Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shopping with hot chicks

I was visited over the summer by a stream of women friends. Each wanted to do what any red-blooded female visiting a new city wants: shop.

And each, to a head-turning degree, is beautiful, in ways ranging from serene propriety to va-voom. But what united them beyond their loveliness and shopping stamina is that each (save one) mentioned that she had some flaw that is best hidden. 

So in 30C weather we had the resolutely covered upper arm, the long pants hiding "chubby knees". I sat in a café with a Stephanie, a Viennese woman who would not unbutton her high-necked black blouse because "my collarbones are not my best feature", while sweat dripped off her forehead.

One visitor called this her "vanity", which everyone possesses. And how about cutting ourselves some slack?

Do we really think some nameless person is going to say to his partner after work, "Do you know what I saw today? A woman with some padding on the inside of her knee!"

Well, to hell with that, especially when it's so hot the air ripples off the pavement. Besides, I like a little unstudied defiance, some tumble in a woman's rumble. I'm thinking of my friend Vicky's friend M., whom I last saw in a tight knit sheath that showed age 50+ bumps and rolls, eschewing a layer of nonbreathable binding but wearing a gumball strand of multicoloured Tahitian pearls, wafting perfume, eight shades of blonde-grey-whatever hair falling in a soft wave over one eye.

She is far more alluring to me than a perfectly coiffed and shapewear-packaged sister. 

Doing my part to promote such imperfection, I trudged through the stickiness in a sleeveless dress or tank top, focused not on the heat, but on the warmth of these interesting, convivial companions.
Christine's new pearls
What did they buy? Each sought treasure not found at home and knew what was perfect for her.
Rubi's tote

"Rubiatonta" found a chic black Bree tote bag; Christine chose an ethereal silver and grey pearl necklace (worn, above, with her Eric Bompard embroidered blouse) and retro-inspired silver flower brooch at Argent Tonic.

One of Jan's skirts

Jan got two sexy secretary skirts at Muse that show off her movie-star legs; Stephanie went back to Austria with more black: a long jersey skirt by Marie St. Pierre. Kari fell hard for this pair of caramel Fluevog equestrienne boots.

Kari's Fluevog boots

Local shopping–a welcome change from chain outlets–expands the eye and provides a delightful souvenir. And for me, an opportunity to indulge in a favourite activity: helping women find useful, beautiful things.

18 comments:

C'estChic! said...

I have the fondest memories of the unique shopping in Montreal, back when I lived there in the late '80's. One never seems to run out of friends who want to visit that wonderful city! May I also compliment you, Dear Duchesse, on "baring arms" in response to the heat and humidity! You looked so elegant thus "un-attired" in your picture with Dorothy! We may not have arms like Michelle Obama, but there IS beauty in that part of a woman's body, nonetheless!

Susan said...

Duchesse, I'm with you on this. I wear sleeveless all summer long and don't mind at all showing my knees if a dress works over all for me in other ways . (I prefer longer because it is a better proportion for me).

I have a VERY slim friend who also worries about her chubby knees and what she perceives as an extra bit of skin under which would show in a sleeveless ensemble. This sort of thing is not even on my radar screen.

Lovely things your friends purchased!

Duchesse said...

C'estChic: Thanks for the support; covering anything not movie-star perfect is one of the least-affirming things women do. I would just love it if women all over the planet decided to wore what feels good, no matter the shape or condition of the body.

Beauty is not about perfection.

Susan: Good for you! Now if we can just build from here...

diverchic said...

I bought a charming blue bikini this year - for the garden. I haven't the courage to wear it in public (that means in front of any men) with all my 64 year old lumps and bumps on view. My sisters didn't complain when they saw it. They sort of nodded,non-smilingly, not exactly with approval, but with an "OK, we can tolerate that" look. I was chuffed that I got it past them.

Duchesse said...

diverchic: Oh, love that! Can just see you side by side with Roger, tow bunnies in the garden!

Susan said...

I think the fact that beauty is not about perfection is a fairly profound statement. It would behoove us all to remember that. As for me, I need to remember to smile more.

william said...

Duchesse, I loved your statement that beauty is not about perfection. Thank you! I also loved every single thing that your friends picked out and think you must be a wonderful shopping muse.

Francie

Duchesse said...

Francie: I had great fun accompanying them but did not influence these purchases (other than to give requested feedback) having once long ago made an expensive mistake by buying things a friend liked, but where wrong for me. Every time I saw those sweaters, I thought "Janet".

Women are sold a terrific message about being perfect, especially in the physical realm. An unrealistic goal for most of us, and not much fun striving for it- and ultimately of not much use to the world.

Anonymous said...

I bought my first (2) pairs of Fluevogs recently and I'm hooked. I was eyeing their edgy Heidi boot but those riding boots are beeeautiful!!!
Helen

déjà pseu said...

I'll confess that I'm reluctant to bare my upper arms and always have been. But once the temperature hits a certain point, I just don't care anymore.

(Those Fluevog boots are divine!!)

Duchesse said...

pseu: The temperature point when I bare is moving ever lower ;)

I guessed you would like the boots; they are very light. K. bought them for Texas.

HB said...

Thank you for this:

"...I like a little unstudied defiance, some tumble in a woman's rumble."

Perfect reminder of how our vitality is much more attractive than an overly produced image. I shall remember this phrase when I am fretting over my curves that are a little more irregular and exuberant nowadays.

Wonderful visuals of your shopping outings this summer, too.

Duchesse said...

HB: Your comment gave me a thought: if we fret, are we more likely to 'overpackage'? I suspect so.

Rubi said...

That bag has been my constant companion ever since I bought it -- and it gets LOADS of compliments. It really was the perfect purchase.

L'age moyen said...

Those fluevogs are too delicious! I have a copaine who swears that shopping in Montreal is unlike any other place. La couteriere will alter any dress you bring to her (and this is at the Bay) - they will alter a $79 dress as though it was $1,500 dress. Plus there is more choice and more nuance, which is what it's all about in l'age. You are so fortunate to be there and enjoy the female-friendly atomosphere. And I love the pearls. I believe the more confidence one shows in the changes that come with age, the more admiration one gains. At least, that's how I feel about my lovely friends who dress for allure and in so doing may show the signs of age. Tant pis.

Duchesse said...

Rubi: Oh, I'm glad! I enjoyed that day so much.

L'age moyen: Beautifully put. And yes, this new home city is unlike any other place I have been so far.

Shelley said...

Probably my very best shopping experience ever was in Montreal - back in 1980 I think it was. I loved the shop assistant's French accent, she made helpful suggestions and followed me to the dressing room with belts, scarves and necklaces. I bought more than I'd ever bought at one time in my life and I wore and enjoyed everything for absolutely ages. I still have one of the belts and one of the longer, full skirts. The fabric is so lovely I'm determined to find another use for it. Montreal is a wonderful place to shop and I'm sure it's a great place to live.

Duchesse said...

Shelley: 1980 and you still wear the skirt, that's value! Montreal still has a local clothing manufacturing sector making goods at various price points. (Friends say "Not what it was in the 60s", but what is?) You can find the big brands but also a number of tiny makers, which contributes to that shopping pleasure.