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French chic for less


letrangere

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Article in last weekend's Telegraph on what to buy by way of clothes from French market stalls.  Hope her fashion advice is better than her geography ("A chic aunt of mine, who lives near Gers in Gascony...") but here goes:

BUY:  kaftans, frilly underwear (of course), berets (aren't they quite expensive?), traditional clothes made by craftsmen (they certainly are), hand-knits "as knobbly and home-made as possible", accessories, thin belts, short leather gloves and evening bags.  Children's clothes.

AVOID:  Any goods that aren't made locally, anything that will look like fancy-dress at home.  No-nos include Provencal dirndl skirts (must confess I've fallen for that one).  Expensive antique clothing markets.  Whatever is the "it" garment of the moment.

I'm not a fashionista but did you know that kaftans are, "piece de jour" at markets this summer? 

M

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I in hot weather I know a few ladies who wear vintage French underwear - cotton slips (petticoats) and very practical and cool they are too (choose the loose ones !) - under €10.

This year I picked up a cheap and cheerful little (about 12 - 14 inches long )raffia basket from the market - a good selection of colours available - now I wish I had bought several as mine is much admired here and similar types are much more expensive in 'Accesorize'

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Gay, the author of the article mentioned raffia baskets and I agree with you both, they are good value, attractive and practical.  I also agree about the frilly undies, though bra sizes (which we won't go into here as it's been discussed soooo often before) are even more of a nightmare than in regular shops and, of course, you can't try them on in a market.  A friend of mine splashed out on a wool/cashmere mix coat from a French market last winter, bit of a splurge but far cheaper than the equivalent in the shops and very stylish too.  Something else I often buy, though it's not high fashion, are practical outdoor clothes from the huntsmens' stalls.  Canvas jackets and chinos and especially thick Aran style pullovers are all well priced.  M
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For anyone shopping on Le Toquet market or surrounding towns (can't remember which ones) there is a brilliant lady with a lingerie stall. Can assess your size by looking at you, no problem exchanging if necessary and for me and my sister it wasn't needed, lady had been spot on with her assessment.  Really good quality bras and pants and very well priced. 
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The Telegraph Writer hasn't been too many markets in the SW then  We have found the clothes in the markets to be relatively pricey for what they are and how they are stocked(in bins like a jumble sale) Certainly not the cut price bargains that you would find in a UK street market when comparing prices with the High Street. 

Fruit, veg, fish, cheese,  bread and wine yes (where else can you get 5 litres of Gaillac rose for 2€)  but clothes a big NO. The real bargains are to had in Depimode, Gemo, Le Clerc  and Hyper U 

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The friend I was with did try her slip on - the stall holder showed her to the back of his transit van - fully equipped with mirror

Ron, not all the clothes were particularly cheap but they had a range rather like 'Phool' (vaguely fashionably 'eastern')which I really like and seem hard to get here now.

Also bought a much admired little bag from a French stall holder at the Living France expo in London, I looked hard for another one but with no luck - you sling it on, its just bigger than a purse so you can get a mobile phone, lipstick, comb, plus money in it and your hands are free - the ones I have seen here look tacky in comparison and mine was just £6
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Gay, that bag, is it on a longish thin strap that you put over your head and wear the bag bit in front of you sort of bumping on you stomach?  If so, I love them too, especially as they'll fit under a coat in winter so keeping your purse, mobile, etc. safe from pickpockets.  Longchamp make them in many colours, I have a navy and a tan version, they're about the only thing worth buying at Paris airport duty free shops.  M
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I did read the article.

I liked the bit : AVOID : Any goods that aren't made locally!   Not much has changed then!.....

My experience of clothes from market stalls in France (and it is going back some 45+years!..) They more often the not came from some far flung sweat shop! in the far east!... My Mother used to get, my siblings and I,  all this 'latest fashion of the mo' (I am talking of the late 50's/60's/early 70's!) when we were kids and we cringed! and we categorically refused to be seen dead in any of it...That and our Gran's knitted tops!!        

We have been scarred for life! ....

There was/is not much clothing made locally of any kind unless you went for the customey-folkloric look of the region...

The only good market for clothes I found, was/is the 'Marché aux Puces' in Paris. Take the time to explore and you'll find some lovely vintage original clothes and sometime if you are lucky you can find some REAL (none of the fake contraband) designer stuff! and you don't need to rob a bank either to afford it...

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I think it really does depend upon where you live.  My friend's coat was bought in the lovely Sunday market at Libourne (33), admitedly  a fairly well to do extension of nearby Bordeaux.  But Cahors market is equally as good, though again, prosperous town?  But then again, the huge Monday market in Caussade (82?) just off the A20 - which is about as SW and farmers' orientated as you can get - is where I've bought country style pullovers, undies, baskets and hats.  Marche aux Puces is wonderful but people say there's nowhere else on earth like that.  M
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