Next weekend I’m going to an outdoor wedding. It’s at a park, and I’ll be required to walk up hill to get to the ceremony site. It should be warm with no rain, according to the 10-day forecast. I didn’t have appropriate shoes for such conditions, so I set out yesterday to find pretty sandals. It was tricky since the fall platforms and chunky-healed boots are out in stores. I wandered through the rows of summer shoes – mostly ballet flats, tall, casual wedges and spike heels – but none were right.

So I made my way to the clearance rack of sandals in the back. It was a “Three Bears” experience for me: Too casual, too blinged out, too high to walk in. Finally I found some brown sandals. Not too high, not flat either. I can walk in them. They weren’t great quality, but they’ll be fine for the day. I handed over my debit card and left feeling, “meh” about my purchase. On to the next errand on my list.

I couldn’t help but think about an article I read recently about French vs. American shopping habits. The article said American women tend to go for quantity over quality. If you’re like me, each fall we come home with bag after bag of the latest fashions. We just wear the pieces as-is, rather than tailoring them for a complementary fit. The following September, we gather up the machine-washable sweaters, uncomfortable boots and ill-fitting pants for charity and start the process anew.

The French, by contrast, select high-quality, stylish pieces that are right for their body types. Then add accessories to bring out their own personality. As a result, they look polished, whereas we look like we piled on all the season’s trends at once.

So I’m trying to keep that in mind as I pick up a few things for the colder months. Currently on my list is a great-looking pair of jeans that I can wear to work and a gauzy scarf that I can wear with things I already own. And that’s it. I resolve to take my time finding the right things, and not to coming home with bags of polyester shirts and shoes I won’t want to wear.

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One thought on “The French way

  1. Candace, you nailed it. I have known that the quantity over quality has been my problem for years. Last winter, I spent a chunk at J Crew thinking that the clothes would last longer and be more timeless. Warning: I have only two pieces left from that shopping trip that can be worn again this season! I still think its worth it to spend a bit more, just be careful where you drop your dough!

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