Friday, October 22, 2010

Wardrobe Emesis

I love this. Not each individual item, per se, but how the entire ensemble has been thrown together in a very "I love this, and this, and this, and now cross your fingers and let's hope it works" kinda way. Of course it works. For her. She's Taylor Tomasi Hill.

You can't get away with dressing like this here. Not without being stared at. The fact that I am un-Gallic in every sense of my being means I've noticed, and since become accustomed to, the staring, which the French are very good at I might add. Add to this the fact that I throw on what ever hat, shoe, jumper, short, dress etc that takes my fancy, and do not conform to the navy suede ankle-height 1 1/2 inch lace-up boot, gray skinny jean, long-sleeve stripe tee, gray knit, navy pea-coat/ trench ensemble that all French girls adopt as their unofficial street uniform, I scream expat. And the staring continues...

At the beginning I tried to conform. I didn't want to be considered an outsider. I wanted people to think I was a local and one of them. I wore stripes, a beret, sometimes, shamelessly at the same time! But I was naive. Because I'm not French. Nor should I want to be. Even my darling flatmate, who is French, reminds me, when I am spoken to in English without being prompted - "People know you are not French". "How?" I ask. "Because you don't look French". But, HOW?! I don't live in China, or Africa, where the exterior features of the people there are quite clearly different to my Anglo make-up and it is quite obvious I am from a different part of the world. No, they know.
Like an inbuilt 'Gaul-dar', they know.
And, so, I stopped trying. I wear what I want. Yes, I sometimes look absolutely ridiculous. Yes, I am an outsider. No, I am not English, or American, but yes, I am not from here. I stopped caring. The staring doesn't phase me any longer. And I'm happier.

'Wardrobe Emesis' is, and kind of always has been, my dressing mantra. I buy clothes I like. Not in any one particular style, genre, type, designer (although if I had the funds I wouldn't hold back on an entire wardrobe of Wang). And then I wear them. And cross my fingers it works. Sometimes I strike gold, most times I don't, but always I don't care.

My realisation of this came one day when I decided to wear to work white Converse sneakers, black tights, a black baby-doll bubble-skirted viscose-jersey halter-neck dress, with an "I heart NY" tee-shirt underneath. They were the favourite pieces from my wardrobe at the time. I thought it worked. My very minimalisticly chic co-worker/ best friend didn't. I received a finger-waving "Please, explain" from her, and the internal questioning about conformity vs creativity began...

If you can stand the staring, wear what you wish. And be happy.

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