After a couple of months in Paris, I have had some interesting observations about living in the city. None of my discoveries are rocket science, but they are unexpected and give me a laugh.
I thought I would be immersed in culture of relentless perfection, a fashion utopia. To a certain extent that does exist, but I assure you, I am not running in those circles. My world is one of cramming myself in a packed Metro, regularly walking from one end of the city to the other while trying to step over the rarely picked-up “doggie doo” and incessantly trying to tame my hair in the face of wind, moisture and, well, the overcrowded Metro.
In going about my days, I have uncovered some Parisian truths…
You cannot survive the daily grind wearing gorgeous couture heels from Lanvin, Louboutin, Chanel etc. That’s a fairy tale and it’s lovely to think about, but no one is strolling through the Tuileries in Christian Louboutin’s Pigalle Follies superfine stiletto. I have spent too much time reading Vogue magazines.
Walking on cobblestone, inclement weather, endless hours at museums, or trying to stand in a moving Metro all call for a substantial shoe. One with thick rubber soles, a wide base for stability and made in a material that you can wipe off the grime of the streets. Such shoes are not the height of fashion. Sadly, I know this first-hand. I purchased a pair of sturdy walking shoes a few weeks ago. I mentioned to the young sales woman the shoes looked very masculine. She very sweetly assured me they were quite feminine and very beautiful on my feet. (J’adore le Français.) Nonetheless, I think I own a pair of men’s corrective shoes.
It doesn’t matter the season, you are going to wear a scarf. The material, weight and volume of the scarf is up to you and your need for warmth. Once you become used to wearing a scarf and happen to skip a day, you realize what you are missing. It’s like forgetting to wear a wrist watch. You feel the void.
In the winter months, the French bundle themselves up resembling Ralphie’s little brother, Randy, in “A Christmas Story”. I am a bit amazed, but there is a real sense of a dire chill. The type of chill that might grab you and never let go. Oversized heavy scarves similar to my grandmother’s knitted afghans are wound around people’s necks. As far as I can tell, it’s difficult to move and probably a little difficult to breathe. Again, it’s not what I would call fashionable, but it is practical…I think.
The third truth is bedhead may be a national hairstyle. I have studied this one for years and I can not find proof to refute my theory. My observation is in no way a criticism of the French, I find it surprisingly charming. It is sort of a uniting force between all people in Paris. At first, I thought it was the younger generation’s style. With additional research, I no longer believe that to be the case.
I think there are individuals, let’s call them Bedhead Purists, whom whisk out of slumber to throw on clothes, brush their teeth and run out the door in the morning. I also think there are individuals who do their best to present a fresh and polished look each day, at which time the weather in Paris takes over. Brushing your hair is sort of futile as is pulling back longer hair. Whisps, curls or clumps of hair break free in the misty rain, not to mention the windy streets or during the rush of stale air as a metro train pulls into the station. I have arrived home on more than one occasion to find my hair styled at angles and in arrangements I could never create on my own. It is best described as bedhead without a healthy night’s rest.
There are more truths to be discovered. I find joy in these realizations. Turns out, Parisians are real people just like the rest of us. I am happy to know Paris has a practical side and sometimes comfort, warmth and convenience wins the day. Ç’est le vie!