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Genetic Style

April 28, 2011

I really have come to believe that the ability to dress has got to be in the blood.  You’re either genetically programmed for it, or your’re not.

For instance, the French are born with this innate knack to tie a scarf.  Women and men.  No matter how hard I try, how closely I note each tuck and pull, how long I live in France, I just can’t seem to master this art of the scarf.

For Italians it’s color. Italian men wear jeans, even obnoxiously colored ones, well.  So well, in fact, that you seem to forget that the guy on the Vespa is sporting orange, yes orange, jeans.  Thoughts of pumpkins leave your mind because they look good, are strangely well-paired with a shirt of another unexpected color, and are definitely not as important as the totally and completely chic shoe choice.

I really never thought Americans had this style gene.  Sad, but true.  But then the sun came out in Paris and the French broke out their shorts.  Bad move.  All links between the French and trendsetting style fly straight out of the window when the shorts appear.

These shorts are either way too short for comfort (theirs and mine), or a touch too long (capris aren’t a good look on guys), or paired with shirts that are short enough that only adolescents should be wearing them, or worn bizarrely with fancy, professional dress shirts.

No matter the combo… no, no, and no.  The French should stick to more formal wear and let the Americans school the rest of the world on the correct way to dress casually.  No wonder why the term “sportswear” originated in good ole’ U.S.A.

This little theory may sound far-fetched to those readers who haven’t seen these things up close.  To prove my point, just this morning a man – yes, a totally strange, probably senile , quite old man – pointed at me and said, out of the blue, “Not French”.  As I had said nothing and was quietly drinking my coffee at a café at 10 a.m, he couldn’t have guessed it from my height, or accent, or mannerisms.  How could he have known just like that?

One explanation: he must have seen it in the scarf.

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