Paris Supplemental

For all of you who didn’t think my abstract musings on French women were terribly informative, here’s something more corporeal.

While I was in Paris, I scoured the streets for the Next Big Thing. Years ago, before the Information Highway was divulging everyone’s secrets at the speed of broadband, it was an accepted fact that Europe was (about) two years ahead of North America in terms of fashion. That meant if you found out what the French or Italians were wearing, you could pretty much guarantee you’d be wearing it, too – in about 24 to 30 months.

Now that fashion has gone global (and lost a whole lot of its unpredictable charm, I might add) its homogenizing us to a certain extent. Girls in Paris, strictly in terms of fashion, looked a whole lot like girls in Toronto. In the warm weather, it was all leggings and flats; there were empire waists everywhere. Everything was charming and mod and 60s revival with short dresses and long sweaters and yadda yadda yadda.

There was one thing, though…

Le Hammer Time!
Droopy drawers at Dior Homme.

That’s right people – the Harem Pant (or whatever they’re calling it this time around) is back.
It was only a matter of time anyway. I mean, how saggy could pants get before someone just told the tailor to drop the crotch so we could all move on with our lives?

They were all over Paris. I got a pair for myself in knee length denim, and a pair for my sister in full length cotton at the Clignancourt flea market. From soft jersey knits to satin, they were already available in every possible combination of fabric and hemline.

After showing on runways for spring, they’re on definitely on their way here. Gwen Stefani along with her line LAMB are one of the first on the bandwagon (whatever your feelings are about her, the girl has and eye for style) and the Second City Style blog has proclaimed them, and I quote, “BEYOND awful”. The latter is hardly a glowing review, but anything that inspires such a visceral reaction is bound to be big.


“What the?! Where’d all this extra fabric come from?”My France Pants.

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Paris Je T’aime – Part 2

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.