Living in France again has reminded me just how high the style bar is set, whether you’re going out or just going for groceries. Every morning on my way to the bus stop, I pass a French middle school where a crowd of well-dressed preteens makes me question my choice of outfit. The neighborhood Monoprix is another reminder that there is no such thing as “running to the grocery store” and certainly not in sweatpants. Although now the athleisure trend is making it slightly more acceptable (thankfully) to sport tennis shoes in public.
Famed as they are for being well-dressed, and effortlessly so, most of the people I meet here have a rather small (read: well-edited) wardrobe. Like everything else here, the “bigger is better” rule does not apply. The idea isn’t to buy a new “going out” outfit every other weekend. Having left behind about two-thirds of my closet, this concept took me a while to grasp. Invest in everyday pieces. Think trench, LBD, a good pair of jeans, a crisp white button up and black ballet flats. Build your wardrobe around a few key pieces and you’re good to go. The magic comes in how you wear what you have. Okay, we’ve all heard it but easier said than done, right?
For a little inspiration, I decided to create a “wardrobe staple” series starting with none other than my stylish classmates, of course. First up is my friend Sylvie sharing the story behind a very special silk scarf…
Back in the late '80s, early '90s, the « Carré Hermès » was the must-have accessory of any Parisian wardrobe. Inès De La Fressange was still working as a model for Chanel, and nobody had cellphones…
Picture a chic Parisian suburb, a kind of Wisteria Lane, where all the ladies had to make a statement with the famous Hermès scarf. My mom was no different, but she was always price conscious, looking for outlets and sales.
Hermès organized sales twice a year, and all the trendy ladies were waiting for these dates the whole year long. My mom was always the first in the queue in front of the flagship store on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. In the store, there were mountains of scarves, all mixed up. My mom had to fight with all the Japanese tourists to get her long-awaited scarf. Les soldes, that was always a great competition, one that my mom was always proud to win.
Over the course of fifteen years, she built quite a nice collection of scarves, and those scarves represented, for me, pure pieces of luxury. Her collection has always fascinated me.
A few years ago, when I came back home for on vacation, I asked to my mom to show me her collection of Hermès scarves.
The magic was still there as those brightly colored silk squares are still considered luxury items. But so old fashioned now! Anyway, my mom wanted me to choose one “because, if ever, one day you have a very important job, and if ever, you need it, at least you will have one to make the statement!”
I decided to choose a blue one (because my mom never wears blue), called “Les Emblèmes de l’Europe,” designed in 1993 by C. Lathan from Hermès. As it has been sold during the sales period, you can see the small “S” stamp.
I keep it more as a souvenir from my mom, than a true piece of my wardrobe. I have never worn it; I don’t know how to wear it. It is just nice to have.