French dressing and other news

First, I promised a report on my experiment in which the subject – that would be moi– departs her home under a cloud of circumstantial stress, which, she hypothesizes, plays a significant role in the activation of her Parkinson’s symptoms. Which is to say, the day before I left for vacation in France, you could have used my left leg to beat eggs for a soufflé.

As always, I dosed myself up with lorazepam about an hour before takeoff and slept almost across the entire Atlantic. We landed in Paris, my leg normal, meaning nary a twitch, tremor or stiff muscle, any pain, or “ the yuckies,” a term of non-endearment that I’ve given to an overall sensation of feeling unwell.

I continued to feel fairly healthy throughout my two week sojourn in my favorite country in the world.

See if you can guess how long it took for my symptoms to “kick in” on my left leg and other places too upon my return. Okay, I’ll just say it: I frequently experience literal pain in the butt. You laugh, but it’s seriously unfunny to me.

So I’d say about 35 hours into the return to my regular life, I was back in “Parkyland.”The experiment was a success, and the patient was miserable.

Let’s move on, shall we, to French fashion. Because even if you say you’re not much interested in what other people wear – or how you put yourself together to go out every day- it’s hard to avoid noticing how people look in this chic-est of cities.

First, let’s just dispatch les hommes in pretty short order. Not hard because they wear a sort of uniform: skinny dark blue pants, matching jacket, blue shirt open at the neck, and no tie. They’re as likely to be on a bicycle or motorbike as on foot. And they’re pretty much all gorgeous, no matter the age. I saw some plenty swell-looking dudes in their eighties. Just sayin.’

I paid little attention to the younger women. I’ll just report that I observed many an exposed midriff.

But it’s the big game we’re after. I’m speaking of what the French refer to as “women of a certain age,” Because I’m now one. And I gotta say I’m feeling kind of frumpy lately. Frumpy and dumpy.

But if change is afoot, I will need some role models. Like a birder watching for the elusive California condor, I was ever on the lookout for the 65 plus Parisienne in possession of that je ne sais quoi.

I read somewhere before my trip that if you want to look like a bona fide French dame, you’ll require:

A wardrobe comsisting of mostly neutrals- your various shades of gray, beige, navy, and of course the perennial and ubiquitous black. In order to achieve peak Parisienne-ness, you must dress monochromatically. A red top and navy pants? Sacre bleu!

Here’s one of my favorite finds. I call her “fifty shades of white.” She’s casual and simple yet stunning.

White sneakers. When did these morph from the tell-tale mark of a clueless tourist to a symbol of high style?

A jean jacket. I saw these worn over print dresses, skirt/blouse outfits, and, well, pretty much everything.

And of course it wouldn’t be Paris without scarves. One simply must. When I was there twenty years ago I purchased a gorgeous swath of silk. In fact, here it is.

I wore it every day on that trip, somehow having figured out how to wrap and tie it just so. But as soon as I returned home, that knowledge dissipated into the ether like so much Chanel Number 5. It took me a long time to get my scarf mojo back.

Herewith my additions to French chic:

A tailored jacket in, say, tweed or pinstripes, worn with jeans

Clothes that are worn neatly and fit well

Here are two well-turned-out women whose faces show some lived experience;

A quality handbag (optional). Those are tres expensive.

A good haircut. This probably also means frequent salon appointments and not waiting until your roots are three inches long and you just can’t stand them any more, like some people I know. So, I guess this French-woman thing could get a little bit costly,

So you now have a pretty good picture of the classic elegant Parisienne and what it takes to be her. BUT there’s something a bit off about this picture. Where is color? Where are prints? Where the hell is fun?

I have two friends who are the most creative dressers I know. They put together outfits with ingenuity and style and they always look terrific. Sometimes they might even do the classic French look. But mainly they look like themselves, manifesting whatever they feel like that day.

So here’s the plan. I’ll definitely purge my closets of those unflattering skirts that I seem intent on pairing with unflattering, ill-fitting tops. Some days I’ll go “the full French” and others I might be all funky boho. The main thing is it’s gotta flatter, fit, and be neat. Oh and make me feel like I look like a million euros.

I’ll give the last word to Melissa Fredette whose post I found on Facebook :

I snuck this picture of this AMAZING goddess of a woman who couldn’t have been less than 75 in her bell bottom jeans, a vest with snakes on it, a red lip (but of course) and a killer coat. My friend and I couldn’t take our eyes off of her and I wish I had snuck a picture of her from the front as well because she is fierce. And you know she is sporting some sexy as hell underthings.


Coton Doux

Pretending to be French in Coton Doux

There were two Coton Doux stores in the Marais. They sell fantastically patterned button-down cotton shirts. I only bought two but some day, who knows, I may just get me some more. And they make you look and feel tres Francaise. Here’s their nice website.

Carla Rockmore

Carla, the world’s most down-to-earth stylist, doesn’t tell you what to wear. She helps you figure out how to wear what you’ve got. She’s funny and charming and a hoot to watch. Classic Parisienne is not her thing by the way.

7 thoughts on “French dressing and other news

  1. Anonymous

    Wouldn’t you think some publication or AARP-type org. would be happy to pay you to report on “senior” fashion? It’s an overlooked demographic with $$


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