There are worse places to recover from traumatic ordeals than Paris. I arrived a few days ago, exhausted and skeletal, and barely managed to feverishly mutter my way through a few catching up sessions before collapsing on a friend's sofa. I proceeded to sleep for days, strategically avoiding anything other than eating and strolling.
It is dangerous to be in Paris on an empty stomach. By the time I had recovered enough to regain the use of my well-developed olfactory sense, I was wobbling around the streets, bouncing off walls, on never-ending, outrageous pains au chocolat tasting sessions. Good bloody riddance to my organic-low-sugar-no-wheat-negligible-caffeine lifestyle! You have to be seriously dull to be on a diet.
Skinny, delirious as result of a tragically unfamiliar influx of sugar, I trotted around the streets like a six-year-old on her birthday, punctuating my incoherent discourse with cries of 'Look! Look!'. 'Yes, I know', my patient, lovely friend replied, 'I live here'.
I have been away from Paris for far too long. I had forgotten how perfect a Sunday could be, whizzing around town on a scooter, eyeing ambitiously-priced antiques, and brunching on a terrasse flank to flank with effortlessly chic people named Louis, Antoine, or Camille. I had forgotten how good it feels to swagger down the street, with nothing other than a temperamental pout to signal your belonging.
I need to touch a word on the matter of pouting, and other artifices. The latter are lifesavers, if you want to master style on the cheap. I would have written a book on the subject a long time ago, but my stingy publisher refused to cough up in a currency I could accept. Nonetheless, I am gracious enough to offer you the fundamentals free-of-charge.
Rule number one: never, ever attempt to export a London pout to Paris. There is no room for gaping, gloss-smeared gobs on the streets of this capital. I can think of many good reasons -mainly hygienic - never to walk around wide-mouthed. I know it's fashionable, but that is precisely why one should never ever condescend to doing it.
To each face its own pout. Master yours. The most widely accepted practice in Paris is to purse one's lips into a round - occasionally heartlike - shape. Don't overdo it. Exercise judgment. If you happen to have thin lips, a slight upward curl of the upper lip is preferable. You'll also need to keep your chin down, not thrust upward. Think Animal Planet: only the weak expose their necks. Protect yours with a graceful, swan-like arch.
If you think perfecting your pout is a waste of time, think again. It is an invaluable trick to master if you want to survive the crisis in style. Only the owners of a pair of non-garish Sergio Rossi pumps can afford to ignore my advice. The rest of you will do so at your peril. I was grossly ill-prepared for my stay in the capital of chic. God knows what would have happened had I not known how to swing a decent pout.
Rule number 2: the right sunglasses and/or hat will rescue a terrible outfit. By terrible, I mean not great. If you are in the habit of wearing fluorescent jumpsuits and/or white boots, you're on your own. You probably knew that already. I don't care if it's raining, or your eyes are your best feature. Wear those glasses. If possible, borrow an oversized sweater and hover around, weak and dramatically evanescent, as if you might be suffering from an expensive hangover.
Rule number 3: be unpredictable. Gauge your environment, and behave in exactly the opposite way everyone else is behaving. You're not badly dressed, you're just fabulously eccentric. If you're covered in mud, and no one seems to notice, you need to adopt a nonchalant-bored-rich-bitch-from-the-country attitude. The more untamed the mane, the better.
If on the contrary you don't go with the white tablecloth, invest in a natural approach. By natural, I don't mean I-found-my-soul-in-India natural. I don't mean simple minded. I mean I-might-just-be-Darwin-s-great-great-grand-daughter-so-watch-out nice. The more the waiter scowls, the more you have to work the following words into your strategically overheard dialogue: New York/Galapagos/jetlag/eco-safari. Try, if possible, to fit all of them into one neat sentence.
If you're going clubbing and you don't have any Sergio Rossi shoes, get your hands on a pair of broken stilettos. Arrange to stagger out of a taxi, shoes in hand, bang in front of the doorman. If you can time your arrival to coincide with that of a dog and his owner, make a bee-line for the animal and start practicing Russian. If you behave strangely enough, the chances are the doorman will think you are famous. If he hasn't melted after the one-woman-and-her-dog act, thrust the shoes in his face, and say in your best Standard American accent 'Fuck P@#[a! I'm going to sue their ass!'
Voilà. I'll be damned if you don't take Paris by storm with this sound advice. And if not, remember that dressing badly during a crisis is perhaps the classiest thing a modern, politically conscious girl can do.