It took me a couple of days before I had my first epiphany. For a city devoted to the cosmetics industry, makeup was incredibly conspicuous. With the exception of teenagers (who are apparently universally unable to limit there use of lipstick and eyeshadow) I have never seen so many untouched faces in my life. Among them, my own conservative touches of mascara and blush made me feel gauche and painted. That said, I have never seen such lovely skin. I started to think what the French girls were saving on foundation they were spending on the best moisturizers. Correction: What they were saving on foundation and shampoo.
I don’t want to make any rash generalizations, but it seems French girls don’t wash their hair all that much. Nor do they iron, curl, or even brush it all that regularly. There were lots of ponytails – haphazard things – and loose messy locks. Up to that point I don’t know I’d ever gone more than two days without a shampoo in my life, but my friend and I got into the spirit of the thing immediately. We laughed, wondering how long we could reasonably hold out between washings (four days) and loving the time it saved us. Again, though, despite the greasy hair and the messy hair, it was unquestionably healthy hair and, more often than not, impeccably cut.
One thing was clear, though. What the Parisiennes didn’t spend on moisturizers and haircuts went straight to clothes.
In the Paris metro in my chic new Paris coat.
Style-wise, it was a very conservative city, very put together. From girls on bikes in perfectly cut jeans and classically worn vintage leather jackets to women in low-key designer, everyone had their look down. It was casual on the surface, but precise and well thought out. Running shoes were tourist wear – comfortable never meant sloppy. There was never too much jewelry or excessive decoration, never too much anything.
So what did all this add up to? Parisian women are Stunning.
Picture this woman: She is herself. She looks her age (only a little younger because she’s not trying to hide it). She is stylish, but she always wears her clothes, never the other way around. She doesn’t fuss, never pulls at a waistband or tugs at a hem. She is deliberate – and she’s not trying to impress anyone, which is always impressive. There was very little about Paris style that was really different in terms of clothes or a Look that would define the city for me. What I took away with me was a desire to be more – aesthetically honest, maybe, or at least less concerned with my clothes than the kind of attitude that came from the girl inside them.
I’ve been home for months, now. I had to leave a lot of Paris in France. Without context certain things just don’t make sense. I’m back on the mascara – sparingly – and shampooing three times a week. But I had all my hair cut off before I left Paris (an homage to Audrey Hepburn? or just a need to get rid of all those dead ends once and for all) and I’ve shelled out for better moisturizer…
Back home: freckled, flushed, and split-end free.