Monday, January 17, 2011

Ready? Get Set...SOLDES!!!

Well, it's that time of the year again! The most anticipated time that is like a second Christmas, only for adults!

French stores everywhere have been preparing for this moment like a carefully executed war. Stores closed to the public on a couple of working days so the employees could organize the interior and arrange the items for the oncoming hoarde of customers that were going to barrage their shelves and aisles and form a stampede to the checkout.

Yes, I'm talking about the month-long experience known for steep discounts on quality items like clothes, shoes, CDs and clothes.

And when the French mean soldes, THEY ARE NOT KIDDING.

I decided to take a walk down Dijon's Rue de la Liberté, which has effectively become a sea of red and white posters stating why you need to shop NOW:

This is André. Isn't he yummy? I thought that he was supposed to be on soldes as well, but apparently he is only interested in selling shoes. Darn it. I would have bought him...

I'm assuming that this is André's sister, Andrea. It seems that she needs to go shopping for some pants so she doesn't freeze to death this winter.

Looks like Andrea is not the only one who lacks proper garments to cover her body.

By the end of my stroll, I have been brainwashed by all the advertisements that I am honestly expecting to see la Porte Guillaume to go up for sale at some time this month.

It's too late. The urge to shop has been planted in my mind. I begin to think about all the posters I have seen and the messages they convey to potential consumers.

This informational overload, for my female fashion-centered mind, is far too much for me to withstand. I am not immune to all of the posters proclaiming sudden monetary joy and I get lost in a Soldes Wonderland in which bankruptcy is non-existent and my Carte Bleue (French bank card) goes ballistic contenting my heart's every desire and whim.

Oh, God. Just the thought of clothes-shopping makes me giddy!

Okay. I have to calm down. When I hear that a store has a sale, I spend my money faster than a girl with $100 in a shopping mall.

No. I have to pace myself and make a plan. I can't just buy everything that I lay my hands on!

I need to make a list of things I've been aiming to own.

Priority Items

New Dress
New Coat
New Jeans

The jeans are especially important. I've lost so much weight that the jeans I originally brought with me from the States no longer fit.

Not-So-Priority Items (But It Would Be Nice to Have Them)
New pair of gloves
New shoes

Nice cheap jewelry

Hm. On second thought, chocolate is quite a priority item. Dark chocolate ensures my happiness and love towards other people. Without it, I turn into an unpleasant, chocolate-starved grouch with the charm and appeal of a cold wet towel: no one wants to touch it.

If I spend my moolah, I also need to make a limit. No more than 200 euros because I honestly don't need to buy so much crap. Clothes, however, are my dire need.

I've discovered, with a bit of frustration, that the only clothes that manage to fit my body in France are dresses. That is fine by me because I am a girly-girl at heart, but I would like to wear something that offers my legs some proper protection from the cold!

The downside is that I am still having a difficult time finding the right pair of jeans in France. I went to several stores and tried on some jeans that were clearly designed with the notion that women are creatures with no thighs, boobs, or butts, roughly a pre-pubescent girl.

The way my body is formed, for me to fit my thighs and lower abdomen into a pair of French jeans is equivalent to testing out to see if a snowflake stands a chance of not melting in Hell.

Still, I try them on. I figured that it was at least worth a shot, right?

I slip one leg into the denim tube and then the other. I do an all-too-familiar clothing ritual of dancing as I yank and twist the blue restraints upwards on my frame. I keep yanking and yanking. My upper thighs and bottom become ensnared by the top that gapes open across my body.

It felt as if I were being eaten by a snake that had unhinged its jaw and discovered far too late that its prey was simply too large for it to consume.

My thighs, abdomen and butt will never fit into French jeans. Even the soldes posters mock my demise:

After consulting with some adult French friends, they recommended that I try shopping at stores that feature clothing that were designed and cut with women in mind. Perhaps I shall continue my quest for pants after I lose a few more kilos...

Still, I've more than made up for this annoyance. I already took advantage and bought a dress that I had been eyeballing since the month of November. Yes, since November. I'm not kidding about this.

Every time I walked down Rue de la Liberté, I made a beeline to Manoukian to drool in front of the window display and stare longingly for a few minutes. Then, as a way to snap myself back to reality, I would look down at its hefty price tag: 149 Euros. Yes, it's a pretty dress, but not a very practical one, ma chérie. You have no where to wear it and you would have to break your account to afford it, I reasoned with myself.

Then, while on my Christmas trip in the South of France, I went to a mall and saw the same dress. I cracked and decided that I should at least try it on. I mean, what's the harm in just trying it on, right? Ha. Ha, ha. I only got the desperate urge to buy it!

Thankfully, my friends Mimi, Sophie and Alain advised me that it would be better to wait for les soldes. I'm glad that I listened to them because when I went to Manoukian last week, the dress was half-priced! From 149 Euros, the dress went down to 74, 50! ZOMG!!! The downside is that I was only able to find it in a smaller size from what I had tried on and what currently am.

It almost fits me, but the zipper doesn't quite close all the way on the back. Rather than disappointedly putting it back on the shelf, I took the risk and bought it. Consider it my thinspiration motivation to burn off those pesky 14 kilos that remain steadfastedly on my frame.

I also found two other dresses that were just miracles.

This one, I bought in Paris on Saturday from the store Mango. It was also 50% off and a Medium! Rather, in France, it is a Large whereas in the States it is a Medium.

Just let that sink in for a moment: what is a Medium in the States IS A LARGE in Croissant-and-Baguetteland. No wonder I feel like a beached whale next to the slim and elegant Françaises who can wear jeans.

And this dress came as a bit of a surprise to me. Before trying it on, I glanced at its price and size tags. 50% off and French size 40. "I'll never fit into that," I thought.

Still, I decided to give it a shot. AND IT FIT ME.

IT ACTUALLY FIT ME! This just had to be a fluke...there is no way I am a French size 40!

For those who are not in the know, a French size 40 is roughly an American size 8 or a UK size 12 (according to my English friends).

As a minor update on my Shakira-hotness goal, I am glad to report that I've nearly burned off the 2 kilos I gained during the month of December.

I remain nevertheless quite impatient to finally surpass the 20-kilos loss that I had back in November and despite all the walking and healthy eating I've been doing, the number has not dramatically shifted. I do, however, notice some subtle changes on my body. My tummy seems flatter. Fingers run across the base of my neck and feel the collarbone bumps underneath. Those same fingers are slowly leaving bony imprints on the backs of my hands. The outline on my face becomes more defined with each passing day.

Even though the number on the scale doesn't budge, it is obvious that something clearly works!

Today, bought a coat at H&M that cost me 34.97 Euros. The three dresses cost 74.50, 29.95 and 19.95. So far, the total is 159.37; I still have 40.63 Euros left to spend from my set limit! That could go to another dress (or two). Vivent les soldes!

By the way, here is some Parisien eye candy from Saturday's trip.

Yes, that is indeed the size 40 dress on me. Aww yeaaaaah...

Barb the French Bean


  1. Chocolate is ALWAYS a priority. Don't forget that. :)

  2. Soldes sounds awesome. Those dresses are all so cute and you are beautiful. I have no doubt in your ability to accomplish your Shakira hotness goal :) And I agree with Tricia, chocolate is definitely a priority.

  3. Neither André or his sister look very happy. I think they just had an argument.

  4. Barb I feel your jeans pain. I finally got some online, pretty cheap too, not the perfect jeans but they are comfy and not a bad fit.

    I like the dress you bought, I'm sure you will be doing the zip up in no time, I don't think you look like yu need to lose much weight, you look great in the pictures.

    I am already planning a trip to next years soldes, they seem better than ours! Not seen anything that was a mega bargain this year although that might be best as I'm trying to pay off my credit card which is still in shock from Christmas.

  5. Enjoy les Soldes!! I want to be there, buying up things that have greatly reduced prices, even if I don't need them. It's what I live for.

    Hope the weight loss is healthy.

    The weight you are losing, I have been finding!!

    *starts singing the Circle of Life*

  6. Tricia and Jay: Yes, chocolate is necessary for survival, which is why I bought some. It wasn't on soldes, but I bought it anyway! :-P

    And thanks, Jay. ^.^

    Stu: I think so, too. Maybe they were discussing how much money André had spent on his clothes because he is clearly more dressed than his sister. He may have gone over the budget and not left Andrea with anything.

    Mrs Midnite: I remember that, how you were looking for an exquisite pair of jeans. I had considered ordering some jeans online, but perhaps my Mom will send me some over from the States.

    According to the doctor, I still need to lose another 14 kilos, just for the sake of good health!

    Stephanie and Mrs Midnite: There's still time for you to come over and do some soldes shopping! :-D Even if you can't come now, French stores apparently do another soldes around June or July!

    -Barb the French Bean

  7. I do not think you need to lose any more weight. Is this the French doctor telling you you need to lose more? Screw them! You said so yourself, their larges are U.S. mediums. And seriously, the whole stick look is not attractive. You look awesome as you are now. Besides, increased muscle=increased weight. I'm beginning to worry about your weight loss goals...:(

  8. Oh, and if you want your awesome cleavage to stick around, losing any more weight would probably just shrink them to the point of nonexistence. ;)

  9. Jeans: the bane of my existance.

    Although I have the opposite problem, sort of.

    I am ridiculously short--we're talking just under 5' short--but I actually have a butt. Therefore, if the dang things fit over my butt they are a foot too long (sometimes literally), but if they are the right length, they don't pass my thighs. Ugh.

    I just recently discovered "Short" jeans at J. C. Pennies, and they have saved my life.

    Have fun, but don't let la carte bleue put you into debt, Shop-o-holic! :P

  10. Random Rambler: Thanks for saying my cleavage is awesome! :-D

    I'm not too worried about the weight loss goals because, overall, I'm aiming to have a healthier lifestyle with better eating and exercise habits. I'm not starving myself or anything! But I do need to realize that in the long run, I want to prevent any serious diseases inflicting my body with pain when I am older...

    Amoutoujou: I discovered the "Short" jeans from Old Navy are pretty much perfect for my legs (I'm 5,4"). I could really use some right about now... --.--"

    -Barb the French Bean

  11. ... now I want to go buy a dress.

    Sadly, we're not having any great sales here =(

  12. French Bean, I love your blog. Your world is so gorgeous and addictive. You make Seattle seem so plain! I would go crazy in the world of French soldes!!!!!! And that desert treat looks delish. Chocolate and a raspberry and a graham cracker crust and something...???

    I just recently watched the movie Julie & Julia, and I have to wonder how Julia Child found any clothes in France! She was 6'2"!

    You look great. Thanks for the amazing photos!

  13. LOL at your comment about Andre. actually i LOL at all your comments. :) as always this post was so delightful and entertaining. i just love your style of writing and the content here on your blog. the shopping looks AMAZING! if i ever make it to france, i now know what time of year to plan my trip. :) of course i will probably be broke buying airfare and accomodations and will most likely have zero money left over for shopping but oh well... one can dream! and i love love love the dresses! especially the 2nd one- very french with the stripes. :) it sounds like you got some great buys!!!


Apparently, leaving comments on this blog is a hit-or-miss game of Russian roulette: you are either lucky and can comment away, or you are required to log in when the settings are CLEARLY set to allow trouble-free commenting (sorry 'bout that, folks). If anything, the Facebook page is always a viable option. :) -Barb