How to dress like a French woman in summer

I will preface this post by noting that this is probably the spendiest outfit I've ever featured here, although as you read on, I will detail how it can be had for much less than the retail price. Now that we've taken care of that, this is one of my favorite outfits I've ever featured on this blog, because every piece is meaningful and was carefully considered. One of my big goals for 2020 was to be more thoughtful about what I buy, and several of the key items here were long-planned and saved up for, while others are just some of my all-time favorites. So to set the scene, let's go back in time to my birthday trip to Paris back in March...

I first saw this Isabel Marant dress at Selfridge's in London, then at Le Bon Marché in Paris. At the time, I think it was around 500 Euros full price, and while the exchange rate (plus VAT refund) was in my favor, I just couldn't commit to it. This was partially because I was fresh off my no-new-things resolution (which, spoiler alert, I have more or less abandoned) and partially because the world was on the verge of total upheaval and probably the last thing I needed was to spend that much on a dress that I may or may not wear. Fast-forward several months, the sales were starting to kick in, and I still couldn't stop thinking about The Dress. After watching it like a hawk, the price finally dropped to a level I could stomach, and dear readers, I bought it. Long story short, I love it so much, I would have been okay paying full price. As I always say, know thyself. Isabel Marant's clothes just fit me—and suit my style—so well, and words cannot express how much I love this dress, so hopefully the photos do. It runs true to size (I'm in a 38) and feels like a dream. Yes, it is still expensive, but I love it and will wear it until it falls apart. It's a very specific kind of French boho, but in a timeless, Françoise Hardy kind of way, and I'm here for it. 

One thing to note: this dress has fabulous balloon sleeves, which I unfortunately had to cover up due to June gloom, a.k.a. Karl the Fog. It had been gorgeously sunny and warm all day until golden hour, when the fog started to roll in and the temperature dropped (and we had been planning to finally go to a restaurant for dinner—ah, the best-laid plans...). As I always say, never leave home in San Francisco without a lightweight jacket, so thankfully my trusty Gap denim jacket (last seen with a midi skirt) came in handy once again. Denim jackets and maxi dresses almost always look great together, and if you happen to be in Paris (er, or in SF), they'll keep you cozy on the terrace when the temperature drops. 

The other major purchase to note in this look is my Céline Phantom Cabas tote, which I actually bought in Paris in March as a birthday present to myself. I am not really a bag person; I usually treat myself to a nice pair of shoes on my birthday, but this year there weren't any that were really calling my name, however I was in need of a good everyday work bag. I will say, when I decide to buy a bag, I do my research and it usually takes me months, if not years, to commit. I dragged poor Sean into every Céline boutique I came across for probably about a year leading up to this trip, I tried every size, looked at every color, and finally set my sights upon the medium Phantom Cabas tote, in taupe. I bought it at the Céline flagship store on Avenue Montaigne in Paris, I got a ridiculously good deal on it (the exchange rate and the VAT refund are your friends), and in spite of the fact that I only carried it for a week before shelter-in-place happened, I love it to pieces and am hopeful that once life returns to normal, it will be my everyday bag. That said, I felt that now was finally the time to feature it here, since this post is celebrating all things French. And if you're interested in a future post detailing the particulars of how I bought this specific bag in Paris, please let me know in the comments—I'd be happy to share my experience (with photos!). 

Finally, while there are three major French luxury brands, in my mind, the most iconic one is Hermès. (Hopefully my employer won't read this and fire me for saying so, as our parent company owns a competitor.) Hermès is the gold standard, because their accessories and clothing are stitched by hand, made of the finest materials, and are still made by artisans in the EU. These are the Oasis sandals—they're a heeled version of their iconic Oran sandals, and I find them to be a bit easier to wear (and more flattering) than the flat Oran. I bought them a few years ago on The RealReal, and while they were reasonable at the time, they feel even more like a steal now, considering how much I've worn them, especially on vacation and in summer. And fun fact: all Hermès shoes are designed by Pierre Hardy. They run true to European sizes; I'm in a 39 here, which translates to an 8.5 US, my regular size. They are chic, comfortable, and simply magnifique


Nancy 's Fashion Style said...

Wow! Maxi dresses look so good on you! And the way you styled this one is perfection for me!

Laura B said...

Your fashion splurges are gorgeous and look so nice together! I'm just drooling over that fabulous bag!

Jessica Jannenga said...

Hi Cheryl
I love love love all of it I couldn't stop looking at those shoes! Love the print, looks so fashionable with the gorgeous dress. No wonder you were thinking about it.Bag is beautiful too!
thanks for linking!
jess xx

Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom said...

There is just something about a maxi dress during the summer! And, that tote is GORG! I love the color, size... everything! Oh, I long to go back to Paris!


the 4 M's said...

Fancy, Fancy! I didn't buy anything expensive on our trip to France but bought a blouse and a couple straw baskets at a outdoors market: I love them as they remind me of our trip and they are a touch nostalgic of my years growing up in France. I am enjoying my maxis lately and seeing this post makes me want to wear them again!

Nicole of High Latitude Style said...

This is a great outfit. Your slides are so cute. All pieces are great finds. You will get a lot of wear out of them.

mummabstylish said...

Very chic Hun, Love that over-sized bag. Thanks for sharing on the #LINKUP Jacqui

Elegance and Mommyhood said...

Your fashion FRENCH splurges are the most beautiful, the most chic! Dying over the bag (swoon!) and those Hermes slides. One day I will have both! You styled this maxi beautifully and that belt is fun and bohemian, too. =)

I brought back The Sunday Showcase, the first Sunday of each month. I would love for you to join it. Thanks. =) Enjoy your week! And please join me every THURSDAY for my weekly linkup. =)

Mica said...

I can see why you had to have that maxi dress, it's beautiful on you adn the denim jacket looks great with it even if it's not how you wanted to wear it before the weather changed!

Of course I love the bag too - I'm definitely more of a bag person than a shoe person, haha! Please do share your experience buying please! The closest I ever got to buying a bag in Paris was calling the Balenciaga boutique and using my horrible french before being handed over to an English speaking SA who sadly informed me the colour I wanted was not available in the bag I wanted!

Thank you for joining the #weekdaywearlinkup!

Hope you had a lovely weekend :)

Away From Blue