Color- Comme les Français
One brisk Monday morning in Paris I was running errands with Madame Chic. We were on our way to pick up a few fresh items for that evening’s meal. Madame Chic and I spent a lot of time together. I would help her with the cooking (she always refused my help but I insisted! I wanted to learn to cook comme les Français). We talked a lot and my French was slowly getting better. Our relationship was lovely, but still very formal.
So I was shocked when that morning she told me rather bluntly. “That sweater does not look good on you.”
I looked down at my spring green twinset from Banana Republic. It had been a gift from someone back home (Who? I can’t remember). “Really?” I had asked, “But it’s silk/ cashmere blend!”
“No it’s not the quality that disturbs me,” Madame Chic said, eyeing my sweater with concern, “It’s the color. It doesn’t suit you at all. It washes you out. You look sallow.”
Great. I looked sallow. The sensitive American in me was shocked that Madame Chic had been so blunt with me. In America we tell each other we look good no matter what. And if someone looks really bad? We usually just don’t say anything at all. Mon Dieu, I must have looked horrible if Madame Chic actually told me so!
She could see the crestfallen look that overtook my face. “Don’t be upset!” she said, “It’s just an observation. As a woman you must know what colors look the best on you and how are you to know if no one tells you?”
This was true.
I asked her tentatively, “What colors do you think I would look good in? Not green obviously.”
“Pas du tout!” she exclaimed, “You would look ravishing in emerald green, in deep aubergine, royal blue, ruby red… black, bien sûr.” She advised that I stay away from yellow and spring green. I went home and looked in the mirror with new eyes. Dear God she was right. The color had washed me out. I think I instinctively knew this but because I received the twinset as a gift- I just wore it without questioning whether or not it worked for me.
“French women pay very close attention to what enhances their beauty and what doesn’t enhance their beauty,” Madame Chic had said.
This turned out to be a lesson I would never forget.
I would love to know… what colors work best for you?