Fashion is taking an unfortunate turn and Paris acts as the frontlines for the massacre occurring to women’s clothing. It is like, in a moment of postmodern existential nostalgia, we are meshing together all the worst ideas from the trends of the past 30 years. When I go shopping, I am consistently bombarded by endless racks of unattractive beiges, creams, and mauves – colors that don’t look acceptable on anyone in springtime, as they make pale skin look a little sickly. Shoulder pads are back, waistlines have shot up and given clearance for elastic to reappear on the scene, and I watched a girl go up the stairs in front of me the other day in suede, pleated trousers. Baggy, suede, pleated trousers to be exact. Florals have happily returned form the 90s and everyone’s sandals look like the came from the movie Gladiator. The blazer is back, as well as the full denim ensemble and the belted jumpsuit. Yesterday I actually say two people whom I originally mistook as Elvis Presley impersonators than just realized that they were à la mode.
I am not saying that there aren’t some lovely things in stores right now, I am just saying that on the whole, you have to wade through a lot of ugly. I am also saying that I write this from the rational part of my brain. I know I hate these trends. But when I am in the street, elbowed by a Parisian wearing 80s castoffs that I last saw in Dirty Dancing, I have a moment of pause. Parisians are so confident, poised, and assertive, that I experience moments of weakness where I almost find their current fashion not only acceptable, but attractive. To recover, I come inside and flip through J. Crew, with its Americanized takes on European fashion. Oh colors, solids, co-ordination and proper fit, how I love you!
At least there is comfort in that one most important fashion stable, black. Black is always in. It has always been in. It will always be in. I am currently in a deep state of flirtation with navy as my new black, but Black and I know that I’ll be back. We always come back to Black. All winter Paris was a sea of black. Spring has brought on this wild fashion experiment, but even it can’t squelch black. The other day I was wearing a black shirt and the youngest girl I babysit, age 5 analyzed my outfit before pronouncing a profound truth, which only a French pre-schooler would already be able to express: “Black is always an elegant and refined choice. Well done.”