At home, during Elisa‘s recent visit to New York.
I invite her to come take an Aerial Yoga class with me1. She accepts, so I lend her some clothes, a mat, and everything that goes along with it2. She tries it all on, and hates all my fitness pro outfits3 but finally finds something to wear.
I’m already jumping around in my Nike sportswear4 and a puffy coat I stole from Scott5, ready to hop into my hammock6, when I hear her Italian accent:
“Oh no no, there’s no way I’m going out dressed like that!”
Excuse me? You mean you don’t go out in exercise clothes like 99% of New Yorkers?
“Of course not!”
So she put on ballerina flats, a pink coat, her mauve faux fur scarf, and her red lips clutch bag (yep, that’s Elisa). The only thing that might have given away that she was going to yoga was the yoga pants, but with that outfit they looked more like a pair of chic capris.
And even then, I could see she was making faces.
At a cafe the other day with my friend’s husband — a very chic guy — well dressed, elegant.
“Well, you know, I pay attention to my appearance. That’s just the way I am. I like working out and I like dressing up. Most people who don’t know me think I’m gay, but I couldn’t care less.”
On the phone with my friend Emma last week.
Me: “Come on, it’s beautiful out, let’s go have a drink!”
Her: “Oh man, I’d love to, but look at me! I just can’t — I messed up my makeup and my hair is all greasy.”
Me: “Ok, so let’s go to a shitty bar where no one knows us!”
Her: “No, sorry. Just forget it. No way I’m going out like this.”
Moi : “Argh, come on! I would have gone!”
Elle : “Yeah, I know! You don’t care! You’re right not to care, but me, I’m going home.”
A few days ago, I got a message from my friend from Ajaccio7 after Alex’s post about her Spanx. Personally, I could take them or leave them, because when I’m working out, I don’t even think about trying to look hot8.
“Hey, could you send me some Sports Spanx? Seriously, because running in the Sanguinaires islands is nice, but the whole town can see your butt, so I figure, screw it, that’s enough right now!”
The other day at Dean & Deluca while I was doing some grocery shopping.
It’s raining cats and dogs outside, my makeup is running, my hair is stuck to my cheeks, and I have a pretty, pretty iffy rainy day outfit on.
That’s when I see an unfamiliar face approaching.
“Ohhh, Garance, I’m a huge fan!!! Can we take a photo for my friend, she’s a big fan too!”
Happiness AND sadness all at once.
“Uuuuuh, oh la la, thank you, that’s so nice, but um, well, uh…looking like this, I just don’t think I should. Is that ok? Could we maybe call your friend together instead?”
“But how will she be sure it’s you if we don’t take a picture?”
“Ah! Um…yeah, you’re right.”
There’s a big difference between Manhattan and Ajaccio — obviously, in a small town, there’s a much greater chance of running into someone you know at every corner, so you pay a little more attention to your appearance.
In New York, it’s easier to decide not to care what other people think of you; plus, everyone goes out in their exercise clothes, you don’t even need to justify yourself by saying you’re on the way to the gym.
But I also think it’s just a matter of culture and self image.
I think Elisa could live in New York for 20 years, and she’d still never go out in exercise clothes.
But I adapted
way too fast to the spirit of the city. I have “on” days (awesome outfit) and “off” days (jeans and sneakers) and yoga pants days (no, I swear, I’m on way to the gym!!!)(I promise!!!)
So here’s my question — based on where you live, do you feel pressure to dress any certain way?
1 Still love it.
2 Yep, I’ve got two of everything, which is absolutely not a sign that I’m an accomplished yogi. It’s just that I like all kinds of equipment.
3In the US, exercise clothes are no laughing matter. It’s all perfectly adjusted and specialized. In France, I guess you could say people like old sports clothes. Also, let me tell you — my pro fitness clothes haven’t seen a gym since Elisa’s visit.
4 I’m a Nike girl, I’m not sure why (actually, I do know why — I really like their designs)(but at the same time, there are other brands I also love, if you want me to make you a fitness clothes guide), but Lululemon, blech, I’m Lulusick of it.
Except for their yoga mats, which are great!
5 Classy, right?
6 Yep, my favorite sport is the one where you get to use a HAMMOCK.
7 The town in Corsica where I was born and grew up, in case you didn’t know. It’s a little town, everybody knows who you are and what you’re doing.
8 Ok, but if Spanx wanted to make a full body suit for summer — that would be reassuring, BECAUSE MY BEACH BOD IS OFF TO A GREAT START.
Translated by Andrea Perdue.