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Speak French To Me: Being Fashionable or Being French?

I am not a conceited person.  Or at least, I don’t try to be.

I don’t think I am better than others, I don’t think I’m model gorgeous, and as far as I know, I don’t do much to tick people off (aside from Wesley Lowery, and that’s generally on purpose). 

But overall, I would say that I do have my good days.  You know what I’m talking about: Those days where you look in the mirror and say “hey, how you doin’?”

As I was packing for France, it was my goal to have many of those days while abroad.  I brought my best dresses, my most stylish jeans, my fashionable scarves and my favorite shoes.  I actually wake up early enough to do my make-up, fix my hair AND pick out a decent outfit for the day.  Pretty good, right?

Mais non! It’s not enough! The second I hit the streets I see enough high fashion to instantly make me feel like I walked outside in a burlap sack and last season’s shoes.  And it’s not just high fashion women who have the money to buy clothes straight off the runway — oh no, it’s everyone!

I find myself feeling inferior to 15-year-olds and having clothing envy toward toddlers (who already really make me feel bad about myself when they speak in complete French sentences while I struggle to mentally conjugate ten zillion verbs). 

I knew that dressing up for school would be necessary, and that most people would do it, but honestly, it’s not even the dressing up that scares me.  Because they’re not dressing up — they’re dressing French. 

The people here, men and women alike, really care a lot about how they look.  Men where scarves and carry bags, and women wear heels on cobblestone streets and have a lipstick to match every color on every outfit. 

And then there’s me, the foreigner.  Oh mon Dieu

So, what does one do to look French? One shops in French stores, of course.  But alas, that too is easier said than done.  Not only are the sizes all completely different (I looked like a fool with a jacket in sizes 34 through 38 just to see which one would fit), the clothes are also so much more expensive! I’ve found that the best way to go about it is to just forget about the conversion rate to avoid having a full-blown panic attack in the middle of La Rue de la Republique.

However, I did notice something this past week.  The thing that makes so many of the French students attractive is their confidence (and their fashion skills of which I am insanely jealous, but mainly their confidence).  I’ve seen people wear clothes that would be considered vintage, American, high fashion, grunge and even the occasional hipster.  And they all look stunning because they are confident in what they are wearing.

So am I convinced that I look more French in my new jacket and blouse? I don’t know. But it does make me feel more confident, and I feel like that might be half the battle. So for now, even if I don’t feel like I look very French, I can wear my new favorite jacket, look in the mirror and say, “Hey gurl, you look goooood.”

Danielle Limon is a freshman studying journalism and is a columnist for The Post.   She certainly sounds conceited. Send her some fashion tips at dl119510@ohiou.edu.

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