It’s those sly French women who are responsible for my latest wardrobe folly. Watching them dash about the streets of Paris wearing simple basics with a gorgeous scarf lufting in the breeze, classic, art-inspired jewelry and an expensive leather cross-body bag, I imagined I could also achieve that air of je ne sais quois. All I had to do was buy good pants, tops and jackets in neutral black, white or gray, throw on a marvelous scarf and I too would be elevated to their level of chic sang-froid.
So I got to work. While my intentions were good, I’ve gone a bit overboard in stocking my wardrobe with basic black and white. Any modern woman will totally understand that we need more than one pair of black pants but how many is too many? The same issue applies to white topsâ€”and black tops too for that matter. I’m embarrassed to tell you how many I have but Boomer Broads will understand how we need long-sleeved blouses, short-sleeved, three-quarters sleeves and sleeveless because our needs vary depending on the occasion and the weather. And this includes tee-shirts as well.
What about those colourful scarves guaranteed to ensure my passage into French chic-dom? I now have too many and have not yet found a suitable filing system for them. I’ve tried draping them over hangers, clipping them on laundry rings, stuffing them through special from-the-organizer-store looped hangers and rolling them in drawers. The result is a big fat jumble of anxiety-inducing fabric lumps jammed into my front hall closet. They’re neither inspiring nor anywhere close to delivering the flair and joie de vivre I was hoping to project when I wore them with my exploding inventory of “basics”.
My pathological lack of je ne sais quois means I’ll never achieve that French level of chic. I’m a small-town Canuck of a certain age who keeps deferring to my favourite pair of NYD jeans, my comfy FitFlopsâ„¢ and whatever tee-shirt or blouse happens to be at the front of the line in my closet. In Canada, scarfs are for keeping us warm. Pants are for keeping us warm. Blouses and tee-shirts are for keeping us warmâ€”or cool if we’re menopausal. If the moon and stars are properly aligned and the wardrobe pieces all click, it’s a bonus.
But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying. Somewhere out there is that perfect top and scarf that will deliver me into the realm of Frenchness I desire. It’s as simple as black and white. But first, I have to start smoking, lose thirty pounds, grow my hair long and wear five-inch stiletto’s every day. And we all know what the chances of that are. C’est la vie, ma cherie.