Dressing Among Parisians: Expletive

You know that feeling when you walk out the door that no matter how much effort you put in in the morning, everyone on the street is staring at you thinking “What is she wearing?” “Who would do their hair like that?” “God, she’s so short/frumpy/full of it/trying too hard/not trying hard enough.” Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.

Try that feeling in Paris.

These people know how to dress.

It’s not exactly true what they say about Parisian women always wearing heels. But it’s almost true. Heels aren’t considered just fancy wear. At the playground I saw a mother wearing beautiful midnight blue suede wedges, and she stepped right into the sandbox without hesitating. Last week I saw a down-to-earth-looking girl get off her moped wearing black boots with long thin heels like it was nothing. Because it is nothing. It’s totally normal to them to wear heels with jeans to walk around the city day to day. I’m not sure if they carry mild anti-gravitational devices in their ever-present massive purse. It’s a distinct possibility.

So everyday, I try to dress myself to blend in while still staying true to my personal style and my personal level of practicality. But no matter how much I love my T.A.R.D.I.S. Keds that I painted myself, there is no denying that I feel sheepish about them in public. And even when I wear my most meticulously composed outfit, sometimes there are just those days when you see your reflection in the glass subway door and think, “Well, fuck.”

It’s bullshit.

I mean it. Those thoughts are founded on nothing but your own self-consciousness.  I have two reasons for saying this.

1) Nobody gives a shit what you’re wearing.

2) Somebody in the room probably thinks you look amazing.

My evidence:

For 1) It’s not like I’ve been wearing a potato sack that a donkey peed on. Nobody cares what I’m wearing. I’m willing to bet that on a good day, I look fairly passable as a local. Just not one of the highly-paid ones.

For 2) The other day, I was having that glass reflection moment on the metro. It was a dreary day, and the concave glass was doing nothing for my unbuttoned, un-ironed trench coat nor my short stature. I felt like a shapeless blobby pear. I stared at that reflection for a good portion of my ride home, and just when my thoughts reached a pitch (“@3$^@$^#!%^ Why didn’t I wear a #$&^ing belt?”), a man leaned over and gently said something to me in French.

“Pardon?” I said in my best imitation of a French accent.

He repeated more slowly.

I shrugged my shoulders and smiled apologetically. “Je ne parle pas le francais bien.”



“Okay. What I said was, to me in my eyes, you seem very beautiful.”

And my whole soul smiled.


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