Habits from Paris…French Bohemian Mindset…

I lived in Paris France for two years a while ago, when I was just an art student, aspiring to be an artist, that was when I moved to Paris as a young woman to move in another artist and settle down–whatever that meant.  But I learned a lot about lifestyles back then, and I admit till this day, although I am a Canadian born and raised, (Torontonian for that matter) I still hold dear a lot of the French mentality and outlooks on life and still adore Parisian Bohemia.  So let me share with you all a few of my experiences…I want to talk about the mindset of French bohemia, because the fashion will always follow suite…

Forget the beret! These mindless stereotypes of what the French are about are ridiculous. (wearing hats in general is cool though!)

We live in North America, the land of donuts and coffee, cold winters, fast food, and malls, cars and outlets.  Suburbs, churches and barbecues…flannel shirts and jogging pants. But my experience living in Paris tells me there is a more elegant, thoughtful way of living… And by looking at most fashion trends, it is actually super in style at the moment. French Bohemia is about being a free spirit, not following rules, or worrying about the 9-5 agenda.  It’s more about having the ability to have free time, rather than about what to do with it.  Hanging out with friends because they are cool, and not because it’s cool to hang out and an obligation to be social.  It’s really about simply enjoying life, but more specifically enjoying the visual and meaningful beauty of life. And how the two connect. Here are some things I’ve learned:

  1. Try to dodge trends by finding old things you forgot about. Dig into your closet and look for items of yours that are simple, classic, and chique.  French styles are often simple, and not looking like a slave to the trends is key (even if you are!).
  2. Eat less, but eat well.  The French are all about liking food, but good food.  I often have a day of very little indulgences, but for dinner, I will have treats like fish and chips, burgers, pizza, ice cream. Flavourful things in moderation…Pleasurable things…but just a little.
  3. Be interested in visual culture.  I mean this in a general way.  You don’t have to be into art and know everything about it academically (like I do as a former art student), but notice movie posters, graphics on your daily products, architecture and design. Work up to visiting an art show, weather it is at a small local gallery, to a big city art museum.  Just enjoy looking at things and thinking about how things look. People watching (not leering, or gawking or staring) is a fun pass time when on patios.
  4. Care about how you look.  BUT–don’t fuss over your appearance, and don’t be vain by thinking you’re all that, but put a bit of effort into your appearance.  Wear clean, fitted clothes, have manicured nails…give yourself the right to “judge a book by it’s cover” because well, the cover says a lot about something! Don’t be afraid to be a little superficial and care about the face value of things.
  5. Enjoy life, don’t stress. Avoid stressful things/activities as much as possible …ie event/parties you don’t want to go to.  If you don’t think you want to do it, unless you risk social shame for opting out, do opt out! There is nothing worse that regretting going out to an event.  Better to stay home and relax any day.
  6. There is always a more elegant option to whatever you are eating. Instead of toast, have a croissant in the morning!!! my favourite breakfast ever! (beats bacon and eggs too!) Instead of having a muffin, have a cupcake…Instead of ham and cheese sandwich, do ham and brie (a french cheese), instead of watered down coffee, try espresso. Little variations in daily mundane life such as standard food is a great way to add a bit of french to your life.
Me enjoying my favourite breakfast of all time due to its simplicity and deliciousness. A flakey, moist, buttery croissant, with a cup of hot coffee. yum!

What is your favourite way to be embody a bohemian babe? Do you like the fashions it’s famous for?  Do you like stalking the sale rack at the closest Free People store to you, or finding a way to make braids and plaited hair and staple? Wearing that vintage dress you found with sneakers?  How do you show you are a free sprit?

 

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3 summer fashion hacks I just came up with, and am quite pleased with…

If you’re like me this summer, you don’t have an unlimited budget to spend on updating your wardrobe to follow all of the latest trends in depth.  Even with scoring cool stuff on sale, or by settling for the quality of cheaper stores like H&M or Forever 21, they don’t always suffice in delivering the goods you want fully.  There is always compromising and settling involved when trying to stay current while not breaking the bank!  It is hard, but these are a couple of tricks of modifying clothes that I’ve tried with some success.

My distressed denim hack:

The store I work for part-time, Smartset doesn’t have a jean that is distressed enough to follow this season’s line-up of sporting really wrecked-beyond-hope denim, so I can’t use my staff discount there to save.  My solution?  I had a pair of light greyish blue denim from Smartset last year that was just boring.  They had no distressing, and as a full-length light coloured pant,  they just kept getting gross and dirty at the ankle parts because it was a bit long.  This was not stylish or cool.  So I decided to cut them into crop pants and distress them myself.  I cut off the pant legs past the ankle, hand sewed some cuffs in them and then ripped the heck out of them with different denim distressing techniques I learned online.  I ended up really liking the casual undone look of them, and wrecking them gave me some therapy too!  I saw similar jeans to mine at Urban Outfitters later that week.  I was happy to say I may have saved about $70, doing it myself by recycling unwanted old jeans in my closet.

Feeling like I gave these jeans a face lift by cuffing them into crops and distressing them to fit in with current trends...
Feeling like I gave these jeans a face lift by cuffing them into crops and distressing them to fit in with current trends…

My Strapless Romper Hack:

Such a reasonably priced romper, made with cotton and even had cute pockets.  The only down side was the fact that one pull down and I would be exposed...
Such a reasonably priced romper, made with cotton and even had cute pockets. The only down side was the fact that one pull down and I would be exposed…

Summer isn’t fun without a romper. Why?  Because you can do it all in a romper.  It’s a onesie made for adults!  For those of you that don’t know, a romper is basically a dress at the top, but instead of it turning into a skirt at the bottom, it turns into shorts, all in one piece.  It’s great.  Casual, super cute, and really comfortable.  You get to keep cool this summer, by covering just what you need to cover, and unlike short skirts, you won’t show everything when you move.  Rompers however tend to be expensive.  Don’t know why cuz they seem easy to make and don’t require that much fabric.  I however did find one at Forever 21 that was only $10!  Sometimes you can’t even get a tank top for that.  The one flaw with the romper I found was that it was strapless.  All of a sudden, summer care-free behaviour is restricted in this romper by the fear of it being pulled down by accident.  But it being only $10, I bought it, took it home and sewed on halter straps to keep it from falling down, making it much more functional, for no cost at all!  I even like the look of it with straps more than without!

After sewing on two pieces of drawstrings from another top.  Not my strapless romper is functional as a halter romper. yay!
After sewing on two pieces of drawstrings from another top. Now my flawed strapless romper is a functional halter romper. yay!

Jersey Bodycon dress hack:

Jersey (t-shirt material) bodycon dresses are the best basics.  They fit your body well, can be dressed up or down, great for summer, and they hug your body and show off your feminine curves.  They also are an effortless way to make yourself look put yourself together in two minutes. Add heals and you’re ready for the club, wear with flat sandals and it’s a casual day at the cottage.  The awesome thing too is that because they are simple dresses made out of stretchy jersey material, they don’t cost a lot.  I recently snagged a nice floral bodycon dress from the Smartset were I work.  With my discounts and specials, I got it for only $15!  I was thrilled.  I could possibly match that price at some other discount stores, but the ones at Smartset were so much better quality, and the length was not too short.  The only problem was that the neckline I noticed was not flattering.  It barely scooped in the front.  I noticed it scooped a lot more in the back, so what did I do?  I carefully removed the stitches of the label on the back collar of the dress and then wore it backwards!  The scoop back became the front, and well, now I am liking it more.

This was originally the back of this fitted jersey dress.  Just by carefully removing the stitches on the label in the back, I can now wear this with the flattering scoop neck in the front.
This was originally the back of this fitted jersey dress. Just by carefully removing the stitches on the label in the back, I can now wear the flattering scoop neck in the front.

Remaking clothes that you have or got on sale is great.  It saves you a money in the long run and more importantly, you get what you want for the price that you want it.  🙂  Let me know a hack that you have done to your summer wardrobe to make it your own!

Dress size is nothing but a number

We often hear that age is nothing but a number.  That you can do anything in your 30’s that a 20 year old can do, and that we should not limit or restrict ourselves to such a trivial things as age and such.  We can also be free to date people of all types, of all ages, of all lifestyles, and of all races.  There is encouragement to be ourselves in these matters.  The same should be said about dress sizes.  I work part-time in fashion retail, and I have recently noticed how some of us gals have strange ways of associating some part of our identity through the size clothing we wear.  If we are a size small, we are content…an extra small brings out boastful, prideful personalities.  Medium is a triumph for the more curvy types if they can get into this size label, and large and extra large are okay too, but then just don’t say it too loudly, and hope to fit into the prior.  I myself am guilty of thinking this way a bit, but now I can see why we shouldn’t think like this.

Women's sizing chart.  Why so confusing?
Women’s sizing chart. Why so confusing?

The reason is simple.  The fashion industry is fickle.  They change their measurements daily.  Different stores and different collections have different ways of fitting.  Smartset, the store I part-time in tends to have a larger sizing so that a small there is like a medium at say, Forever 21.  Also, realize that some styles actually look better looser than tighter, it all depends on how you want to style it.  In my wardrobe, I have sizes ranging from XS all the way up to M/L. And it’s nice to think nothing of it. In truth, size is really subjective, and we should not confine ourselves into thinking we are just one size.  We should not be jumping up and down when we fit a small, nor should we be bummed to size up.  Just be happy, healthy and feel great. Don’t let the industry standards have their way with you.  Larger doesn’t always mean fat.  It could also mean you’ve got a bust, and that is a good thing in this culture too.

I know some of my customers get caught up with sizes.  I’ve had skinny ladies complain and whine (in a prideful way) about how they can’t wear our pants because the double 0 just is still too big for them.  I mean, come on?  If you really liked them, they don’t have to stick to your skin for you to pull them off.  I recently lost a few pounds and have just been enjoying the extra room in some of my clothes.  It feels nice to size up too.  I’m more petite than the average woman, and I love to size up on tights.  They fit so much more comfortably, they don’t pull down, and are warmer when not stretched out.  But when we ran out of s/m tights at the store recently and I dared suggest to size up to women my size and larger, their expressions were kind of like I was insulting them!  Clothing size is nothing but a number.  Let it go.

See?  Sizes are just labels.  Don't label yourself.
See? Sizes are just labels. Don’t label yourself.

I’ll end with one last story.  I was helping a middle aged lady the other day with a particular style of sweaters that I knew the sizing ran large.  So I suggested to her to size down from her L to go for a M, medium.  She brightened up immediate with a glow of confidence.  Feeling validated from being able to grab the medium sweater, she smiled at me, and actually asked my size.  “Hey, yes, I can get away with a medium…that’s your size too, no?”  She prodded me.  I felt kind of insulted that she wanted me to define my size, the way she was defining hers in a way to make herself feel better or somehow “equal” to me.  My only reply I could think of is “well, my size, it depends, really.”  She left before I could tell her what it depended on.  I guess she was not interested in an answer that was not black or white.  But our style and personalities are never black or white, so why expect a black and white answer to the matter of dress size?  Just go with the flow and wear what fits.  Ignore the size on the tag.  If it really bothers you, cut it off when you get home and think nothing else about it.  Wouldn’t it be great to focus and put our energies on being a fabulous person instead?  That is what will put fun back into fashion.