Shopping in Paris: it’s all in the details

Unlike prior visits to Paris when I’d targeted specific items or stores, this time I did not arrive with a shopping list in mind aside from the intention to stock up on my favorite Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler moisturizer. (Both day and night versions this time.)  Most of my best Paris purchases have been things I’ve stumbled across, rather than items I was specifically looking for, so my only plan was to keep eyes and mind open.
After a fabulous lunch with Tish from A Femme d’un Certain Age, we set out for the nearest Monoprix in search of skin care, and some fun, inexpensive baubles. I scooped a few jars of Eucerin into my basket, then we turned our attention toward the accessories racks, where I found two nice lightweight cotton scarves for summer (two on the left) at 10€ each. (Striped scarf on right, also cotton, from Printemps.)
Can see from this picture I need to steam  these out a bit…
Coral is a favorite color of mine, and seems to be hot this spring. We also spent some time perusing the new M & S on the Champs Élysées, but didn’t see anything inspiring enough to try on. The line for the food items went halfway out to the door!
The Arche store where I’d shopped on a previous visit was no longer where I remembered, and we now have a large Gerard Darel boutique in our local Bloomingdales, so it didn’t seem worth a stop. I did pick up another lace scarf at Eric Bompard (this time in a light iris purple) but I have more cardigans and sweaters than I need at the moment, so didn’t spend much time there. The bags at Lancel failed to inspire this time.
The next morning le monsieur and I decided to take a stroll along rue St. Honoré/Faubourg St. Honoré to pick up some gifts to bring home from the Fragonard boutique and some of the chocolatiers along that route. I was busy checking out window displays to snap and share, when these boots in the window of Zadig & Voltaire caught my eye..

I’d been aware of Zadig & Voltaire as a brand with a well-honed, very French aesthetic, but I’ll admit I never paid much attention before as they seemed a bit too twenty-something-Rocker-Chick with their skulls, sequins and short short skirts. But these boots were calling my name, so into the boutique we went…where I then proceeded to try on several items of clothing, many of which (to my surprise) fit me and were actually pieces I’d wear in a heartbeat.

I’d initially picked out a different jacket to try, which didn’t ring any chimes once I put it on, but the (very savvy) saleswoman had also brought out this one (above). I loved the color right off, and once I slipped it on, I didn’t want to take it off. The leather is very light and soft, Like Buttah™. It fits beautifully, is well made and the details were the icing on the cake. Le monsieur also gave two thumbs up.

I mentioned above that the saleswoman was very savvy and really knew her merchandise. She not only suggested pieces, but also offered ideas on how to arrange and style them. Before she gave me anything to try on, she pointed out the design details. Like the jacket, almost every piece she brought out didn’t look like much on the hanger, but looked great on une femme’s form.

This top, for example, is a piece that I never would have considered, had I just been flipping through the racks. She had me try it layered with a second one in a different color, which created an interesting effect. I ultimately decided on just this one (which I’ll wear with a tank or camisole underneath), but again, I love the details that take this a notch above just another knit tunic.

Pointelle detail on the back

It’s a lovely lightweight piece that will be great for summer, and also works as an interesting mid-layer under jackets.

Color is actually a bit softer than it appears here

I also selected this scarf in a soft, lightweight wool, which looks great with the jacket, and just about everything else in my closet as it turns out. The brass-colored paillettes along the edges pick up the brass in the jacket zippers. It’s a three-season piece that I’ll put away for summer and be delighted to wear again come fall.

This was such a satisfying shopping experience, not only because of the fabulous and unique additions to my wardrobe, but also because I felt as though I’d learned something. I’ve been trying to train my eye to be more discriminating and pay closer attention to details. I’ve tried to identify and emulate specific elements of French women’s style that I admire, but still it often feels like a watching a beautiful movie in a foreign language without subtitles; I get the gist but am missing substantial portions of the dialog. Many of the stylings and suggestions from the Z&V saleswoman were things I wouldn’t have seen or thought of myself, and gave me a little bit of insight into how French women approach style. They don’t just throw on a bunch of pieces that go together, but think about how they play off each other, even in the simplest ensembles. Selecting the color of a top to pick up the color of the jacket zippers (not just the leather), layering two tops and arranging the neckline just so (yet it looks nonchalant), folding a cuff to create a bit of architecture…those are the kind of insights that many French women seem to acquire as a birthright, a sort of sartorial terroir that is missing from my own cultural experience.

Et les bottes? Oui, those too. In spite of the skull. (They are super comfortable!)

I’m thinking of giving my new little friend a name. 
Have you had a shopping experience that was also a learning experience?
Program notes: modeling shots next week if time allows! Also, I’m working on a post for next week featuring  ideas for gifts to bring home from Paris, stay tuned…
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  1. Secret Squirrel
    May 10, 2012 / 11:08 am

    What a haul! You did so well. I love the quirky details on the boots and the jacket, both are lovely.

  2. May 10, 2012 / 11:20 am

    i can see you in every one of those items! They are IN your aesthetic, but also a tiny bit out of it. And, of course, the store has the coolest name–hope you have a shopping bag.

  3. May 10, 2012 / 11:42 am

    I love Zadig&Voltaire… they have great pieces that seem to work forall ages… I did a little damage there myself this past winter… Great shopping… love your boots… xv

  4. May 10, 2012 / 11:54 am

    That leather jacket is just gorgeous! Can’t wait to see it on you. I always enjoy reading your take on the process of styling.

  5. Anonymous
    May 10, 2012 / 11:55 am

    Well done. I love all of the little details that make these pieces special, and look forward to seeing photos of you in them. Bottines have never been my thing (I’m too short for the visual interruption they’d create in my line, I think), but yours are so kickass.


  6. May 10, 2012 / 12:37 pm

    Beautiful pieces, Une Femme and one can really see the quality details. The jacket is *exquisite*.

    I had a similar shopping experience in San Juan, where the saleswoman chose pieces for me and assembled outfits that had a certain wonderful flair – I could not have done it alone. Is this a gift or can we learn it? I hope the latter!

  7. Leigh
    May 10, 2012 / 12:57 pm

    Wow did you score!!! I love them all, especially the jacket. I got the Eucerin Night Cream. How does the day cream compare? What a productive shopping trip. Glad you had a good time.

    • May 10, 2012 / 5:12 pm

      Hi Leigh, the Eucerin Day cream has a bit of sunscreen in it. I figure every little bit helps!

  8. May 10, 2012 / 1:21 pm

    You are a 100 times cooler than I am.

  9. May 10, 2012 / 1:27 pm

    Wow, beautiful stuff! I look forward to some modeling pictures.

  10. May 10, 2012 / 1:44 pm

    What a lovely shopping experience! It had all the elements one hopes for when adding something new to a wardrobe.
    Not only did you find beautiful items with interesting details, you were shown ways to wear them to your best advantage. The jacket is my favorite as its adds color (a gorgeous shade) while still being able to act as a neutral. Wonderful addition! The boots are stylish and as you say very comfortable. The top with the pointed detail–well–I love detail like that and now I will be looking for one similar here in the U.S. Oh, to go to Paris and then shop. Le Monsieur is very sympathetic and sweet. It seems you have made a lot of good choices. Brava.

  11. May 10, 2012 / 1:46 pm

    Fabulous, fabulous jacket! Such an evocative, beautiful colour and with special memories now attached. You are going to love wearing it.

  12. May 10, 2012 / 2:04 pm

    Let’s hear it for staying open! Whoa. You gave me something to think about. I love everything that you bought and certainly wouldn’t have thought of any of it. Fantastic post–merci!

  13. May 10, 2012 / 2:08 pm

    How fun to accompany you on your shopping adventure in Paris. I love the details which always make a significant difference. Looking forward to seeing you in these lovely additions to your closet.

  14. Anonymous
    May 10, 2012 / 2:09 pm

    Lovely shopping trip with excellent help from the saleswoman. It is wonderful to find someone who can select and arrange pieces and understands your needs. Agree with Patti “Is this a gift or can we learn it?”
    What about the new color palette that you posted on the right column of your blog?
    Look forward to your postings.

    • May 10, 2012 / 5:17 pm

      marywyatt, the jacket, top and scarves (except for the pale blue one) are right within or very very close to my Light Summer color palette. The boots, not so much, but they do coordinate well with my palette neutrals like grey, navy and taupe.

  15. Anonymous
    May 10, 2012 / 2:34 pm

    French sales people really are fabulous and very helpful. I remember going in to a drugstore, only to be asked about a dozen questions to help me identify just the exactly right toothpaste. Shopping is taken very seriously. I really want that jacket. It’s gorgeous. p.s. I think you should call your new little friend on your boots George. The name works both in French and English. Or perhaps a name more absolutely French like jean-claude.

  16. Carolyn from Oregon
    May 10, 2012 / 4:08 pm

    I have requested that add the hyaluron filler to their product list. Perhaps if others want the same they may consider it?

    Formidable jacket!!

  17. laurieann
    May 10, 2012 / 4:29 pm

    The leather jacket is just beyond phenomenal. And in your ‘light summer’ colors as well. A perfect statement piece.

  18. Anonymous
    May 10, 2012 / 4:57 pm

    P.S. I’d name your little friend Yorick, he of the unearthed skull in Hamlet. A memenoto mori for you, and a reminder to carpe the diem.


  19. May 10, 2012 / 5:15 pm

    Love the tunic top. Tish was right. I’m going to see if I can order Eucerin. Both of you keep saying how great it is. Come enter my giveaway, it’s jewelry, of course. Big hug…

  20. RoseAG
    May 10, 2012 / 12:00 pm

    I’ll be interested to see it all on you also.

    I find that I often dismiss things on the hanger, like your t-shirt with the interesting neckline. Looking at it I think it would be flattering to you, it’s got a interesting neckline and is cut for someone with a chest, but that’s not necessarily what you think when you see it.

    It’s good to try on things that you “know” won’t work, because sometimes what you see is not what you get. That’s where the salesperson is helpful, she sees you with eyes that aren’t filtering things out.

  21. mette
    May 10, 2012 / 12:44 pm

    Oh, if only you had bought the other top as well, by description, the combination sounded good. But maybe you can find something similar later on..
    I admire you for being able to control your shopping: ) !

  22. Pam @ over50feeling40
    May 10, 2012 / 2:58 pm

    First off, I think you did great…I love the boots and the last scarf. I think I learn something every time I shop; however, isn’t it amazing the difference an educated, attentive salesperson can make?? This is something America is sorely lacking these days…the true salespeople who love their work, are knowledgeable and give great service are few these days. I still believe any flailing retailer who understands and implements this back into their business can succeed. Sorry, got on a bit of a rant…your post does inspire me in many ways!

  23. Golla
    May 10, 2012 / 5:03 pm

    Oooh la la, very nice! I will check out Zadig & Voltaire’s webshop pronto.

  24. May 11, 2012 / 12:18 am

    Love your new clothes – the jacket, the boots, the scarf, the sweater… all of it! Can’t wait to see the sweater on you – thinking about trying to order one for myself!

  25. Jill Ann
    May 11, 2012 / 12:58 am

    Love the boots & jacket! Do you wear the short boots with pants only, or with skirts? I like short boots, but not with skirts, probably because they would look horrible on me, with my thickish ankles :-(.

    I’m about ready to reorder my Eucerin hyaluron filler cream; anybody have a good recommendation for an eye cream? I tried the Eucerin eye cream last time and was underwhelmed. If you have anything that will give me a virtual eyelift, that would be great!

  26. kathy peck
    May 10, 2012 / 11:50 pm

    Wonderful haul, and things you probably couldn’t find here. Love the jacket and boots in particular.

  27. Thyme2Be
    May 11, 2012 / 3:25 am

    Are those boots lined in pink? Formidable!

  28. Terri
    May 11, 2012 / 6:07 am

    oh, the jacket is a wonderful find. I look forward to seeing you model it.

  29. Chicatanyage
    May 11, 2012 / 1:39 pm

    I love Zadig they do some great cashmere. A bit pricey so I will have to save my euros or wait for the sales.

  30. Looking Fab in your forties
    May 11, 2012 / 3:16 pm

    I love the pieces you bought, they are all gorgeous. I really like the style of the boots, not too dissimilar to pair I got in Oasis last December. I think I need to try that face cream!

  31. May 13, 2012 / 10:32 am

    Love the jacket and the boots – I’m really getting into green at the moment – and must get some of that Eucerin cream. I’m using their foot cream at the moment (not on my face!) and it’s very good.

  32. May 13, 2012 / 4:04 pm

    What a score! All of the things you bought are lovely and tres chic! I’ve had similar shopping experiences in Paris. The salespeople don’t try to pressure you into trying on things that won’t be flattering, and you’re so right about them having the uncanny ability to perfectly style a look so that it looks polished but not fussy.

  33. May 25, 2012 / 6:26 pm

    I didn’t realize the jacket was made of leather. Like! I also love the stitching details. The boots are very cool.

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