Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Ordered Beauty in Paris
I love this deep purple -- presque noir -- hollyhock against a background of lavender in the Jardin desTuileries.
Here's Pater posing in front of the scene for me -- do you think he worries about how he looks, how suitable his dress is for the Paris streets? Not a chance!
But look at that precision, that order, not only in the rows of lavender, but in the trees behind, in the trim of the lawn, in the neatness of the hems and know that this care translates everywhere into dress whereas I, on the other hand . . .
Let's just say that I loved reading Mardel's honest post today, a post in which she describes having her sense of self seriously eroded by a cosmetician at the department store lipstick counter. For no matter how much I might know my own worth, no matter how much commenters might pipe up to say that Mardel or I or any of us should ignore those other voices and affirm our own beauty and style, etc., etc., the truth is that sometimes seeing ourselves as we suspect others see us can arouse every doubting inner voice we thought had been hushed long ago, and there's not much we can do but ride the moment out. If we're lucky, like Mardel, we'll arrive back in a place where our loved ones reflect our beauty back to us before the day is through.
All to say that when I read Mardel's post, I immediately thought of days such as this one, in Paris, when I left our hotel room feeling good about what I was wearing -- I knew the dainty floral print on the little scarf was a stretch with the stripes on the white v-neck, but at the time I thought it was a clever stretch. The colours were perhaps a bit de trop for Paris (besides the turquoise in scarf and shoes, and the cobalt bag, there are tomato, navy, and turquoise stripes in the white v-neck you can't see), but for me there was a playful logic to them -- they pleased me. My shoes, with their slightly curled-up points, definitely quirky, but besides being comfortable, their whimsy makes me happy. The combination of my curls in humidity and my glasses is not, I know, my best look, but I was relieved that day that the overcast sky meant I could leave the sunglasses home and give my eyes a rest from the contacts. And walking with Pater, who seems always to think I look fabulous, I was confident, happy even in the rain.
But within minutes of walking through Galaries Lafayette an hour or so later, I began to feel ever so gauche -- every potential infraction of a fashion rule seemed to manifest itself in every passing mirror. If I'd had a magic wand, I would have used it not to feed the world's starving children, nor to end war, nor to cure cancer, but rather I would have been clad in taupes and/or blacks, with simple yet substantial gold jewelry -- my hair would have been impeccably straight and shiny and most of all, my maquillage would have been flawless. Sadly, even if I'd already fed the children, ended the war, or cured cancer, none of those achievements would matter in the face of the gaucheness. My head says it shouldn't be so; some little girl inside knows it always will be. And I loved Mardel's post for acknowledging that. And then for moving on.
I have to laugh, though. While Pater tried to be understanding any time I went through one of these little crises, he continues to think I look great no matter what. And any time he took a photo of me -- one I would later examine to see how heavy I looked or whether a dress was too short or an unflattering shape or made me arms look big or . . . . he would be most pleased if he'd captured a smile -- "You have a great smile," he'd say. And, you know, I should! No matter that I will never be flawlessly made up and/or dressed, I have much to smile about -- and many to smile with, lucky me!