“Antithesis” is a strong word, usually reserved for grand concepts and ideas. And yet, it is the only word that adequately sums up my personal relationship with the phenomenon that is Kim Kardashian West.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Kim. (Can I call her Kim? Has she officially reached mononymous fame?) In fact, all evidence suggests that she is a lovely person, all poise and grace and manners. Blame it on years spent writing about effortless French style, but I simply have a hard time relating to her unapologetic brand of sex appeal, with its accompanying lifestyle so vastly different from my own. Where Kim enjoys luxury vacation by private jet, I go for adventurous travel by plane-train-bus triathlons. Where Kim’s makeup routine consists of something like 50 steps, mine tallies up to five at max. Where she is comfortable “owning her sexuality” (whatever that even means), I am constantly trying to downplay mine. And yet, wasn’t it Neale Donald Walsch who once said that life begins at the end of one’s comfort zone? Curious to see what was in store for me on the other side, I decided to test out a Kim K.–inspired outfit—on a date, no less.
Illustration by resident wonder Kelcey Vossen.
There are many ways to test out a new relationship. You can go on a road trip together. You can have him meet your parents. You can also do Downward Dogs in your underwear in front of your new beau and a handsome French doctor, an ultimate assessment of your duo’s chances of survival.
Let’s backtrack to a few months ago, when a guy I was dating (whom we will call Squiggle, for no reason other than it metaphorically makes sense in my brain) decided to take me to an osteopath. We had just spent three weeks traveling through Asia, and I suppose he had grown tired of hauling my hiking backpack along with his own, because, once we got back to Paris, my chronic back pain became his primary concern. “He’s amazing, you will see,” Squiggle raved about the doctor, an alleged miracle worker known for cracking hopeless cases such as my own. While I wasn’t too keen on the idea, I couldn’t help but bask in the warm and cuddly of feeling of being with a man who actually seemed to care, considering that I had previously dated guys who wouldn’t as much as get me cold medicine.
Life pondering pic by Caroline Owens
A couple of months ago I received an email from a young woman named Emily Holmes Hahn, inviting me to try out her matchmaking service.
Delete. To my defense, I had recently been approached by Ashley Madison, i.e. the homewrecking service of all sins, with an offer to participate in their so-called “rebranding efforts.” Spam mode was ON – there was no way I was going to get sucked into some weird Patti Stanger predicament!
Emily reached out again. This time, I read her spiel: she, too, was former Parisian expat who had worked in fashion; she liked Dbag Dating and wanted to chat. At the bottom of the email were press links to publications such as WWD describing her matchmaking service, Last First, as the “matchmaker to New York’s creative and fashion elite.” The articles also noted that, in recent years, matchmaking had replaced dating apps as the meeting method de rigueur, with fatigued singles seeking the aid of seasoned pros to connect them with potential life partners. I felt as passé as a fashion blogger who had just been informed that she was still wearing skinny jeans while all the cool kids had long ago switched to mom denim. I had to catch up! Read More
My friend is in the most boring long-distance situtationship of all time. Trust me, I’m not offending her by writing this, as she is the first one to admit to the dullness of the liaison. Their text message exchanges include extensive coverage of rain precipitation. Their monotonous phone chats could put a teething baby to sleep. No sparks fly in person – or in the bedroom – leaving most of us all wondering what, exactly, inspires her to keep him around.
The other night, after enduring the Chinese water torture of listening to her and Mr. Snooze discuss their bedtime rituals (he likes to sleep in socks!), I decided to unravel the mystery.
“Why are you subjecting me to this? Actually why are you subjecting yourself to this?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “I just have a lot of anxiety and having me call him every night calms me down.”
“You know what else calms you down? Chamomile tea.”
“Exactly. He’s my chamomile tea.”
And, just like that, my friend had tapped into a SATC-worthy theory: “Some men are like chamomile tea”.
When I look back to my early grad school days in Paris, one scene in particular stands out. It was the morning after a very, shall we say, jovial midweek post-exam celebration and my new beau, an artistic and opinionated French classmate, had just slept over for the first time. With the day’s first lecture only 40 minutes away, he walked over to my tiny closet, evaluated its components, and asked me if he could borrow something to wear. Barely waiting for my stupefied nod of consent, he reached for my beloved oversize black Helmut Lang blazer, paired it with his own T-shirt and slim-cut jeans from the night before, and pronounced himself ready to roll.
In retrospect, that morning set a precedent for our short-lived—yet exceptionally fun and fashion-centric—liaison. There was the psychedelic Henrik Vibskov jacket (his) that I wore to celebrate every non-failed exam; the clear-framed Oliver Peoples sunglasses (mine) that were used to deter the rare rays of sun while sharing a 3 euro bottle of rosé by the Seine; the vintage velvet Sonia Rykiel leopard skirtsuit that we discovered at a thrift store during a school trip to Belgium, with him quickly claiming custody over the coveted Keith Richards–worthy jacket while offering to me the more impractical pencil skirt. We were probably destined for a pretty enviable joint wardrobe, but, alas, other obstacles got in the way.
My biggest fear during the 29th year of my life was that it would be my last summer of wearing cutoff jean shorts. In retrospect, I assume (or at least hope) that my frivolous concern had more to do with symbolism rather than vanity. After having spent my early 20s on an ever-swinging pendulum between who I should be and who I want to be, I had only recently grown entirely okay with my real self: my offbeat personality, my often unstable career as a freelance writer, and a style so basics-driven that I could easily get dressed in the dark. Denim shorts, worn not as weekend gear, but almost as a warm-weather uniform, paired with linen button-downs and Converse sneakers, felt like an emblem of this self-acceptance, which made the thought of retiring them at the age of 30 feel hasty, unnecessary, just flat-out wrong.
I realize that there is no longer a rule that dictates a cutoff age for cutoff denim—or any other youthful clothing item, for that matter. I’m aware, technically, that 30 is about coming into your true self, about having amazing sex, about blossoming into a real woman in the best sense of the word. And yet, sometimes all it takes is yet another profile of an over-accomplished young mother-slash-entrepreneur-slash-style-icon showing off her impossibly chic existence (as satirized in this brilliant Julie Houts illustration) to experience an urgent call-to-action to grow up in every realm of life. Or is this mindset a result of living in America, in a culture driven (and often, misled) by quantitative results? Are Europeans, particularly the French, who are known to celebrate the process of getting older, less fixated on age as the barometer of one’s life (and wardrobe)?
Read more HERE!