all in real time that a hot pink Balenciaga handbag from the year 2000 or an oversized Givenchy sneaker is the hot item, so you’re going to find the same fashion brands with the same merchandise in malls around the world. whole world.

I looked at the premises and what I packed still worked – jeans, Nikes, the trench coat, a tote bag (my raffia bag was all the rage). I didn’t really need new clothes. But a bit of shopping was still on the agenda, so I turned my attention to what else the French do so well – everything.

The beautiful France !

Chocolateries, patisseries, food halls, two-story boutiques dedicated to delicate teas and exotic candles so fragrant you can smell them from across the street.

Shops that only sell white china, bed linen shops with gorgeous hand-embroidered pillowcases and nightgowns with tempting price tags.

Antique shops with Bauhaus masterpieces next to colorful Portuguese soap shops.

Art books, vintage jewelry, baby clothes, jam, lingerie, hand cream, lipstick, bread. Castaner espadrilles. Perfume Annick Goutal. Michel Vivien braided leather sandals.

Designer fashion, at least the big brands, really does feel like it can take a step back for now.

It’s much more rewarding to queue for the perfect eclair.