Here at Turkey Curry Buffet HQ we are instituting some changes. (TCB HQ is located in the ball pool of my local Chic-Fil-A’s Kidz Fun Zone, in case you were wondering.) Firstly, I am going to try to publish at least one blog post a week (maybe more!). A forced uptick in quantity may result in a decrease in quality, because usually I just write a post when graced by the muses with some sort of specific topic idea (my muses are Miss Piggy, Winona Ryder in the shoplifting video, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s nether abdominals (yes, just yes) in case you were wondering) but who are we kidding? All ye who enter here have obviously abandoned all hope of intellectual or literary “quality” in the first place. Actually, if there is a topic that you think is relevant to the purview of Turkey Curry Buffet (the purview of TCB includes but is not limited to gender relations, American epicurean delights, and pop culture inanities, in case you were wondering) and that you would like to see masticated by the hungry hippos of TCB’s editorial staff, please let me know via the comment box below. Or just e-mail me, if you know me like that. Secondly, I am going to start dedicating some posts. I do this not because I think these blog posts are in any way literary enough to merit a dedication– rather I do this in the spirit of the Jamz 96.3 radio “shout-outs” to which I used to enjoying listening each morning on the way to high school. I stole this idea from my friend Abigail who sometimes dedicates her e-mails to this or that friend, and to whom I obviously now owe a blog dedication.
This post is dedicated to the wonderful Kristen Manger, who recently wrote me some extremely encouraging e-mails.
Anyway. Lately I have been thinking about clothes. This is partly because I am always thinking about clothes. I have been thinking about clothes pretty much continuously since the seventh grade, when my dad, unable to find the latest Seventeen magazine I had begged him to buy for me at his local newsstand, brought me home an issue of Harper’s Bazaar instead. This was back when Liz Tilberis edited Harper’s Bazaar, and she was the motherfucking shit. (Liz Tilberis is one of my heroes, along with Tina Fey, Jane Austen, Gilda Radner, and Miss Piggy, in case you were wondering.) I then proceeded to beg said dad for a subscription, and consequently collected every single issue of Harper’s Bazaar published from that first one in January of 1995 through sometime in the year 2000… and MY MOM THREW THEM ALL AWAY WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE. (This was one of the fashion tragedies of my life, along with losing my favorite baby blue cashmere scarf, wearing the same navy blue sweatshirt for the entirety of my freshman year of college, and having a one-night stand with a guy whom I didn’t realize was WEARING MANDALS until the next morning– in case you were wondering.)
The thing is, if you look at what I’ve worn for much of my life, you wouldn’t even begin to guess at my love of fashion. (The phrase “love of fashion” is rather stomach-turning, no? Kind of like the word “masturbating”. But, one can’t let semantics get in the way of a good time.) Of course, thanks to the vagaries of trends, when we look back at pictures of ourselves in high school, none of us can believe what we were wearing. When I was in high school the cool guys were mostly “skaters” and so girls dressed accordingly in long-sleeved waffle-knit henleys layered under short-sleeved Gap pocket tees and baggy wide-legged thin-wale cords and Simples, in the hopes of looking like a “down-ass bitch” to said sk8tr bois. (My life can, in fact, be wholly summed up by various Avril Lavigne lyrics.) So even though I was idolizing this:
That’s me on the far left. I mean really. Dear Casting Director and Wardrobe Supervisor of Ten Things I Hate About You: THIS is what your embarrassing, angry, vaguely feminist older sister whose clothes make you question her heterosexuality looks like. Not Julia Stiles in crop tops.
There were also times in my life when I really just hated the way I looked, and clothes became, instead of a mode of expression, a tool for hiding myself. This explains the aforementioned collegiate navy blue sweatshirt debacle. What happens when you speedily bypass the Freshman 15 and move right on to the Freshman 30, well before Thanksgiving, but can’t afford to buy new, bigger jeans on your parents’ $200-a-month budget (because you already spent the $200 on beer and sleeves of Oreos and shrimp fried rice takeout, duh)? You go to the school store and charge a size-too-large hooded sweatshirt on your CatCard, and then use that sucker to camouflage your muffin top for the next nine months! Although I recognize now that being overweight and not doing anything about and instead developing a crippling lack of physical self-confidence is a kind of tragic waste of life, I don’t really feel that bad about the sweatshirt thing, because my friend Laurence wore a You Enjoy Myself sweatshirt for TWO consecutive years and my friend Lee used to wear his collegiate hoodie WITH NOTHING UNDERNEATH.
But if you can forgive me for these sins, and find it in your heart to believe that I really, truly love fashion, you will understand why I was pleased as fucking punch to recently make a set of extremely intoxicated transatlantic flights to visit the amazing city of Paris. I know I use the word “amazing” ratherrrrr unscrupulously (like, in reference to Mariah Carey album titles or certain kinds of drugstore brand eyeliner) but Paris is the definition of amazing, as in, it makes you walk around with your mouth hanging open in amazement. Everything is beautiful. The buildings, the streets, the women, the men, the children even. The store windows. The trees. The light. That’s so fucking corny, but seriously, the light in Paris is beautiful. Also Brad Goreski said that once on The Rachel Zoe Project, on the episode where they go to Paris Fashion Week, so it must be true.
The most beautiful thing of all? The way people dress in Paris. Rick Steves and all of my college art history professors would probably smack me upside the beret for saying that, but I’m saying that. Everyone dresses well. I knew Paris was a fashionable place, but I thought it would be like New York in that way: for every on-trend Seventh Avenue lackey, mismatched hipster, or Chanel-bedecked Park Avenue doyenne, there’s twenty frumpy paralegals in double-breasted Dress Barn skirt suits and opaque tights and sensible navy pumps they got BOGO at Payless, or ten overtaxed outerborough moms whom I should be praising because they are selflessly riding the N train to their second job, which is even more thankless than their first, but whom I am also criticizing for their Marc-Jacobs-2005-knockoff, chrome-finish purple vinyl purses with the grommets and the dangly Tweety Bird key chain and the frayed white bits of string hanging from the seams. Obviously money is a factor here, but can it be that ALL Parisian women can afford to buy actual Marc Jacobs bags? No, surely it cannot. And this is what I learned about clothes in Paris. Parisian women dress, walk, and wear makeup as if they have zero insecurities, zero interest in what men think of them, and zero need to check their bank accounts before they buy that 350-euro pair of calf-high leather motorcycle boots because they know they have at least $10 million in liquid assets just laying around. Even though you know this can’t be true– you know that every woman has insecurities, every woman has a lover she wants to please, and almost every woman feels guilty about her credit card bill– the illusion that she doesn’t is the KEY to dressing well. Their clothes may be inexpensive, but they never look cheap. They walk in this sort of head-up, why-the-fuck-are-you-looking-at-me kind of way. They wear the most amazing bright lipstick colors and seemingly no other makeup. They do not do their hair. You see all these amazing leather jackets everywhere and then you realize women are wearing them because they’ve actually ridden a motorcycle or a moped at some point during their day. Which maybe is why it looks like they haven’t done their hair. And they don’t display all that much flesh. A thigh here, a breastplate there– otherwise it’s all long button-down shirts and loose cardigans and knee-lenth skirts. They don’t give it away for free. This was so refreshing. Especially since I watched a Keeping Up With The Kardashians marathon the day before I left.
To wit. The editor-in-chief of French Vogue at the current NY Fashion Week:
American women could really take a page from the French woman’s playbook. I’m about to get all Christina Aguilera on your ass. Even if you don’t think you’re beautiful, acting like you think so can have marvelous effects on your posture, your demeanor, your ensembles and ultimately your confidence. It’s sort of like the trickle-down economics of women’s empowerment. Certainly not every woman in Paris was beautiful, but they all walked like supermodels.
I know this is true because I know that I have so much more fun dressing today now that my fashion choices are unfettered by my former insecurities and my misconceptions about what boys would like. I mean I still wear push-up bras. And miniskirts. But whatever.
The French men were dressed amazingly well, too. Lots of slim suits and sparkly aviators and longish wavy hair and motorcycle helmets looped over the arm. But when I looked at them I was mostly engaging in complex fantasies involving an abduction on said motorcycle to some ancient chateau surrounded by a moat of lavender. Where the clothes would then, obviously, come off.