First trips are always daunting, and those five years of French class did just enough to make me feel like I wouldn’t be completely doomed. With the months of planning, my friend and I thought of what we had to do during our first trip to Paris. Luxury shops might have been at the top, but vintage shops were a close second. Many fashion-enthusiasts can agree that Europe has some of the best hidden spots for vintage finds, and this is the perfect way to describe the small shop nestled at the center of the 9th, 10th, and 18th arrondissement.
A cramped spot with treasures sorted along the walls, you can find walls filled with lambskin leather jackets – organized by color, a table stocked with vintage Levis, and all the way in the back right corner, a section dedicated to Burberry finds. Here, I found a 1980s men’s long coat that was perfect for every kind of weather Paris could throw at me, but more importantly, this is where we had such a unique experience, it could only be put down on paper as an unexpected encounter.
I was not prepared for how different 60 degrees could feel in Paris to my small hometown. The air is dry, and the wind finds you among the tall buildings. No trip can be perfect, so this was my opportunity to look for new pants. Initially, the man at Barracuda was just showing me trousers I’d already seen, but the way he described them to me was outside of the realm of which I was familiar with. That day I wore all black because, in my head, that was the only way I could comfortably wear pink Converse. He had other ideas for me – olive green, patterned gray, and dark blue, all fitting differently than what I knew and what I was willing to wear. He, however, went a little further than most people would when you’re shopping. With every article of clothing he brought for me to try, he’d suggest more outfits. He’d say what shoes it goes with and how it matches the coat I was already wearing. He’d mention how this particular fit falls well with my body shape, but most importantly, he said that the items I’d chosen (or he’d chosen) matched my pink Converse. Never in a million years would I think to match a black shirt, green trousers, and pink shoes.
It didn’t stop there – it was like he wanted to build me a new outfit, and his suggestions were items I knew I wanted to wear but simply didn’t. Everything was just on the outside of my comfort zone, so I wondered why and how he was so convincing.
In one sentence he put together a conclusion that’s taken me years to figure out.
“You have an urban, kind of grunge, edgy, dark style, but also very comfortable and retro.”
He put my style aesthetic into a single sentence, and it was on the nose of what I’d brought to Paris and how I like to dress even though I usually separated all those looks because comfortable is not necessarily grunge, nor is edgy connected to retro. He didn’t speak with loud enthusiasm, but in a matter-of-fact way where I got the impression that if I disagreed with him, he’d raise an eyebrow and I’d apologize.
He did not style me for Paris; he styled me for myself. This special encounter is one that I won’t easily forget, and my finds from Barracuda will remain in my wardrobe for a very long time. While it’s not the easiest to add to your itinerary, add “getting a boutique style experience from a vintage shop” to your list.