An American in Paris

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Warning: This is a long post!

Paris was the first top in my short 2-week Eurotrip. Like most family trips, my stay in the City of Lights was dominated by a strict schedule of tours and excursions. This article will share the outfits I wore on the trip as well as give a brief summary of what I did during that day!  It’s a small departure of the usual content on this blog, but I hope you enjoy it.

I will disclaim something right away: I didn’t pack a minimalist or capsule wardrobe.  While I do realize the value in those things, I wanted the freedom to be able to wear a bunch of different outfits on this trip!  I didn’t overpack but it’s definitely more than what most guys recommend.

What I didn’t account for was the fact that it was extremely hot and humid during my stay in Paris. Temperatures reached the high 80s (in Fahrenheit obviously) and walking through crowds in the sun or using the un-airconditioned metro didn’t help my issue!   I think  I got along just fine, but I probably would have preferred to wear a tee tucked into linen trousers for a majority of outfits.

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We stayed at a charming hotel on the Rue des Écoles called Les Bulles de Paris.  Like most of the buildings in the city, the hotel was very narrow with a tiny elevator.  Since there were four of us on this trip (dad, mom, brother and myself) it was also a tight squeeze in our hotel room; my parents took the bed while my brother and I took the fold out bed from the couch.

The hotel had a complementary buffet breakfast each morning, which we definitely took advantage of.  It was the first time I’ve been able to have brie cheese in the morning!

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Typical Ethan breakfast.

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I’m from the suburbs of LA, so walking through Paris was very interesting. Countless second-hand book sellers donned the streets while almost every building featured some sort of cafe or bistro on its ground floor.  The building architecture was particularly lovely.

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Day One: Notre Dame

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We left LAX on Monday morning (May 22) and arrived in Paris on Tuesday, May 23 in the afternoon.  My travel outfit was pretty simple and comfortable, so I wore it when we decided to walk around the evening of our arrival.  The outfit consisted of a cotton J. Crew sweater (which may as well be a long sleeve T-shirt), my high rise 501CT selvedge jeans, white socks with loafers, and my trusty chore coat.

I can’t stress how amazing the chore coat is! It really does go with everything and its perfectly functional for traveling since it’s patch pockets can hold everything from pens to your wallet or passport.  Because it’s vintage, the cotton has softened up over time which made it easy to pack into my bag when I got too hot!

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Our first stop was the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was only a 15 minute walk from our hotel! It’s been one of my bucket list places and I’m so glad I was finally able to see this architectural wonder in person.

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After strolling around, we got a snack at a small cafe near the Seine!  Nothing like having a macaron, am I right?

Day Two:  Disneyland Paris

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My brother and I are huge Disney fans, so making a visit to Disneyland Paris was a must!  I wanted something more casual and comfortable, so I wore a lightweight rayon 1940’s sport shirt with some black jeans and white sneakers. Obviously the looks is more “contemporary” and closer to what a regular dude would wear; if I wanted to adhere to the 1940’s vintage casual style that I’ve advocated, I would have tucked in the shirt and worn selvedge denim and boots! Either way, these shirts are incredibly versatile and can work for whatever style you want to go for.

I didn’t bring any tee shirts for the trip, so these vintage sport shirts shirts were the way to go. I definitely need a lot more of them for this upcoming summer and I recommend them to you guys as well!  They’re pretty readily available at most vintage stores.

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It wasn’t too bad of a journey to get to Disneyland Paris, since it took one metro ride and one train ride.  At one point we got on the wrong metro line, but we sensed our mistake when we realized that none of the  families or groups of young people were on the train with us!

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I think it’s pretty interesting that their version of Tomorrowland is called Discoveryland, which fits in with the park’s style of steampunk.  I have no qualms with this, since I love vintage (and steampunk fits right in).   Space Mountain has a new facade (and an entirely new ride experience) and they even had the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!

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Mickey looking quite cool with a 1930’s style sweater vest and plus fours!

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The dragon under the castle.

Day Three: The Louvre

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As a self-proclaimed art enthusiast (I like looking at it but I don’t have an extensive knowledge of it), the Louvre was a must-see.  Our tour left at about 9AM, which took us through a bit of each of the different galleries.  After the tour, I took it upon myself to check out the Italian, Spanish, and British art.  We had to leave at 3 to make it to the Eiffel Tower tour, so I felt pretty rushed to see everything I wanted!

Since it was the Louvre, I decided to dress up a little bit.  Even though its technically summer, I went with muted tones:  blue, brown, and grey.  My Suit Supply jacket is an unstructured wool/cashmere piece with patch pockets, which made it perfect for the “dressed down” tailoring look I was going for.  The pleated trousers add comfort, since we were walking all day, and the blue button-down collar shirt adds a casual, yet ivy touch to the outfit! It’s not something extravagant but the ideas are easily repeatable across anyone’s style.

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The Galerie d’Apollon

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France’s Crown Jewels?

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Me in the Galerie d’Apollon!

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The Winged Victory of Samothrace

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Pandemonium by John Martin

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If you look at most of the pictures on this blog, you’ll notice that natural light, shadows, and subtle vignetting characterize my photo style.  While it is directly inspired by the old pictures on The Amoury, I also get some stimulation from neo-classical portraiture.  I aspire to take pictures like these paintings, since they give a sense of elegance and intimacy to the image.  With that said, I’m still going to continue to take dorky pictures when I can! Menswear doesn’t always have to be serious, you know.

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Holding the Pyramids by I.M Pei.

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Unfortunately, we were unable to go up the Eiffel Tower. We were instructed to go to the tower base at 5PM to meet with our guide, but the guide never showed up!  It was pretty disappointing, but at least we were able to take pictures next to it!

Day Four:  Montmartre

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Our next day was spent exploring Montmartre, the “hill town” outside the center of Paris.  I can’t stress how dead I was after this day; we had to walk up three stories to get out of the metro station and much more to get to the main part of Montmartre.   As I learned from our terrific guide, the city an artist haven.  Numerous artists of note stayed in Montmartre at some point in their career.  Apparently these artists couldn’t pay, so I they offered art to inns and bars in exchange for board and food.  These paintings have since been sold, but I can’t imagine how much these pieces would have gone for if they had held onto them!

Since I was going to be outside, I decided to do a more traditional spin on the Disneyland Paris outfit.  I used another 1940’s sportshirt (this time in a light green) and wore it with my 501 CT high rise denim and some loafers.  Again, boots would have made the look more workwear, but I prefer loafers for the comfort and ease.   This type of combo is something more in the lines of Bryceland’s who prefer to combine vintage and tailoring for a rugged (yet refined) look.  I think this look works and is probably one of my favorites!

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Our first stop in Montmartre was the “Wall of I Love You”, which has “I love you” written in dozens of languages.  An image of Rita Hayworth adorns the top of the tiles, saying that “love is chaos, so lets love”. This place was obviously a huge instagram spot!

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Cool street art!

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The Sacre-Coeur Basilica was the main attraction, which sat at the top of Montmartre. For the lazy travelers like me, they had an automatic funicular to ferry tourits to the top.  We went up twice that day, so I took the stairs the first time.

Like most Notre Dame, the basicilia functions both as a tourist attraction and a real church, so there was a mix of people taking pictures and devout worshippers praying.  Unfortunately, we were unable to go to the top of the basilica due to time.

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The old town of Montmartre sat behind the Sacre-Coeur and was a flurry of activity.  Inns, hotels, and bistros filled the buildings while tourist shops and walking portrait artists flooded the streets. The “main” artists had stations in the square, offering exquisite paintings of Paris and people.  Our guide, a native, said that if you were to buy art, make sure that it isn’t the typical tourist stuff!

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Our guide then took us around the town to show us the amazing architecture.  I seriously couldn’t get enough of it, since LA has nothing like this.  It might be because Paris has hundreds of years of history while the US has only 200.  I could definitely see myself sitting around this town and reading in my free time.

Lunch at a restaurant in Montmartre, that served Celtic versions of Crepes.  I freakin’ loved it!

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We finished our time in Montmartre with a view of the city.  It’s not as high as the Eiffel Tower, but the view was still beautiful.

Day Five:  Versailles

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The last main stop for our adventure in Paris was a tour of the Versailles Palace and Garden.  We had another hot day ahead of us, so I dressed for sartorial comfort.  I picked another sport shirt (from the 1950’s this time, noted by the shorter, angular collar) and wore it with a linen blazer-style chore coat, my trusty 501CTs, and white socks with loafers.  Like almost everything I wear and talk about, this is a classic look that has a slight edge due to the vintage detailing.  The linen jacket is probably the closest “true sartorial equivalent” of the chore coat since they both are completely unstructured, soft, and feature patch pockets; the only difference is the lapels which add to the formality contrast.

This jacket definitely served me well during my time at Versailles, but I had to take it off a few times even though it was linen.  It was incredibly hot and the rooms were crowded due to the droves of tourists.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like if we traveled to Paris during the peak seasons of July and August!

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Gold Leaf gate, featuring the head of Apollo (whom Louis XIV likened himself to), the double L’s at the top, and the globe with three fleur de lis (which signify France and the Holy Trinity)

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The rooms in the Versailles Palace were magnificent, calling to mind my visit to the Apollo Room at the Louvre (which was based on Versailles).  Each room was dedicated to a particular deity and most of the ceilings featured exquisite paintings.  In designing the palace, Louis XVI wanted it to be a blend of a multitude of cultures (Greek and Roman especially) in order to create a classic place.

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Beautiful Marble.

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The famous Mirror Hallway, almost filled to capacity.

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Standing in front of the Palace within the gated courtyard.

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After our guided tour of the palace, we were then set loose to explore the gardens.  Now, if you don’t already know, the Versaille Gardens are fucking huge. We only had an hour before our lunch reservations, so we trekked around to see as much as we could! If we had time, I would’ve taken the time to rent a cart to see all the major statues and fountains!

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The Fountain of Apollo. I got to this masterpiece right when they turned off the water!

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The dying family.

After the our lunch in Versailles, we went back to Paris to see the Arc de Triomphe and have our last dinner.  We did walk down the Champs-Élysées and go to the Galeries de Lafayette but it was all basic fashion that didn’t stand out to me.  I did end up buying two T-shirts at Gap just in case London (or next stop) was going to be hot as well.

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Food was definitely an important part of this trip, but I didn’t get to take any pictures of what we ate!  Our last dinner was at Ladurée, where I had an egg dish.  Unfortunately, the service was pretty bad, as they overcooked my mom’s food and took over 30 minutes to get it back again; they then forgot to bring her pomme frites which took another 15 minutes.

However, our best dinner came from when we ate at the 114 Faubourg, a one Michelin star restaurant.  We ate there to celebrate my dad’s 50th birthday!  Hard to believe right?He’s been a great supporter of my dreams and is extremely patient with me when I ask him to take my pictures.  I love him dearly.

My lamb dish!

Apasie & Mathieu

I want to take a moment and talk about Aspasie & Mathieu, a small men and women’s retail haberdashery on the Rue de Carmes. It’s right down the street from our hotel and we walked by it on the way to the metro station.  We noticed it since it had an interesting window display featuring a chore coat, panama hat, and braces!  The shop was only open 11AM-7PM, which made it inconvenient to visit due to the plethora of guided tours that shaped our Paris trip but I eventually was able to make one visit!

The window display.

The entire store had a lovely French workwear vibe, which certainly appeals to my more casual side that you guys have been seeing lately.  They don’t make any of their products themselves, but they get their products from a bunch of different manufacturers!

Their chore coats weren’t vintage, but since the overall design of the chore coat hasn’t changed in the last hundred years, it doesn’t really make a difference.  The coats were cut from heavy twill and were available in tan, blue, and black; they even had a flecked brown wool version!

Lovely ties and linen scarves.

Linen, wool, and chambray 8-panel caps!

Genuine Panama hats in a variety of styles and band colors.

High quality linen shirts.  Way better than the Uniqlo ones I bought before I left on my trip!

In the end, I walked out with a linen blazer-style chore coat.  It featured triple patch pockets (the side pockets had flaps though), three button configuration, and a tiny hook vent.  All of these details make it almost a dead ringer for Spencer’s twill 1930’s one from the chore coat article! I bought mine in a size “S” and as you can see in the Versailles section, it fits perfectly.  I don’t now how many they normally stock, since I purchased the last “S”; they other one they had was a darker brown linen in an “M” and was from a different company.

The store is managed by a lovely lady who spoke little English.  She was absolutely charming and thanked my mom (who bought a linen shirt) and I for stopping by! She even snuck in a little chocolate in our bag, as parting present.  I heavily recommend you guys to give it a look if you’re ever in Paris.  I would’ve definitely bought one of those linen shirts!

Conclusion

Unfortunately, Aspsie & Matthieu was the only good menswear shop that I had the opportunity to check out during my stay in Paris.  Yes, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, and such all have interesting things, but I wish I had more time to look at the tailoring side of Paris.  This might be due to the fact that I was on a tour almost everyday!  By the end of our excursions, we were too tired to explore further; it was also past closing time for many of these stores.  It just means that I have to come back!

I only met one well dressed gent but I think I’ll talk about him more in a separate article.  Other than that, I hope you enjoyed this summary of what I was up to in Paris! If you want a deeper look into my personal life and the random journeys I take, please feel free to follow me on Instagram.  I post a lot on my IG story, so it may be helpful to you guys if you want more updates on a place other than this blog!

Coming up next is my subsequent trip to London.

Always a pleasure,

Ethan W.

Street x Sprezza

@ethanmwong 

Photography by Ethan W. and David W. 

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