Stylin’ in Montmartre

Bonjour

Geesh-– Is that a French word?  No, I guess not.

Spending more than a few minutes trying to ask for cheese on my vegetarian salad, I finally gave up (fromage–right?) — the waiter obviously wasn’t in the mood to work out my high school French. And really, I am here to people-watch–it would be truly difficult to spoil my mood–particularly after seeing the salad that he just served (sans said cheese).

At 5:00 p.m., the neighborhood streets of Montmartre are filling with people on the move– many spilling from the metro stop, others walking feisty dogs or pushing precious cargo in strollers as the case may be–their numbers seem fairly equal. In the alley, across the street, high school kids yell and shriek, kicking balls and letting off steam.

Armed with my roller bag, iPad and a copy of my passport– just in case someone gets tricky with my purse–I am looking for clothing shops and cafes– all the things that make me smile. Once In awhile, a stranger returns my grin– but it is not customary, for sure. Our hostess joked that although the French are friendly, the Parisians wake up in a bad mood. So I don’t take it personally.

What I adore are the styles I see parading by! Boiled wool coats, signature berets and scarves of many hues of course– didn’t the French invent them? Although black and gray coats are the norm, the brave sport plaids and colors– orange, red and gold. Pink winter coats that I saw last year are still evident too. The styles of jackets and coats are unique and smart–some fitted and stitched or asymmetric in design. No longer are sneakers looked down upon but boots dominate– how do they walk in those steep heels? And felted hats are common– do they not get ”hat hair” here?

Once Montmartre was the artists’ haunt– but now, it is more upscale though old world charm is represented by wrought-iron fencing at the windows or shutters reaching from ceiling to floor of the apartments peering down along the boulevards that are haphazardly arranged rather than running perpendicular. It makes following a map challenging.

As the Cathedral chimes the hour, I am reminded that Montmartre predates its Christian heritage– first it was named in honor of the Greek god, Mercury and later, for Mars. Christian influence swiftly interpreted it as the “mount of the martyr”, referring to the grizzly tale of St. Denis, a priest who was beheaded for his faithful teachings. Legend has it that he carried his own head many miles before he lay down to die. The Basilica at the top of the hill was built to honor him in the late 1800’s.

It is said that you may sit for hours at restaurants and cafes as you sip or eat without being given your check–to do so would be rude– so here I sit, putting it to the test.

Later I plan to test another spot–only then, it will be with French wine!

Sante’

Dressing strategically…

 

Winter has a silver lining–the added value of a warm, soft-like-cashmere  scarf.  I think “women of a certain age” have known it for awhile–but one has to mature enough to catch the nuance.  Which really means–when skin begins to sag, hide it!

In lieu of a facelift  I deliberately camouflage with a snaZZy scarf.   Yet another justification for my scarf collection!

  

Clothing challenged in the Midwest

When I left Hawaii to return to Ohio, I was adamant that I’d wear my tropical prints and vivid colors–no matter what.  I remember the plane ride, with attendants dressed in Aloha fabrics, as I pined for Paradise lost.  We’d lived there 2 years but I wasn’t done with Hawaii yet–but alas, I digress…

When we landed in L. A., I was amazed that everyone seemed to be dressed in black.  What?  Is this not the home of the avant guard? Where’s the joie de vivre and individuality that I had imagined thrived there?  My experience is that warm climates beget colorfuSnaZZy multi flower over top front viewl attire–but my theory seemed out dated and didn’t bode so well for my commitment to wild abandon.  Nevertheless, I determined I’d walk my own walk to whatever beat I felt.

And so–onward to Ohio with a trunk (maybe 2) full of sunshine fabrics and funky styles… It had been many years since I’d lived in the mid-west.  Moving from Maine to Hawaii was a culture shock for sure but I hadn’t lived in Ohio for 16 years and somehow I thought it would have transformed as much as I had.

Architecturally, all the brick caught me off-guard–I felt smothered and claustrophobic for awhile.  No swaying palms nor daily rainbows.  I couldn’t even see the horizon for the tall buildings and summer smog.   Where were all the international cultures, colors and foods?  And what’s with that southern twang?  I felt I’d back-stepped into days gone by–not that much had changed and at first look, the attitudes hadn’t either.

But I was still influenced by my other worldliness so I dragged out my favorite clothes and wore them amongst the jeans, cut-off’s and sweats that I saw everywhere.  Did I stick out?  You bet–like a red hot persimmon in a field of yellowed corn! But I didn’t care–for awhile.

16 years later, I look at my closet and see that I have way more gray, black, and brown than I care to admit.  Oh, I have fun colors and cool textures all right but they are more for accent and effect than everyday wear, I fear.

Even my forays to the Big Apple are not as splashy as I’d dreamed.  Black is seen as sophisticated and understated–I get it.  But truly, I’m attracted to the bright as the proverbial moth to the light.

So this year, I’m coming out of my dark closet.  I found a bright pink winter coat –my break from the winter-doldrums, like a butterfly emerging, intoxicated from sleeping too long.  And what of oranges, yellows and limes?  Why do we not usually associate these with year-round wear?

Snazzy pink 2 items

Winter–it’s a wrap!

I seem to say it often and I’m known to say it loud–I am not a Winter type… nor do I embrace sweater-weather and crisp cold nights (the only crisp I like is of the apple variety).

I know this because I gave the North woods a good shot by living in Maine over 7 years, experiencing minus 40-degree temps with snow above my knees, followed by a long overdue mud-season,  they call Spring, ushered in by consummate clouds of black flies looking for blood!  Let me tell you, after a few years, it became harder and harder to appreciate the view.

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