Thursday, April 12, 2012

printemps à paris

My recent week long trip to Paris to celebrate my birthday and visit my favorite city (NYC you are a close second) was a great time to check out what is happening with fashion on the streets.  My friend Monica, who is living there for a year, is quite a stylish girl herself, and lucky for me, knew the great areas to shop and shared some of what she saw going on over the fall and winter in Paris.  I made notes of what I saw and have compiled a list.  The Parisian women I saw were chic and cool without ever looking like they over thought their look or had "an outfit".  I think there is a tendency to try to match too much here, that seems to be one of the keys to that stylish Parisian look.  I believe the trick is wear the same color tones, not necessarily the same colors in your outfit, keep on trend by adding something fresh this season (not 10 trendy things at once!), and be confident.  Dress for your body type, not your age.  Emulate a look you see on someone else.  Don't be afraid to try something new.  And don't think you have to reinvent your whole wardrobe each season, you can add something new, like a neon tank, under your favorite sweater, for example.  I personally like the look of classics mixed with modern, like a beautiful little ballet flat paired with something like a more edgy layered tee.  Whatever your style is, here is a little inspiration, from Paris, and from my perspective of course.  
Before I left, I read the book, Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange.  Its a great little read and has fab illustrations and a shopping guide.  I did notice that the lovely Ms. Ines does have amazing taste and apparently deep pockets, some of her favorite shops were a bit out of our price range, but her style advice is spot on.  Love her.  Anyway, here is what I saw.
1. The Vanessa Bruno Tote with Sequin Trim.  Saw it everywhere in every color.  I am a little partial to this denim one myself.  
2.  Shorts were everywhere.  Everyone had tights on with them, mostly black and under 30 set wore shorter styles with tights too, sometimes in a bright color.
3.  Layered outerwear with rolled sleeves.  Lots of little blazers over a top, then a leather jacket over that.  Sleeves rolled.  4.  Skinny or straight legged jeans and pants.  Not a single bootcut or bell in sight.  Skinny looks were on everyone, men, women, and every age.  
5.  Colored denim.  Peach & apricot were prominent among the women, and red, bright blue, green, yellow were all over the place.
6.  Lace.  Lace skirts and tops paired with a more casual piece, like denim.  
7. The Peter Pan collar. Blouses, dresses, all sported this sweet style.  Remember if you are wearing something that is that feminine, to mix it with something a little tougher, like a studded belt or flat, otherwise you will look like you escaped from a girls school. 
8.  Ballet flats, short boots, or Converse.  Flat sandals were out in the stores but it wasn't quite warm enough.  
9.  Monica told me all winter people were rocking the Isabel Marant wedge sneakers in black suede.  We went on a mission in the Passy neighborhood of Paris, searching for spring colors in this coveted shoe, that sells out everywhere despite its close to $800 price tag.  We settled on a pair of Ash Wedge Sneakers, silver & tan for Monica, and white & silver for me. They are a knockoff of the IM's but are super cute, run between $200-$300 and come in a variety of styles. I caused the biggest scene when I wore them in downtown Seattle when I got back, where people chased me down to ask about them, took my photo and I even got a high five from the Nordstrom salon shoe guy.  :) I plan on getting a black suede pair in the fall-- I am sure this shoe style will be everywhere by then.  
10.  Menswear with a feminine twist, like a shirt dress.  Often a blazer was worn over the top of dresses with sleeves rolled.  And always a scarf, after all, its Paris.  Pair with short boots or a pair of flat oxfords.  Yes, there is a little hint of 80's rolling around.  Like...  
11.  Neon.  But just one piece, like a tank, scarf, or other accessory. 
12.  Saw tons of hats.  The straw fedora was around a lot on sunny days and I also some the cloche on cooler days.
13. Florals. Pants, blouses, Florals patterns mixed.  Very springy and fun.
14.  Suede.  I bought a pair of Claudie Pierlot red suede wedges right out of the window on the Left Bank on my birthday.  Yay!  Bags & shoes in bright colored suede were everywhere.  I also bought my Gerard Darel Santa Fe bag in a suede electric blue the first day there.  Love.
People watching is always fun, especially in a large city.  We spent a couple of days in London but I couldn't get a lot from the streets--didn't feel we were in the right places.....although for men I did see cropped pants , even suits, or cuffed denim, with striped bright socks.  The weather was unseasonably warm so leather jackets were around this city as well.  I'd love to spend more time there the next trip.
Hope I gave you a little inspiration to have some fun with your clothes this spring.  That's what its all about--bonjour!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

out to lunch

I love it when old haunts re-invent themselves instead of staying in the "holy cow did I used to like this place?" gray area where the charm has clearly worn off.  There is a difference between timeless beauty of an well loved city cafe or restaurant and the worn out, tired look of a place, you know what I mean?  Back in the eighties (I love saying that), we used to start our evenings on the deck at Ray's Boathouse, then head down to Pioneer Square to dance on some old wood bar, or, on more well-behaved evenings head to Cutter's for drinks, a bite, and a view of the Sound and West Seattle twinkling across the water.
Cutter's is a long time institution in Seattle, who's tag line was "Come for the crab, stay for the view" and has been in the same lovely spot overlooking Elliott Bay for the past 25 years.  After closing its doors for a two month, down to the studs remodel, it is back and ready to reopen tonight.  I spent about 10 years in the food business, I worked in and ran cooking schools all around the Puget Sound area and got to meet and work with some of the most talented chefs in the business.  It was a great business, but after we adopted our two children, I retired and worked at home.  Now a fashion blogger, I rarely get the opportunity to do anything in the food world and I certainly miss the people and the excitement of all that is culinary.  Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a lunch for friends and family at Cutters, where the new look and the new menu were rolled out, and I have to say I loved the look of the place.  And the tastes.

An open kitchen, restaurant and bar areas are a modern & classy cool, with upside crab pots as light fixtures in the bar, deep sea diving signs, and that same fabulous view.  The nautical touches wink to the seafood personality of the restaurant without being kitchy, the simplicity of the restaurant's new design let the location speak for it, and the menu doesn't disappoint.  They have added a raw bar with sushi and oysters, and Chef Simon Zatyrka is leading the kitchen team with an emphasis on sourcing locally and using purveyors from the Pike Place Market, which is a mere stone's throw away.  I am always happy when an in season approach is taken with food, and what better place than the Market to find the freshest seasonal best.
Well, its back to chatting about fashion for this girl, but I certainly enjoyed revisiting the culinary world.  Cutters, old friend, I am so happy to know you again.  You are the whole package.

Monday, April 9, 2012

five zero

I cannot believe I haven't blogged since February.  I have a million things in my head to write about.  I took a bit of time off out of necessity--I was working on a project that made it impossible for me to have the time to write.  After about six weeks, the project I was working on didn't develop in the way I had hoped, and it has been scrapped.  I learned a lot, about my capabilities and my shortcomings, about what it takes to work out of your house and run a family life--I have new respect for my working mother friends.  And I got reintroduced to my city, I walked the streets and discovered and rediscovered how great Seattle is. I also have a new appreciation for my daily life, I am a lucky girl.  And I missed writing a lot.
In the midst of this I celebrated a milestone birthday.  I remember my Mom telling me age was just a number, but this was kind of a scary one.  Like its an age someone else is, never me.  I have always hesitated to reveal my age on this blog, as if it would make my take on design and fashion less relevant, since I am probably considered by some to be well, old.  But in addition to working out regularly, eating healthy for the most part, as well as a zillion appointments to maintain things so to speak--I really do try.
On the inside, I feel the same as I always have, so catching a glimpse of myself in a photo or in the mirror sometimes can be an actual surprise.  As if, what the hell?  But I am not the same, I have stumbled over the years, made good & bad choices, lacked confidence, hesitated.
Now I know who I am, that gift you get when you live with yourself long enough to accept that the mistakes you have made give you a bit of a pantina that make you more beautiful.  Maybe being older means having more freedom to be yourself.  The way I see it, you can age any way you want to, its up to you to keep changing, growing, seeing things in a new way.
And so, I am now 50.  Sure, its a big deal to me.  And it really isn't.  I celebrated with friends, I drank champagne, I went to Paris.  But that's another blog.  Cheers.