Friday, April 1, 2011

Parisian Perfection

The women of Paris are the most chic women I have ever seen.

One of their style secrets seems to be "the art of understatement". If you look closely at the photo, you'll notice that this woman is wearing one item of jewelry, a plain gold wedding band.

Although the woman is wearing is a slightly short skirt, (undoubtedly to showcase those perfect legs), everything else is quietly tasteful and even modest.

The women in Paris wear a lot of black and they sometimes add a colorful scarf. Done right, those bits of silk that add a flash of color help to create a look that is stunning. Parisian women also give meticulous attention to grooming; their manicures are perfect, their hairstyles and makeup are flawless, but generally as subtle as their fragrance.

While dining in a bistro in Paris one night, we were able to pick out a table of foreign women very easily. They had bigger hair, longer fingernails, bigger jewels, and louder voices than the Parisian women. These ladies also wore brighter colors and their clothing was more eye-catching than any of the local women. Even from across the room, it was obvious they were tourists.

During dinner, I saw a woman on the street outside the cafe and she looked slightly "off" to me. She was well turned out, but her heels were a little too high, her skirt was just a little too short (showing a snake tattoo winding up her thigh) and her lipstick a little too red. She seemed to be waiting for someone. I watched her as a group of men walked by and she said something to them. They smiled and kept walking, but then turned around after they had passed her to take another look. I pointed out to my husband that she was a prostitute and he told me I was crazy.

We watched her speak to every man who walked by her and finally my husband recognized that she was soliciting business and probably not selling telephone systems.

That would complicate things where I come from. A well dressed woman on the street, with perfect make up and hair, saying "hello, do you want to party?" would be a strange sight indeed. I think most prospective customers would think she was a cop or feel pretty sure they had misunderstood what she was saying in the first place.

I did feel a jolt of "happy" and "smug" when the hostess and the waitress both addressed me in French. Of course, my pleasure was short-lived once they realized I was not "one of them". Still, I had 'em fooled for a moment and took pride in it.

The last time I was in Paris, it was in February and extremely cold. My basic wardrobe for two weeks consisted of a pair of black leather boots with a two inch heel, two pairs of identical tailored black wool trousers, a mid-calf length black wool coat, two almost identical cream colored silk blouses, and two Hermes scarves, one with a bright yellow background, the other in a deep green. In other words, I fit right in! I left the jewelry at home except the wedding ring, the Cartier watch and the modest diamond stud earrings. I settled for one subtle spray of "Coco" by Chanel. No more, no less.

But I have to admit, it's not the real me to be understated. My real taste runs to almost gypsy inspired bright red low-cut dresses, hooker shoes, jewelry everyplace one can wear jewelry and preferably the kind that jingles, flashy mink coats and heavy perfumes. (I very seldom give in to my real taste because I realize it's really a lack of taste.)

Paris brings out the best in women and I'd be much more chic if I lived there.

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