It's tough to figure out just how to begin this, but despite the fact that I am a bit of a fashion junkie and happily finicky about the way some things look, the same finickiness doesn't seem to apply to my personal appearance. Skincare, haircare and occasionally even depilation are things that life as a law student just doesn't leave me any time to deal with. And reading a May 1998 issue of Vogue UK threw up a rather interesting article on Parisian girls and their dressup fundas (sample one: you wear grey underwear, your man goes and has an affair), which seem to consist largely of being as finished and polished and, well, sexy as possible. 1998 said tightsless miniskirts in winter were a good thing, quirkiness and cutting-edge were not. Fashion judgementalism seemed, according to the writer, to be the order of the day-girls who looked out of the mold got the dirty eye from women on the street, and if what Susie Bubble says is correct, it persists to this day despite ample evidence of a growing tribe of oddities as captured by the Facehunter and others.
It was a nice article, but it just left me feeling a bit funny. I like Parisian style, and the way everyone just seems so, well, cool, but I honestly don't know how comfortable I would be dressing like one. I like the odd and the weird and sometimes even the flat-out ugly as things to wear, and the idea of trussing myself up in a miniskirt (no way- the old legs are just not up to it) or wearing stilettoes all the time and generally being comme il faut is just not something I'm comfortable with, even though I wish I were- post-teenage body image issues maybe? And it isn't the sexiness of it all that bothers me, but the fact that everyone is supposed to look a certain way- I don't mean to knock Paris and this is a bit of a whine about clothes-fanaticism anywhere in the world, but half the fun of fashion lies in the idea that it's yours to do what you like with. Which I'm sure they do, but I know I'd find it tough stepping out in my scuffy old boots and written-on jeans if I knew everyone was making snide remarks about me for it. And I'm a scruffiness-oriented sort of child, not to mention really uncomfortable with 'dressing sexy', it just doesn't agree with me. I mean, dressing one way is all very well, and I'm a slave to aesthetics as much as the next girl, but the fact remains, if I am five different girls in a day (inside my head) then at least two of them are going to be people who don't like to look perfect. I'd feel a fraud if I dressed the way the article recommended, even if it did get me a lot more appreciative stares than I've ever had at any point in my life. The actual me might be uglier and a little the worse for wear, but that being ugly is still a part of me I wouldn't want to jettison entirely. And the only Parisienne, real or fictional, whose style I would willingly adopt would be Amélie Poulain (think about it: cardigans, odd dresses, clumpy shoes and Louise Brooks hair), hardly your average girl from anywhere herself.