April 27, 2008

Bonjour a Paris!

It's official: I have bought my ticket and booked my summer excursion to Europe! Four days in Paris and eight days in England. Friends at Oxford, shopping on the Champs-Elysees, ancient castles and London pubs - I am ecstatic, and in true Hayley form, already counting the days. I have my guidebooks and my book of French phrases ripped to go, and have spent more than a couple of minutes studying the maps for the Metro and the Tube. But my favorite, and most mind-boggling part of this trip, involves what to pack.

I have already mused on how to fill a backpack with enough essentials for two weeks. But as the plan unfolds it has become pretty clear that (thankfully) I should be able to use an actual suitcase, enabling far more outfit permutations and pairs of shoes on the trip, not to mention this little friend. This is a very good thing because it's not enough for me to simply not look (or act) like an ugly American. I am visiting two of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, not to mention the centre of the fashion universe. So it's natural that I want to try to fit in, stylistically and linguistically.

Many Parisiennes stroll about their city looking more like this....

... than this.

So how do I strike a perfect balance between the tourist that wants to be comfortable while spending the whole day on her feet, and remain cool and summery, and the chic, metropolitan European fashionista who knows that life is a runway and lives in stilettos?

Well, by using several universal rules of dress that I have learned through experience, I think I have some good ideas ahead. It is possible, and not that difficult, to look put-together and be comfortable, too.
1) Keep it simple. Solids, flattering colors, classic cuts, natural fabrics.
2) Keep it wearable. As much as I fancy myself a heel girl, I will not last from morning mass at Notre Dame to bordeaux in Montmartre in 4-inchers.
3) Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. Simple pieces come to life with accessories.

Fodor's and Lonely Planet will tell you jeans, sneakers and a backpack are OK for the streets of London and Paris while sightseeing, as long as you dress up for dinner, etc. I disagree. Just like I hate when Kansas folk go to Broadway shows in sweatshirts, I don't want to be That Girl who is popping into London boutiques wearing rubber flops and terry shorts. Coming up: a post on what pieces to bring to a foreign city, and how to mix 'em up for many outfit combinations, with wearability and personality.


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