samedi 25 juillet 2015

Africa's inside me

"Africa's inside me 
Taking back her child
She's giving me my pride and setting me free"*

Even if I'm half west-indian (my mother is from Martinique), living in Benin, West Africa has been a rooting experience that will stay with me forever and it is one of my homes.

I'm very thankful that I got to spend most of my teenage years in Benin because despite all the growing pains that every single teenager experiences, I was over all surrounded by kindness and the belief that I was able. It's such an important gift to be amongst people whom you can look up to and whom in return lift you up. 

I'm writing about that because that's the feeling I get everytime I step off the plane in Cotonou, I'm uplifted, filled with optimism and confidence. Sadly this summer - thanks to crazy expensive tickets inversely proportionnal to my budget- I won't be able to go and get my much needed boost. 

So instead I'm relying on the next best thing for me, fashion! It's all about indigo blue, blood orange, batik and wax prints and somehow I'm less timid, standing taller and prouder when I'm wearing clothes from the motherland...



Dress by Mrs Clotilde Tomety in Benin / tote bag: Céline / sandals: Birkenstock "Madrid"


shirt: Nash Prints It - pinstriped pants (I know, you can't see the stripes with my crappy phone pic but I swear they are there!): Uniqlo - sandals : APC  classic wedges.


linen tshirt: H&M - skirt: Openya - bag: Abaco - sandals: APC 


trench coat: Tcharakoura - striped tshirt: Isabel Marant Etoile - sandals: Birkenstock "Gizeh"- bag: Céline


lundi 13 juillet 2015

Heat wave heroes

Here is part of the equipment I used to survive the tropical heat wave (up to 39 °C.../ 102.2°F)  that hit us a few days ago in - usually mild at best in July - Paris :

These 2 very simple dresses that I grabbed at H&M, both under 20 euros, classic shapes, made of cotton :
  • Sleeveless shirtdress, back is longer than front, tailored enough to be office-friendly. 
  • Loose fit white cotton dress with a crisscross of  dark grey stripes

H&M dresses


Also heat approved:
  • APC "Amy" and Birkenstock "Madrid" sandals with adjustable straps, perfect to accommodate swelling feet!
  • Straw hat to protect my hair/head from the (drying) hot sun, 
  • paper fan to get a bit of ventilation as air-conditioning is sadly not widespread in the city...   



APC "Amy" sandals & Birkenstock "Madrid" mules - straw hat and paper fan.

mardi 7 juillet 2015

June

Here's a recap of what I wore in June. All the looks are off-duty.

I knew that the APC sandals were my favorite shoes of the moment and seeing how I wore them practically every day this past month confims that they were one of my best investment this season. 

At second glance, I'm noticing that old favorites are still in the game. There's not a single "everything is new in that outfit" pic.

Blue is the reigning color though I'm trying to be more diverse in my range (orangey base mainly along with the classic kaki greens) and to add more prints like the Nashprintsit shirt or the trench. 


Pic 1:
linen striped tshirt: Isabel Marant Etoile - white cords : Gap - sandals: APC - bag : AAKS
Pic 2:
linen jacket : Uniqlo - linen tshirt: Isabel Marant - pants: H&M - sandals: APC- bag from Cotonou, Bénin - scarf : Zara
Pic 3:
linen cardigan : Gap - linen tshirt: H&M - pants: Zara - bag Abaco - sandals from Cotonou.
Pic 4:
linen jacket: Monoprix - shirt: Nashprintsit - jeans: Uniqlo - sandals : APC - bags from Cotonou



Pic 1:
top: Dries van Noten - pants : Isabel Marant - sandals: Birkenstock - bag: Abaco
Pic 2:
cardigan, vest, skirt: H&M - sandals : APC - leather bag: Abaco - shopping bag from Cotonou
Pic 3:
blouse: Isabel Marant Etoile - pants : Zara - sandals: Isabel Marant - leather bag: Abaco - shopping bag from Cotonou
Pic 4:
linen tshirt: H&M - pants made in Cotonou - sandals: Isabel Marant - bag: Céline


Pic 1:
linen jacket: Uniqlo - tshirt: H&M - pants : Zara- bag: Abaco - sandals : APC
Pic 2:
bomber jacket: H&M - blouse from a store on rue Mouffetard Paris - jeans: Uniqlo - sandals: Birkenstock - bag : Céline
Pic 3:
cotton sweater: H&M - jeans: Current Elliott - sandals: APC - bag : Woodin - scarf: Zara
Pic 4:
blouse, pants : H&M - bag: AAKS



Pic 1:
top: Zara - jeans: Current Elliott - sandals: APC - bag: Woodin
Pic 2:
linen tshirt: H&M - jeans: Current Elliott - sandals : APC - bags from Cotonou
Pic 3:
top, sandals: Dries van Noten - dress worn as skirt: Mango - bag: Balenciaga
Pic 4:
dress, bag made in Cotonou - sandals: APC
Pic 5:
dress : Comptoir des Cotonniers - sandals: APC - bag from Cotonou

samedi 4 juillet 2015

Sales




Woo oooh!!! Major score!!

Crossed one of the oldest element of my wishlist: the Play Comme des Garçons striped t-shirt.

Just couldn't believe my luck when browsing one of my favorite consignment store, Violette et Léonie's eshop, I spotted it in my size, dropped it in the cart, paid then next day stopped by the actual store to inspect it from every angle, tried it on before contentedly confirming my purchase. 

It's one of those items that is very popular - it seems like every trendy fashion blogger has one non? Haha! Just joined the club! - but very expensive (in my opinion) for basically the added value of a cute logo on a striped tee. 

Still it didn't stop me from crushing hard on it and I spent many years toying with the idea of buying this item but never willing in the end to spend so much cash for it. 

Already tagged at a decent second hand price and further reduced for sales to 66 euros, suddenly owning it could be reality. 

Voilà! So far, best and only - oh yeah I returned the bermuda...- sales purchase. 

By the way am I the only one a bit let down by the sales at the moment?  Have you found anything?

They only started last week in France, the weather gods [I'm finishing reading "American Gods"  by Neil Gaiman and his deity/mythology concept just keep bumping in my mind. It's really great by the way if you're into subtle fantasy with existential brainstorming] have granted us sunshine and heat (a bit too much dare I say) and thought it would be the right occasion to add a skirt and maybe a dress. But actually what's on discount is rarely my cup of tea and when I find something suitable for the season and to my tastes, it is obviously not on sales. Story of my life. Ok, maybe I'm exagerating a bit there... Haha!

dimanche 28 juin 2015

April - May

April:

Work wear:



Pic 1:
jacket + sweater + necklace Isabel Marant Etoile  / pants: H&M / ballet flats: Lanvin /batik shopping bag from Cotonou, Bénin.

Pic 2:
tshirt: Isabel Marant Etoile / Pants: H&M / shoes: Dries van Noten / Tote bag: Céline

Pic 3:
coat: Zara /shirt + skirt: COS / shoes: Creeks x André / bag: Céline

Day off:


cardigan + blouse + necklace: Isabel Marant Etoile / jeans: Zara / Bag: Abaco / shoes: Isabel Marant

May:

Days-offs: Clearly I wasn't in the mood to shoot my work looks!



Pic 1:
trench coat : Tcharakoura / sweater: Zara / jeans : Cos / Shoes: Eden / shopping bag from Cotonou

Pic 2:
sweater:: Maje / polka dot blouse: H&M / pants: Zara / Shoes: Dries van Noten/ bag: Céline

Pic 3:
blouse: Cos /jeans: H&M / shoes: Dries van Noten / bag: Céline

vendredi 26 juin 2015

Long short story

(Eileen Fisher's Instagram)

So back to fashion.

You know what I want to wear right now... Shorts.

The thing is I usually dislike wearing shorts in the city: too much skin out, too many bacteria outside, too much unsolicited attention, too laidback. 

Still the big advantage remains that legs get some fresh air and let's be honest skirts and dresses are cute and all but you kind of have to pay attention - to how you sit and get up, to tricky sudden winds (cf. Marilyn), etc.- to make sure that, put bluntly your undies remain out of sight.

Shorts on the other hand grants you some freedom, no worries of "wardrobe malfunction".

So I couldn't think of a better option to reconcile the slightly germaphobe / rolling eyes at gawking men (mostly) / elegance snob in me than a bermuda or now fashionably named "long shorts".

I truly started to "see" them and appreciate their potential last summer looking at Dries van Noten's collection. The way shorts were styled with softly tailored items, loose romantic blouses, steady heels completely won me over. 


(Dries van Noten summer 2014 via Vogue UK)

Of course even after being mega reduced, the Dries ones were still way too expensive for me, considering that shorts season in France is well, short!  

Flashforward to summer 2015 and I'm noticing that a lot of budget friendlier brands now offer bermuda in their collections so the lookout starts. 

Ideally, the shorts I envisioned for me should have a loose, wide cut, in a supple but not too thin /transparent material like tencel or lyocel, side pockets and would just hit above the knees, color wise: a dark shade (black, grey, navy) would do.

While trying on a few many shorts, I observed that getting the right fit and proportions are key. Too tight in my opinion defeats the air circulation purpose, also I find that a bit room with clothes in general works better with my silhouette, but too wide looked clownish on my average 168 cm height, same goes for the length, a few centimeters above or below the knee really make a difference.

First, I was eyeing these COS silky bermuda which I really really like, but at 89 euros that's still very steep for shorts... Plus silk... Wouldn't they be too fragile? I wonder... So no.

(Cos)

Then these And Other Stories shorts (55 euros) seemed pretty good - dressier than the COS and closer in spirit and cut to the Dries ones - until I reached the composition part: 100% polyester. Not happening. Especially for summer clothes when breathing materials are a must. Again no.


Long story short, after many negative changing rooms sessions, I may have found the ones that will satisfy me from French brand Promod (here) right on time for the expected heat wave next week!



vendredi 19 juin 2015

Into mind

April and May were an emotional rollercoaster with lots of tension at work that left me drained with energy and low spirits. It started with a simple conflict over vacations dates which could have been handled in a civil manner. Instead my boss raised her voice, her tone getting harsher by the second, vindicative while I was stunned by the intensity of her anger.

I had time to reflect after my tears dried up, spending the night tossing the matter over and over in my head, that from a textbook legal point of view, I had been wrong. But the pain, humiliation to be berated stung, my decade old professional relationship shaken in a few minutes. Still I gathered my nerves, went back to work, told my boss I would draw the consequences of our previous meeting - in short "you win"- I'm rolling over and submitting to you. 

I thought it would stop at that but she wanted to talk. I didn't. Nonetheless my sleepless teary night had left me with a lot to say. So ok, let's have a go for it. She casually admitted having been "hard" when I shared with her my feelings on her radioactive attitude. It could have stopped right here. You know a little pow-wow, I'm wrong - you're wrong, truce and let's move on. 

No, she wanted to express what was in her opinion at the root of the conflict, she didn't know me she said. Just like that. After about 10 years in her employment, I was summed up to the fact that I was not talkative enough, secretive even, asking me even "why I was like that"... That last draw actually left me mute, pun intended! Haha! I couldn't see what was the point of her rubbish psycho bull... analysis in regard with an administrative schedule issue.   

I guess in her very French state of mind, she wants me to spill the beans on everything that goes on in my life - while paradoxically stating that my intimate life is my own of course (!), to voice my opinion on every sterile topic du jour and grumble about the latest thing supposedly going wrong in this country. It's very French I get it but the "why" escapes me.

I'm just not like that. Especially at work. Don't get me wrong, I looove râler (complaining about everything!) and debating over almost anything but see I just don't mistake my bosses for my friends, I'm cordial, do my job and try my best to accomplish it properly. I actually thought it was the essence of any professional activity. How delusional was I. 

Because being efficient is not enough, talking about the movies I saw, the places I was raised in, visited, my health issues, seeing me carrying around massive books in English, the obvious fact -to everyone else who ever met me in my entire life that I love fashion were not enough. My mind was not known to her... Well, what's going on in my mind - if not work related, nor with any impact on it - is not my hierarchy's business.  

Suffice to say that her last words shattered any little trust I had in her and that I realised that if she thought I was a stranger, she had definitely shown her true self and I didn't like what I saw at all.   

So I've been talking but with friends and family of this. It helped a lot. I've also worked hard on my resume, searched for opportunities. Also a new - male - friendship blossomed quite unexpectedly out of nowhere and it was so exhilarating to get to know someone from another continent, with a whole different life but somehow sharing common likings (shopping!! Haha!) and experiences. 

All this attention and affection I was lucky to receive when I needed it soothed me and helped me to let go of the drama and move forward. 

I always wanted to keep this space light and essentially about fashion but this little crisis took a toll on me and now that I can put down words on it without any violent emotional reaction, I wanted to let you know that I didn't abandon this blog permanently and at first I meant to keep my reasons short and vague. Debating whether to post this or not. To be honest I'm not exactly sure why I'm publishing this, I'm not venting nor seeking any comfort maybe in a sick and twisted way my boss's words rooted in me and I wanted to let you know what's been going on in my mind lately. Anyway, I'm back. I have no idea what I'll write about next and as my camera broke down, you'll have to make do with the few crappy iPhone 4 outfits pics I managed to snap when I do a recap post ! Haha!