If ever we needed proof Frenchwomen know how to make the most out of the least, here follows a real-life story.
My friend Edith has a swimming pool -- stay with me, this is pertinent to the story -- and, with few exceptions, every day from May through September we do laps and gossip. (We refer to these months as "summer camp" -- in English -- because she thinks the notion is hilarious.)
Our constant contact allowed me to witness the following phenomenon day after day after day.
One summer a few years ago she wore the same YSL (on sale, she likes to point-out) fuchsia
cotton full skirt nearly every time she left her house. Whether she was attending a wedding or buying her vegetables at the market, she wore that skirt. Most of the time teamed with the same pair of black Repetto ballerinas. Occasionally she switched to a pair of flat espadrilles or navy Repettos.
She maintains that when one reaches a certain age we already own all the black we will need for a lifetime. She's certainly right in my case. It is for that reason, every season she buys two or three things in bright colors because as she points out: "What doesn't go with black?" Good point. I have always believed there's nothing like quite like black with black, but that's another story for another day.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, Edith is an artist so I asked her to sketch three ways she has or would wear her skirt. (It looks orange-y here, but it is fuchsia.)
These are the other ways I saw her wear it:
- Sleeveless black t-shirt; wide, stretchy black belt.
- Hermes scarf as a halter.
- Hermes scarf as a strapless "tube" top.
- Black lace-up bustier.
- White eyelet bustier.
- White cotton shirt, sleeves rolled-up, black patent leather belt.
- White linen fitted jacket with peplum.
- Navy linen Spencer.
- White t-shirts in every imaginable incarnation: V-neck; scoop-neck; short sleeves; long-sleeves.
- White Marcel, tucked-in and belted.
- Black Marcel, tucked-in and belted.
- Pale pink button-down oxford shirt from boys' department with a purple leather belt.
- Multi-colored satin striped vest.
- Black linen vest.
- Short-sleeve white peasant blouse, Hermes scarf as cummerbund.
- Long-sleeve white eyelet peasant blouse, wide black belt.
- Filmy white linen Russian Cossack blouse with embroidery, worn outside and bloused gently with a navy blue ribbon.
- A wildly flowered silk blouse a la Pucci.
- Navy fine cotton twin-set.
- Navy linen big shirt, worn out with double, wrap-around belt in fuchsia patent leather.
- Pink and white striped polished cotton shirt -- worn in or out and always belted.
- Long sleeve fine cotton boat neck sweater in black.
- Multi-colored stripe band-collar tunic with purple belt.
- White sleeveless blouse cut slightly like a halter.
- Black camisole with lace, wide belt, often worn with a cardigan, jacket or a shawl.
- Polo shirts, pearls, collar turned-up, wide belts.
- In late September her black cashmere turtleneck.
Add to these the three looks she put together and you have 30 different outfits around one skirt, a couple of belts and basically two pairs of shoes. (She added the bottines for fun with the plaid shirt and vest, they weren't part of her summer wardrobe that year.)
Beyond the belts she often wore pearls; various other brightly colored, inexpensive summery jewelry; a big flower and so on. A quick glance at the list and one can already start to make more combinations.