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Superfine Yourself With A Parisian Clothes-Shopping Spree



If there's one complaint I hear about shopping in Paris, it's that Pariisian sizing caters to 0's and 2's, especially when it comes to lingerie. So, for this listing, for both guys and gals, you will find the top three picks are devoted to shops speciailizing in the ample, the big and the tall. What's especially nice these days, is that this does not mean you have to sacrifice one iota of style, nor luxury fabrics nor fashionable designs. For women, head to Marina Rinaldi and Cazak, and for men to the Capel Store to stock up on sizes that hug your body (but not too tightly). 

Need to rent a Tux? This shop specializes in tuxedos and men's formal wear rentals. When you're in a bind as to what to wear to that black-tie affair, Au Cor du Chasse comes in handy for the gentlemen. 

For us ladies… If I could shop at one store and one store only that would be Hermès. Or Chanel. One day, I will. But for now I will just fake it with previously loved designerwear jewels from Didier Ludot's fabulous vintage boutique in the Palais-Royal where it's all about the little black dress. That, paired with one of their silk scarves, and you really wouldn’t need to wear anything else.

For sporty-minded guys and gals there's a shop called The Kooples. They have a spin-off boutique just for sportswear. Here you can spend some fun together-time shopping for his-n-hers. 

And now for the children...The French make some of the cutest children’s clothes ever. It’s like buying doll clothes for babies. Tartine et Chocolat and also Bonpoint are two of the most famous and their shops near Place Vendôme and in St.-Germain-des-Prés, respectively, have a selection from 0 to pre-teen.


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Clothing shopping for the kids is one of the most entertaining kind of shopping you can do in Paris. Some of the little bon-bon like shoes, tops, ensembles and accessories that these kids' clothing shops come up with are so sweet they're tempting to eat. This is one of the best and even the name of the shop is what you often eat for breakfast as a child in France. Both boys and girls clothes can be found here and for expecting mothers, this is a much appreciated, high-end registry for the newborn. The other shop in Paris that is convenient and well-stocked is their Blvd. St. Germain location.


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Chanel
Photo courtesy of Paige Donner copyright 2014


Chanel has defined class and couture for over a century. Her original boutique on rue Cambon is still there and for fashionistas wanting to make a pilgrimage, is a must-see. These boutiques on Avenue Montaigne, one of Paris's most glamourous shopping streets, are big and beautiful and always crawling with the best-dressed. The one boutique is across the street from the other, which makes it convenient. The lady who started it all. Gabrielle Chanel. Aka Coco. The legend lives on under the creative direction of Karl Lagerfeld. The original boutique at 31 rue Cambon is worth the pilgrimage. History has it that the grande dame herself, Mademoiselle Chanel, used to stand at the top of the staircase and watch her clients being fitted in her creations below. Chanel never seems to stop dazzling and the house's latest dictum of "tennis shoes to the grocery store" means everyone is sporting tennis shoes and "trainers" absolutely everywhere this season. At least they are easier to walk in than stilettos on Parisian streets.


Didier Ludot is the famous haute-couture vintage shop located at the Palais-Royal. He opened a complimentary boutique on the other side of the gardens, in the Galeries de Valois, that carries exclusively little black couture vintage dresses. Superb! It's true, you can't help but feel like Audrey (Hepburn, that is) when you're browsing through his racks. His taste is impeccable and you'll find only the best labels: Balenciaga, Dior, Chanel, Chloé, Hermés, etc. If you have time to shop for more than just that one exquisite black dress that will have you looking fabulous no matter where you go and with whom, then do head over to the Montpensier side of the Palais-Royal galleries for a peek into his main boutique. Yes, it's all vintage, too.


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Bonpoint
Photo courtesy of Bonpoint copyright 2013

The story of Bonpoint, the luxury children's clothing store, begins in 1975 (officially). Prior to that Marie-France Goutal, one of the five founding sisters, was a stylist at Dior. She and her sister Dominique dreamt of dressing their children in the kind of clothes they adored. BonBon was born. Their meeting with an antiquarian, a man who owned a shop called The Point, was the alchemy that created Bonpoint. 120 shops worldwide later, this children's clothing brand dominates in the highest circles (think princesses, princes and celebrity royalty). Their concept shop in St.-Germain-des-Prés really is worth stopping into. It's housed in its own self-standing townhouse. Each fabulous themed room leads to the next even more fabulous room. During the warm months, its terrace café offers a secret little spot in which to relax and repose. Toys and books complete the children's shopping scenario.


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This is a Paris cult brand. True to its name, too, it's a his-n-hers clothing store. The ad campaigns always features couples (real couples not photo fake couples) wearing their fashions. And while their street clothes boutiques can be relied upon to feature a heavy dose of black, their sport boutiques offer lighter, more playful fashions for workout wear and leisure. This clothing brand skews young but that's not to say that there won't be something to be found for all ages. You can dress yourself head to toe here, too. Meaning, you'll find t-shirts, sweatsuits and even tennis shoes. Think young and playful with each season brining a refresh of styles and colors.


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Sometimes when you'r sojourning in the City of Lights, you have to dress the part. And since who ever packs a tuxedo in their suitcases when traveling these days, this shop is there to save the soiree. For 150 years it has specialized in renting tuxedos and tails. Some of the men's suits look they'd be quite fitting for the Versailles Ball while others will easily allow you to guide past the Maitre d' at Paris' one, two and three-star Michelin restaurants. Likewise, if you've been invited on a hunting trip, you'll find all the required togs in this obscure little shop on the Left Bank, just near Odeon. In other words, dressing the part has never been so easy, nor affordable.


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Kookai Stock
Photo courtesy of Kookai

This is one of those staple brands for Parisian ladies. It's been around since at least the 80s and seems to maintain its stride. This shop is the outlet shop and it's right in the middle of Paris. It also has a great big selection. Prices are slashed at huge discounts which makes it fun to shop a season in advance (think summer shopping in winter and vice versa). There are Kookai shops all over Paris, and France. But this is the only outlet boutique of its kind for the brand and the shop is huge, with a full selection. This is staples shopping so think cute tops, pants, jackets, sandals and shoes...that kind of thing. While we're on the topic of outlet shopping- Paris has outlet malls just outside the city. But Paris also has these boutique outlet shops; You just have to know where to find them.


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Just around the corner from the Plaza Athenee Hotel and not more than a 5 minute walk from the Champs-Elysees is where you wlll find this one-of-a-kind Paris shop. Karen, the owner and also creator of her Magic Pants, stocks her shop with women's clothing sizes 14 - 26. And stylish ones, too. Here you will find elegant evening wear, sporty outfits perfect for a weekend away, business staples such as pin-stripe pants and fitted jackets as well as accessories and mix-n-match. Some of the brands you will recognize (Marina Rinaldi), and some may be new for you. What is recognizable throughout all the product lines is the attention to quality textiles and shapely tailoring. Be sure to ask about her Magic Pants. These are the shop owner's own creation and have generated a cult following as a slimming staple for your wardrobe.


Capel Store
Photo courtesy of Polo Ralph Lauren copyright 2014


Let's face it, North Americans, for the most part, are just a bigger breed than their European counterparts. This can make shopping in Paris for a man taller than 6' a bit of a, shall we say, challenge ? Thank goodness for Capel Store. The shop specializes in sizes for Big and Tall men or, as they say in their promotional materials, Extra Tall and Extra Large men. For us coming from the US or Canada that translates to normal-sized. Brands you can find here for your guy include Boss, Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren. Their house label, Blue Capel, is aimed at a bit younger, or younger-dressing, client. A nice bonus is that they do on-site tailoring at any of their three Paris locations.


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Let's face it, Paris is a city much like NYC and L.A. when it comes to clothes shopping. There is a definite prejudice towards sizes zero and two (women's French sizes 32 and 34). So Hallelujah that there is a chain of designer-fashion women's clothing stores. Emphasis here on Woman. This brand was begun in 1980 in Italy. The clothes are designed expressly for a curvy silhouette. Which means the cloth is cut for a curvaceous body, rather than scaled up from smaller sizes. The result? Gorgeous clothes that fit well and make you look glamorous! These shops carry size Voluptuous in just about anything you are looking for, be that dresses, skirts, pants, blouses and accessories. Even jeans. You needn't be shy or self-conscious here, either, as the shop ladies have a reputation for being helpful and, well, dare I say it, even nice. Who ever said size matters?


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Meet Paige Donner

Paige's latest book, The Romantic Couple's Guide To The City of Love, Sexy Paris follows her earlier guidebook Paris On 4 Paws, A Dog Lover's Guide To The City of Light and her acclaimed...  More About Paige

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