I was recently fortunate enough to spend a little over a week in France for my honeymoon with this incredible man.
That's my husband Joel. He's a cutie pie.
This trip was my first time back in France in 10 years.
My previous two trips occurred when I was in middle school and high school. And even though I was plus sized back then, being on a school trip is just a completely different mindset than when you’re traveling as an adult who considers themselves fashionably and culturally aware.
While prepping for this trip I read a bunch of travel blogs and books about how to dress and act in France. Primarily from thin white all-American type women.
When planning for the trip, I had put a hard rule for my husband and I not to wear sneakers. Primarily because Paris’ tourism attracts a lot of thieves targeting those whose outfits scream “tourist”. But this didn’t mean I wasn’t conscious of the fact we’d be doing a lot of walking. So with feet safety in mind, I bought well healed and supportive boots and sport flats for less active days and dressier days.
Since my husband is a native French-speaker, and I am fluent from studying it for 15 years, we at least had the language as a cover, so worst case I thought we’d seem like Ex-Pats.
But there was one aspect of me cute shoes and speaking French weren’t going to hide: the fact my body didn’t fit what I thought was the French expectation. So I decided that if my body was going to stick out, I’d dress it in all the things that made me feel beautiful and “international.”
Having mermaid hair is already a bit of an eye-catcher, so I thought I’d play with colors.
Problem is... I love wearing black. Luckily Parisians do too.
So for my first full day in Paris, I wore my favorite pants Skinny Jeans in the Black Rinse from Torrid. I love these pants so much I took both pairs I had of them. Unfortunately, one pair bit the dust while abroad, as my 7 month old pants were no match for the 7 to 10 miles of walking a day combined with chub rub. To be fair to the pants, I probably wear them 2-3 times a week, every week. They lived a good life, and are absolutely something I will rebuy every time I lose a pair.
I paired these black jeans, with a lace top I scooped up from clearance ages ago. Torrid clearance sales are where the majority of my wardrobe has come from. If you’re like me and give zero hoots about being “in season,” there are few shopping deals more satisfying than Torrid’s buy 1 get 2 free!
The staple of my honeymoon wardrobe is this incredible faux leather motorcycle jacket I found at JC Penney just a few days before we left on our trip. This jacket is part of their “Boutique” collection. To be 100% honest, I picked it up on sale. While I truly adore this jacket, had it not been the 50 or 60% off that it was, I can’t say I’d pay the $84 non-sale price. But for what I paid, and how much I’m wearing it, it was the perfect purchase. Shout out to the husband for spotting it!
No Paris outfit is complete without a scarf, no matter the season. This iridescent Cinderella blue scarf is just oh so soft. And I loved the way it contrasted with my hair and matched my eyes.
Since our first day was a trip to the zoo and the Museum of Natural history, I opted for my pale pink sporty flats from Payless.
Day 2 called for a bit of a romanticism as it was our 9 year anniversary and our 6 month wedding anniversary. For this day we planned to go to Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. So for this I brought out my brown suede ankle boots with some nice squishy Dr. Scholls. Since it was a special occasion, I decided to wear a dress I knew I had to wear in Paris the second I saw it in the Torrid mailer. I will freely admit right now that I have a peach obsession that bleeds into everything I can buy. My gym shoes are peach, as is my preferred workout top, my hair, even my engagement ring. So a beautiful bright peach dress with embroidered gauze shoulders was definitely the way to go for my anniversary in Paris. I love this dress, and it was the perfect choice for a warm but breezy Paris day. Again I brought my jacket a long, and spent much of the day putting it on and taking it off.
But what did I not plan for as well as I should have? Dreaded chub rub in a dress. I had really meant to give Thigh Society shorts a try before I left, but time and budgetary constraints didn’t allow for that. So instead I commandeered a pair of boxer briefs from my husband and hoped for the best. For this day, and other lighter walking days, it worked fine for the most part… but I would definitely recommend going for legitimate thigh protection if you’re planning to do a ton of walking while wearing a skirt or dress.
The boots are fantastically comfy and are a fantastic blend of fashion and function. But as I said earlier we were averaging 7-10 miles a day, coupled with standing in long touristy lines, like the two hour line to ascend the Eiffel Tower. Standing on cement for long hours is awful, and there's really no way to prepare for that except pack some painkillers.
After two days in Paris, and many beautifully crafted desserts later I realized that all my concerns about stigmas were just that, my concerns. Our very first night in Paris, we found a wonderful tucked away restaurant near the Louvre. Being our first full meal in Paris, we wanted to order and eat all the things. My husband as a fantastic give no tricks attitude when it comes to food, so we ordered a massive charcuterie platter and a burger each. I expected hesitation or some signal from the server that she thought we were ordering everything under the sun, but instead she was relieved to have undemanding customers and was happy to help me pick out a delicious glass of champagne.
The meat platter was fantastic, but we had definitely ordered too much and yet found a way to consume almost all of it. The owner took this as a compliment to her cooking and nothing else. No mumblings, whispers or weird looks from anyone else in the restaurant. Similar experiences in a fantastic patisserie we found near our hotel, where we ordered several desserts to share so we could try as many as possible. Because of US stigmas I’m used to making jokes when I feel like I’m ordering a lot. Never a joke about myself, just a “order all the things!” meme reference to break or prevent any potential awkwardness, which is still disappointing that I feel the need to do this. Whether it’s the tourism industry or a love of baked goods, or maybe just the appreciation of a large sale, no one ever made a derisive comment or gave a strange look no matter how much or little we ordered.
Our beautiful weekend with Joel's family in Bordeaux would only confirm this new found relief.
Bordeaux is a gorgeous port-city in southwestern France. We spent the weekend with Joel's grandmother and uncle, and stayed in a incredible 18th century hotel in the heart of downtown. We picked a bungalow type room that let out onto the cutest terrace.
My blush outfit is one of my favorites. It was purchased last summer for my co-bachelor/bachelorette weekend in Nevada City, CA. I fell in love with the top/jacket combo on a mannequin in the store, while searching for something to work with the shorts. Because of how super comfy it all is, I decided to wear it to fly from Paris to Bordeaux. The outfit was a breeze getting through airport security... except when my convertible bra set off the metal detector. Even though I bought this outfit in summer 2016, the Flowy Lace Shorts (whose availability on the website fluctuates like crazy!) have been available in several summery colors. Alas the top is no longer available, but if you're a 00 you can still find the utility jacket.
For dinner, I switched into a flirty fun Rose Gold metallic skater skirt, still available in Torrid's clearance (where I also picked it up from). To let the skirt strut its stuff, I wore my trusty Lace-Trim Cami from Lane Bryant. And my new bestie, the motorcycle jacket. Joel's grandmother is a beautiful age-defying French woman, there was no way I was going to dinner without showing her the polished choice her grandson made.
For our only full day in Bordeaux, I needed something that could go from day to night. So back to those trust black skinny jeans, and a long basic tank from H&M. The key to this witchy look is the crocheted cold shoulder. This cardigan was a gift from a friend, and since the cut out the tag, it's source remains a mystery. It really made the whole outfit, and I feel straight out of Practical Magic every time I put it on.
It was dinner out our last night in Bordeaux that made me realize how in my head I had been about France vs curvy girls. The standard in a French restaurant is the prix fixe menu. This is where there is one set price and you chose from a huge list of options for every course of the meal. I know we've all heard about European portion sizing vs US portions. I'm now convinced it's propaganda. A prix fixe menu is a ton of food!! Joel's family treated the newlyweds to an epic 4 course meal at an Indian restaurant. I'm used to ordering one thing, maybe an appetizer in a restaurant, and was set as soon as I saw Chicken Tikka Masala as an option. But Joel's uncle was having none of that. He found Chicken Tikka on the prix fixe menu, and was sweetly encouraging about all the delicious noms that would come from choosing the multi-course option. It was so much food, I couldn't finish the mouth-watering melted cheese naan that came with or all three scoops of gelato for dessert. To be fair, it was only supposed to be two scoops, but the server forgot which flavors I wanted and gave me an extra in case he was incorrect.
The trick to generous portions is that a meal in France can easily, as ours did, last over 4 hours. There is no rush in restaurants in France, except to get you your food. But the price you pay for delicious delicacies is also somewhat seen as your rent of the table for as long as you please. In some restaurants it was almost a pain to get the server's attention to bring you l'addition.
So far the only issue being plus sized in France was... in the bathroom... Nearly every toilet we encountered, was unlike most US toilets that have a pedestal to support weight. Not so much in France. Most toilets where suspended from the wall, and for both my husband and I, gave us constant fears we were going to break the things off the wall. Wouldn't that have been a fun call to the front desk. Despite some worrying creaks and definitely not "enjoying the go" like Charmin would like, we managed not to destroy the facilities in either hotel.
For our second to last day, I wanted to take Joel somewhere *he'd* never been before: Versailles
We woke up to a cool morning, but I still felt this beautiful dress I picked up at Pinup Girl Clothing's Yard Sale in San Francisco, and my trusty jacket would see me through.
After we got off the RER train to Versailles - a 40 minute $5 train ride from Paris to Versailles!!! We were met with a light drizzle, that as we got into the long line turned into a steady rain. Neither of us thought to pack an umbrella, and it was a long cold wait. Luckily while we warmed up on a tour of the castle, the sun came out and gave us the most beautiful tour of the gardens.
Unfortunately, because I picked up this dress at a PUG yard sale- this dress is likely a possible sample of an alternative design of the Scrumptious dress - now discontinued :(
I saved my favorite outfit for our last day in Paris.
I decided to go all out with a bit of a "look at me" ensemble. Inspired by that same Torrid mailer, I scooped up this beautiful blush tulle skirt, and the "I'm a Keeper" v-neck tee. The scarf was an impulse buy at the Galeries Lafayette while souvenir shopping.
It took a not so small amount of confidence to pull all this blush off with bright mermaid hair. This look was definitely turning heads in the metro as a bright spring oasis in a sea of dark clothed Parisians.
But once in the light streaming through the trees of Pere La Chaise Cemetery, I felt the first pangs of regret to be leaving Paris. I was finally feeling a sense of home.
Paris is an incredible city. It is a blend of worlds come together to celebrate life, love and beauty. I had spent so much time worrying of how I was going to be perceived, but by just the first few days I realized the world had it so wrong about Paris and the French.
If you get there with an open heart and a passion for life and all it's beautiful offerings, Paris can be a magical world. There are people of all sizes, shapes and colors- all in love with the same amazing city. I never encountered a single person who treated me like I was out of place, everything pop culture tries to scare you about France is wrong. The people of Paris are warm, vibrant and full of life. If you present them with the same, there are no limits to your adventure!