Category Archives: fashion

FFFFP on Vacation – Mont Saint-Michel

I am a fan of catching FFFFPs while on vacation (or wandering around particularly touristy places) – I can turn my camera directly towards them and they are either so caught up taking in the sights themselves, or do not question my aim.
While in Normandy, my stepfather and I stopped to have lunch at one of the many crêperies that line the windy street climbing Mont Saint Michel. Our patience in waiting (and trying to catch the eye of the host – an impossibility if they do not want to see you) was rewarded with a window table overlooking both the bay and an outlook on the defensive wall where visitors stopped to marvel at the speed of the ebbing tide.

I had my camera out anyways, in preparation to record our meal (I think anyone who travels with me must quickly get tired of this routine) – and I am so lucky I did. If not, we may have missed one of the best FFFFPs I have ever had the good luck to catch for posterity (made even more inexcusable and flabbergasting when you are reminded that this was taken at a holy pilgrimage site – one that has been standing for more than 1000 years). I was at the time (and still remain) without words. Seriously. However, The Boyfriend was capable of coherent thought and summed it up perfectly:

“What the actual f*&%?

MOM, put on some pants!”

 And, that was before she did this:

The only things left to the imagination after this are:

1) What type of caftan did she whip out of that tiny bag to actually gain entrance to the church at the top of the mountain?


2) What will it be like looking through vacation photos now, and in years to come, as one of those children?




Long time, no FFFFP… (FFFFP #17)

Although it seems like we’ve barely entered spring when considering the novelty of seeing a strawberry – in June –, the recent onslaught of hot, sunny days does remind me that summer is almost (if not, already) upon us.  Most obviously, in Paris, summer brings with it tourists – overflowing the metro, sidewalks and parks. Additionally, the summer heat seems to inspire the French (at least the women) to make extra-bold fashion choices; mostly they wear as little, or as crazy as they can – to keep cool and make a statement, of course.

Over the past two weeks, while showing my visitor around town, I started to see this craziness pour out onto the city’s streets, from wherever it has been hidden away, hibernating during the winter months. I turned my camera away from flowers and food for a few minutes to capture the first of this seasons’ Friday French fashion faux pas(s):

The Tourist

One of the best parts about scouting tourist fashion faux pas is that you can aim a giant camera right at them and no one thinks twice. Clearly I was photographing the façade of the Louvre behind this particular woman… In all actuality, I was more taken aback by (and compelled to capture) the pink and black zebra print strapless bustier combined with the complimentary (?) pink scarf and matching nails and lipstick. How I know that she is most likely not Parisian? Sensible shoes. That’s good advice: if you are going to be scouting the city all day in clingy polyester club-wear, at least pair it with black Keds – your feet with thank you later.


Continuing on our animal print theme, our subject here took this season’s favorite pattern and decided it would look best on her head. I have seen my share of bad dye jobs (including ones on my own hair – mostly by my own hand), however this may be going too far. Unfortunately, I don’t think those stripes are going to do her any favors in blending into the urban jungle (or escaping my lens).


Some outfits are just funny. This was one of them. This dress looks like it either had an epic standoff with a shredder or it is some type of unfortunate cross between a flapper gown and a piñata. Her companion added further to my amusement – he’s the one with the turquoise pants on the right, looking like he had just returned from a drum circle/hacky-sack competition. They made quite the couple walking down the streets of Montmartre. (She does get points for cute shoes and crazy calf muscles – girl is strong.)


Saving the best for last was this corset/thigh-high boots combination, seen walking through the Palais Royale dressed like a pirate wench, early on a Monday evening. I have personal theories about what the height of one’s boots (not the heel, but the sheath up the leg) can tell you about career choices that immediately jumped to mind when seeing this particular outfit. Regardless, this cannot be comfortable. It is a bit difficult to see, but that corset was not just for looks – her waist was unnaturally thin. It was my understanding that womankind fought to move past this. Seeing the extent of cinch in person confirms (for me) that we don’t need to bring it back.

All-in-all, I think these photos speak for themselves. They shout, loud and clear that summer and the FFFFP is back.


FIFFP #16: On Vacation – Shiny, Sparkly and See-Thru, Oh My!

(Credit where it is due? I guess this will help maximize the cooling potential of that breeze off the canal)

As I keep mentioning (and not delving further), I took a short break in August to travel to Italy with one of my dearest friends. We had a great time taking the overnight sleeper train to Venice, exploring the art and canals, making our way to Rome and eating our way through the Eternal City.

(Apologies for the horrid iPhone photo. Unfortunately, to protect her privacy you are missing the matching lavender felt fedora, but I think the color-coordinated flip-flops give you an idea). 

I tried to stay focused on ogling ruins, slurping pasta and contemplating contemporary art, really I did. Yet, I am (admittedly) easily distracted. Especially by metallic chains, giant sequins and endless amounts of netting. It was hot. No doubt. Somehow even the 100F heat does not seem to justify all of this.

(Those are not sparkly threads, but actual loose chains draped over her shoulders. Similar to chain mail. Except not at all protective. We saw this girl randomly at least three times that day in different parts  of the city – the photo was clearly meant to be.)

(So much elastic. So much metallic.)

(Again with the iPhone apologies – the camera of which is normally so good, I think I was overzealous with the zoom function – however, it still captured the netted back, stopping just before the point of no return, and maybe a Spanx line?). 

(This girl deserves special mention. She uttered the most inane line overheard during our trip, “Does the sun set on the west everywhere?”. From the OC, she made these fellow Americans cringe in fear, knowing this is who the rest of the world thinks we are). 

(No fashion post about Rome would be complete without a photo of the Swiss Guard. Despite the colorful outfits, it would not be wise to challenge one of these men, supposedly the men of the Guard are some of the most well-trained security forces in the world.)

And, in case you have ever wondered what it is like to travel with me when I get pulled away from admiring real art and am on the chase for a fashion forward photo, my travel companion snapped this:


Yes, I agree. Someday that person is going to turn around, and I am going to be in heaps of trouble. I will take my chances until then…



FFFFP #15: Bastille Day Edition

Things I was reminded of on this Bastille Day:

1. I live here. Seriously. Amazement renewed.

2. Picnic food is delicious. Especially when shared with good friends and served with copious rosé (or whatever is your wine of choice, we weren’t picky).

3. Some French people are crazy. Bat-s&*t crazy. Take, for example, our picnic neighbors:

Spiderman is an icon. Rather, Speedermahn (proper French pronunciation is a must) is a cultural touchstone. He does not grow old. Or have a muffin-top. Or smoke cigarettes and drink 151 proof, off-brand vodka straight from the bottle. Until now. Very unfortunately.

Speedermahn was accompanied by a young Obi-Wan Kenobi (obviously, right?). He seemed rather clean-shaven (and short) for emulating Ewan McGregor/young Alec Guinness. Not that you can tell this quite yet from the dramatic cape action depicted here (although it does not appear that he’s able to see anything either).

Better to see them in action (are they blessing the photographer here?):

It was La Fête Nationale – the annual celebration of the modern French state and honoring of the liberté, egalité, fraternité ideals that my adopted home holds so dear. Not Comic-Con. As far as I knew. Clearly, one of us did not get the memo.

Speaking of which, who is this guy and what is that on his head?

No matter, much fun was had by all. Frankly, sitting next to the Comic Book All-Stars was definitely one of the highlights of the afternoon. I cannot quite put into words the incredulity we all felt as we watched their party evolve, with additional costumed friends joining throughout the festivities (samurais, Al Capone). As usual, I have friends that are far more eloquent than I, and so I quote, “…you did a great job in capturing the quintessential of a retired superhero. Sadly, this is what happens when your idol grows old and tired….. it’s a lesson for all of us. Never give up! (and don’t wear a tight costume if your belly sticks out more than your manhood does).” Thanks, Gianni.

#4. Did I tell mention this? I live here – this is my life:

So, so, so lucky…

Carnival (belatedly, FFFFP#14)

Spring has finally sprung in Paris. Trees outside my office that were brown and barren just one week ago now form a lush green barrier between scientist wannabes (yeah, right) and the institute. And then there were the radishes in this week’s panier – vibrant magenta, just slightly sharp and the perfect snack with a bit of salt and butter. Never mind all that, I’ll save the waxing rhapsodic about spring produce for tomorrow’s post.

Today it is Friday and finally time to welcome the return of the FFFFP:

(I get the impression that the woman in the back may be preparing to take the same photo, just from a different angle. I clearly would have if I had been a paying customer – in fact, I’d feel entitled to it.)

I do realize that Easter is extremely late this year. That means that Carnival (in all its incarnations) did just happen a few weeks ago. However, I remain doubtful that the Mardi Gras parade is poised to roll down Boulevard Saint Germain and pause outside of Les Deux Magots to pick her up.

Also to note, between the hat and all those beads, this woman must have the strongest neck ever… Comments? Thoughts? Possible alternative uses for the five hats she seems to be wearing concurrently?

Welcome back to FFFFP season, everyone!


Bam! (FFFFP #13)

Despite being gone from the blog for a while, I have kept my eyes open (and camera ready) for FFFFP candidates all the while. And, although belatedly, I figure we could start 2011 with a bang. Or, as Emeril would put it (I believe, in this case, very appropriately), BAM!

Clearly this one was taken a while ago. I think on my way to a World Cup match last summer. I have been holding onto it, waiting for the moment that the blog needed some oomph. I think this counts.

So, thoughts? She definitely was ahead of the curve, correctly predicting the return of Uggs as an over-the-leggings shoe of choice. And it does seem that animal prints are very much tendance. However, I am troubled. Why do sheer nylon leggings even exist? And, if you choose to wear them – with sheepskin boots – in JULY – tuck them inWith that being said, I can understand that she might be a bit warm, yet the fan is a paradox (and my favorite part). The minimal Asian print doesn’t really compliment the decidedly, um, unsubtle, look of the rest of the outfit. Maybe sandals? A light, below-the-rear flowy skirt? All cooler options next time you are dressing for a parade.

The whole ensemble leaves me relatively speechless (quite a feat, I tell you). It is possible that I have an inherent block to making excessively snarky comments about pregnant women (unconfirmed, but I think I am safe in that assumption), or it may just be that the tiger stripes are inducing some nausea. Either way, this winter of black coats, black scarves and black boots has been less than inspiring. Photos like this remind me what I have to look forward to as we inch towards the warm season – I do miss me some crazy Paris summer.

Goodbye summer (FFFFP #12)

It is definitely autumn in Paris. Leaves are turning, hours of daylight dwindling and the wind has a cold bite to it that the lighter coat is not capable of keeping out. Overall, this summer was a bit of a disappointment. There were definitely more grey (sometimes rainy) days than last year. Granted, I did miss late August through mid-September while traveling (writer’s block about which has brought this blog to a grinding halt as of late), and the sun was said to have made a brief appearance before disappearing again for good.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. Despite my California roots, I have come to love the cold weather. Fall means sweaters and soups, bottomless cups of hot tea and cold, drizzly Sundays provide an excellent excuse for movie (or Wii) marathons. In fact, I am officially welcoming the change of seasons this Sunday with chili and American football.

Yet, for FFFFP, the passing of summer is slightly sad. Summer is the season when the French let it all hang out (I mean this literally and figuratively, but mostly literally). Summer is the season of riotous color and shorts so short you can see the bottom of the pockets hanging down below the hem. It is not all bad – with the cooler weather, tights are back (although in a much more muted, and pleasing, palette than spring), and it is clear that the pirate boot phenomenon has not ebbed.

But, with the dark, cold days ahead, I have to accept that this…

…will not be happening again for sometime. Which, if you ask me, is a damn shame. So, I take my hat off to you, Ms. Summer 2010, for providing me with a tangible reminder of all things hot and sticky. When I am bundled up, drinking that tenth cup of tea to stay warm, you will not only make me smile, but provide me with a challenge for FFFFPs to come. I don’t know if I can beat this…