dimanche 22 mai 2016

Paris - Cotonou

I'm already back from a few days away to Cotonou but here's my traveling outfit which for once I didn't fuss over days in advance. I elaborated it very quickly and easily. Requirements were that the look had to be: 
  • comfy: stretchy jeans and sneakers to walk up and down airport stairs with luggage;
  • stainproof: not wearing my fanciest items in case of spilling incidents, also darker colors for an easier concealment purpose; 
  • layered: short sleeved linen tee underneath a wool mixed sweatshirt to face the humid heat upon arrival, a big scarf to avoid catching a cold at departure, and 
  • fun: with African textile printed sneakers adding touches of color in a grey and navy base.
At first, I wanted it to be more grown up stylish and wear shoes like loafers or fluid black pants but practicality and common sense won since I knew that for such a short vacation and destination, closed toes shoes were not necessary and jeans were likely more useful for motorcycle rides and other adventures than smartish pants. 

 sweatshirt: Isabel Marant x H&M - jacket/ veste & scarf / écharpe: Isabel Marant Etoile - Jeans: Zara - sneakers /baskets: Keziah Jones x Faguo

dimanche 1 mai 2016

My armor

In celebration of international workers day, here are a few recent work looks. Because sometimes, the only thing that motivates me to get out and face the day is the outfit I'm rocking. 

I've learned that even during unsatisfying professional circumstances and hypocritical colleagues, straining commutes with rude parisians, at least feeling comfortable in my clothes and liking what I see when looking in the mirror before stepping out is essential. It's my inside-out armor.

April 21st: My basic warm-ish weather business look, a relaxed suit.

I was wearing /Je portais:
blazer/veste: H&M - Top & pants /pantalon: Isabel Marant Etoile - ballerines / ballet flats: Lanvin - sac/ bag: Céline

Monday April 25th: notice what a difference a few days make, wer're back to winter clothes, big scarf and layers...

I was wearing /Je portais:
coat/manteau: Zara - sweater/ pull: Isabel Marant Etoile - pants /pantalon: H&M - scarf/écharpe: Acne Studios - shoes/chaussures: Dries van Noten

Tuesday April 26th: a sleet, wind and showers day. So not my usual casual business etiquette but I was warm, covered and decent enough for the office, goal achieved.

I was wearing /Je portais:
parka: Gap - pants /pantalon: H&M - boots: And Other Stories - scarf/écharpe: Acne Studios 

Thursday April 28th was "better", even wore heels! Haha!

I was wearing /Je portais:
coat /manteau: Uniqlo - pull/sweater: APC - pants /pantalon: H&M - boots: Isabel Marant Etoile - scarf/écharpe: Acne Studios - bag/sac: Céline

April 29th: Friyay!

I was wearing /Je portais:
veste/jacket: Isabel Marant Etoile - top: Hope - pantalon /pants: H&M - boots: And Other Stories - bag /sac: Céline

mardi 19 avril 2016

What I wear for crazy weather

Yours truly mastering Balenciaga's off the shoulder gimmick. As if. 
Really I was just about to undress to try on what I had picked at H&M and figured it was best to take quick shots before I forgot to do it! Hahaha!

Sorry for the long delay between posts again, reading has taken up a lot of my time off, lately, I've spent much more time in libraries than in ready-to-wear stores, honestly there was just no fashion inspiration "spark" that I could share with you.

However on the getting dressed front I've noticed that my white corduroy pants and black slip-on sneakers have been very handy to accommodate the unstable and capricious weather while infusing a spring adequate vibe.

I've been so far a partisan of white pants + white-ish sneakers/shoes because I felt a monochrome leg to toe didn't "break" the silhouette. But between my recent Stan Smith overdose, lack of other footwear option and the violent sudden showers we've been experiencing lately, these black sneakers established themselves.  At first, by default, it turned out finally that I really liked the duo, so much so that I've combined it with my tailored or loose outerwear and a casual sweater.   

coat: Comptoir des Cotonniers/ sweater: Isabel Marant Etoile /cords: Gap / slip-on sneakers: Eden shoes

jacket + sweater: Isabel Marant Etoile / corduroy pants : Gap / scarf: I AM / slip on sneakers: Eden Shoes

lundi 28 mars 2016

Easter Sunday

A super quick post on what I wore this past Sunday:

My favorite Lemaire for Uniqlo merino navy long dress teamed with the equally long Zara tweed coat and my much neglected moto boots. 

I've always loved the grungy longer length and rugged moto boots combination and ever since I acquired both the dress and coat, this look has been up my sleeve whenever I feel like stepping up my game while keeping things easy and comfortable.

coat: Zara /dress: Uniqlo and Lemaire (fall 2015 collection) /boots: Gap / Bag: Balenciaga City / scarf: H&M

lundi 21 mars 2016

Pretty in pink

That pink sweater has become one of my favorite staple for the end of winter/early spring. That chunk of time when after 4-5 months into the season I'm just so fed up of wearing the same clothes/shoes over and over again. When repeating an outfit is no longer a "uniform" but turns into a boring routine because I've tried and exhausted every combination of accessories and clothes at my disposal.

Besides I'm so physically exhausted, I don't have the drive anymore to challenge myself to cook up any stylish revolution. I just want to move on to the next season to get more options but only a drastic weather change for the better will allow that and so far, we're in limbo. One day winter, the next spring, the day after a bit of both and so on.

At least I can rely on that cheerful bubblegum knit poping up against darker tones, which while keeping me effectively warm, sends a clear message to my brain that spring really is on its way. Because it's also that time when I frantically reach for anything remotely colored or pale in my wardrobe to incorporate in my outfits, like an attempt to call upon sun-filled days.

That candy hue, that I had not worn since I was a little girl, adds both a bit of sweetness and unexpected to casual looks. It's also a far easier color for me to deal with than the primary colors in stores now which weirdly exert a push and pull effect on me. At first, as certain as I ever was that they were not for me, then at one point a shift occured a few weeks ago and I started thinking about a pale yellow or red sweatshirt...  So, it may be the start of me going color bold.

coat: Isabel Marant / scarf : Acne Studios / sweater: h&m / jeans : COS /bag: Céline

mardi 15 mars 2016

On mannequins: trench

After a couple of spring fashion purchases (boots and sweater), I decided to take a step back. New in collections are overwhelming, there's so much stuff I suddently feel that I want, my wishlist folder on my laptop grows with numerous downloaded pictures. 

One thing's for sure though, I need a new trench. 

My Zara, acquired a couple of years ago is falling apart at the seams so it will have to be replaced. It's one of the items I use up the most, worn both in spring and fall, to work and on week-ends. 

I'm not sure what my budget will be, certainly about the average Uniqlo - Zara outerwear price tag. The most I could eventually spend on would eventually be the Comptoir des Cotonniers (here), the feedback on their trench has been steadily positive over the years.  

While I'm figuring out budget and if I'm going for the usual classic classic knee length and beige color, I also spotted the new trend for trench coats featuring a longer length and a more fluid fabric. It definitely also has an elegant cachet and adds a certain softness making both outfits very catchy. 

(In Zara)

dimanche 13 mars 2016

Chateau d'Eau

After a late morning stop by the Agnes B galerie to check out the Malick Sidibé and Omar Victor Diop photography exhibition, I took the metro line 4 and exited at "Chateau d'Eau" station. I needed to restock on my favorite Mizani's cream gel to achieve my afro.

For a long long time, this neighborhood at the North East of Paris has been one of the only place for Black women to find beauty and care products (the good, the bad and even the very toxic life threatening skin lighteners), hair salons, fabrics, food also. I can't remember for how long I've been going to that place, certainly when I moved back from Benin after high-school graduation.

There are touts everywhere once you're out of the metro trying to coax you up to get your hair/nails done in "their" salons, it can be very annoying but I get that it's their way of making ends meet since they're paid on commissions depending on the number of clients they bring, usually a simple "non" or negative head shake and they'll move on to the next potential customer.   

Now that most of the French corporations realized how much money they were losing by ignoring the Afro-descendants purchasing power, one can find a (sadly often apart segregated) "ethnic" corner in most supermarkets and boutiques dedicated to our special needs have opened up in gentrified areas, mostly White arrondissements of Paris. Not to mention, how internet has simply revolutionized French Black women's information access and shopping for haircare, skincare and makeup.   

Still whenever I need to buy synthetic hair to get braids done or stock up on coconut oil, Eco Styler gel, Shea Moisture products etc., I make the trip all the way to Chateau d'Eau despite the distance from my home, despite the hustlers.

First, products there are a lot cheaper and considering how pricy some brands are in France (looking at you Mizani and Shea Moisture with your average 15 to 20 euros per product) a few euros saved are always worth it in my opinion. I get that location can justify a price increase, sometimes I'm willing to pay the extra bucks but usually I'd rather add an extra 10 minutes metro ride to pay less!

Second, the store I go to has a great diverse stock, a pleasant quiet atmosphere, sales assistants are polite but not overwhelming, have rad hairstyles and useful comments on products.

Finally, I've always been quite conservative - I did a brownish hair color 3 weeks ago to cover my grey hair and already had a hard time adjusting lol - but I love to see the variety of hairstyles, wigs demonstrating the creativity and cleverness of my sisters. I find it inspiring, uplifting too, so shout-out to all the women of color outhere fearlessly embracing themselves and being free!

"Ironically", I posed in front of one of those whitening skintone brands I despise which are preying on Black women's suffering and centuries of self-hatred bashing. I can't fathom the inner wounds it would take to believe that a lighter skin tone is the solution.

I was wearing : Coat: Uniqlo / Sweater: Isabel Marant Etoile / Jeans + scarf: Cos / Sneakers: Nike x Comptoir des Cotonniers / Bag: Céline