Excerpt from Paris Adieu:
In Paris, people-watching was an art form. Jean-Michel was a discreet observer of public conduct and style, unlike my friend Elizabeth, who was unabashedly snide in her commentary on the failings of other human beings, with her snarky British wit. I enjoyed time with Elizabeth until invariably I felt as if I were participating in some sort of vivisection of poor, hapless strangers who really weren’t all that inferior to us. But with Jean-Michel, I learned a great deal from his restrained commentary on the people around us. He wasn’t so much judgmental as he was instructional. Now, he motioned to a woman with henna’d hair standing next to a man in line.
“Look at the woman there,” he said in a low voice. “You see her scarf?”
I glanced in her direction, pretending to survey the crowd as I caught sight of the long black, white, and gray scarf loosely slung around her neck.
“Yes. What about it?”
“That’s how to wear a scarf.” He sniffed.
“I mean everything like that. The black and white is chic but would be too severe without the gray. The design is not too busy. And the way she wears it shows she knows how good she looks in it. The scarf has made her jacket come alive.”
I’d never had a conversation like this with an American man.
“It is chic, isn’t it?” I agreed.
“Right. That’s what I meant,” I corrected myself, chasing away a tiny cloud of irritation. His fussiness annoyed me but he had a point. Who cared about a piece of clothing? It was the person who wore it who gave it whatever value it possessed. I wondered how I’d do in a black, white, and gray scarf. Immediately, I vowed to look for a similar one then practice draping it in the mirror.