I could clearly do with ironing a bit more while I'm on holiday, but then I'm usually too busy enjoying being on holiday to worry about things like that, so pardon my slovenly appearance. I am and always have been a big fan of the peasant blouse, especially ones made in a romantic fabric like broderie anglaise. Since my late teens I've always worn a version of this combination of peasant blouse and gypsy skirt during the summer, with scant regard for whether it happens to be in fashion or not.
Way back then, as a young woman growing up in suburbia, period dress had a kind of romance that was largely absent from my surroundings. My like-minded friends and I embraced dressing in clothes from eras gone by in an attempt to be different and to inject some sartorial poetry into our otherwise pedestrian lives. In the fanciful imagination of my youth I felt I should have been born a couple of centuries earlier so I could wrestle with corsets and cocoon my limbs in long voluminous petticoats and billowing sleeves. Clothes hunting would often involve looking for something to fulfil that yearning.
One favourite outfit was a long full skirt with a drawstring waist and a matching peasant blouse with a drawstring neck, both fashioned from an intricate white embroidered cotton eyelet which I bought from an Australian market as a hard up student. It was made in India, very pretty, yet inexpensive and it made me feel like a carefree gypsy girl in some romantic adventure story in my head rather than an ordinary suburb dweller. The drawstrings had little dark metal bells on the end, which tinkled when I walked and I wore the outfit so much that my fellow students in my University course began to associate the sound of them as announcing my arrival.
Maybe it was because my own grandmother used to sell fruit and tobacco at a market, but I also adore markets. So it seems apt that through a market purchase that I discovered my fashion DNA. I would wear my white skirt and blouse to the urban markets, all the while pretending that I was off to a medieval market instead. I would hunt through the racks of cheap Indian imported clothing for the next boho gypsy skirt and billowing peasant blouse my student budget could afford and wonder what a real market would be like to visit.
Of course one grows up, grows out of one's old clothes, one starts to expand and experiment with style. In my case one I also ended up travelling to see some "real" markets in far flung destinations. They were not all that different to the ones at home. Although the language spoken may be different there are usually food stalls, fresh produce, buskers, artisan products and racks of cheap and second hand clothing to rifle through for bargains. However I do find that the atmosphere in each market is always unique.
So let's take a trip to one of my favourite markets, the Sunday market in Esperaza. Esperaza is a medieval village in the Languedoc region of France and its Sunday market is very popular and always very busy with people shopping for food.
Esperaza has some of the most amazing fresh fruit and vegetables. There is an amazing selection of French cheeses and preserved meats. Apart from cured pork sausages you can find boar, venison and duck sausages as well.
There are stalls selling fragrant aromatic soaps. I love the ones scented with lavender, lemon verbena, rose or rosemary. There are macaroons available by the bucket loads. And my favourite stall is the honey lady's. She sells several types of home made honey, including from rosemary, lavender, acacia and chestnut flowers, as well as honey soaps, wax candles, and jars of golden pollen granules and honey flavoured boiled sweets.
The one essential thing you have to do here after you've done all your shopping is to have a couple of big cups of cafe au lait at the Cafe du Pont.
You usually have to wait for a table but it's worth it just to sit back with a coffee and soak up the atmosphere of the market and watch the people go by. There are a fair few characters that frequent the bar, some of the locals are quite colourful personalities, and a few of the truckies and bikies get their caffeine fix here after a day at the market.
As you can see I hang out with some other photography enthusiasts!
And I just had to get a photo of this little guy!
So the moral to this story, if there is one, is that I grew up and ended up visiting a medieval market and found it wasn't so different from the markets I first knew. I also traded in the Indian gypsy boho outfit of my youth for a more grown up version. Although the fabric of my style has evolved in the intervening years there are certain threads of it like this that, although the surrounding embellishment may change a little, will always remain the same. Essential threads of my personal style that feel very much a part of who I am rather than just a passing trend or a look.
Over to you! Share the threads of your style DNA in the comments!
Skirt: Chine; Top: Marc by Marc Jacobs; Sandals: Zara; Bag: Michael by Michael Kors