My dear friend Linda has always known how to throw a party. But she topped herself recently by planning the ultimate girl's trip to none other than Paris, France to celebrate her birthday.
She asked her beautiful daughter Emily (what a great way to help us feel young!), me and others in our group to join her on this to-die-for excursion. Although some guys might not want their wives traveling so far without them, Bob was quick to say "Go for it" (especially since I'd be gone during dove season.)
Linda handled all the details, arranging tours of must-see sights like the Lourve, Claude Monet's house and the Eiffel Tower plus a fabulous dinner cruise on the Seine River. All I had to do was pack!
That might sound simple but I shopped, stressed and spent HOURS modeling different options. After all, we're talkin' seven days in the fashion capital of the world with girlfriends who always notice what you wear. And we were set to arrive just days before Fashion Week 2013.
But these seven favorite finds helped me relax. Besides being stylish enough for the streets of Paree (Ooh la la!), they're affordable, easy to pack and even helped me feel more comfortable.
Finding cute shoes that didn't kill my feet was top priority. When traveling with Bob, I usually wear black tennies when we walk a lot. Since that simply would not do in Paris, I thought about taking my go-to, black flats. But I quickly nixed them after a 50-block test drive in New York City left blisters all over my poor feet. Ouch!
Then I remembered hearing about Pluggz flats. They're cute, cushy and designed to go the distance. Each pair contains black, carbon-and-rubber "plugs" that sit under a weight-bearing part of your feet to ensure electrical contact between the earth and your body. These plugs ground you when walking on grass, sand, soil -- even concrete sidewalks. And that is said to be good for your overall well-being.
Sounds crazy I know but guess what? It works! Pluggs' black metallic ballet flats kept me comfy and looked great (love the patent toe cap!) everywhere from strolling through Paris parks to window shopping along the Champs-Élysées. Lucky for me, they run a little small so I could wear a 6, the smallest size, even though I'm normally a 5 1/2. And since I had no pain, I was even able to give my band aids to sister travelers who were fighting blisters. ($129.99 for sizes 6 - 11 at Pluggz.com)
We enjoyed beautiful, sunny weather every day in Paris but it was cooler than Texas. To add a pop of color while guarding against the chill, I packed a drop-dead gorgeous, orange scarf with large, white polka dots from Ann Taylor.
Perfect for early fall, this lightweight scarf is large enough to sub as a pashmina. It was a standout when paired with a leather jacket, Chambray shirt, leopard belt and dark skinny jeans for this picture in Monet's garden. Although it's no longer available, there are many other covet-worthy choices at AnnTaylor.com. Prices start at $38.
When Bob and I went on our anniversary cruise in June, the ultra-BRIGHT sun reflecting off the Adriatic Sea made my eyes water constantly. So a hip pair of sunglasses with glare-blocking polarized lens like these Cypress stunners from Smith Optics was an absolute must for my bag.
I'm wild about the red color (it's straight from my wish list for fall) as well as the fun, cat-eye style with its vintage, Mad Men vibe. Although there wasn't a cloud in the sky. these babies kept the tears from my eyes atop the Arc de Triomphe. ($98 at Coastal.com)
To celebrate her birthday in high style, Linda planned a memorable evening at Les Ombres restaurant. With its glass ceiling, floor-to-ceiling windows and spectacular rooftop terrace, Les Ombres offers what could be the most magnifique view of the Eiffel Tower in all of Paris.
That meant we'd be dressing for dinner! Thank goodness, I had just enough space in my suitcase for a knockout dress, small clutch and stiletto heels.
Sleek, Red-and-Black Sheath - This 50s-inspired, shirt-waist number with a polka-dot embellished, polynylon taffeta skirt caught my eye immediately. As you can tell from the scarf I wore to Monet's garden, I'm all about polka dots. Plus, its machine washable (don't you just hate dry cleaning bills?), the red top complements my Smith sunglasses and the pencil skirt has pockets.
Even better, since the dress came from eShakti.com, I knew none of my friends had it (we always seem to end up with the same things in our closets!). It was also affordable ($79.95) and I was able to get a perfect custom fit without going to a tailor. That's HUGE when you're a 0 petite and salespeople often laugh when you ask for your size.
When ordering from eShakti, you can pick a standard size from 0 to 36W. Or pay $7.50 extra for sizing to your height, bust, waist, and so on. Also, it takes about 14 business days (18 calendar days) for delivery. If you're anything like me, now you're wondering "But can I return it?" Yes, however, shipping and the customization charge aren't refundable and there are other exclusions.
Since styles come and go quickly, my dress is no longer available. But there are tons of other head-turning, under-$100 options at eShakti.com and you can watch the site for discounts.
Killer Clutch - This chic Jemma clutch wallet in faux ostrich added noticeable fun to my outfit. The girls even paused from ogling my friend Becky's gorgeous, vintage Channel bag to compliment my choice.
A great size for evening as well as easy packing, the Jemma has handy compartments for carrying cash, credit cards, and other essentials like lipstick, a comb and your phone. The rosy fuchsia color paired well with my reds but you can also choose black, gray, green or any of six other cool colors. ($50 at Clava.com)
Studded, Black Patent Stilettoes - Right on trend for fall, these sensational, silver-studded pumps make anything from skinny jeans to skirts and dresses more elegant.
Although I adore high heels, I wondered about trying these 3 1/4-inch kicks from Kohl's on the cobblestone streets of Paris but they didn't feel too tall. In fact, I had zero problems walking the blocks we often had to cover to catch a taxi. So this sexy Jennifer Lopez style has earned a spot on the dance floor at the after-5 wedding Bob and I have on the calendar later this month. ($74.99 at Kohls.com)
Meanwhile, Kohl's has become my latest resource for size 5 and 5 1/2 shoes. Since many stores don't stock anything below a 6, I love, love, love that they have an assortment of fashion-forward styles in smaller sizes and so many are on sale!
I got on a blue bent when Bob and I went to Florence in June. While there, I picked up a beautiful, cobalt blue bag that goes with just about everything I own. Now, I'm collecting that color because it's become one of the hottest shades for fall.
So you know I was thrilled to find this terrific, beauty-on-the-go set. The super cute, cobalt blue cosmetic case from Stephanie Johnson includes three, full-size Pacific Illusions Beauty must-haves that became my morning go-to's in the City of Light:
Besides being a great basis for a natural-only-better look, this trio and all Pacific Illusions products are paraben free, fragrance free, talc free and hypoallergenic. In addition, the mini bag tucks easily inside most any medium to large tote. I enjoy carrying it in my every day bag as well as packing it on the road. ($65 at PacificIllusions.com; free shipping anywhere in the U.S.)
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