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Activewear, activewear…

James-Merry-Adidas_hipsthetic
James Merry for Adidas courtesy http://www.hipsthetic.com

“As much as people say they don’t want to be bothered, I think they really yearn for it.” Iris Apfel

I’ve got to admit, when I first witnessed the latest fashion phenomenon sweeping the Western world I thought it was simply a lack of effort on the part of the wearer. Something my faithful readers will know is always guaranteed to elicit a quiet shudder here at the style bar HQ.

But mostly I was confused – spending as much time in Paris as I do, where sport has now been accepted as a necessary evil, what you wear to workout is still very much separate from what you would choose to wear at home, to work, or to go out and socialise. Hell, this is a country where should you desire to embrace the dying concept of dressing for dinner it would not raise one well-manicured eyebrow whatsoever.

But I digress. Back to the epidemic of more or less head-to-toe Lycra ensembles being paraded before me on a recent trip to Sydney. (Okay, so they weren’t parading exactly, but it was being pulled off with more than a dash of ‘Look at my toned thighs and how well I have coordinated my patterned leggings with my crop top and hoodie’ for my liking).

Were these ladies coming from or going to the gym? Then why the perfectly coiffed hair & makeup? And if coming from the gym, why haven’t they changed? I get so sweaty after a yoga session there is no way I could continue about my day without getting changed, so if you are changing out of your active wear, why are you changing into more active wear?

And then I read that’s it’s actually a phenomenon that has now been given a name – Athleisure*.

And so I realised that no, these people aren’t necessarily doing any sport or fitness – they’re wearing this ON PURPOSE and probably without any intention of working up a sweat at all.

*Sidebar: when speaking to a fellow fashion insider about this blight on the fashion landscape recently, he explained that in the industry the term ‘Athleisure’ actually refers to what has come to be known by the uninitiated as ‘Streetwear’, or smart casual but relaxed clothing. So still stylish by my standards at least. That means that what we have begun to think of as Athleisure i.e. the wearing of your gym gear in public is, in actual fact, just wearing your gym gear in public.

Chanel Resort 2017 in Havana, Cuba
Chanel Resort 2017 in Havana, Cuba courtesy http://www.theyrejustclothes.com

Now I will freely admit that Sydney has always been a much more casual city than Paris dress-wise, and the showing of more toned flesh is par for the course. But this thing is different, and while I can say that I kind of get the concept now, I still really don’t get it.

The fact is, rather than saying that women embracing this trend are dressing for comfort and making no effort, there is actually a lot of effort involved. The items are fairly expensive, brand name, and new, no old tracky daks with stretched elastic and baggy t-shirts here.

So that makes it a new way of dressing that is not really all that attractive and looks completely different from what you would wear to the office, but one that has also become acceptable to wear to lunch or go shopping – but why??

This article by Quartz is an interesting assessment of the phenomenon and its effect on other retailers, but it still doesn’t explain why people are choosing ‘athletic clothing’ over regular clothes. Yes perhaps more people are doing yoga or working out than ever before, but as I said, it doesn’t explain why they want to wear the same clothes while doing other things as well.

So, can you wear your gym gear anywhere? Thankfully, not yet. Popping out for coffee? Alas, yes. Picking up the kiddies from day care? Oh, totes. Church? Nah, some things are still sacred…Dinner? Oh dear God no. Brunch? Well you would think not but I am afraid to say that I have seen it happen.

Yoga made me do it_fashionatingworld
Photo courtesy http://www.fashionatingworld.com

So what’s a stylish gal to do in the midst of all this Lycra mayhem?

The awesome You Tube video, In my Activewear, by the hilarious ladies at Skit Box sums it up for me perfectly in fact!

So it’s not my thing – and, thankfully, I think that it will not be the thing of Parisian women either any time soon – but meanwhile we can see the funny side of things and simply hope it goes away.

Plus, ladies, I do have to tell you that the men I have polled so far do not find it attractive. I repeat, do NOT find it attractive.

Happy styling in your (shudder) activewear!!

Life is a Celebration

The Christmas tree from The Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker. Photo by Johan Persson

I’m really quite excited about this festive season. And I’m not just talking about the champagne & oysters, mulled wine & all-day lunches, it’s totally about the party outfits as well!

Photo: The Christmas tree from The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Credit: Johan Persson

Perhaps it’s because we are feeling the need to rally round and share some love and good cheer this year. In any case, as regular readers of this blog and fans of my Facebook page  will already know, I have always been an advocate of dressing up for any occasion. In my ever-so-humble opinion, the feel-good vibes for yourself – and, curiously, of those around you! – are well worth the extra time & effort. And for a trip to the theatre, the ballet or opera, or even just a live concert, there’s really no excuse!

But why stop at ‘special’ outings? You could also buck the trend and go all out with your ensemble for a weekday lunch or Sunday brunch. When everyone is expecting some variation of jeans, tee-shirts or little black dresses, it can be super fun to add more formal footwear, evening bags and other more traditionally ‘night time’ accessories and jewellery to a casual outfit.

Let’s face it, it’s the one time of the year when you can be the star of your own Christmas story and frock up with impunity! Who knows, you might like it & be emboldened to continue your performance throughout the rest of the year.

Now if you put the most celebratory season of them all with going to see a live performance of what is arguably the most Christmassy show around – The Nutcracker Ballet* – you can imagine how it has me super inspired!

Okay so it may be the performer in me but I am getting so many ideas for party outfit themes from the over the top costumes. There’s so many different looks to choose from that could perfectly channel your party moods.

Feeling flamboyant? Go with bold, vibrant colour

Gary Avis as Drosselmeyer (c) ROH - Bill Cooper 2012

Photo: Gary Avis as Drosselmeyer (c) ROH – Bill Cooper 2012

Wanting to sparkle & shine? Glitter, metallic threads and sequins are everywhere this season

The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky, Artists of the Royal Ballet (as Snowflakes) The Royal Opera House 2009, Credit Johan Persson

Photo: The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky, Artists of the Royal Ballet (as Snowflakes) The Royal Opera House 2009, Credit Johan Persson

Or perhaps you’d rather exude peace and calm amongst the mayhem? A dreamy, floaty dress sounds perfectly angelic to me.

THE NUTCRACKER ; Music by Tchaikovsky; Alexander Campbell (as The Nutcracker) and Francesca Hayward (as Clara) ; The Royal Ballet ; At the Royal Opera House, London, UK, 2013 ; Credit: Tristram Kenton / Royal Opera House / ArenaPAL

Photo: The Nutcracker; Alexander Campbell (as The Nutcracker) and Francesca Hayward (as Clara) ; The Royal Ballet ; At the Royal Opera House, London, UK, 2013; Credit: Tristram Kenton / Royal Opera House / ArenaPAL

And if you have a few events to go to, why not try them all?! I think it would be downright churlish not to.😉

THE NUTCRACKER; Music by Tchaikovsky; Lauren Cuthbertson (as The Sugar Plum Fairy); The Royal Ballet; At the Royal Opera House, London, UK, 2013 ; Credit: Tristram Kenton / Royal Opera House / ArenaPAL

Photo: The Nutcracker; Lauren Cuthbertson (as The Sugar Plum Fairy); The Royal Ballet; At the Royal Opera House, London, UK, 2013: Credit: Tristram Kenton / Royal Opera House / ArenaPAL

Happy festive styling!!!

*The Royal Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker (score by Tchaikovsky) is showing during December and January at selected cinemas worldwide. For more information about live and recorded screenings you can visit the Royal Opera House website http://www.roh.org.uk/showings/the-nutcracker-live-2015 or Arts Alliance http://www.artsalliance.com/

5 Tips for the Perfect Picnic

photo the style bar 2015

In Australia, picnics don’t require much thinking.

Well okay, perhaps not beyond where you are going to park the car, if there is enough ice in the Esky to last the day, and the vague hope that you might get through the proceedings relatively unscathed by the native wildlife.

photo the style bar 2015
Clovelly, Sydney

I think this is partly because most parks, beaches, and harbour or riverside locales tend to come ready-made with barbeques, tables and benches. Then there is the ubiquitous fish-and-chips or hamburger purveyor conveniently located nearby, where you can easily fill the gaps should you run out of food or forget to bring the meat.

photo the style bar 2015
Botanical Gardens, Farm Cove, Sydney

Now in cities like Paris, Rome or Barcelona, it is well known that everyone loves a picnic. It’s just that you may find yourself in a similar setting to the ones above but without any of the relative comforts of home (but, on the bright side, for the most part without the pesky wildlife).

Picnics in Europe, especially evening ones, can often be a more spontaneous, last minute affair, due to the famous vagaries of the weather. While weekend picnics can be hyper-organised, gourmet gatherings, with the traditional three-course lunch replicated in the open-air, a sudden spike in temperatures during the week in the warmer months could well find you gathering your supplies on the hop after work from a combination of the nearest supermarket, cheese shop, bakery or butcher (prêt à emporter bbq chicken, always a winner!)

photo the style bar 2015
Canal St Martin, Paris

And so it has come to my attention over the years that in these situations, people tend to come a little more, shall we say, under-prepared. Or perhaps they are happier to wing it. Either way, I find that this results in wildly varying picnic experiences when just a tiny bit of forward thinking would make for a much better time had by all.

Either way – you guessed it – I have been compiling a little list of things that I feel are essential to the success of your outdoor picnic, and ensure maximum enjoyment with minimum fuss.

1. Some small comforts of home. At the very least, you will need something to sit on and something upon which to place the food.* The grass may still be damp, many riverbanks are paved or covered in concrete, and do you really want to stand all afternoon/evening? It need not be a heavy picnic blanket – a sarong, tablecloth or even a towel will do nicely. I also like to bring a tea towel to act as a tablecloth-cum-placemat, especially for items that could leak or spill while everyone is helping themselves to the bountiful buffet.

*This may all seem blindingly obvious but you’d be surprised how many people turn up with nary a bag of crisps and a six-pack of beer to their name and proceed to stand on the one piece of groundcover, but I digress and am in danger of ranting, so perhaps it’s best I continue.

photo the style bar 2015
Villa Borghese, Roma

2. Picnic-friendly attire. Okay this one is a little trickier, and does depend on the location/time of day/expected temperature of your little outing. If it’s daytime, remember that the sun will be shining and therefore any part of you that is exposed to the elements will be subject to its ever-penetrating rays (YES, this includes cloudy days when, contrary to popular opinion, you are actually more likely to burn as you can’t feel the heat on your skin as much, making sunblock even more essential).

The solution? Either cover up completely – a shirt with a collar, lightweight cotton pants or jeans for example – or wear something that won’t cause you too much distress at the end of the day (singlet tops with thin straps or strapless dresses) when you arrive home to find that you only got colour on the bits you left exposed.

Other essential items apart from sunblock include an umbrella (you never know! especially in Paris, and I assure you that you’ll feel a lot less foolish sitting prettily under your parasol during a passing shower, plus it protects the food!), a hat during the day, and a cardigan or lightweight wrap if you are out at night or in the the event that the temperature has dropped significantly by the time you are wending your merry way home.

photo the style bar 2015
Parc Ciutadella, Barcelona

3. Dining practicalities. I find that, at the bare minimum, plastic cups, one good knife and a few forks if you have something that can’t be eaten with fingers are ample, stretching to plates if you have something a little more difficult to eat. Hot picnic tip!: if you are going to be in a crowded picnic area, I would actually suggest NOT bringing a bottle opener, as I have found from personal experience that this is, in fact, a really good way to meet people as you are forced to wander off amongst the crowds and be sociable in order to find one!

photo the style bar 2015
Pont des Arts, Paris

4. The F and B. Sometimes it’s great to plan ahead and give everyone their special something to bring. But sometimes, less really is more and it’s more about the experience than anything else. Liquid refreshments are essential of course, but don’t stress if you haven’t time to make a salad or go all out, it’s just not that important. If I have time, I like to warm up a quiche and take it along with me sliced & ready to eat. Gazpacho is great too as you just pour & drink. Anything you can eat with your hands – cherry tomatoes, fruit, a bit of cheese and some carrots to dip into your hummus – seriously, whatever takes your fancy! As I vividly recall from travelling through the south of France with my parents when I was 8 years old, the most memorable picnics of all can be had parked by the side of the road in the sunshine with a baguette, a slab of cheese and a bottle of wine…

photo the style bar 2015
Notre Dame, Quai de la Tournelle, Paris

5. Location – to view or not to view? At the end of the day, all you really need for your picnic is somewhere to sit and something to contemplate. Day or night, by the light of a full moon or by a sparkling, sludgy green canal, alone or with a group of like-minded individuals, it’s all about being outdoors and taking some time out. Ahhh, so relaxing!! Scrabble anyone?😀

photo the style bar 2015
Pont des Arts, full moon, Paris

Happy picnicking, in style of course!!

Presents from the Past

photo the style bar
photo the style bar 2015

Another Fashion Month has ended, and, as always, there was a lot of inspiration from the past in many of the collections.

That’s nothing new, of course, but it did put me in mind of the absolutely, fantastically, inspiring exhibition I visited back in January this year at the Galerie Azzedine Alaïa.

photo the style bar
photo the style bar 2015

Such a beautiful space in and of itself, this special spot is tucked away in the BHV-end of Paris’ le Marais in the 3rd arrondissement. The exhibition was of a collection of photographs of the celebrated French fashion model Bettina Graziani, who died in Paris earlier this month.

Often described as the ‘first supermodel’, Bettina was a muse to the likes of Hubert de Givenchy and Jacques Fath, and was photographed by some of the most iconic photographers of the 20th century.

photo madame.lefigaro.fr
photo madame.lefigaro.fr

As her heyday was the 1940s and 50s, when I say iconic photographer, I’m talking about people like Irving Penn, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Robert Doisneau. The above shot was taken by Émile Savitry in 1952.

bettina-graziani_4

I absolutely adored this ‘expo’, as the French colloquially call an exhibition, indulging their penchant for abbreviating words – not just for the great poses and insouciant expressions of Bettina, but for how completely amazing the clothes look in black and white.

bettina-graziani_1

Love the very Spanish-inspired ‘Bettina’ blouse by Givenchy!

Of course they shot fashion very differently back then, and I’m not sure how to describe it, but the result is an image that looks simple but in fact is anything but. What was so fascinating was that a black and white photograph actually lets you really ‘see’ the clothes – not just the tailoring or the texture and cut of the fabric; but the stitching, the buttons and all those small details that somehow get lost in colour.

photo elmundo.es
photo elmundo.es

Of course, it helped that the clothes themselves, often shot against the simple backdrop of a Paris landmark, were amazing too.

bettina-graziani_3

And the bottom (style) line? Well personally, it totally inspired me to channel the spirit of elegant, simple yet detailed dressing no matter what the time of day, the season, or the occasion.

Happy (elegant) styling!

Style Bar Approved: le Bon Marché Noël 2014

photo the style bar 2014
photo the style bar 2014

OMG.

photo the style bar 2014
photo the style bar 2014

Coolest.

photo the style bar 2014
photo the style bar 2014

Christmas.

photo the style bar 2014
photo the style bar 2014

Windows.

photo the style bar 2014
photo the style bar 2014

EVA.

photo the style bar 2014
photo the style bar 2014

?

photo the style bar 2014
photo the style bar 2014

Happy Christmas window shopping!!

Of Icons and Inspiration

photo www.purepeople.com
photo http://www.purepeople.com

Do you have a style icon?

Ask anyone who loves to create things about the source of their inspiration and I guarantee you nearly every one of them will tell you that most of their ideas come from the things around them.

That could be nature, history, architecture or music. Or it could be another person – living or dead – whose work inspires their own.

So why should it be any different with creating outfits?

That’s where the idea of a style icon comes in.

photo: www.dailymail.co.uk
photo: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

In my humble opinion, having a style icon takes a great deal of stress out of ensemble creation. To have someone to whom you look up to for their sartorial style or with a similar body shape or colouring when you are having doubts about your choices can suddenly make everything seem so clear & simple – not to mention bringing you back from the wardrobe malfunction precipice!

photo: www.fanpop.com
photo: http://www.fanpop.com

It could also be someone you feel may have similar values or embodies how you want to present yourself to the world.

photo: www.purepeople.com
photo: http://www.purepeople.com

In my case, I have two style icons who I use for inspiration: Monica Belluci and Anjelica Huston. Confident but still supremely feminine, they dress for their age and are incredibly sexy at the same time.

photo: www.purepeople.com
photo: http://www.purepeople.com

Whenever I have a style dilemma or am standing in a fitting room, unsure about whether the item I have on is really me or suits me – yes, it happens to stylists too! I simply ask myself: What would Monica do?

photo: www.purepeople.com
photo: http://www.purepeople.com

50? Get OUT!!

Now Anjelica Huston – what a woman! And while I don’t really have the same body shape she totally rocks the sophisticated, I-enjoy-life-and-who-I-am-and-I-don’t-give-a-damn-what-you-think-look, without being too masculine about it.

photo: www.fandango.com
photo: http://www.fandango.com

Plus she’s not afraid to wear colour.

I especially love Angelica’s wardrobe in Smash!, and while credit should perhaps be given to the wardrobe designer for the actual ensembles, it was she who carried it off in the end.

photo: www.fandango.com
photo: http://www.fandango.com

The pants suit queen!!

All I can say is I hope I look this good at 63!

photo: www.huffingtonpost.com
photo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Happy icon inspiration!

The Antidotes

photo: via moi-in-a-blog.blogspot.fr
photo: via moi-in-a-blog.blogspot.fr

Okay. So now we know what to avoid in the fashion stakes as we move from one season to the next. (In case you need a quick refresher, it’s all here in my last post on Transeasonal Tricksters)

But if we are to resist the temptation to go for baggy, shapeless and generally unflattering pieces, what exactly are we looking for? Hint: the above outfit from my favourite season of Sex & the City* – sartorially speaking, that is – ticks all the boxes for me!

Well never fear style bar aficionados, for I would not dream of leaving you out in the cold, as it were, without some antidotes to aid you on your quest!

The No-no: Oversized Sweaters

photo: A Love is Blind via www.whowhatwear.com
photo: A Love is Blind via http://www.whowhatwear.com

The Antidotes:

Your knitwear doesn’t have to cling, but it can certainly have shape and look smart! Like this offering from Bally for example – how much more sophisticated is this option – and you could easily wear flat shoes or boots with this to make it more casual:

photo: www.style.com Bally AW15
photo: http://www.style.com Bally AW15

Or how about this idea – I’ve always liked the look of a soft, finer-gauge wool sweater tucked into a skirt or pants:

photo: Tommy Ton for www.style.com
photo: Tommy Ton for http://www.style.com

The No-no: Long Flowing skirts with flat shoes, esp sneakers

photo: www.thesartorialist.com
photo: http://www.thesartorialist.com

This lady gets points for her fabulous heels and the gorgeous pink hue of her skirt, but the fact remains, it’s a shape that leaves a great deal to be desired and adds oh-so-many kilos to even the most slender silhouette! Might I suggest a few, far more attractive skirt alternatives…

The Antidotes: 

photo: wwd.com
photo: wwd.com

In honour of the late, great, Oscar de la Renta, from his latest Spring Summer 2015 collection. Simple but full of interesting details and elegant, clean lines. And a very natty brogue in lieu of a sneaker – totally on trend too, might I add, with nary a whiff of gym locker in sight.

photo: www.style.com
photo: http://www.style.com

If you’re not comfortable in a pencil skirt (although I have to tell you, they look good on EVERYone) or want to get into some sassy heels (how cute are these?!), this look totally gets my vote!

www.thesartorialist.com
http://www.thesartorialist.com

If you love a pencil skirt but want a little more volume on your top half – not that I recommend baggy shirts per se! – but on this occastion it’s perfectly balanced by the split up the back of the skirt & the sexy open-toe stilettos.

photo: www.thesartorialist.com
photo: http://www.thesartorialist.com

Here’s another pencil skirt option that’s got length but is still flattering & looks good with cute flats. Actually, I’d love to know where she got that handbag…

The No-no: Ponchos

Sorry, can’t bring myself to look for another photo of that bloody blanket. Christopher Bailey aka Burberry, I love your work, but I just cannee do it!!

The Antidotes:

Do you know how many fabulous capes, sleeveless gilets & gorgeous jackets & flowy things that I don’t know how to describe I found to put you off the poncho scent? Here are just a few…

photo: vogue.co.uk
photo: vogue.co.uk
photo: www.style.com
photo: http://www.style.com
photo: www.style.com
photo: http://www.style.com

This one from one of my idols and the master of elegant casual, Ralph Lauren. OMG how divine is this monotone look??!

photo: www.whowhatwear.com
photo: http://www.whowhatwear.com

And you can take your pick with this one – coat worn over the shoulders, chic skirts, nice little short-sleeved sweater – I think it’s all there!

I do hope you’re feeling better about transeasonal dressing now – I know I am! And I have to say, that Ralph Lauren outfit has given me an idea – I’m off to research one-colour outfits as we speak!

Happy transeasonal styling!

*Season 5, in case you’re wondering🙂

Transeasonal Tricksters

photo www.thesartorialist.com
photo http://www.thesartorialist.com

I was jolted out of my rather extended stylish adventure & travel comfort zone this week by the appearance of some very suspicious characters on ‘new-season-must-have’ lists & ‘IT-item’ galleries of fashion publications everywhere.

It, schmit – in my humble opinion, these wardrobe items should be avoided at all costs! And so I am here to help you avoid falling into some fashion pits this season.

Oh, I know how they reel you in – with promises of comfort, ease, and photos of underweight models and celebrities who almost look good in them, especially when they cleverly combine them with a sexy shoe or skinny jean to distract you from the travesty at hand by having you think, ‘Oh, well, that bit is slimming, so the big thing with it won’t hurt, surely?’ Oh, but surely, it will.

The other danger is the fact that most women like to wear these things and we think other women look kinda cute in them (myself included!). But there is a fine line between comfortable and just plain unattractive, and I’m afraid that these babies all hail from the wrong side of the tracks.

I also want to say: forget about whether you are dressing to feel attractive to whatever sex it is that you are attracted to, I am going to assume that you are dressing to look stylish and to feel attractive, full stop!

So if that’s how you want to dress, the bottom line is this: if it doesn’t do anything for your figure AND rates highly as one of the biggest passion crushers of all time (novelty print flannelette pyjamas, I’m talking to you), then there is something wrong with this picture. Or these pictures.

Okay, here they are.

Oversized jumpers

photo: www.style.com
photo: http://www.style.com

The very word ‘oversized’ should be enough to give this one away, and yet, every few fashion cycles, these tempting little numbers make a come-back and try to insinuate themselves onto the racks of otherwise reputable and/or trendy retailers.

How to spot them: Cable knit, roll-neck, sloppy & off-the-shoulder jumpers or even cardigans that shroud your upper torso in acrylic (or some kind of wool blend if you are lucky), and end somewhere south of your booty.

Why I would avoid them: They are shapeless, they make your butt look enormous, & they only look good on chisel-jawed men in aftershave commercials. Next.

You can check out some more examples on Style.com: www.style.com/trends/fashion/2014/kate-moss-best-oversized-sweaters. And can I just say that la Kate’s ankle boots are hot, hot, hoooot.

Long flowing skirts with flat shoes, esp sneakers

photo: www.thesartorialist.com
photo: http://www.thesartorialist.com

Another insidious item I remember fondly from the 80s. This time they’re being cleverly combined with the tricky sneaker trend, no doubt in an effort to really push that comfort aspect whereas in reality it will just make you look even shorter and wider than you could ever, ever hope to be. And beware the clever street style snaps – this shot is so awesome & the subject so sassy that it almost makes the combo look good!

How to spot them: A line, striped, plain, pleated, wotevs – it’s a long, flowing or pretty much shapeless skirt that shoots straight out from the waist & ends somewhere in between your calves and your ankles. Not to be confused with the calf-length pencil skirt that can also be supremely difficult to pull off when combined with sneakers, but at least they show off your figure.

Why I would avoid them: Short, wide – are these adjectives that you want to spring to mind when describing yourself in your fetching ensemble? If you are brave or up for playing with proportions & want to try it with heels or have the chutzpah necessary to attempt this look, then go for it. But if in doubt, turn side on & look at your silhouette in the mirror. Thought so.

‘Ponchos’

photo: www.whowhatwear.com REX USA/Rex
photo: http://www.whowhatwear.com REX USA/Rex

I put this one in adverted commas i.e. advisedly because, well, to call this particular item a poncho is to be just a tad misleading when what we are really describing is essentially an … um … blanket. A. Woollen. Blanket.

How to spot them: Pretty hard to miss. Looks like you left home wearing a blanket.

Why I would avoid them: Are you a horse? Shivering over a campfire in les Alpes? I thought not.

If you don’t believe me, check out some shots at Who What Wear: www.whowhatwear.com/burberry-poncho-wrap-coat-fall/. I mean, if SJP, Olivia Palermo et al look like they’ve dragged themselves off the couch to make a quick dash to the pharmacy for more cold & flu tablets, what hope do the rest of us have?

Ok so that’s the hit list – for now! To be fair, I think I need to follow up this rant with some more stylish alternatives to these fashion horrors – so stay tuned!

Meanwhile I hope you find your comfort from other, more attractive sources. (Hot chocolate anyone? Make mine a vin chaud)…

Happy transeasonal styling!

Five Things to do in Paris: The Winter Weekend

photo the style bar
photo the style bar

Heading out into the crisp winter air recently for a Fashion Sunday expedition, I realised with a shiver that many of my favourite Sunday in Paris activities were in need of a wee winter update!

For while outdoor strolling and al fresco dining is super fun in the warmer weather, the winter months definitely call for slightly more indoors-y pursuits…

photo the style bar
photo the style bar
  1. Les Jardins – at any time of the year, it’s wonderful to take a stroll through one of Paris’ many beautiful jardins. But when winter comes around, rather than spending hours lolling about on the grass with a gourmet spread of wine, cheese, baguette & other tasty treats, it’s nicer – and more prudent – to use the park as a thoroughfare or somewhere to sit & relax in a more temporary manner as you make your way to the winter equivalent of the summer ‘pique nique”…
photo the style bar
photo the style bar
  1. Brunch – this Anglo weekend institution has been totally ‘a la mode’ for a while now in Paris, but no more so than in winter when the colder temperatures call for tasty and inventive indoor dining options. There are lots of variations on the brunch theme, from French-style (i.e. sweet!) croissant, jam & friandes-style spreads, to the more English and American-influenced menus of bacon and eggs, eggs Benedict or pancakes. Or, seeing as it’s really lunchtime by the time you meet for brunch, I personally like to take advantage of Paris’ best burgers washed down with a cheeky glass of red wine in lieu of summer’s requisite Bloody Mary. My current favourites are Paris New York in the 10th & The Bottleshop in the 11th…
photo the style bar
photo the style bar
  1. Culture – in a cultural sense, winter in Paris is all about exhibition season. However if you aren’t a huge fan of paintings, photographs or sculpture, the other option is to while away a few hours in one of the many crowded and terribly romantic bookshops in the 5th arrondissement, famous for their livres anciens. The St Michel area is also home to the multiple outlets of chain Gibert Joseph and, of course the iconic Shakespeare & Company. Add to that the fact that Hemingway lived in and around this area for many years and you have a literary feast for the senses on more levels than one…
Paris Winter Bookshops
photo the style bar
  1. Baths – while this is not everyone’s cup of hot mint tea, a relaxing, invigorating visit to the arab baths, or hammam, was something I came to cherish when living in the south of Spain. And the good news is that the equivalent does exist in the heart of Paris, at la Mosquée, also located in the 5th arrondissement. With various affordable bath packages on offer, you can easily while away a few hours amongst the quiet chatter of women, relaxing in the languid, steamy air and completely cocooned from the cold. Then, when you emerge bathed, scrubbed, massaged and completely refreshed, head to the tea room or restaurant and complete the experience with tea and baclava or a fragrant cous cous with spiced chicken or mahgreb sausages.

Paris Winter Drinks

  1. The art of drinking – and finally, it’s no surprise that we come back to one of the country’s favourite past times – the aperitif. No matter what the time of year, the institution of les apèros is alive and well in any part of France that you’d care to mention. However in the winter months, especially around Christmas, vin chaud – or mulled wine – is a welcome addition to the beverage menu of most cafes and restaurants. Alternatively, if you don’t fancy anything of an alcoholic nature, then this is the perfect time of year to indulge in a guilt-free hot chocolate, with or without cream on top. After all, you will soon walk it off once you head back outside into the fresh – yet curiously refreshing! – Parisian air.
photo the style bar
photo the style bar

Happy Parisian winter weekend-ing!!

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