Monday, August 4, 2008

All the World's a Runway

Fashion is fun, but even more so, it’s funny. Exhibit A.

I’d like to say I never worry about what I’m wearing, but that would be a blatant lie, and I am not a liar. I worry a lot—it just doesn’t pay off.

On a good day, I imitate what my cool friends are wearing, and I end up looking OK. Not great, but acceptable enough to be let out of the house. On other occasions, when I become bold and do my own thing, then we begin to have problems.

In Paris, mercifully, there are plenty of stylish French girls around for me to emulate—though I doubt I’ll ever really get it right, as last week’s shopping incident confirms.

I was strolling around, “researching” some potential purchases when I came upon an H&M. Ahh, my old friend. These days, I’m generally trying to avoid anything that isn’t 100% cute, authentic, French, and preferably passed down from generations past, but sometimes I give in to the forces of global commerce. And my inner sociologist wanted to do a little compare-and-contrast exercise to see if H&M is the same here as it is in New York.

I was delighted to find that, in Paris, H&M is in fact quite different. Once inside, I was instantly drawn towards a section of drab-colored, confusing, shapeless dresses. Très French! I’ve noticed there is a marked difference between the shape of clothes in Paris and the shape of clothes in New York. Here, things are looser, more billowy, more open-to-interpretation. Read: Parisian girls are less slutty and more creative. In terms of cultural It-girls, think Lou Doillon vs. Lindsay Lohan.

So I was mesmerized by this section of amorphous dresses that seemed to say “Wear me with Ray-Bans and a scowl.” 20 minutes later, having tried on a few, I realized that there was something decidedly off about these clothes. Not even my favorite belt—“winged glory”—would be able to make sense of this situation, and that’s always a bad sign. Is it possible that even these dresses knew I was American and, therefore, unworthy of wearing them?

And it was at that moment that I realized I was shopping in the maternity section. To be more specific, I was in the “Futur Maman” section. Yes, I had been ogling over-sized, prenatal muumuus, imagining myself strutting the streets of Paris.

Sometimes I amaze myself. But to be fair, since when does H&M have a maternity section? Seriously, come on. When you’re pregnant, are you still scrambling around trying to find cheap knock-offs of up-to-the-second trends? Apparently in France, yes.

No wonder W wants to hire me... or not.

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