paris (im)perfect: Looking presentable in Paris
Sion Dayson explains why she just can't bear to venture outdoors in her bathrobe... in Paris.
A few times in recent weeks I have stopped just shy of committing an almost unforgiveable act: leaving the apartment in my bathrobe. Thankfully I realized each time at just the last moment, and said to myself: I can’t go out in this. I’m in Paris.
Is that sad? It’s the fact that I’m in Paris that stopped me from stepping out in sleepwear? (As if somewhere else it would be acceptable?)
Now, let me explain a few points.
I wear normal clothes under my robe. I get up, shower, dress, tend to basic hygiene… you know, I still aim for at least the appearance of being a normal, functioning human being. (Though some days it’s hard, people, it’s hard!)
It’s only after all that that I throw the robe on again – because it’s friggin’ freezing in my apartment. The robe’s cozy and warm, and heck, all I’m doing all day is staring at the computer screen, anyway. Why not? Saves a bit on the heating bill.
The thing is, I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing – lost in my little fictional universe – that I kind of forget that I’m wearing it. So when I go to check the mail or pop out for a baguette….well, the robe almost comes with me. I put on my shoes, head for the door, and then…oh. Um, I’m still wearing it.
It’s the mail situation that poses the biggest possibility for disaster. I don’t need a coat because the mailbox is inside the apartment building. That means I don’t think too much about what I’m wearing – I can just dash downstairs.
And that’s where the Paris part comes in. I mean, really, if I were still in New York, I would *totally* just run down a couple flights of stairs in the bathrobe. Not that I should romanticize slovenly habits, but hey, I miss feeling like I can do anything I want sometimes. I clearly remember days when I’d roll out of bed, throw a coat over my pajamas and do some small errand in the neighborhood. And no one cared.
Here? Looks of horror. People are supposed to look presentable. (Presentable? Overrated). I’m a girl, I like looking nice (sometimes), but as you’ve probably gathered from the few photos you’ve seen of me, I’m mostly about comfort.
And let me tell you, my enjoyment of Paris actually started increasing ’round ’bout the moment I decided to stop feeling badly that I couldn’t bike (or even walk) in heels, that I had a wardrobe consisting of vibrant colors, not just black, and accepted that I didn’t know how to tie a scarf properly. (Also that my accent is pretty much here to stay and that I should still keep smiling even if no one else does).
I have actually adopted the perenniel scarf-wearing (though I still don’t tie it well), but to balance that out, I’ve taken to wearing comfortable, bright white orthopedic sneakers. (Yep, I’m style all over the place.)
But my attitude of, well, just not caring, has actually seemed to work in my favor of late. I get weird looks, but when it’s obvious I’m fine with my shoe selection – and really, aren’t you kind of jealous at how comfortable I am? – I’ve been treated to some nice service.
Like when I went to get some new designer glasses recently. The fashionable gay man serving me gave me a look of disdain at first (I had the white tennis shoes on and a badly-tied scarf – oh, oops, and some other clothes on, too – now wouldn’t *that* make a get-up!). I had him eating out of my hand by the end. Vous etes charmante! I am charming, aren’t I?
Actually, I have no idea how that happened, but I think it’s because I made fun of myself, kept talking past the wall of disdain – and made it known that even a slob can afford Prada glasses with a good Mutuelle (complementary health insurance).
But I guess I’m not yet comfortable enough to walk out of the house in a bathrobe.
Which, ok, I’ll concede maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. Eh, sometimes we need limits, right?
P.S. I actually *have* put a long coat over my PJ’s and gone to the market in Paris. Just saying.
Sion Dayson is an American writer living in Paris. Her work has appeared in a number of different venues and she blogs about the quirkier side of the City of Light at paris (im)perfect.
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