Monday, February 23, 2009

how to dress like a parisienne: winter edition

Refer yourself to this. The top half is pretty accurate with the exception of the outside the coat rule (see 1a).

1. a scarf
  • Typically a thick knitted one with lots of texture. Most commonly grey over a black coat, black over a grey coat or some kind of off-white. This is absolutely essential. You will rarely see a Parisien, man or woman, sans écharpe. I literally have not seen the same scarf twice with the exception of the grey knitted ones. Definitely an investment piece - I saw one such hoe cost over 100 euro au bon marché. H&M should do the trick though.
  • Always outside of the coat
  • Typical wrapping techniques: Around the neck twice and finished with a half-shoelace
1a. tuck hair with scarf into coat
  • self-explanatory. Very necessary for long hair - it's instant chic if you can deal with the ticklies associated with tucked in hair
2. leather bag
  • It is SO easy to get a nice leather bag in Paris - whether it be vintage (the big ones range from 25-50 euros) or at a department store or boutique. I highly recommend the boutiques. Even the shitty ones have kick ass leather bags
3. booties
  • Contrary to what sartorialist makes you think, most Parisiennes sasha fierce down la rue with short, flat booties with a lot of ankle slack. Only the truly fabulous have time for heeled booties and heels in general. Again neutral colors..
4. tights
  • this one's obvious. They are well accomplished at wearing brown tights - something I never achieved.
5. mini-jupe (short skirt)
  • or something to show off those svelte legs
6. short locks
  • very à la mode right now - instantly solves the tucking problem
7. a well tailored coat: either form-fitting or with an interesting shape
8. lipstick
  • red or an interesting shade of salmon will do. Recently I've become a big fan of lipstick. Really wakes everything up. My preferred technique is dabbing and blotting so there's just a stain and not a layer.
Et voilà. Follow these steps and you'll be effortlessly chic even on your tiredest of days.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Episode Review: Vintage in Paris attacks!

Episode; 16 Rue Tiquetonne 75006 Paris.

Pros: Big, bright and well organized; Price - everything excluding the accessories ranged from 10-25 euros.

Overall: A plethora of 80's gear for guys and gals.

Finds: A lot of hats, a rack of woolen, high-waisted shorts, two racks of sequin capulets, outrageous theatre costumes, an overstock of gas masks (really), a small but interesting selection of bags, some good pairs of boots (that applies to most vintage haunts in Paris though) and quirky t-shirts.

Cons: When I say mostly 80's I really mean it - unless plaid is your thing

Up Next: Kiliwatch, Free'p'star and designer vintage

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

To Quoi or not To Quoi, That is le question

Welcome to the first edition of What they didn't teach you in French class

There are two classes of French speakers. You either add quoi all the time or you don't. Now we aren't talking about the functional quoi here, the one that means "what", for example in "t'as fait quoi hier soir?" (what did you do last night)

This quoi is devoid of real meaning and is added to the end of any ole sentence for flavor. There is no equivalent in English - the closest translation I can think of is ", right?" but even that doesn't encompass the full spectrum of quoi-ness. I know this because on the last episode of Lost (which in desperation I bought off of itunes), they decided to do a little featurette on Danielle and the French scientists with subtitles. Bitch went crazy. Apparently she's also been wearing the same sweater for 20 years while everyone else on the Island gets shipments from JC Pennys. Well maybe not Sawyer. Wardrobe goes to PlaidsRUS in a little place called Williamsburg for his git ups. Hot shit models for Davidoff, no way he was going to accept the JCs

When one of the dudes said something (probably about the fucking smoke monster..mentioning the smoke monster, where has home slice been lately? I miss his human pulverizing ways) that went like "....sentence in french, quoi", everything was translated except for that one little dinger at the end. Furthermore Lost is right about everything, so I consider this indisputable evidence that quoi is meaningless.

Don't get me wrong though, quoi maybe meaningless but it's intensely satisfying.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Flea Market: Porte de Clignancourt

At the very end of the 4 train at Porte de Clignancourt in the 18e you will find a flea market. If you can brave the beggers, riff raff and general seedyness immediately surrounding the métro, you will find diagon alley "les puces" - literally "the fleas". Oddly enough, "ma puce" is a term of endearment which translates into sweetie. Oh btdubs happy saint valentin. If you're on the same boat that I am, I'm sure your day sucked too.

According to my friend who embarked on this journey, antique dealers and wholesalers come to this flea market to presumably make a huge profit off of their finds. The section we walked into (of which there are many, I'm told) mostly comprised of open air booths strongly reminiscent of chinatown, but being Paris and all there were many gems along the way. The vintage clothing booths are great - we found one with endless one of a kind blazers, burberry raincoats, very nice boots and other stuff you would actually want to wear. There was a booth filled with beautiful mahogony leather bags that were all very well crafted. Mentioning leather, there were a lot of leather jackets in great condition too. African furniture and Senegalese fabrics were a plenty, as were the obligatory generic clothing booths. A vintage book "librarie" heaved with shelves of quizzical publications and even had newspapers from 1914 pasted on the walls. Scattered about a table were photo albums from not this century and postcards from french people in the yester-years. The upside is you can pretty much find anything. The downside is, just like a night on the champs-elysées, you will probably be harrassed a little bit. Especially if you're speaking english very loudly. Although we were too cold and nancy-pantsy to stay and really look, apparently there is also incredible designer vintage clothing and jewelry in one of the many sections. With that said, I will definitely return on a warmer spring day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

How to get free drinks in Paris

1. Wear heels
2. Go to the location of tables, inebriated rich/good-looking people and bottles in ice (If you timed it correctly, follow the booze with the sparkler in it)
3. Shamelessly dance up on the boys
4. Attack the shirtless one who is clearly looking to bed someone
4a. Make out with said boy to make him think he will get your american ass into his lit
5. You don't even need to ask for a drink, it will be freely flowing and offered to you
6. Hand off drinks to your thirsty friends (me for example)
7. Et voila. Free grey goose and moet the entire evening morning. Case in point: refer to image above taken at le cab.
8. Leave boy hangin - you're trop classe to go back with him

Been trying to pounce on the most typically dressed parisienne. Will succeed even if I die trying.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

La Sorbonne en grève

Oh La Sorbonne, how pretty you look in the morning. I would have tickled pink to attend my 8 am Contemporary Arabic Society class if you weren't so damn apt to go on strike...all...the...time...

My real classes started this week. Want to know how many I've had? One. Well two if you count "TD", which is the french version of recitation only it's a separate class with its own requirements. Upon reaching the Sorbonne Wednesday morning, I was greeted by striking hippie students handing out fliers. I had luckily stumbled upon the right wing and floor of the building, the plan of which by the way makes no geographical sense. Many classrooms simply have names like "Picard" (who is this Picard person and why is he everywhere?) and you just simply have to know where they are. When my professor entered the lecture hall I thought, oh sweet, she's not on strike. Instead she took up the microphone and proceeded to explain the reasons for the strike in rapid fire french worthy of speedy gonzales. Then another hippie student stole the microphone and I lost the ability to faire attention. At the beginning my TD, before the class had settled down and just after the professor had entered, another hippie slouched in her seat cheekily demanded why this professor wasn't striking. Apparently he can agree ideologically but still do his job. The TD was very stimulating (and intimidating) except for the part where the prof singled out all 10 americans in the class with one fell swoop.

I arrived at a different campus of the sorbonne for my music class only to find it was on strike indefinitely as well. My advisor informed me later that this would be a safety issue because this campus is the center of many demonstrations..

If this were Columbia I'd be rejoicing. But it's not Columbia, and not knowing when I'll ever have class the whole entire semester is weird. It's pretty fucking hilarious though how much French people strike. The only Americans self-riteous enough to greve it up would be greving against homosexuals and abortions, not changes in the educational system.

On a completely unrelated note, check out this article on what technology is doing to our attention spans:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Last Last Weekend: Happy Chinese New Year! Parades and people crowding around hôtel de ville and chinatown. Dragons, banners, firecrackers, painted chinese peoples and many curious french peoples. Met my biology tutor. He's the awesomest. My host mom hit my last nerve by officially ousting my two things out of the shower and yelling at me for not asking her to if I could put something in the fridge. Basically my old host fam was mad bourgeois.. old, beautiful appartment with a piano. My desk was a veritable bureau from olden times. Everything they bought was "bio" (translate, very expensive). I had lamb, veal and rabbit for dinner. Too many rediculous rules (can't use the piano when they're home, can't keep anything in the fridge or freezer, can't eat breakfast after 11 am without being scolded, can't go out without being criticized) and general hostility towards me.

Chapter 2, last week: Monday I got out of that shiz. Basically sneak attacked my host family by giving them exactly one hour notice I was leaving. Then I was gone. Let's just say I felt awkward. There's no word in french for awkward. The french are never awkward, always right. Did you know that there is no such thing as a synonym in french? Multiple words only exist on differing levels of sophistocation. Drove by the eiffel tower at night in transit. It was all blue and sparkly. It was surreal, like being on LSD. I felt like Carrie Bradshaw, without the dog poop on my louboutins. New home: 16e - by far the most chi chi residential neighborhood. New host mom is really nice and extremely lively. She has a fat bulldog named Maidemoiselle Zou Zou. TV, my own entrance and bathroom and half a wall comprised of window looking out onto the beautiful, bright terrace.

Last weekend: Excursion to see les chateaux de la loire. Frolicked Complained in the snow at Cheverny. Bought almond cookies to share. We heard one of the precocious royal children playing the grand piano upstairs. Excited the hunting dogs, one of whom thought my umbrella nub was a delicious nipple. Next castle: Blois. Grounds sucked so we did a guerilla fashionshoot (translate: stalked my friends with my camera). Stayed at the town of blois. Went ghetto and brought bread, cheese and yogurt for dinner. Stayed in the hotel room and told stories and blagues until we cried. The next castle was Chenonceau. Breathtaking and finally the castle we had been dreaming about. Misty woods and deathly quiet trails. A 16th century farm with inhabitants intact. River running around the castle, gardens, labyrynth and topiary were all there. Discreetly beaconed the mules over to the fence so we could kiss them. Tried to steal.. too big. Fed Nikos a cracker instead. Only thing missing was the distressed maiden and a chauvanistic dragon. In the last town of Amboise (see photo above), we saw leonardo da vinchi's house and invaded private property - houses growing out of the mountain sides. Cobblestone roads and chickens cooped up on the door step. Sang "Oops I did it again" in french on the bus ride home. (Up, je l'ai encore fait..)

This week: Finally started real classes yesterday. My advisor put me in the hardest level of academic writing. Knew it wasn't meant to be when we were informed our whole semester would revolve around Jean Paul Sartre (see: existentialism) and a paper due every week. Definitely dropping down a level. Made a jog in the woods by the 16e (Bois de Boulogne). Went back to fripstarr (detailed review later) and bought interesting silk scarves for 1 euro each. Got a cute camel leather purse for 5 euro.

As always, see my flickr for more pictures. Or facebook for people and me as a muppet.

Stay tuned for How to Dress like a Parisienne and chronicles of designer and vintage thrifting.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

general upheaval

So. This week was a bit of a whirlwind of crazy that involved very little time at the computer. My classes are starting this week so regularity will bring daily blog posts je te jure. Basically I moved in one day away from my terrible host family to the 16e arrondissement, one of the chicest neighbs in paris. I spent the weekend looking at castles, taking rediculous pictures and faire-ing many lols. But right now I'm about to snooze on myself so I'll post deets concerning my crazy ass week tomorrow. And oh are there deets.