Thursday, July 16, 2009

French Style: Head to Toe

On previous visits to France while I loved to see the women clipping purposefully down the sidewalks, impeccable in tailored outfits, properly accessorized you may be sure, I always felt a little discomfitted at what a slob I looked in comparison. Did I change my ways? Of course not! But finally I was able to get over myself and enjoy the parade once again.

Today? The parade has marched off into obscurity, leaving nothing but a faint wash of perfume behind. I saw bedhead hair, not a neat chignon; the unfortunate "look" of a skinny-strapped tee (bra straps part of the ensemble;) ill-fitting pants that were either baggy in the wrong places or super tight with superflous buttons or zippers where the cuff should be.

And the shoes! Awful plastic, shiny things with unnecessary buckles and/or trim in unlikely places. They screamed "Two Euros per pair!" (If that.) Never have I seen so many cheap shoes - a veritable cornucopia of them.

The men hadn't fared much better. Dirty-looking jeans with cotton dress shirts worn over them, tails descending toward the ground. Motorcycle boots or clapped-out running shoes...

The one thing that hasn't changed is mens' hair cuts. Either short and neat or grown long, scraped off of the forehead and gathered into a pony tail, banded at the nape of the neck. I think it's the national "Intellectual Wanna-Be" look. Richie's great mop of hair got curious looks everywhere we went.

I mentioned all of the above to Michelle (who irons her t-shirts, to give you an idea) and she told me that the young people don't care because their parents didn't teach them any better. She frowned briefly, adjusted the brooch in her scarf and said, "Are we ready to go?"

Me? I missed the everyday elegance I used to see. After all, Michelle, impeccably dressed and groomed as she is, is only one person among 'way too many.

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