It seems widely accepted that Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Everything contributes to its splendor, from the grand spirals of the cathedrals, to the perfectly designed flowerbeds, to the doorways with their embellished woodwork and scrolling trim. Sometimes I am left with the impression that it is impossibly unreal, this city, like when I walked around the corner of my building and saw this shiny vintage car parked next to the freshly painted épicerie which had replaced the old draper’s shop. In fact, this was un-real, as it turned out they were filming a movie on my street so WWII era store fronts replaced the slightly more commonplace setting.
But still, the beauty is such that you find yourself conforming to it. At least, this is the logic I give to the legendary Parisian fashion. If you just saw an average Parisian on any given day, you might wonder if the hype of Parisian style was a myth. But if you observed said Parisian throughout the course of a week, you would notice that they never have a fashion lapse. They never have “scrub” days, and years of being slaves to a culture that demands dressing the part 24/7 means that they effortlessly portray the image of eternal fashion and poise. They are as beautiful as the city that surrounds them, because they realize that they are a part of its magic.
I get this, I really do, and for the most part, I do my part. I have some bad days, but I would never go out in public in a t-shirt, sweats, and tennis shoes. I wear them to run, although even there I am shown up. I will never understand how Parisian women run in flowing scarves, loose hair, jewelry, and faces free of makeup, but equally free of sweat. Sweat turns to Chanel perfume on a Parisian woman’s face, of this I am convinced. I have yet to see one running in high heels, but I won’t be surprised when it happens.
Living up 8 flights of stairs means you learn to minimize trips up and down. I have a routine now of going running then ending my run at the grocer’s before heading home. I am used to the weird looks as I wait in line, dripping sweat and proudly sporting my running tights and t-shirt. I have always noticed that I am the sole person shopping on a Saturday morning who doesn’t look like I will swing by a luncheon afterwards, but I just decided not to care. In this aspect, I remain American, where running errands is an extension of private life, thus it is acceptable – nay, almost “in” – to conduct errands like grocery shopping in yoga pants and a cute ball cap. Yesterday morning I paused outside the grocery, only to run into the family I babysit for. The mother, took one look at my red sweaty face and alarmed asked, “Hannah – are you sick???” No, I explained, just running. As I stepped by her to go in she looked taken aback. “Oh,” she said. “You are going shopping . . ?” Afterwards, I resolved that I will try to do my part to not detract from the impossible perfection that is perfect. I showered and put on a cute skirt. Now I just need to learn to go jogging in heels.