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My Paris personal shopping experience

When I visit other cities, I love to take some time to shop with a personal stylist. Not only because I will be introduced to stores I know I wouldn't stumble upon myself, but because stylists are a wealth of information. There are always new tips and tricks to be learned! Additionally, I love the experience of being the client as it really reinforces what the experience is like for my own personal shopping clients.

Prior to this shop, I had already read two of Alois Guinut's books: "Dress Like A Parisian" and more recently "Why French Women Wear Vintage: and other secrets of sustainable style" (the book pictured above). I asked Alois if we could focus on vintage and consignment during our session as I know this is one of her true passions and specialties. The day prior, she sent me some questions about my personal style preferences, sizing, budget, styling challenges and any particular items I may be looking for. She also spent some time looking through my Instagram to get a feel for my colouring, current wardrobe and style aesthetic.

We met in the 10th quarter of Paris which is home to many vintage/consignment shops. The process of consignment shopping is quite different than regular retail as each piece is unique and it really depends on what is in shop that day.

The day after our shop, Alois posted photos of our appointment on her Insta-stories. I am including some in this post as they also offer some of her reflections.

Note: everything Alois is wearing was sourced from consignment.

Alois hadn't done a pre-pull of clothing, but sprung into action scouring the racks looking for pieces that would be in my size, align with my body shape, overall style aesthetic and lifestyle. Styling is a collaborative process. She would hold up pieces and ask me my opinion, whether I had something similar etc. It's wise not to get too attached to a garment in the initial glances as often she would grab something we loved and then we would realize it wasn't my size. As always, I tried to keep focus remembering what I already had at home, how these potential garments would fit into my existing wardrobe/lifestyle as well as whether I could style several ways with pieces I have in my closet.

The first shop we visited had primarily designer pieces. I was a little reluctant as I didn't want to spend my entire budget in the first few minutes. Despite that, I ended up making my first purchase which was a white MaxMara raincoat.

It sold me for a couple of reasons. In Vancouver, we use rainy weather wear. I always feel that stylish outerwear is a good investment. This coat was priced at $250 as it had a few marks on the sleeve (I'm ok with that - remember my blogpost on Embracing the Patina?) and Alois noted that retail it would be significantly more. Coincidentally, before our trip my dad had given me a thoughtful card with exactly $250 Euros - he sweetly noted that my mum was always looking for lovely things for me when they were on vacation together and wanted me to not think twice if I found something special. Because we were celebrating my milestone birthday in Italy and MaxMara is one of the country's signature brands (the coat is made in Italy), it felt like the stars aligned!

As soon as I came out of the fitting room, Alois was quick to turn up the sleeves and adjust the hood. Simple styling tweaks (rolling or pushing up a sleeve, cuffing jeans or tucking in a top) occurred with every garment I tried on during our appointment.

This practice reinforced the notion that giving off the vibe of "effortless style" takes a little effort.

Not only was this common during my shopping with Alois, whenever I stepped out of a change room in Italy a salesperson was quick to swoop in and roll up the sleeves. The overall street style I noticed in both Paris and the Italian cities we visited felt "effortless" yet looks were purposefully styled.

Try playing around with these simple styling techniques at home so they become more second nature, easy and natural. Just adding one goes a long way!

Several times during our shop, Alois commented that she felt I should wear more clothing that highlights my hourglass shape. She had observed on my Instagram that I often opt for more flowy or boxy shapes. She felt I should "snatch the waist" a little more!

While I do tuck in tops and often belt dresses, I do know that I also gravitate to more relaxed or flowing silhouettes.

Takeaway: it can be easy to default to the same shapes and styles (even as a stylist!). Lately It's important to try and range of silhouettes so as to not get in a rut.

I ended up purchasing the blue printed wrap dress (and went on to wear it several times in Italy and felt so fabulous!). I also purchased this floral tie blouse. I like the way Alois tied it in this picture but she also demonstrated several other ways it could be worn. These jeans weren't the right size, but I now have on my radar a similar pair of high waisted more straight-leg jeans to replace my old skinnies. I currently have a few wider leg pairs I've been wearing, but I really liked this silhouette.

Throughout the day, Alois had me try on several silk blouses as she explained they are a foundational piece in a Parisian wardrobe. At one point, I came out in one that was tomato red. She loved it. I explained that I didn't feel it was my right red (too warm) and that I typically gravitate to a cooler more cherry red. She said she absolutely felt I could wear warmer hues. Interestingly, I do love and wear several warm/bright colours despite feeling that cooler/muted tones really flatter my overall colouring.

This opened up an interesting discussion as Alois asked my thoughts on colour draping and theory. I explained that I offer colour analysis as a service, but that I stress to clients they can wear whatever colour they love (as I do in my own getting dressed routine). I don't want them to feel restricted to a small palette. However, I feel the process is so educational in that you can see which hues really allow you to shine and highight features. If a client can walk away with a better understanding of whether they lean more cool, warm, neutral or if they shine more in brights or softer hues - those are just more tools in the styling tool kit. Alois seemed to have a similar philosophy which she talks more in length about it in this blog post.

In addition to the pieces shown above, I purchased a yellow silk blouse and a cream wool sweater with some sparkly embellishments in an almost 3D floral motif (very similar to a trend I read about in Fall 2023 Vogue preview magazine I read on the plane). Both are currently at the dry-cleaner, but I will be sure to share them at another time!

In the end, I spent just over $500 Euros and ended up with the coat, 2 tops, the dress and sweater. On top of that, a wonderful shopping experience in a beautiful city with an extremely knowledgeable and passionate stylist.

Last week, I had a friend email me to say that she had picked up Alois' book "Dress Like a Parisian" at her local library. If you are looking for some great style tips and are interested in French style, I highly recommend checking out these reads as well as her website Dress Like A Parisian.


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