How to Look Parisian Without Really Trying

I said in my last post that you should expect this post I'm currently writing yesterday. And once again, the summer lazy blues have hit me. But here I am, only one day late! And I'm here to talk about something very close to my heart -- Paris.

I spent some time in my last post talking about every location I visited in France but Paris because it deserves its own post. And I could talk for days about every aspect of the city, but it looks like I only have time for the style category. And what a topic for Paris!! I thought NYC was the most style-centric town in the world, but right as I stepped onto those beautiful Parisian streets, my stigma of everything fashion related vanished into thin air as the fashion ideals of Paris came crashing into my mind, replacing all my prior thoughts. It was spooky. I've been to Paris before, back in 2014 on a school trip, but I guess I didn't notice style as much before I started this blog that November. And here's where I get to my point: there's a certain style about Paris that is effortlessly cool (just like L.A.) but in a manner I can actually understand. L.A. only intimidated me while Paris welcomed me into her warm, loving arms. I was home, and I don't speak French (on another note, this trip has actually inspired me to take classes Spring semester). That's why the latter portion of my title is "without really trying", because I didn't have to try this time. I felt at ease, kind of like I did that one time in NYC (style epiphanies are definitely a thing), so I decided to use my finesse to good use and create a semi-formal how-to for Parisian style, like I've done several times. I'm a sucker for guides and how-to's.

I've noticed from other bloggers and actually observing Parisians a few key rules:
a) They follow a simple lifestyle, in all aspects (especially fashion). Like Coco Chanel said (and I'm paraphrasing), always take one thing off before you leave the house. Also, there can never be too much black.
b) They'd rather wear flats over heels and sneakers over those fancy over-the-knee suede boots and they wear minimal makeup. Similar to the above statement, but more like a no-fuss, practical lifestyle.
c) But boy, do they love making statements! Investment pieces can make an outfit, and they also have a thing for a red lip.
d) The term juxtaposition is not only used in literature, but it is most definitely overused in Parisian style. Does that make sense? Mix two unlikely items, and you'll get one wonderful look.

And if you're a visual person:

T-shirt from an Arcade Fire show. Skirt by Zara (similar here). Neck scarf by Urban Outfitters. Shoes by Adidas. Sunglasses by Madewell.

Here is me almost getting run over by hundreds of crazy Parisian drivers on my very first day (what a way to go!!). And I've already made my statement. But to follow the other rules: I based this outfit on the juxtaposition concept because I have this thing for comparing fashion to complex literature. I paired my Zara midi (yes, it's okay to re-wear items on two-week long trips) with a band t-shirt for Arcade Fire that also features a piece by Rodin, the French artist (and I went to the museum dedicated to him that same day!). This is my first time wearing a band tee in an actually fashionable way, and I've decided that I'm going to be doing this way more often, with all possible skirt lengths and shapes. I then wore my floral neck-tie choker style because I was standing in the place that inspired me to start this trend in the beginning. I slipped on my Adidas instead of my slides because practicality and finally smeared my NARS red lipstick over my lips like they were begging for water (how cool would it be if we could get our water servings by wearing lipstick?). And under those sunglasses I'm wearing not a drop of eye makeup, and instead of feeling insecure I felt très cool (what a confidence booster!). The next day my dad was talking to me about Parisian styles, and he noticed that I was already blending into their usual looks. Looks like I'm doing everything right.

Dress by Anthropologie

Investment pieces are everything! The French and I agree on many things, and this happens to be one of them. Because I was on day 11 of traveling, I had an unfortunately lazy mentality, but according to the rules of Parisian style, that's okay! So I simply slipped on one of my favorite investment pieces, that dress I've been wanting for months from Anthropologie that I referenced in this post from March. It really does work wonders for the less is more theory. To finish the outfit, all I had to do was tie the laces of my Stan Smiths (do I sense a juxtaposition in this look, too?) and I was done. That was easy. 

Dress by Zara (I bought this dress ages ago, but here's another statement dress that could work).

All I really need to say here is this: about a year ago I went to Montreal for the first time and wore this dress because I said it gave off Parisian vibes and now I'm actually wearing it in Paris. That's about as Parisian as I can get. Also, I decided to tie that floral neck scarf around my wrist instead to change things up on my last day and to ~make a statement~. 

While unwillingly getting on the miserable plane ride that later gave me an infected tonsil, I realized that everything came so easily to me and that I should live here one day. Time to start taking some French classes.

All photos taken by my dad.


A Guide to France

It's been 21 days since I've typed into my keyboard for the sole purpose of this blog and man, does it feel good. And miserable. Because I had a much-needed hiatus to the beautiful country of France, but I also was not able to blog during said trip due to the robbery of my dad's laptop (among other things). And I also would've changed 21 days to 19 days if my tonsils weren't inflamed (I guess that's what nine hours of a dehydrated plane ride does to you), but I will persevere through this sickness and write! as I lay on my couch in the same t-shirt from two days ago while binge watching Freaks and Geeks and How to Get Away with Murder. And among all this misery, I can only think of the wonder that is France.

As a fellow travel-lover, I have become a pro at packing for any trip and location. We're going to the Dominican Republic? Ok, bring a bathing suit for every day of the week, three coverups, and the best pair of sandals you own. What about California? Same with the bathing suits but take out five, change the coverups to five investment dresses, add a pair of jeans, denim cutoffs, and two going-out tops, and keep those sandals but also add your cool-girl sneakers. But then the words "We're going to France for two weeks!" hit me and the sun peeked through the gloomy clouds in the stormy sky of every trip I've ever been on because this has been my dream for as long as I can remember. And I don't even speak a drop of French. So you may think my packing list would only include stripes and bandanas, but only half of that statement is correct, which you could probably guess based off my recent obsession of tying various fabrics around my neck for both warmth or cool-girl points. In this case, however, instead of aiming for typical French-girl looks, I aimed for looks that proved ubiquity and practicality, which does seem like the French girl's motto.

Pants by Mango (try a wider cut here). Tank by Gap (or try this). Shoes by Urban Outfitters. Sunglasses by Madewell. My sister got the bag from a market in Florence two years ago, and the bandana I've owned for as long as I can remember.

This is day two of the trip, where I'm still 97% jet-lagged but 100% ready to get out and explore the beauty of France, because guess what? There's more than just Paris. Here I'm in Mont Saint-Michel, stop #1 of the trip, which is this big Hogwarts-looking-setup surrounded by water that actually used to be an Abby back in the day and is now a big tourist attraction. But for time purposes, I like to call it the French Hogwarts. While packing for my two week endeavor, I realized that France has strange temps in the summer, ranging from 60-90 degrees. This conflict forced me to pack my single pair of pants that can be worn in such climates, and of course they happened to be white (site note: do NOT choose to bring white pants as the only pair of pants you bring on a trip.) I slipped these on for this day because the French Hogwarts was further north, but continued to wear a strapless tank that reminds me of Van Gogh's Irises (how French!) and slides that my mom likes to call "Italian grandma shoes" even though I'm in the country north of that. I then tied the black bandana around my neck, Parisian style (even though I still had nine days until Paris), as if it was instinct and my brain didn't have to tell my hands what to do. This would continue to be a problem for the rest of the trip. Here I felt très Français, white pants and all, like some type of French sailor ready to sail the world (but in this case, the world is just the country of France).

Top by Topshop (similar here). Skirt by Zara (similar here). Bandana similar to the one I wore on day two. 

Now I've reached day five of the trip, unfortunately skipping the quiet town of Amboise (I was too busy château hopping to get outfit shots) to the historic and art-filled town of Arles. Along with the rich history of the Romans and Van Gogh, it was hot. 100 degrees, sweating out all of my fluids, and being exhausted by 3 pm hot. Every 20-something was extremely stylish here, in a midi dress and slides way, so wearing denim cutoffs and a tank wouldn't cut it. I hate the heat, so I encountered another fashion challenge today and decided to wear my new midi from Zara (sidenote: Zara is so good right now!!) with a ribbed crop top because showing an inch of stomach somehow works magic in weather that feels like hell. But I was in Arles, so it was more like this beautiful version of hell. I continued to tie yet another bandana around my neck, choker style this time, and because I was beginning to sweat it off, I forced myself to take it off and tie it around my bag instead. I finally slipped on the sandals I attempted to wear every day on my trip (which was a complete failure because these shoes have zero support) and was ready to take on the heat. Unfortunately, my outfit did not make me sweat less than any other look, but I still felt like I fit in with the rest of the style. And that was my entire point this trip: attempt to figure out the fashion of each town, and fit those standards to my own personal style. 

Top by Zara (or try this). Pants by Mango (remember these from day two?).

Shorts by J. Crew (or try these). 

And now I've finally reached day seven of the trip, aka the halfway mark of my French endeavor. Here I'm in St. Remy, a town similar to Arles (both in the Provence region) but more like a smaller, countryside version that also includes a rich history with Van Gogh. In the first photo, I'm wearing a top that can make an outfit and that requires no accessories (reason for the surprisingly bare neck). I paired it with my white pants, which are gradually getting extremely filthy. An hour later after this picture was taken, the grease from the pizza I'm holding dripped onto my pants, and in that moment, I really learned the lesson that white pants are not ideal for traveling. But the Tour de France was happening at that exact moment! I then continued to travel three hours to the beautiful beach-side town of Antibes, which is featured in the second, low quality Instagram photo. When I arrived, I immediately stripped off my white jeans and stripped on these shorts that you probably remember from here. And that's the beauty of this top: it magically works with everything, even though it somewhat resembles a clown's worst nightmare. I still have a heavy heart because right behind me in the photo is the town of Nice, and this picture was taken just hours before the tragedy occurred. But I realized that through tragedy, beauty will always come through the surface because Antibes is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been inside of. And all is well! We are safe! We continued onto Paris for the next four days, which will be reserved for my next post (spoiler: It's titled How to Look Parisian Without Really Trying). Au revoir!

All photos taken by my dad, who is also a photographer.


Summer in the City

It's summer!! And not metaphorically in the "I'm out of school!!" and "School's out for summer!!" sense. It's actually summer, according to the sun and how the earth rotates and whatnot (science was not my best subject). And what does this mean? It's hot. Sweat dripping down your thighs hot. Forcing yourself to wear sunglasses even though your sweat makes them slip down your nose but you have to protect your eyes from that blazing sun hot. 

Now do you understand why I hate summer?

It's a heavily discussed topic on Fractured Aesthetic.

But we're going to change that!! No, not the idea that I hate summer. I'm never going to enjoy 95 degree weather. However, we're going to find ways to work with this heat. Well, I'm going to find ways for this first trial. Your part in all of this can be to give suggestions/tips in the comments below for future summer looks (there's still 83 days left of summer!!).

And to test out my first attempt at summer I went into the city -- not THE city (NYC, that is), like Hamilton sings (do you get my title now?), but Atlanta. The city seems like a perfect place to test this -- the excessive amounts of walking and high concentration of pavement make it feel like a literal oven come July. Also another factor: I've been wearing my Calvin Klein overalls and denim shorts with T-shirts practically every day because I live in a magical land of suburbia, where summers are filled with boredom and poorly made outfits (a.k.a. my excuse of having a fairly dry blog this season). But the city!!! What a place to actually put effort into what you wear!! 

I didn't realize how hard it was to dress for this season until the twenty minutes before I was supposed to leave hit and I had no clue what to wear. Dressing for 95 degrees is hard. I've discussed this. And I still have not found the solution, the final answer to all our problems. I first took out this top I recently purchased from Nasty Gal in L.A. a few weeks ago -- a top I would've never bought a few months ago, but the heat forces us to make irrational decisions in fashion. It had awkward cutouts and buttons and made me practically immobile from the waist up, but I bought the top, thinking it would pair perfectly with the tight denim skirt I found at a thrift shop that same day but soon realized that I could not walk OR raise my arms a few inches above my torso. 

Attempt 1: failed. This reminds me of when I did another fashion experiment a few months ago, where I tried to make denim cutoffs work for a non-festival occasion. I failed twice, but succeeded on the third attempt. So I kept going.

I kept the top because I spent too much money on it for it to go to waste. I dug through the back of my dresser drawers, hoping I would find the perfect bottoms to pair with such an awkward top, then I continued to find my most awkward pair of shorts. That should be a perfect match, right?

Top by Nasty Gal. Shorts by J. Crew (or try these). Shoes by Adidas. Sunglasses by Madewell.

Plot twist: it was!! I've owned these shorts for over a year now and they've continued to collect dust for the past 12 months. They're those shorts that fall into the category of "too big for the waist but too tight on the thighs", so I let them sit there, hoping they would magically change shape or maybe I would change shape. I slipped them on a year later, and they somehow fit. It's like the shorts themselves knew I was in a fashion dilemma. I quickly tucked in a portion of the top to give that ~asymmetric~ look but to actually allow my arms to be mobile (two birds with one stone!). As I was rushing out the door I realized I was barefoot and still waiting on these shoes to arrive (which they did the next day, of course). I think back on this day, which was over three days ago, and imagine the perfect summer look with those espadrille slides that now live on my feet because they're that comfortable (and perfect for summer). So instead, I quickly grabbed my Stan Smiths because I like to call them my safety blanket and wearing them in Atlanta, of all places, made them more fashion-forward. 

This is the first time that I've felt, well, good with what I was wearing this summer. Comfortable in my own skin. Summer can really mess with your personal style, and I know traveling to places like L.A. doesn't help one bit. But I actually felt like me! Even with this strange top that I still can't seem to grasp the concept of. And with the sun glowing off the metallic gold stripes on my shorts, I felt ready. Able to take on the heat. Take that, summer.

Photos taken by my friend Averie (yes, I know you noticed they weren't taken with my DSLR. I'm sad about it, too).