Yahoo Lifestyle attended Paris Fashion Week on a shoestring budget, and we’re taking you along with us. Every day for a week, we’ll give you tips on how to pack, where to stay, and how to enjoy the French capital without breaking the bank — or forgoing any of the fun. Follow us on Instagram for daily stories. Today’s lesson: How to shop without maxing out a credit card.
If you have even a modicum of interest in fashion, a trip to Paris on a budget can be torturous. City guides will tell you to take a (pseudo-masochistic) stroll along Galeries Lafayette or Rue Saint-Honoré, and later explore Le Bon Marché, each of which is home to any and all luxury fashion brands.
For this style writer (who’s been chronicling what it’s like to attend Paris Fashion Week on a budget), it’s easy to feel inadequate knowing you can’t afford most of what you spot while window-shopping but will later spot on fashion insiders later during Fashion Week.
Paris Fashion Week (PFW) is the semiannual gathering of fashion editors, bloggers, models, and buyers to attend fashion shows and events. Show attendees, unencumbered by shoestring budgets, don their designer best. Meanwhile, I have Zara to thank for nearly an entire PFW look.
Still, there are small wins. Gigi Hadid wears $30 H&M pants during PFW, just like us! And this style writer caught one influencer — who has been a fixture in nearly every front row during Paris Fashion Week wearing designer frock a many — with the price tags left on her $2,750 Balmain boots, suggesting the outfit was only a loaner from the brand (a theory supported by an Instagram advertisement showcasing the outfit and posted on the influencer’s page).
There's an influencer, who'll remain nameless, wearing full Balmain at the show. I can see the price tags left on her boot soles
— Alexandra Mondalek (@amondalek) September 28, 2017
With that in mind, it’s worth exploring lesser-known shopping within Paris that will save you money and inject your wardrobe with a bit of personal flair (how disheartening would it be to spend $800 on a Vetements hoodie, of all things, only to find someone else photographed wearing the exact same thing?).
And so, once you’ve window-shopped to your heart’s content (or discontent) at Le Bon Marché, treat yourself to an actual shopping trip in Le Marais, where you’ll find not only impressive thrift shopping but well-known commercial brands too.
Start at Free’p’star on Rue de la Verrerie (note: There are two Free’p’star locations, but this location is the most efficient starting point, as you’ll head east down Rue de la Verrerie for a seemingly endless supply of vintage shops). The store, usually packed on the weekends but emptier in the mornings, has a wide selection of vintage Levi’s jeans, printed scarves, and jackets.
Come equipped with two things: first, a shopping bag, if possible (France has largely banned giving away free plastic bags in stores) to avoid being charged for one; second, a bit of patience: Free’p’star’s inventory is expansive, but it can be overwhelming to sift through all of clothing.
Nearly next door to Free’p’star is Kilo Shop, which is a gem within Le Marais. The vintage store’s concept is what its name suggests: You pay for your items by their collective weight. When you walk into the store, there are stacked baskets on your left. Pick one up, and start making your way through Kilo Shop’s two levels. Prices are cheap, and if you’re strategic about your selections, you can walk away with, say, three lightweight vintage silk blouses for less than 8 euros, like this writer did on a previous trip.
Other vintage and resale shops worth exploring in the area are Mamz’Elle Swing and Hippy Market.
While there are a dozen more vintage shops down that street and within Le Marais, vintage and resale shopping isn’t for everyone. Luckily, the area is also home to Le BHV department store. Think of Le BHV as the French version of Nordstrom, while Le Bon Marché is analogous to Saks Fifth Avenue, or other luxury department stores. Le BHV regularly offers discounts on popular commercial brands, and its layout is less intimidating than that at Free’p’star.
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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.