A Parisienne attempts a Vancouver makeover

Photo by Bernard Spragg | Flickr.

Freshly disembarked from her native France on a winter morning (it’s all of 3°C out), the Parisienne, her ankles swollen with pride upon stepping out onto the soil of the new continent (or was it perhaps poor blood circulation due to the trip), changes her shoes. Indeed, as soon as she leaves the airport she quickly realizes that her pumps are suffering in the light drizzle that falls from the sky continuously. No more of the canine droppings that previously threatened her soles, but only because here, although there may be bears and deer, the weather is not fit for man nor beast, nor for a pair of fancy heels.

In order to adapt to her new natural environment, the Parisienne instinctively understands that it is necessary to adopt the fashion of the local population, in harmony with the context of the deluge that takes the place of rain. Yet here there is no question of sheltering under a small patch of umbrella. It is when it is sunny, not very often, that the parasols bloom like flowers to protect the porcelain complexion of the Chinese ladies. So yes, the Parisienne starts with a shopping session, but only to blend in with the culture of the city that welcomes her warmly – as it were.

As soon as she enters the shop, the Parisienne, who knew her size on her fingertips, who knew, for each style of shoes whether she was 36 or 36 ½, well, she could no longer count on that anymore. The Parisienne finally comes out duly sporting a pair of unsightly rubber boots in size 6. In the deal, the Parisienne has lost not only 30 centimetres in shoe size but also some height. She is not used to walking in flats, and amidst these immense Canadians she feels like a Smart car must between two SUVs.

Never mind, finally dry, the Parisienne is ready to face new sartorial hardships. Indeed, she will have to swap dress suits and pencil skirts for a new style, without going as far as the saris that decorate some shop windows of the Sunset neighbourhood. She needs practical, comfortable clothes, adapted to each situation. To run, for example, or to do yoga, because the Parisienne discovers, with horror, that the Vancouver gal is athletic and the proper outfit is required. As luck would have it there is a small local shop that offers leggings, specially designed. They are worn by themselves in tight elegance, without anything else to appear less naked, not even a kimono dress of which there are, nevertheless, very beautiful models downtown. On its website the brand has made its motto, “It’s like being naked, but not.” Well, yes it is, a little bit anyway.

The Parisienne prefers to put on jeans and, for her first outing in town, to accessorize with a small cinched black jacket – sober yet stylish. A pair of boots, and off she goes. She hopes not to have overdone it. She would like to blend into the landscape, become a true Vancouverite, but now she is thrust into the middle of a forest of low-cut dresses on a floor covered with stiletto heels. Those Vancouver chicks like to get all dressed up to go out.

The Parisienne does not have to be told twice and for the next occasion, St. Patrick’s Day with some folks of Irish descent, she dons a small red bustier dress, matching her patent leather heels. Welcomed by the lady of the house, who wears a green leprechaun as a hat, the Parisienne’s face turns crimson once again when upon entering the living room she finds herself surrounded by people dressed exclusively in green, with wacky disguises and clover leaves. Out of luck.

I am that Parisienne of course, who, like the Korean, like the Iranian, will wear a white and red t-shirt with a maple leaf for the 1st of July, like a true Vancouverite.