The setting: Paris in summer.
The challenge: Staying comfortable without descending into a hell of rumpled athletic wear that serves mainly to underscore how deeply un-athletic one, in fact, is.
The answer: Pretty much Eileen Fisher.
Yes, yes, I know. You think it’s an old lady brand specializing in muumuus and wrinkly linen shirts. You are wrong! In recent years the brand has grown to embrace all sizes, including all you adorable little petites with your XXXS derrieres, and offers clean, architecturally inspired shapes in natural materials, many of them organic.
Here’s a summary of core pieces I took on my recent trip to Paris, a quick couple of days I tacked on to a business trip in Cognac. I’ve attached links to the pix where possible. Sadly, I don’t get anything if you click on them, so this is my community service for the month.
Day One: Travel.
The stretch black pants: Eileen calls this “French crepe” material. I call it, “feel free to have another French crepe, this baby will never viciously dig into your waistline” material. Sleek, comfortable, still considerably dressier than your basic yoga-pant-that-doesn’t-go-to-yoga and there are slits at the ankle that give a stylish kick.
The black shell. A wardrobe workhorse. Dress it up, dress it down. If need be, give it a rinse in the sink overnight and hang to drip dry.
The light jacket: On a super sunny day, you will feel cooler wearing a thin layer of white because of the tremendous light-reflecting properties of white. This linen jean jacket goes with everything and is designed to be worn wrinkled so needs no special care.
Day Two: Visiting the Paris Sewer Museum for a story followed by a mildly dressy dinner. Because that is how I roll. (Actually not such a bad choice. It was 106 degrees F on the pavements of Paris compared to a mild 70-something in the sewers that run beneath the city. Kind of like visiting a wine cave, only with a different class of aromatics.)
The boyfriend jeans. Jeans that are allowed, nay, supposed to be a little loose. Who could ask for more? Mine are old, from Citizens of Humanity. Find the EF version here.
The boxy, colorful shell: I’ll be honest. I dithered over buying this color because it is bright. But it has turned out to be flattering and amazingly sturdy. I spilled Cognac (in Cognac!) on this, which evaporated right off, and, er, “glowed” like a glow-worm in it jammed up with a whole lot of Gallic humanity in the unairconditioned Ligne 6. No problem. I packed it by laying all my light shells on top of each other and then rolling them up loosely and placing them in the top of the suitcase. Result, minimal wrinkling.
Plus, the light white jacket.
Here’s a photo of me in the outfit earlier in the week in Cognac.
The navy blue dress and matching maxi cardigan. It’s like wearing sweats, but just a wee bit more stylish.
Day Three: Strolling around Montmartre.
The stretch black skirt: Short enough to stride in, narrow enough that it won’t fly up, long enough to keep everything under wraps that needs to be kept under wraps, doesn’t bag, resists wrinkles. This is not on the EF site currently, but you can find it here.
The white tank top + sheer white linen sweater: Lightest, most heat-reflecting top ever? Lightest, most heat-reflecting top ever! Climbed to the top of Sacre Coeur and did not swoon. True, my heart was going like a jack hammer and my lungs were composing a stiff letter of complaint. But my outer crust? Ah, that felt as fresh and cool as a spring breeze.
Dinner: The black stretch skirt, plus the maxi cardi (navy and black is edgy they say, at least that’s my story) and,
The off-white shell. (Cousin to the black.)
Day Four: Home again.
Black stretch pants + the off-white shell + the maxi cardi.
Up side: I was comfortable. Down side: Sadly, not as comfortable as the gent beside me who apparently was engaged on setting a Manspreading world record. But into each life a little rain must fall.
Bonus round: Shoes. Here’s my big tip on shoes. They’re heavy and bulky and it’s a total waste of effort to lug them around the world. Unless they are screamingly wrong for the occasion, or you are screaming in pain from wearing them, no one cares about your shoes. I take a pair for walking, Tom’s is my choice, a pair of smart flats nd a pair of moderately comfortable heels for dress up, these are both from earlier EF shoe collections. And, boom, c’est tout. .
Mixed in with my core pieces for earlier in the week, I took a couple of extras, including a navy blue, polka dot flippy skirt from Jigsaw and a long tunic from J. Crew Factory. I took two scarves because Paris is the scarfi-est city ever, although, honestly, it was too hot to wear them so I just kind of trailed them over my arms to let the French ladies know I totally have scarf game when it’s not 5,000 degrees.
All of the bottoms, except the polka dot skirt, go with all of the tops and the jacket and cardi go with everything, which maximizes outfit potential. I had a lot of options including pairing the black shell and black skirt to create an instant LBD.
Bonus pic: Mr. Manspreader