Paris shopping: Daniele's style

My other Parisienne girlfriend, Daniele, was not able to shop because she is recovering from a hip replacement, so we discussed clothes over drinks in her apartment, then walked slowly to dinner.

Though close in age, and also born and reared in Paris, she's an entirely different type from Huguette. Unlike her, Daniele cares little about how hot a boutique is. And also, she has had a family, with those expenses to think about. One of her favourite pieces, a black velvet jacket, is at least a decade old.

She wears neutrals, black and grey in winter, ecru in summer, sometimes lit by scarves, which are also on the quiet side. (I have not seen her in a bright-coloured item in 25 years.) When visiting Canada, she likes to shop for Ralph Lauren and is not averse to trolling Winners (our off-price chain) with her daughters to pick up summer vacation wear.

This retiree spends fall in jeans or a pencil skirt and sweaters, which she accessorizes with a black calf Hermès Kelly bag, gold hoops and the chain in the picture, to which she sometimes adds her mother's wedding ring. 

I asked Daniele what she chooses these days and she pointed to the Rodier ensemble below, shown in a window we passed, as an example.
Rodier's torsade sweater
Paris was brimming with exquisite clothes, but neither of us seek the highest end. Daniele will spend for that special piece, like this sweater by Pôles, a luxe knitwear boutique that she admires.
Pôles sweater and scarf
Paris offers an almost unimaginable array for every sensibility, but you still have to scout to find that sweet spot of stylish, affordable clothes that look good on a grown-up. 

One possibility is Cyrillus, a French chain somewhat like Boden, offering decent-quality clothes that are current, with some pieces up to French 46. Skirts are short and some items too junior-y, but for a tee or sweater, worth checking. (Grandparent alert: adorable kids' clothes.)

Cyrillus tee
I bought this striped long-sleeved fine cotton tee, about $50. Along with two house-label Bon Marché merino v-necks at about $80 each, this is indeed "bon marché"– a good deal.  

This invisibly-seamed wool coat looked good, too. (Price, about $380.)
Cyrillus wool/angora coat

As for the much-vaunted Monoprix, I'm not a fan of the apparel. On a quick stop-in, we found the season's clothes ill-cut and made. Why buy a $15 tee that looks like you're wearing a laundry bag? Good for cosmetics and household basics, though.

One last observation: French women are far less matchy then North Americans, and this is a major contributor to how they get so much mileage from their wardrobes. You will see a loden skirt, purple sweater and perhaps greeny-gray tights worn with charcoal shoes, accessorized with a brown bag. 

At the restaurant I could not take my eyes off a woman well into her 70s, in a marinière. The ground was cream, the stripes were navy sequins. She had a very pale blonde chin-length bob that was being affectionately ruffled by a man and a warm, fuchsia-lipped smile.

Le Duc wore one daily in Paris, his is pink and navy, but not sequined.

Hey, sailor!
We bid Daniele and her partner Michel good night, and I realized that her wardrobe has not changed much since we met 25 years ago.

For awhile she wore leggings with dress-length tops, and of course she refreshes her wardrobe, but despite the most minimal change she always looks entirely contemporary. This resistance to style-hopping and following trends returns value. It is a different look than Huguette's, but should they ever meet, I think each would admire the other's style.

Alors, bag reveal! I bought the "Retro Lalique" by Cuir et Terre, a small, artisanal company. Satchel-sized, no logo, quirky and sturdy, and neutral enough to wear with everything. Shown in green; mine is chocolate.

Regardless of budget, it builds the eye to look, so next week, some outstanding windows to lick virtually.


Anonymous said…
Ah, so true, I don't need exquisite anymore either, just wearable basics that I can throw in the washing machine.
déjà pseu said…
I've been thinking a lot on these lines too. Don't need to dress *up* but still do want to dress *well*. That Poles cardigan is just the thing, as is your striped tee.
Mardel said…
I don't need exquisite anymore either, and find a very few pieces can be mixed a long way. I'm trying to find that sweet spot that dressed well without being too much of anything, to dressed up, too casual. Finding basics seems to be the hardest, but I think many French women have long since mastered making a few perfect pieces go the distance.
déjà pseu said…
Oh, and Le Duc is adorable!

Your bag is just the thing. The French seem to have that knack for simple-but-made-you-look! handbags. LOVE the green one.
Loved this post...all of it! Thanks for sharing your friends and Paris...your observations are wonderful. Love the Angora coat.
Susan said…
Another great post. I think many of us seem to be on a similar wavelength. Less is more, simple is best. Thank you for distilling ideas.
Anonymous said…
Thank you so much for these past two Paris shopping posts. It gives two distinct views yet reminds me to buy less for more style and try new combinations.

Anonymous said…
Both of your friends have great style, and you made a very important point, that this one has children, and therefore more expenses and let's face it - lots more to think and worry about.
I love your purchases, the bag is terrific, great shape and style.
I too, rarely dress up (an occasional wedding or something like that.) We live in LA, and you can go anywhere in nice jeans, blazer or sweater, and if you really want to dress it up, boots with heels or pumps.
Le Duc is a great looking man!
SewingLibrarian said…
Your bag is wonderful, but seeing Le Duc is even better!
Susan Tiner said…
I never needed anything exquisite :).

Le Duc has a great smile.
Anonymous said…
Hi! This is totally OT: I subscribe to your blog through a feed and for some reason right now I can see your posts all the way through November 3. Not only that, I think anyone on my Network can see them. I am guessing they are rough drafts, too. I'm a writer myself, and while I am enjoying a glimpse into your process, I'm assuming you'd prefer we couldn't see them. If you need a link so you can contact Blogger, my email is my user name at gmail dot com.

There might be a better, more private way to contact you but this was the easiest for me. I don't know my way around Blogger sites and I didn't see an email address.

No time for a real comment but your sweetie is adorable.
Duchesse said…
wendeleh1: What happens is, in my jI sometimes hit Publish instead of Save to Draft- especially when tired. Even if I take it down right away, it still shows up for some people.

Don't know how to recall a once-published post so it does not show up on some people's Reader. Does anyone?

Will see if I can find out, and apologize for this inconvenience of having the same post show up twice.

Thanks for telling me about it.
Duchesse said…
wendeleh1: Did some poking around in the Blogger Help function and found this:
"...once a post has been fed, it's out there, at least for people who use Google Reader."

So in the future I'll be more careful... but for now, some people will be receiving the same post twice.
Duchesse said…
All: Hah! Should have known Le Duc would trump a handbag. Yes, I like the green but only met the chocolate in the shop. And if you met Le Duc you would like him even more ;)
Jade Wombat said…
I agree with Pseu. I'd love to have the bag in green. It's just the right size and has a classic look.
Frugal Scholar said…
Can only echo: love the bag (and others made by that company) and le Duc DOES have that Gerard Depardieu vibe!
materfamilias said…
Ooh, that's a great bag. Sounds as if you had a wonderful visit, and how lucky you are to have these special Parisian girlfriends with whom you have such a long history -- such a connection to the city. Le Duc looks great in his marinière. Did he manage his usual cycling? And did you get to Christophe's?
materfamilias said…
And feel I should jump in to say, having met Le Duc if only once and quite briefly, that it's absolutely true -- he's even more delightful in person!
Duchesse said…
materfamilias: As you too have experienced, being taken around by friends makes a city more personal, and these two (plus others) were so generous with their time.

Dinner @ Christophe's was sublime and Le Duc was ecstatic over the wines...and at reasonable prices, unlike some others. D. did not do much biking as ran first week and we moved second week, (more on that in a few weeks) away from his usual rental which he prefers to Velib.

We both hope your academic (or personal) life brings you to Montreal!
Anonymous said…
I think the biggest difference between life for older women in France and life over here is your telling comment about the 70+ woman, obviously still fashionable, whose hair was being ruffled by "a man". That comment I am afraid underlies the biggest difference - we are destined to be sexless, invisible frumps after 50or so.
Duchesse said…
Anonymous: I cannot tell if you are the same commenter who occasionally comments here, and says things like "after 50 you may as well be 90"etc.

If you are not, you have company. I, however, do not believe it is "destiny" and have posted here about women friends who have found love (or even merely pleasing company) well after 50. There are a number of factors and I agree that culture does count, but one's attitude (and therefore the behaviour that derives from it) may be one of the factors.
materfamilias said…
Duchesse: Glad to hear you had a great meal at Christophe. I love the idea of our visits there overlapping. As for the biking, we def. agree with LeDuc that the Velib bikes are clunky, sooooo very heavy (all the better not to be stolen, I suppose).
Yes, seeing a city with one of its citizens as guide is a privilege and a pleasure. We hope someday to have our knowledge and love of Montreal enhanced by visiting you and LeDuc there (and, of course, you know you're always welcome here)
laurieann said…
Dear Duchesse: Please pardon me for being so late to check back in with you. It hasn't been for want of think of you though and you seem to be having a wonderful time. How terrific it must be to have friends to meet in Paris and share the city with. Enjoy your comparison with both friends. My favorite item I saw in all of Paris is the flippy-skirt. Americans are very wed to the pencil but the flippy style works better on my figure. Still couldn't find anything in my size.

You really shouldn't have posted that photo of le Duc. If 50 year olds can have a crush I have one.

Aslo, I'm bookmarking all of your recommendations. Glad you lucked out at Bon Marche. Such a lovely store.
Duchesse said…
laurieann: The flippy line balances a rounder hip and makes a slim hip look even slimmer. Le Duc is flattered to be crushed on. If you could not find things in your size you are not alone but there are a few places to look- can help out next time you go.

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