Rue Rodier Blog By Lifestyle Writer & Blogger Living In Paris
Penned by a British photographer and writer turned Parisienne, Rue Rodier aims to inspire and encourage women to live better through style, beauty, inspiring interiors and travel stories, with a French touch.
Wearing white in summer is nothing new, but it never gets old. It’s probably the most timeless shade you could possibly sport, which will still make you look on-trend year after year when the mercury rises. As long as you stay away from red wine, spaghetti Bolognese and any sneaky sticky fingers, this is the easiest hue to help you hone your summer style skills. So in pre-empting upcoming warmer weather, I’ve teamed up with GAP to bring you two very different white looks, which will work equally as well for any occasion as the temperature heats up. White will also make you looked slightly tanned, however pale you are, even if you’ve been hibernating since last summer. Luckily I found a little sun trap in Jardin du Luxembourg and a nearby street when photographing these outfits last this week.
GAP is the purveyor of great basics. I’ve been shopping with the brand since I was a child and it never fails to deliver. My dad (yes my dad) loved nothing more than taking me on mini weekend shopping sprees to GAP while I was growing up in Canterbury, UK, to dress me up in their lastest denim drop. Recalling these trips, I visited the boutique on the Champs Élysée (Paris’ largest) last Tuesday to pick out a couple of outfits from their range of whiter than white items, to create two very different looks that can be easily interchangeable. For example, throw the denim jacket over the linen midi dress when the weather gets a little chilly and the shoes I’ve styled each outfit with can also be swapped depending on your mood.
I decided to tone down the linen dress with a pair of (often controversial) ‘dad sandals’, or ‘mandals’ as I’ve also cleverly heard them referred as, and a straw hat that I picked up on holiday in Ibiza last summer. I would wear this site-seeing in say, Santorini or Corsica and imagine wearing a white bikini underneath so I’m already prepped for the beach. Or for drinks on a balmy evening down by the Seine. I paired the jeans with thong sandals - as is the trend right now, which is great as they are super comfy - to elevate the denim suit that can be say, worn to lunch during the day or paired with a pop of bright red lipstick in the evening for cocktails with les amies.
Deborah or Deb as I know her, is one of the best dressed women that I’ve met since my time in the French capital, which is quite an accolade considering how many sartorially-inclined women reside in Paris. But this won’t come as a surprise seeing as she spent her formative career years at French ELLE in the fashion department. Deb now juggles life as a Fashion Accessories Director for L’Officiel, fashion influencer and editor of her blog The Daily Deb. I met her at an event nearly two years ago when my French was very fledgling and I was still finding my feet in this industry. She was one of the first native Parisians working within my realm that I immediately liked and clicked with. And of course the first thing I noticed was her sense of style. She’s less classically Parisian in her dress sense as her style is more trend-lead - she’s always ahead of the curve, such as easily carrying off Gucci sneakers wrapped with bling like nobody else I know.
Born and bred in Paris, Deb lived in the Marais before moving to a quiet street near the leafy boulevards of the 16th arrondissement for more space while she was pregnant with her first child. She’s been there the past 6 years in a naturally lit, 70s style apartment that she shares with her husband and two small sons.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
To insist when you want something, to never give up and always believe in what you are doing.
What was the most difficult thing about finding your apartment in Paris ?
Making the owner understand my job.
What is your go-to outfit or the outfit you put on when you need an infusion of confidence?
A pant suit in a boyish cut - I feel stronger with it (more like a man)
What are your favourite brands?
They are so many but I’ve always loved Prada, Alaïa, Jil Sander, ACNE and I also really love to wear Ganni and Rixo for their amazing, feminine prints.
What do you like to do for fun? And to relax?
I like to go out with my non-fashion friends and to relax, I like foot massages - I am addicted.
How long have you lived in your apartment?
I’ve lived there 6 years - since I gave birth to my youngest son Aaron.
How would you describe your interior style?
It’s a bit scandi in a way, but it is more a mix of all that I love. To be honest I’m now ready to move and change apartment, I think 6 years here has been long enough.
Favourite piece(s) of furniture/treasures?
My mirror that I found in a small boutique in "les puces" (flee market).
Favourite places/shops to buy for your home?
‘Les puces’ for vintage and The Conran Shop for new things by different designers.
What styles inspire you?
Scandinavian style because it's pure, chic, cosy and warm.
What do you like most about the area you live in, in Paris?
The green spaces near by, such as Jardin du Ranelagh and Bois de Boulogne. Also the streets near me are full of stores for food and shopping. It feels like a real village with all the best everyday shops.
Favourite sources for inspiration?
My mum and grandma and then I’ve discovered so many great profiles on Instagram.
I’ve had a relationship with jeans since as long as I can remember. And I’m always on the search for the perfect pair. I don’t know where I got it from exactly, as my mum is more of a skirt and dress wearer and I don’t actually remember her wearing jeans that often when I was growing up. I think it might started with GAP, although I’m not entirely sure. I still remember a pair of baby blue jeans my dad bought my when I was about 7 or 8, which were rather cool, even if I do say so myself ;)
Anyway whenever it happened, I have followed and succumbed to all the denim trends growing up - skinny, drainpipes, flared, wide-legged, cropped, mom jeans, tapered, straight-legged. You name it, I’ve worn it. (And made a lot of mistakes along the way.) Black, all the blues, white, pink, cream, yellow. 90s inspired acid wash (from my East London, Dalston days) and of course vintage… There are a few things that I’ve learnt along the way, so I’ve put together my top tips when wearing jeans and my edit of the high to low brands. Although I will say, it is worth investing in a really good pair of jeans as they will enhance your body shape - particularly your peach (and who doesn’t want that..) and last for years. My current favourite derriere-enhancing styles are the Levis Wedgie fit and Citizens of Humanity Charlotte High Rise Straight Jeans (featured in the photos).
Unless you have very little hips, I suggest you wear high-wasted. I would love to wear a pair of lower slung boyfriend jeans, but they just don’t suit me. There’s no room for my bum and I also don’t want to show off my underwear when I sit down…
A slight flare will help create the illusion of curves if you don’t have many...
If you’re on the short side avoid cropped styles (same goes for trousers) they will cut your legs in half and make you look shorter!
Size down (if you can and can still sit down) as most jeans, even if they’re a stiff denim will stretch
Wash your jeans inside out so you don’t dilute the colour
White will make you look bigger than you are, whereas black and darker shades of denim are slimming
Wear thongs with jeans or a very good barely there tanga - nobody likes a VPL
THE DENIM EDIT
Low-end: under €100€ (& Other Stories, COS, Arket, Levis, GAP and Weekday)
Mid-range: under €300 (Madewell, Acne, Citizens of Humanity)
High-end: over €300 (Goldsign, Isabel Marant, Balenciaga)
If you’re following me on Instagram you might have seen that I’m currently stranded in London waiting for my passport to be renewed. To be honest, I’ve found the last couple of weeks very stressful. As a British national living in France, I’ve been glued to the Brexit news, feeling incredibly worried and unstable about my future. I’m sure I’ll be fine and France won’t be throwing me out of the country any time soon, but it’s been very unsettling not knowing what’s going on. Never in my life did I think I would be in a situation like this. Growing up I always thought I was so incredibly lucky to have (what I thought were) two of the best passports in the world - I also have American nationality (although my passport is currently expired), as my mum is from California. But these last few years I’ve felt less like this, obviously due to the political situations in both countries… Anyway now that I’m in a waiting game in London until my passport arrives in the post (hopefully by the end of the week), I’m trying to make the most of my stay by seeing friends and setting up as many meetings as possible.
Fortunately spring has finally sprung in my old city and as I write this on a Monday morning, there are bright blue skies and the sun is shining through the window. Whilst wandering around Southbank yesterday on my way to Tate Modern to see the Dorothea Tanning exhibition (highly recommended) with my dad, I felt all the tingly feelings that spring often induces. There was a sharp chill in the air, but as we sauntered next to the river Thames and over the Millenium Bridge after our gallery visit, towards St Paul’s, I noted the smiles on peoples faces and the beautiful blossoms blooming on the trees. So I thought it high time I published this post, which has admittedly been sitting in draft-form for the past month.
I actually shot these photos in mid February, when we had those unprecedented warm days - the warmest days on record to arrive in February, ever. A week later we were back to winter, so I thought it premature to publish an article on slip skirts and sandals! But with it becoming officially spring a few days ago, it’s time. I snapped up a few slip skirts - including this neon green style from ASOS, which seems to have gone a little viral. I wrote about it for Who What Wear UK, when mentioning the spring trends Parisians will be wearing, they then dedicated a whole article to the skirt and it was recently picked up by Grazia UK. It’s still available in a few sizes, but I’ve also curated my favourite slips skirts found on the web!
A couple of weeks ago, I joined Parisian brand Georges Rech on location for the shoot of their new collection. When the email popped into my inbox inviting me on set inside Maison Louis Carré – a house designed by one of my favourite architects, Alvar Aalto – with a French fashion house, I jumped at the chance. What unfolded was a beautiful marriage between two of my favourite things: style and interiors.
It was a cold and dreary grey day, but nothing could dampen my enthusiasm as I excitedly watched the team re-create afternoon light - bathing corners of the house in a golden glow – and photograph eleven beautifully put together outfits against the incredibly modern (for its time) 20th century Finnish backdrop, well into the early evening.
Built between the years 1957 and 1960 for the French gallerist and art collector Louis Carré, the house is the only example of Aalto’s work in France. In 2006 the Finnish Cultural Foundation bought the house and opened it to the public. Incidentally Karl Lagerfeld photographed one of his favourite models in the house for an issue of Wallpaper magazine in 2009. The minimal, architectural lines of the property and beautifully crafted mid-century furniture perfectly complemented the new Georges Rech collection.
The fashion house was founded in 1962 by French stylist, Georges Rech who took the essence of haut-couture and re-worked it into wearable clothing that offered everyday luxury to the modern woman. He drew inspiration from elegant Parisiennes in their natural habitats – pounding the pavements on the way to work or sitting in cafés, such as the famous Café de Flore – to create a brand that is quintessentially Parisian and has stood the test of time.
Since the 60s, Georges Rech has been synonymous with elegance, sophistication and good taste. The brand is characteristically Parisian and provides women with elevated basics – shirts, suits and knitwear that come in muted palettes, with pops of colour and luxurious fabrics such as leather, tweed, silk and fake fur – to create items that can be worn with everything and will last for years.
At the heart of the collections is timeless and elegant tailoring. From softened masculine tuxedos that instantly flatter the feminine form, but emphasise the strength and beauty of an independent, powerful woman – to stand-alone blazers that transform basic outfits into elegant evening wear. When choosing items to wear, I was immediately drawn to a white suit and tweed blazer teamed with leather trousers. Anyone following me for a while will know that I love a good blazer. It’s a piece that instantly elevates an outfit – turning a pair of jeans and white tee into an easy, yet elegant look. After a day fulfilling childhood dreams of playing dress up in beautiful clothes, surrounded by equally alluring interiors, I took a few pieces home and wore them in the sun around Paris.
You might have noticed, if you follow me on Instagram that it was snowing in Paris last week and we have more snow forecast. It’s not easy to dress for snow in a city like Paris as one wants to remain chic and stylish at all times. Besides a good cut puffer jacket - which I did indeed wear in the snow last week, faux fur is my go-to when the temperatures drop. It’s warm to wear and it’ll keep you looking equally good during the day as it will on a night out.
But before moving on to a few of my favourites that I’ve found during my online search for the perfect furry coat, I’d like to point out that there is a discussion surrounding faux Vs real fur. While I won’t wear real fur - as I don’t like the idea of animals being killed for their skin - there are arguments that faux fur can be even worse for the environment. Here’s a good source by Refinary 29. And I also have plenty of fashion friends (those that work as designers for big fashion houses and know where the fur comes from) that make good arguments for buying real fur.
Either way, whichever you personally choose to wear, if you do buy faux fur, I highly recommend investing in a good quality faux fur coat that will last, so you won’t be throwing it away in six months time and adding to the world’s fashion waste. Black is always a safe option, as is chocolate brown - I still regret not snapping up a long faux fur Totême coat - as it was one that I would certainly wear for years to come. (They also do a great short black faux fur jacket). Leopard print, such as the one I’m wearing by STAND, will also has longevity as it comes around season after season and has never gone out of style. And in terms of styling, let the coat do the talking - especially if it’s leopard, and pair with jeans and a simple knit.
I want to (and do) partner and collaborate with brands that are aspirational; that represent an elevated way of living, because this is after all what I myself am aiming for through fashion, beauty, interiors and travel, it’s also the premise behind this blog and it is what I promote on my site and social media networks. After all we live one life, so why not make it the very best we can? It’s also fundamentally why I moved to Paris, because I was in search of a better and more beautiful way of living. But it’s no secret that the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters on the planet. Seeking this better living and surrounding myself with aesthetically pleasing things, and thus promoting them, can come with a hefty price tag. And I’m not talking monetary. While it won’t dictate every decision I make, I do want to make more conscious, better buying choices - buying better quality, longer lasting and therefore often more luxurious, even if they are at times double the price. (But they also don’t have to be.) In the hope that I will indeed cherish them longer. I also want to buy from brands that are taking responsibility for their contribution to the industry and the planet. Yes I will still sometimes buy fast fashion, because I love clothes, but more and more I want to invest my money in pieces that last and also companies working towards a better future: those taking responsibility for what they produce and how we consume. It’s these small steps that will inevitably make a big impact.
I am therefore incredibly excited and honoured to be partnering with Parisian born (and the first online) brand, Sézane to help spread the word about their charity initiative. Last year, Sézane created a philanthropic programme aptly entitled Demain (meaning tomorrow): whereby each month, on the 21st, Sézane releases a new product. All sales from this and previous items go to Demain and on the same day, 10% of all the proceeds from both Sézane and the men’s collection, October Editions, will go to charity. Last year they raised more than 1 million Euros for La Voix de L’Enfant (The Child’s Voice), through the Demain initiative. This year, the brand has partnered with two new organisations, Pencils of Promises, which creates education opportunities in developing worlds and Sport dans la Ville (Sport in the City). All charities that are building brighter futures for children. Something that I personally would like to be more involved in.
Besides creating stylish (and affordable) clothes and homewares for both men and women, Sézane is now flying the flag for sustainability and charitable projects and it’s quickly becoming their driving force:
“2019 will see this company become more engagée (committed) than ever before. Committed to becoming the responsible and sustainable brand it set out to be – a brand that places action over words, substance over form. With our impact on the planet and people guiding our choices, without misinformation, exaggeration or pretence.” Morgane Sézalory (Founder of Sézane).
It is a brand I have long admired, not only for its collections and homewares, but also for its ethics and how it operates as a business. Sézane also demonstrates that you don’t have a to sell items at a higher price tag to be more responsible. I’m hoping that they will pave the way for more brands to follow suit. Last March they also opened their charity boutique in Paris - where they sell past collections, items left over from shoots and display, and where they collect and recycle clothes, receive donations and support socially inclusive workshops. All proceeds are of donated to Demain.
I’m wearing the newly launched French Toast sweatshirt, the newest addition to the Demain collection, which paired with a slick of red lipstick and high-waisted jeans, hits the perfect note of Parisian comfy chic that you’ll want to be sporting on a daily basis.
Monica de La Villardière née Ainley is one half of Fashion No Filter, a podcast that expertly holds up a magnifying glass to the fashion industry, going behind the scenes to dissect its quirks, trends and what it means to be stylish, whilst interviewing its nearest and dearest. Inspired by a longtime passion for radio and a love for all things fashion, she launched it last year with her partner in crime and fellow fashion detective, Camille Charierre, with the aim to merge modern and insightful journalism with a love for traditional radio broadcasting.
Monica studied English Literature and French at university, so it seemed almost inevitable that she would at some point end up in the French capital. After leaving Toronto where she was born and raised in favour of Edinburgh for university, it was during a study year abroad at the Sorbonne that she began her love affair with Paris. (Incidentally the same year that she also met her husband.) After graduating from a masters in International Journalism at City University in London and working for the likes of NET-A-PORTER and Joseph, she moved to France in 2016.
France and particularly Paris have invariably informed her style, so much so, that she even goes head to head with Londoner and her Fashion No Filter co-founder, Camille over which city is the best dressed, in a French documentary series for Paris Premier that compares the fashion CVs of the two capitals. And much like her personal style - Paris has also permeated her interior choices - chic, clean and erring on the side of classic, with the odd pop of colour and not without a fashion forward or artistic twist. I visited her modernised Haussmann building 6th floor apartment (complete with skylight) in the 16th arrondissement last week, where’s she’s been for the past year and a half.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
What would you tell your 21-year-old self?
The above, plus, the slog now will pay off later. Basically: don’t worry, gaining experience is indeed worth it.
What was the most difficult thing about moving to Paris ?
The difference in attitude between Parisians and people in say, London or Toronto. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of Parisians I love dearly —I’m married to one!— but there’s definitely an adjustment period to the bold-faced rudeness one encounters on a daily basis. One almost has to become semi-rude oneself, or at least pretty thick-skinned, to get by emotionally unscathed while ordering in a cafe! That said, on some level I do admire Parisians for their honesty. There's no BS here.
What is your go-to outfit or the outfit you put on when you need an infusion of confidence?
I’m a sucker for all things motivational. I have self-help books by the dozens, I regularly bookmark TED Talks or any inspiring video for that matter so I can return to it later, I subscribe to a plethora of podcasts (great for when you’re on the go and haven’t quite perfected the art of reading and walking at the same time) and I love reading about other people’s inspiring stories, especially if they’ve experienced lots of failure before their big achievement/s. So I’ve put together a few of my favourite things that are helping me stay inspired, in the hope that they might also help you when you’re in need of a little inspiration.
The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks - Want to take your career or personal life to the next level? Then read this book. Coining it the ‘Upper Limit’ Hendricks has figured out exactly what is getting in the way of our dreams.
Becoming by Michelle Obama - I’ve just started reading Obama’s autobiography and am already engrossed, so thought I’d include it. I won’t say more than that right now, apart from the fact that she is also a brilliant writer. I basically want to be her…
The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte - My friend and life coach Lucy Sheridan put me onto this. It’s a brilliant tool to help you create a strategy for achieving your goals that also makes you analyse exactly why you want them. Very important for putting those wheels in motion.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert - I revisit this book time and time again. Whether you’re a creative and want to leverage your talents into a business, or just want a good motivational kick when you’re struggling to find one, you should keep this by your bedside so you can easily dip in and out when needed.
Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability - I think this was one of the first TED Talks I ever watched and I still find it the most inspiring - it’s the one I refer back to when I’m having a confidence crisis and I recommend it to friends and family on a regular basis.
How I Fail by Elizabeth Day - English author and journalist, Elizabeth Day interviews successful women about their failures and how they overcame them. A great reminder that the most successful people have at many times in their lives experienced failure.
Elizabeth Gilbert: Magic Lessons - yes, sometimes when I need inspiration I’ll eat, sleep and think about words by Gilbert ;) this podcast is an extension of Big Magic. It’s a few years old now, but if you haven’t listened to it, I urge you to as she tackles a different creative arena each episode with someone who’s trying to overcome their creative block and then interviews someone who is a success in that field.
I’ve called this year my transition year. This year I moved apartment, I went blonde (yes, blondes really do have more fun) and, at the end of January, I left my 6.5 year relationship – this is not something I’ve really spoken about until now, mainly because I didn’t feel ready to. But after nearly a year, any feelings of sadness I felt at the beginning now feel like a distant memory. I won’t go into the reasons why we broke up, but I do want to say that it was the longest relationship I’ve ever had and the reason I moved to Paris. Although it was more mutual than one-sided, it was a decision that took a while to make, with a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. But it was the best decision and I’ve never felt happier and more in control of my life.
This year I’ve learnt to live on my own, rely on myself and stand on my own two feet again. I know I don’t need to be in a relationship to function and be happy. Once I learnt this, I felt more capable of anything than I have in my life so far. I started to trust myself again and to know that actually things would be ok. I also made conscious decisions to surround myself with happy, positive people to fill my life and make me feel whole again.
One of the things that prevented me from moving into a happier situation was my age. I turned 35 in May and it honestly scared the shit out of me to leave a +6 year relationship however unhappy I was, when my friends were getting married & starting families. But you will never be as young as you are now. There is no good time, but believe me, being single with the hope of a happy life & relationship is better than staying in something that doesn’t bring you joy because you’ve talked yourself into believing that you can’t have and don’t deserve something better. Remember, you only get what you think you deserve - so you better start thinking you deserve the best!
When I moved to Paris 6 years ago I was 29 and a little lost in my career, but with inklings of what I wanted to do and ready for a change. My relationship was the catalyst for that change; it put me on the path I’m on now and for this I will always be entirely grateful for it, but I knew it wasn’t right. Being on my own again has been this year’s biggest lessons. Even when I’ve felt down and haven’t had someone to snuggle with on the sofa, I’ve known that those feelings would eventually pass. I’ve learnt to like myself again. To feel proud of me. Because I chose the path less trodden - in moving country six years ago, when many questioned why and even warned me against it and having left a relationship at a time in my life when I should have been settling down. I’m a big advocate for stepping out of one’s comfort zone. That’s when you truly learn what you’re capable of. And when you realise you are a strong and independent human being, you can do anything.
All this to say whatever your situation, if you’re not happy in your current job, relationship or where you’re living, do something about it. It’s never too late. We are living in a world where there is so much opportunity - as Picasso said: “everything you can imagine is real”. The only difficulty is in choosing which path to go down. Trust yourself, surround yourself with people who pull you up, bring positivity into your life and edit out the ones that don’t. This may sound harsh, but life is short. If someone doesn’t bring you joy, they’ve got to go. You only get one go at this, so why not make it the best you can? And props to you if you’re already doing this!
Finally, I like to set goals rather than make resolutions. So while this year has been mainly spent laying the foundations for a happier and healthier life, I want to bring to fruition the things I’ve been thinking about. I want to see through personal projects, such as finally writing a book I’ve had in my head for the past 3 years, I’d like to grow my business, to collaborate with like-minded people and take what I do to the next step.
And so thank you again for another year and for following along. I’m wishing you an incredibly happy and healthy new year - I hope you follow your dreams and leave behind any baggage that has been weighing you down! Here’s to an incredible 2019!