Fun In The Sun!

Granted, the lazy hazy days of summer are behind us but that does not mean to let down your guard on sun protection.

For the first time this year I noticed the sunspots on my arms. With very fair skin, I am careful not to stay in the sun, but I assume my skin was cooked as a result of my daily walks or driving in my car. I do not find dark tanned skin particularly attractive (sorry). Think of your future; it definitely catches up. One day you are 20 and the next 60. You’re young at 60 so why not have beautiful, healthy skin and it starts in your youth. So you 20+ somethings take care. Same said for you 80+ somethings.

Everyone can benefit from SPF coverage any time of the year. I use several products and they keep my skin from being burned. If your makeup does not include SPF, take note. I am particular about products that I use. Besides recommendations and reviewing feedback, everything must be fragrance free and non-greasy.

For my face – Cosmedix Reflect SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen. It has a spritzer dispenser. I don’t spray directly on my face. I spray my hand and then apply.

Mineral Face Powder to set foundation – Colorescience Pro Sunforgettable Sun Protection SPF 30 Mineral Powder. It comes in a few shades. It is also available in SPF 50 and with a brush applicator. I received a free sample to try and I really like it.

For my body – SkinCeuticals Sports UV Defense SPF 45

So take heed – whether you are walking in Central Park or

Luxembourg Gardens (above), heading to work in San Francisco or viewing the collection at Musée de l’Orangerie, or perhaps even hiking in the Grand Canyon or on the grounds of Normandy– protect yourself.

Style Spotters, what are some of your favorite products in the off season?

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FLATS and I Don’t Mean Tires

Flats. I’ve had my share of them (that is flat tires), but the only way I like to get around town, relax around the house, run errands or get to and from work is in flats. My feet are just not happy for any stretch of time walking in heels, so I wear them when necessary to look polished.

During my recent trip to Paris I stocked up on several pair. As I said early on, there are great shoes in many price ranges and for some wonderful reason European brands fit my feet well. And for those of you desiring heels or platforms, there are plenty of options.

Boutique Minelli – http://www.minelli.fr/femme

Minelli, 85 Euros

Boutique Heyraud – http://www.heyraud.fr/boutiques/

Heyraud, 129 Euros

Gelati – 75 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 and 6, Rue St. Sulpice, 75006

Gelati, 225 Euros (less VAT)

Also check out J.B. Martin and Accessoire Diffusion.

Have a favorite boutique, please share.  Happy shoe shopping!

To Be In Paris!

Hello, fellow Style Spotters!

Just the other day a friend called to say she was joining her husband on his business trip to Paris and she was anxious to be on her own during the day. I could not stress enough how easy Paris is to navigate. It turns out she is not much of a shopper but I suggested she think of what she might want to purchase (hello… great reasonably priced shoes…) and which sites and museums she wanted to visit.

So those of you who are new travelers to Paris here’s how I do it. And for the rest of you seasoned travelers or Francophiles, please add to the conversation.

First of all, a good map is essential. On my last trip I used The Paris Mapguide by Michael Middleditch. This paperback guidebook is slightly wider than a map but is lightweight and fits easily into a handbag. It was easy to use and read and was thorough. I also used Frommer’s Paris Day By Day which I purchased a few years ago. It is fairly lightweight and will fit into your bag. This also has a map with a nice full city view but not as detailed as The Paris Mapguide. It has enough history and museum details for an extended visit to Paris so you don’t have to carry a weighty volume with you.

Next, comfortable shoes. Sorry, no crazy heels during a day of sightseeing and power shopping. I wear soft-soled shoes because I put on lots of miles by walking. Can’t get much traction in heels and the blisters! Last winter when I was in Paris I watched the women walk by me and most were wearing black tights and boots with heels (and scarves). They looked so chic. Then I spotted a woman with torn hose at the knees and when she passed me I couldn’t resist the urge to see if she was wearing heels. Of course, she was. I hope the fall was not too painful.

Paris is a city of many faces. Peruse guidebooks before you leave and determine how you want to organize your trip. Do you want to visit certain sites or museums or do you have a hankering to visit Chanel’s store and showroom on Rue Cambon?

I just had to super-size this.

Here’s a sampling of a day for me… Dressed appropriately for the change of weather throughout the day, camera, maps and water in hand, I depart from my hotel. After a quick bite of a delightful, flaky croissant, I begin the walk to my destination. Taking in the sites and sounds – the beauty of the Seine, the Eiffel Tower lumbering sleepily in the distance, Notre Dame rising on the horizon – I cross one of the ponts and stroll to my destination of the day, the Marais. Assuming I am not immediately distracted by the shops I pass (yes, I am usually distracted), I head to the first of the selected cultural venues to visit. (While I love to window shop, I find it essential for some educational stimulation.)

So here are some places to visit in the Marais: Picasso Museum, Carnavalet (free and well worth a visit), home of Victor Hugo, and the Holocaust Memorial. Alternatively, you can join a group tour to learn in depth about the area. I joined a tour run by owner Karen Rudel of Sight Seekers Delight (http://sightseekersdelight.com/). It was approximately 3 hours including a group lunch break, and although I had been to the Marais many times before I learned so much from Ms. Rudel. Highly recommended!

Looking out from Musee Carnavalet.

Let’s continue. If I am touring on my own, I usually stop for a mid-morning snack – whatever delights my eyes hopefully satisfying my taste buds. Okay, now for shopping: check the streets Rue de Rosiers, Rue Des Francs Bougeois, Rue Vielle du Temple, Rue de Poitou and Rue Charlot. Frankly, I love to wander and with a trusty map you can’t go wrong. If weather permitting, grab a lunch to go – whether it is a falafel or baguette sandwich – enjoy the beautiful environment of Place de Vosges. Many years ago I had the delight in seeing a woman organ grinder singing there.

Depending on the time of the day, you can head back to your hotel to relax, sit at a café with a glass of wine or proceed to the Islands. For me, it’s off to Ile St. Louis and Ile de la Cite.

Pose any questions and I will try to answer them. And please keep spreading the word about The Style Spotter.

Bags Galore

Welcome! 

So let’s get back to Paris. 

I promised a few additional suggestions for handbag shops. Walking along Rue Saint Honore, you will come among known and perhaps unknown labels in the handbag world. Just a block from Goyard is Tosca Blu (209 Rue Saint Honore; http://www.toscablu.com/), a lovely Italian boutique (I know, I love Italy too). The shop carries an assortment of colorful and contemporary accessories and handbags. On two previous trips to Paris, I purchased on each visit. Back in autumn 2009, I purchased a great snakeskin bag with horn handle. I wear it each spring and autumn and it still looks terrific. On my first day in Paris in early 2011, I dropped off my luggage and was off to take in the sites and sounds of the city. I made it over to Rue Saint Honore and stopped into Tosca Blu. I immediately purchased a great black leather bag with pinhole cutouts and antique gold metal trim. I hadn’t even started sightseeing! Again, each under $300.

Upla is another store that I would like to bring to your attention. It is located a couple of blocks from the Church of St. Germain-des-Pres at 5 Rue St. Benoit (http://upla.fr/). It’s a cool store and their distinctive handbag style is that of a fisherman’s satchel. They also design luggage, sacs and backpacks, and they are made from leather, cotton canvas and nylon. The straps are canvas and the roomy bag can be worn as a shoulder bag or cross body. I was intrigued with a nylon version which was very light weight and available in numerous colors (as are their other bags). It was 175 Euros of which you could get the VAT refunded. I think I made a mistake. I did not buy it. Oh well, perhaps next visit.

As you roam around Paris, whether a destination in mind or complete leisure, you will find so many wonderful options. Keep your thoughts on style and remember you are purchasing to please yourself. If this purchase will be worn for more than a few seasons and you love it (and can afford it), go for it!

Yes, I took all the photographs featured. I have some great pictures to share. I look forward to hearing your comments and spreading the word about The Style Spotter. Thanks!

Beyond Chanel, Hermès and Christian Louboutin

I do not yet consider myself a Francophile but it’s inevitable.  But what’s not inevitable is the desire to own a Chanel or Hermès handbag or Louboutin heels.  WOW, I got your attention!  Granted they are all beautiful labels and if I had extra disposable income I might indulge but who wants something someone else is wearing.  Isn’t style about you? 

There are magnificent stylish handbags, shoes and clothes that are in reach of most.  Why is it that European shoes so comfortably fit my size 9 (40) feet with bunions?  And the prices – you can get a great pair of shoes for $100.  Up to $300 and the options are exponential.  Or how about a great quality leather handbag for $300.

I was shopping for a handbag on a recent trip to Paris.  Of course there were the iconic labels such as the ones described above; however, I was hunting for “my” bag, that is, stylish, of high quality, and value for money.  Several bags caught my attention but on the last day of my trip I walked into Groom at 13, Rue du Cherche Midi in St. Germain.  It is a lovely boutique with an extensive assortment of quality leather handbags.  I looked at a few and selected a feedbag in a bordeaux Panama leather (cuir).  It is a shoulder bag but a long strap was available for a nominal price so you can wear it as a cross body bag.  After the refund of VAT, the bag cost less than $300.   Here’s their website: www.groomparis.com.  Ideally you need to visit their store for the explosion of colored bags tucked away in their drawers.

The Style Spotter is about fashion options.  You know the expression – a horse of a different color well this is a blog of a different color.  Lots of well written blogs post pictures and share advice on trend-setting fashion.  The Style Spotter has been created to foster a dialogue between like-minded people who have an eye for style without spending lots of money.  Let’s share among ourselves our finds internationally or domestically, be respectful of others’ opinions and just indulge in good-hearted conversation!

Just a little bit about me.  I am a professional window-shopper (that is I love to look and I purchase selectively), had my own import wholesale gift business, was manager of a Hermès boutique and was also a manager of a high end jewelry department for a luxury retail chain.

In my next posting, I will list a few additional favorite handbag stores within my Paris radar.  Thanks for reading The Style Spotter and spreading it among your friends.

To get our dialog started, let me know what you think and I would love to hear of a favorite handbag shop of yours in Paris.