Saturday, January 22, 2011

JNSQ Friday Feature: Paris Bloggers collaborate - how to do the Soldes

The long awaited blog is here! I apologize for the wait, but I'm sure you won't be disappointed when you read all the bloggers have to share with you! Thanks to everyone who chimed in, I knew our community would come through ;)

Also, big thanks to Badaude who shared her amazing art, recently featured in the Times (need a subscription to read the article), with JNSQ! This map is so freaking cool I think I stared at it for 20 min in awe. You are my blogger super-star of the week!!!
Check her site for more of these:
Paris Sales-cation - Part 1

Paris Sales-cation Part 2

Didn't get to share in time? Comment below!

I killed the categories -- too complicated & instead asked the crew:
1) What do you think about the blogs? Love'em or Hate'em?
2) What are your top spots to shop during the sales?

If you've read a few articles in this mish-mash of a blog, you'll have noticed a few trends:
- I don't suffer fools. I get intensely annoyed by them & blog about thier douchebaggery
- I love Paris
- Me + Fashion = disaster to the the thousandth power.

So, when I decided to do this blog, a part of me was thinking... Shannon, you've really out done yourself in the "this is SOOO not my dept. category".

In five years, I've managed to never once really do the sales in Paris. Everyone blabs about how crowded they are, and how you can never find your size, the sales people are in an even shitter mood than usual, etc etc. But, I decided that if I was going to have something to say then I'd better bite the bullet and hit the streets.

I am pleased to announce to you all that the sales are not as bad as everyone says. In fact, I found them even more pleasant than my usual shopping experiences in Paris! (So much so, that an entire new blog will be coming out of it next week -- a Guided Tour of Passy -- to share with you my finds and feats!

Photo credit Flickr: antwerpenR
I've got a blockage when it comes to spending money on clothes. Anything over 30€ and an internal small-town-girl alarm goes off in me that says "OMG that's fucking expensive. Screw that." Because of this, I tend to generally dress like a style-less townie, and make due with things that are passé. I can handle not being a fashionista as long as I can afford taking a trip or two to the states every year!

But thanks to the sales, I was able to get out & spend some cash without the inevitable, "just spent 35€ on a sweater" remorse -- and it was magical. Walking home, I felt like I was tramping down a rainbow paved street on the back of a pristine unicorn eating calorie-less cake. Triumph is the only word I can think to describe my mood properly.

I even came up with a few tips for you:

1. Early bird gets the worm and doesn't have to fight ten thousand teenagers for it.

I left around 11:30 this Saturday and as someone who doesn't really like shopping and HATES shopping in a gaggle of screaming teens I can confirm that this was a good idea.

While the teenies were dreaming of skinny jeans (WHY? Ugh, so ugly), jewel-toned potato-bag dresses (yuck), and my worst nightmare, *leggings*, I was happily breezing through Passy without a care, snatching up my heart's desire.

No one was up. I had the shops practically to myself & it was heavenly. Do. It. The annoying pre-pubescent hordes start polluting the streets around 2:30-3pm in my experience.

2. Go the 2nd week.Not only will there be fewer people and some stock left over, but there will be a "2nd Démarque", a second sale price on top of the first sale price.

All I can say is, it's worth the effing wait to see the difference between 1st & 2nd week sale prices that differ by 20€!

3. Read this blog & others.Scared to go out into the big bad world of shopping? Intimidated by the reputation of crazed shoppers and shitty selection? Then read up before you go out. Know what you want and in what kinds of neighborhoods you can find it. (ie: Don't go to Passy or La Defense to get the hottest trends, these areas are aimed at "older" populations from what the shopkeepers have told me.

Check out my last blog for a few, and bloggers, if I missed yours -- add it to the mix below in comments :)

So my final comment is this:
I loved the sales. I had fun shopping, got some GREAT deals and didn't pull my hair out doing it.

My fave shops on Rue de Passy were:
- Mango: like Gap with an edge for those of us who have not the spine to wear leggings and hot pink. I dug the little extras, sequins, patterns, etc that didn't provoke my style-challenged insecurities.
- San Marina: shoes that I can actually afford to buy were waiting for me like new friends, all lined up in a row. Lovely times had there & left with a pair of black boots at 79€ instead of 149!
- Kookai: There were some great finds & awesome deals on this typically expensive store, especially scarves. Skirts were cheap, but dresses were still avg. Good deals on coats too!

Enjoy the bloggers comments below, chocked full of advice, and general blogger lovin'.
See you next week for the guided tour blog!
xx S

"There's nobody there..."
- Badaude

Love Les Soldes this year: there's nobody there. I wandered round Le Bon Marche on the first day last week and it was positively empty - though I returned later with a friend after work to find things were hotting up a little.

A shop I love: Les Prairies de Paris in the rue Debelleyme. It's the epitome of French disdain for selling and doesn't even look like a shop. From the ground floor all you can see is a kind of art installation. Where are the opening hours? They're written on a tiny card lying in a far corner of the window that I didn't spot until the sales girl showed me. You push the handle-less door. It doesn't give. You try the other side. They don't even want you to come in. The clothes are all on display in the basement but as there's no sign you wouldn't know where to find them unless you're reading this.

And are the reductions marked on the tickets? No. In fact there are no signs that say 'sale' at all. I asked the girl if their sale opened later than the rest of Paris: she looked at me like I was insane and said, 'No, everything is 40% off'. So why do I keep on shopping at Les Prairies? I looove their clothes - understated but never simple cuts you'll never see anywhere else - and especially their shoes n' bags.

"What is the opposite of fashionista? I'm that." - Karin B.
Les Soldes. Le sigh. Honest? I am not a huge shopper, period, and pretty much the only sales I participate in are the ones at Target when I have a chance to go back to the States or from -- I order the stuff online, send it to the future MIL and she mails it here. They are starting international shipping to France soon, though! Yippie! What is the opposite of a fashionista? I'm that. So the sales pretty much just pass me by.

This year, however, I found myself at least paying attention to some of the sale prices in stores, and I have to say that it looks like there are some terrific bargains out there. Maybe one of these days when I am rolling in more moolah, I shall brave the crowds to try Les Soldes out. It looks there are some great deals on winter coats and boots, various housewares and household items, not to mention clothing.

One thing: I need to replace my Converse Chuck Taylor high tops. If anyone knows of a store where these are on sale in Paris, I would be grateful! I'm looking for them in purple...

Happy shopping to all you shoppers out there! :)

"My favorite shops sell cheese..." -Meg Zimbeck
Hate is perhaps too strong a word, but I've never been a huge fan of Les Soldes. Elbowing through a crowd to score a measly 30% off? Please. Call me back, sales, when you can rival the discount orgies of my American youth.

My favorite shops in Paris sell cheese and these, sadly, never host any sales.

"Sales can be very rewarding..." - Audrey Fournier
1/ I love sales, as long as it does not turn into a crazy odyssey to find the best bargains. If you can accept frustration and limit your shopping time to half a day (preferably the first morning), sales can be very rewarding. 

2/ I usually stick to department stores, especially le Printemps, for it offers all in one place : shoes, lingerie, high end as well as more affordable designers, house linen, beauty products... Plus, sharing a cup of coffee at the café under the "coupole" with your shopping partner (aka my mum) makes a very nice break. 
And if you're still in the mood for more, you can quickly sneak into the Mango store nearby for -50 % sweaters and Zara for -30 % belts. But don't stay too long, the crowd and the clutter make it a painful experience.
I also like wandering through the Kooples stores in the Marais. They're not crowded and everything is - 50 %.

"I’m down with them...'" - Forest C.

I love the sales! I used to be kind of blazé about them, but since the past few years, I'm down with them. So down with them that I've already hit them this year on my travels in Norway (cute plaid pants), my current visit to Belgium (sexy dress), the starting day in Paris on Wed (three pairs of shoes) and I'm going to London later this week to check out theirs, too.  Yeah, I'm not a one-city-sales kind of girls....I'm a sales whore!

The shops question is a bit trickier for me.  There are cool designers who I cant afford all the time like Vanessa Bruno or Isabelle Marant. But, often I use the sales to get good quality basics at better prices from shops like 1, 2, 3. I just scored a sweet grey wool coat from ESPRIT (200 Euros down to 60!)  I also use the opportunity to pop into Sephora to pick up eye shadows and odds and ends when they knock them down to a buck or two.  And, I'll be cruising through the APC Surplus (18 rue Andre de Sarte, 75018) because prices are already less than the normal boutiques and I noticed they have a couple of cute handbags on sale right now.  I also usually make a stop into one of the Chaise Longue and pick up cute things that I can have on hand as spare or hostess gifts - although I checked them out beforehand online this year and they don't have as many cute sale items as usual. Oh, and I just remembered a totally cute dress I got for nothing at Monoprix! Yes, for a not very serious shopper, I get a little overly excited at sales time.

"I just don't have the stamina..." - Amy Reverdy
In theory I love the sales, in practice I hate them. "Hate" may be a strong word; I just don’t have the stamina or patience to compete with the ruder-than-usual Parisian shoppers or stand in long lines for the fitting room. If time is money, then the sales generally are not worth the time.

However, I do recommend them for certain items: bags, scarves, jewelry (i.e., items that don’t require getting naked to try them on). Thus, one of my favorite shops in Paris is the accessories boutique “Pour” located at 23 rue Berthollet in the 5th arrondissement. It’s small, off the beaten track and carries unique pieces that make perfect gifts for you or your friends.

"If I ever buy anything in the sales it's totally by accident" - Lauren Elkin / @LaurenElkin
I'm not a fan of the semi-annual sales-- too many people! I need my shopping experience to be as calm and stress-free as possible, and I find that the quality of what's on sale is never high enough to merit the annoyance incurred by the crowds, lines, etc. If I ever buy anything in the sales it's totally by accident, because I happened to wander into a store I like at an off-peak time.

"Do you believe in Maje-ic?" - Rebecca Leffler

Hate 'em. Well, I love 'em...before they start. I'll admit that I am a soldes-snob. I go to the press sales a month before, so by the time the regular sales roll around, I am not happy about the millions of people flocking to my neighborhood to crowd the streets and block my sidewalk pathways.

Yes, I live in a "dangerous" neighborhood, namely St Germain des Près, filled with every shop under the sun (or, in the case of the January winter sales, under rain, snow and cloudy skies).

My favorite store: Maje. All of them. Do you believe in Maje-ic? I do. And want to outfit myself in all of their clothing for the rest of my life. Pretty, fun and affordable...and très très French.

"I did have some real success..." - Doni Belau
Its not like I really needed anything, after a fairly present heavy Christmas but like a moth to a flame, I felt drawn to the Soldes in the hope of a "deal". It takes a more disciplined person then I to resist the urge to score a bargain.

In fact I did have some real success on the first day of les Soldes last Wednesday. Scouring the 15th and the rue de Commerce, I discovered a luxurious faux shearing coat in a hunter green from Gerard Darel for 200 euros down from 335. A lovely grey knit dress with silver buttons also from Darel for 129 euros (nearly 50% less than last months price).

I even went through the humiliation of trying on lingerie and found some fairly sexy bras at Passionata that were marked down 40%. I also picked up a black v-neck cardigan in a light wool knit at Maje that will become a real basic go-to piece.

I found a pair of dark grey-brown oxford shoes at the discount shoe store Andre that appear to be fairly well made and more importantly are comfortable! and were only 75 euros. I'm happy to go along with this trend, even though it will probably be out of style by next year. There is no question that the sales encourage me discard what small reservoir of reason and rationale I have, but it is the hunter-gatherer in me I guess just itching to come out, amassing food/shelter and "vetements" for the final winter months.

"There's so much temptation out there..." - Karen Fawcett
I always feel drawn to the soldes. But this year, I made a promise to buy nothing and spend money traveling. I've confined my shopping forays to after the stores close. If you see someone standing  in front of a  window drooling in the dead of night, it might be I  (me sounds better, but it's not correct English). My closets are overflowing and I've promised until I sort and chuck, I will buy nothing. In the process of opening one closet, I discovered some perfectly wonderful items I'd forgotten. Plus, how many black sweaters can a  one person own?

My mother used to return home with bags from designer stores reporting how much money she'd saved. She omitted to state how much she'd spent. Perhaps it's a sad admission, but I've reached a certain age (and done more than my share of buying quality clothes) that's it time to de-acquisition.

One caveat: The sales aren't over until February 15th. So I can't be sanctimonious. I won't break my vow. There's so much temptation out there beckoning each and every shopper or wanna-be.

"Les soldes in Paris just don't have the same value."- Amy

Love 'em in theory, hate 'em in reality. I love the big build-up (like la rentrée! or les feries!) and get so excited to go bananas. But then one of two things inevitably happens:

1) After having been so certain that a certain store - say, ba&sh, had tons of stuff that I wanted but was too cheap to buy - I'll go in, ready to walk out with a new wardrobe and find... nothing. I don't know why but this happens every season.
Or 2) I'll get seduced by a markdown and buy something, only to get it home and realize that I still spent a boatload of money and, even with the 30 or 50% reduction, it was way overpriced, leaving me feel gipped. It's hard, too, coming from NYC where everything is drastically reduced all year long. Les soldes in Paris just don't have the same value.

Because hope does spring eternal, when I go soldes shopping, my top stores are  AB33, Merci, Isabelle Marant and ba&sh.

"I don't have a favorite shop but enjoy eyeing all the major French brands..."- Kasia Dietz

As per my recent post on shopping, I love the sales but often tend to hide for the first few weeks, feeling overwhelmed by both the amount of shoppers and the amount of merchandise. These regulated sales seem to me the only time that shopping is (almost) affordable in Paris, considering I was used to NYC where it seems that everything is on sale ALL of the time.

What I have learned however, as I become a professional 'soldes' shopper in Paris, is that perhaps it's better to brave the masses of fashion obsessed Parisians in the first few days, in order to find that special something before it's all gone, which can happen quickly! Usually when I wait until the end I tend to find that 'something I didn't know I was looking for but couldn't resist' rather than what I in fact needed.

Fortunately (or not, depending on the mood) I live in the heart of the Marais, surrounded by boutiques. I don't have one favorite shop but enjoy eyeing all the major French brands, which is impossible not to do (on a daily basis).

As a designer I tend to seek out other independent designers. Recently on a random walk in the 8th I stumbled upon the showroom of one such new designer, Klaya, who I am now a big fan of. Not to mention that I bought a few unique and very affordable pieces!

Personally speaking, the key is not to represent any one particular brand (and end up looking like a store mannequin) but to create your own style by mixing well known with lesser known designers and often adding a touch of vintage.

"I do love finding a good bargain..." - Beth Arnold
I don't like to "shop."  I like to find the ever-so-perfect gifts or items for myself when I'm out, and I spot them, knowing they're just what I want or want to give to someone.  I especially like being in the BHV and finding some delightful piece of hardware that I didn't know existed but fits what I need exactly.

So I won't hit the sales so I can "shop" and be smashed in with a bunch of aggressive women going sales crazy.

Having said that, I do love finding a good bargain, which I'm happy to find any time of year.  And if I've been mooning over a particular something I wouldn't allow myself to have because of the sticker shock, I might see if it's on sale and what that price is.  Then there are a few stores I love a lot, and I might check out what they've got on sale.  One of those is Simrane.

I have bought one item on sale this year--a Bodum French press.  My husband's birthday is coming up, and he loves his coffee.  But shhh, don't tell him.

"I envision mass-hysteria..."
- Andi

Despite going to Paris every month for three years while I was living in France and going there at least once a year for the last four, I have yet to hit Les Soldes.  I envision mass-hysteria and it makes me nervous, but I am also so deeply curious about experiencing it!  One of my favorite stores is 1-2-3 and I fantasize about having the store on Rue de Rivoli all to myself for hours during a sale!  What I can say is that one of my most prize possessions is a beautiful light grey cashmere long scarf that I bought during Les Soldes in Switzerland while I was working there.  I found it at the bottom of a bin of ugly scarves and it was like discovering gold, I was so triumphant!  If I lose that scarf I swear I will have a memorial for it...

Compilation of shops & designers mentioned in alphabetical order:

- 1-2-3 (several locations, see site)
- AB33
33, rue Charlot 75003 Paris
M° Temple ou Filles du Calvaire
- APC Surplus
18 rue Andre de Sarte, 75018
- André (several locations, see site)
- ba&sh (several locations, see site)
- Chaise Longue (several locations, see site)
- ESPRIT (several locations, see site)
- Gerard Darel (several locations, see site)
- Isabel Marant (several locations, see site)
- Kasia Dietz (check site or order online, list of retailers coming soon)
- Klaya (several retailers, check site or order online)
- Le Bon Marche
24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007

- Les Prairies de Paris
rue Debelleyme 23 rue Debelleyme 75003
M°Filles du Calvaire
- Kookai (several locations, see site)
- Kooples
191, rue Saint-honoré or 38 rue Saint-honoré 75001
- Maje (several locations, see site)
- Mango (several locations, see site)
- Merci
111 blv Beaumarchais 750016 Paris
Métro Saint Sébastien-Froissart
- Passionata (several locations, see site)
- Pour
23 rue Berthollet 75005
M°Les Goblins
- Printemps (several locations, see site)
- San Marina (several locations, see site)
- Sephora (several locations, see site)
- Vanessa Bruno (several locations, see site)
- Zara (several locations, see site)


  1. Whilst in Paris, try staying in the Hotel Paris la Defense, which is located next to the major jewelry shops,clothing stores not to mention the cafe bars. it's perfect!

  2. apparently I need to use the sales to buy a thesaurus, because I just noticed I used the word "cute" four times in a row in my bit. It seems the sales also turn my brain to mush! :)

    But, Shannon, speaking of San Marina, there is a shoe shop near Motte Piquet that is just down the street from the SM shop - i don't know the name but I have bought boots from them in the past. The guy there told me that they get all their shoes from the same factory that does the San Marina ones - so basically same quality, but a lower price. Unfortunately I don't know the name (it might not have anything other than an awning that says chausseurs) but if you leave the Motte metro and walk towards San Mar (same street as Gap, Sephora, etc) it's on the left hand side around the area where you find Gap, H&M and those other stores. I might pop by there to see if they've got any sales going as well...

  3. Great post, Shannon. So much good info! Thanks for including me. PS Forest, you're hilarious. I didn't notice :)

  4. And I thought I was the only girl who was "ehh" about les soldes...

  5. Hey kid! I'm on a borrowed laptop (motherboard is still melted) and came over to see how the post came out. :) You are THAT special, as I am kind of on a blog embargo right now, both writing and reading. ;-) I like what others had to say, and was also happy to see that others were kinda "meh" about Les Soldes, too.

    Best to you and to all my bloggy peeps here. Maybe I will see you again soon. If the computer ever gets fixed, and I can get my head back in the game. Until then, thanks for adding my two centimes in, and hope those of you who actually go shopping in the couple more weeks of the sales wind up with some cool stuff.

    Bye for now...
    (an alien parisienne)

  6. The person there informed me they obtain each of their footwear through the exact same manufacturing facility that will does the San Harbour versions - you to get same high quality, however a lower price.

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