“The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. Or just The City. Whatever you call it, we’re all on the same page. New Yorkers are a special breed of human being that can live in tiny spaces and work extra long hours while dressing very well and being very beautiful.” -Homepolish
The crutch of all frugal Millennials, fast fashion has dominated the retail space. If you need a new dress for a night out or a new top for a date, Forever21 and Zara will always have something waiting for you at a cheap price. This low price, however, comes with low-quality fabric and (moreso for F21) unoriginal designs. Why buy a $200 versatile silk blouse when you could buy ten cheaper tops for the same price?
Sometimes at these stores, you can find a nice-looking piece that will last you ages. I have a shirt from Forever21 that I bought at least 5 years ago, but it’s not a nice top. I’ve been trying to invest in nicer, higher-quality pieces so that I can stop cluttering my closet with “trendy” fad clothing that is made of scratchy fabrics and may fall apart after a handful of washes. I cannot tell you how many peplum tops I bought from Forever21 in high school….and I never wear any of them anymore.
The main take away from all this is that fast fashion, although fun and affordable, is wasteful. It fits in perfectly with the consumerism and materialism Americans are known for. We buy what we want when we want it and just throw it out when we move on. This just seems ridiculous to me. Why not buy things that we will love and use for a longer time? You may like that polyester shirt from Zara this month, but when the trend passes, will you still want to wear it?
The answer is no, you won’t. And the stores know it so they refresh the merhcandise on the sales floor. Their businesses are built on our incessant appetite for new trends.
No need to run to your closet and toss out all of your shirts from F21 this second; they’re still useful shirts. Sometimes, Forever21 is the perfect place to get a going out blouse (one that you don’t mind getting drinks spilled on) when you’re in a time crunch. That’s what it’s there for. be careful not to grow dependent on these stores and waste your money each season stocking your closet with soon-to-be-irrelevant fads.
I touched on this in Paris, but it’s even more true in Manhattan. If you intend to wear heels on a day you will be walking a lot, be careful… you may never walk again.
As a former dancer, my feet have built up a very high pain tolerance, but sometimes it’s too much for me. A girl can only push through the pain of so many blisters. I’m usually running a few minutes behind schedule and have to rush from one place to the next. Speed walking in heels on the uneven sidewalks of New York, carrying a heavy bag filled with textbooks is always a recipe for disaster.
Here’s my favorite pair to wear around. They look great and are not too tall to be uncomfortable on my hasty runs to class.
I asked around and here’s some of the best advice I got for wearing heels in the Big City:
- Don’t wear suede heels in the winter because they WILL get wet and they WILL be ruined. forever.
- Get a pair with a thick, sturdy heel not a tiny little skinny one unless you want to eat s***.
- Get some comfy gel inserts or wear shoes with platforms. The sidewalks of the City will have no mercy on the balls of your feet.
- Don’t wear stilettos in the West Village or Chelsea because the cobblestone will destroy the heels.
- Make sure your destination has a seat!
- Carry blister band aids with you at all times. There’s nothing worse than blisters you can’t do anything about.
These past six weeks have flown by incredibly quickly! A month and a half sounds like a long time (and some days dragged on for what felt like forever), but looking back, I can’t believe that it’s already over. At times, my classes were draining and there was no end in sight to the work, but being in the City of Lights made it all worth it.
Instead of a long, heartfelt essay on how much I’ve grown, I’m just going to list all my favorite things about my time here:
- Monoprix. I’ve expressed my love for this supermarket chain before, but I had to mention it again ❤
- My new Parisian friends!
- The shopping… Enough said.
- Getting photographed for a street style blog on my second day!
- The Givenchy fashion show after party
- Hanging out on the Champs de Mars while the Eiffel Tower is twinkling at night
- The Fête de la Musique
- Our professors. They are such characters! My French Professor was definitely the best part of my academic experience at NYU Paris.
- Going to see a ballet at the Opera Garnier
- Exploring the many museums of Paris (and getting to know the D’Orsay a little too well…)
- Free coffee days
- But most of all, fresh baguettes!
“I JUST figured out the best route to Chipotle and now we have to leave??”
– A Disgruntled Classmate
Since moving to New York, my closet has slowly transformed from a colorful spectrum to a solid mass of black fabric. Almost every day, I wind up wearing black pants and a black top. If I’m feeling adventurous, I might possibly wear a white shirt.
It’s a lot easier to make outfits when everything is the same color, especially when traveling with a limited portion of my closet. As long as the styles, cuts, and fabrics of the shirts are different, it’s simple to have different outfits every day (while putting in minimal effort). These are the clothes in my closet here in Paris. The intense lack of popping colors is kind of funny.
In high school, wearing all black was considered “alternative” or grungy but the second I moved back to New York, I remembered how much I love wearing black head to toe! It seems like the all-black dress code is the norm in cities across the world as well.
At the far end of the Champs Élysées, there is a gate with ornate, gold embellishments which leads to an unknown building. Behind them sits an elegantly groomed pathway which looks like it was lifted straight from the Gardens of Versailles. Is it Burberry? It it Dior? Nope, it’s the once reigning suburban American retailer, Abercrombie & Fitch (the buff guys outside were a dead giveaway).
We figured if their entrance was this beautiful, the inside had to be spectacular so we decided to take a peek. And we was right. There were four of five floors of dark, strongly-scented clothing and an overwhelming amount of shrubbery blocking the passageways. So it was essentially the same as an American A&F.
There is a huge square opening in the center of the building where we could see the grand decor. I think it must have been a luxury hotel at some point before Abercrombie moved in. The detailing throughout the building was very ornate and French (like a mini Versailles).
Abercrombie isn’t the only American retailer moving into Paris. I have yet to see a physical store, but I see girls everywhere wandering around with Forever21 bags! With so many other affordable clothing stores around, I don’t see F21 really thriving here. But who knows? Maybe Europeans like the idea of shopping at American stores. Other American brands I’ve spotted include Claire’s, J.Crew, and Brandy Melville….
On my way home today, I got completely lost. My phone died, but I thought I knew the city well enough to get home without it. Just Follow the Seine then turn left at the Marais.
I thought I knew where the Seine was and tried to keep that as a point of reference, but failed miserably. My brain is wired to navigate Manhattan style. In Manhattan, the bodies of water stay in straight lines, making it easy to orient yourself. All the avenues go up and down and all the streets go side-to-side (with the exception on the West Village where I tend to get disoriented and lost). For the most part, it’s the ideal city layout (not that I’m biased or anything).
In Paris, the roads criss cross and shoot out in every direction. There are roundabouts and intersections with over 5 streets. Even worse, the Seine snakes through the city. You have to know which bank you are on (right or left) to get a general sense of where you are.
Anyways, I ended up wandering down Avenue Montaigne and past the stunning Hôtel Plaza Athénée. I had never been on this street before and I was pleasantly surprised to discover it. Avenue Montaigne is like Rodeo Drive minus the fanfare and mobs of tourists reenacting Pretty Woman. Couture designer shops line the street. Chanel, Gucci, Valentino, Prada, LV, Chloé, Fendi, Céline, Ferragamo, Versace, they’re all there. I was too intimidated to enter any of them so I settled for window shopping at Dior and Harry Winston. A girl can dream, right?
Around the corner from the Dior window displays was an office entrance (Dior Headquarters?). Everyone coming in and out was fabulously dressed in what I assume was Dior. I tried walking into the lobby just for the sake of it, but was quickly turned away by security when they realized that I wasn’t an employee, just a crazy tourist.
In America, well-dressed men are not so easy to come by. And most of the time, those men who are well-dressed have no interest in dating us. In Paris, however, it is easy to see that most young men put an effort into what they wear each day. Sure, there will always be some boys in sweats and a ratty t-shirt, but those are few and far between here. The French have a cultural consciousness that we seem lack in the U.S. Dressing well is a sign of respect to those you interact with and shows that you care about how you appear to the world. In America, our stubborn attitudes and laziness is probably responsible for our current “sweatpants epidemic.”
This man in the park wins today’s best dressed award (by far)… People usually stray from wearing one color head to toe (unless it’s black of course), but this monochrome ensemble is just so classy. From the totally European leather shoes to the navy blue, this guy’s got it down.
And of course, I couldn’t finish this post without linking the song which inspired it all.