When I was unpacking some books I brought back from Paris yesterday, I did a final flip-through of the Fodor’s guidebook I referred to last week and noticed a little travel advisory in its introductory pages:
When it comes to clothing, the standard French look is dressier than the American equivalent. Athletic clothes are reserved for sports. Sneakers are not usually worn by adults but if you pack yours, keep them for daytime only. Neat jeans are acceptable everywhere except at higher-end restaurants; check to see whether there’s a dress code.
I violated all of this, and wouldn’t have had it any other way.
That utilitarian-chic fashionista scene, 24 hours a day – wow. The women in particular looked like they were wearing uniforms. The black coats with the furry (unused) hoods and the low-heeled black boots over black or red leggings. Gotta be looking good in those cafés and fromageries.
I went everywhere in my fleece, jeans, and pink-and-gray New Balance running shoes. In spite of all the café crèmes, croissants, white bread, Bordeaux, and madeleines, with approximately 8 hours a day of walking and stair-climbing it didn’t take long for those jeans to become almost one size too big on me – and this didn’t go unnoticed. Every time I sat down in a Metro station and crossed my legs, the people sitting in my row of plastic chairs all turned to curiously and critically study my sneakered feet, as if they were an audacious new exhibit at one of their contemporary art museums.
I don’t get dolled up just to roam around, on vacation or otherwise. My comfort is important to me, as is my ability to sprint away from would-be pickpockets – a situation I found myself in on the last full day of the trip. There’s no way I would have been able to make that quick of a getaway had I been wearing my pretty black boots.
So many somber, self-contained personalities – lighten up! Smile! Everything’s gonna be OK. The happiest-looking people were the smattering of others who were dressed for a rousing afternoon at the batting cages.
Shame, shame. I know your name.
19 hours ago