this thing's incredible

The French Folders So Good You Can Use Them As Currency

Photo: Courtesy of retailer

Two of the best souvenirs I got out of my time living in Paris (other than an annoying habit of overpronouncing the word croissant) were Dop body wash, which is PH neutral and has an incredible smell that makes my eyes roll back in my head, and these chemises à élastiques, which is a much nicer-sounding way of saying folders with elastic bands.

As an art student and a part-time English teacher there, I used them to organize project sketches, visa paperwork, and stacks of homework, quizzes, and drawings from each of the first-, second-, and third-grade classes I taught. One folder I kept from that time holds a series of drawings I asked my students to do of mythical beasts like the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot with adjectives like hairy, big, and tall spelled out in cursive in the margins. I even accepted the folders as a kind of currency once, when sourcing materials from flea markets in the U.S. for my former teacher Annette Messager, who was apprehensive about using PayPal to reimburse me. Because they come from Europe, shipping costs can be high, but for me, it has been worth the investment.

Regular file folders have no way of securing the contents within them and are often not much thicker than a piece of heavy paper. Folders with pockets put stress on their contents every time you put something in or take it out, and they both allow dust in. But these folders seal your stuff inside with two layers of security — inner flaps and elastics at each corner — that keep drawings, love notes, and important papers safe from dust or damaging sunlight without denting their edges or corners. Plus they’re made of sturdy card stock that keeps things from bending or creasing inside a tote bag or on top of a messy desk. This sturdiness makes them function sort of like a clipboard, which helped me in Paris when I would race to correct student papers on the Métro before getting to work.

$6 for 5

I haven’t tried these three-flap folders from Esselte and I don’t think they are quite as nice looking as the ones from Exacompta. But they are quite a bit cheaper, have decent reviews on Amazon, and ship for less money too. They’ll be back in stock starting September 18.

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The French Folders So Good You Can Use Them As Currency