One of my expat friends reminded me yesterday about Rue de Rivoli when I mentioned I needed to find a dress for my brother's wedding. Just east of the Louvre, this is the place to shop and drop. Enjoy the beautiful weather as you wander from store to store, discovering lots of trendy and affordable clothing in places like Zara, Etam, and H&M. These places are a bit too fashion-forward for classic-wearing me, but younger folk love them. I overhear young women saying in French, "This is so cute," when I'm thinking, "That is so ugly." Maybe I'm just getting old and set in my ways, like my dog Leo. The Zara and the Etam are quite large, with Etam having five floors (note: there's a restroom on the fifth floor and since public restrooms are hard to come by, this is really good to know).
Walk north a little ways past many pizzerias, creperies, and other eating establishments, and you'll come across Forum des Halles, a large mall which was formerly THE Paris marketplace for around 850 years. There are so many stores and they're laid out so poorly that it can be hard to find anything if you're there for the first (or second, or third) time. But, if you're looking for women's clothing, head straight for the -3 floor and you'll find most of the pertinent stores. The H&M here is bigger than the one on Rivoli, but is extremely popular. It's best to get here right when it opens. Otherwise, you'll run into ridiculously long lines for the changing rooms and cash registers. Don't even think about shopping on a Saturday (when most Parisians shop) because that spells doom. Don't forget, many places are closed on Sundays.
I did find one dress (one!) that I liked and that looked good on me at Zara on Rivoli. Never thought I'd buy polka-dots, but here I am. Somehow, it still looks tasteful to me. And its shape is wonderfully forgiving to my figure-in-progress. Au mariage!