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It’s all about les foulards (the scarves)

Scarves in Paris. Thin and casually hanging from a simple foldover over the jacket. Thick and folded in blousy knots just under the chin. Silky shine, flower and bird patterns, paisley prints, “Paris” in cursive writing, Arabian stripes. Scarves fluttering and whipping around in the wind at the stalls along the Seine. Magenta, turquoise, orange, olive, silver, and red ones on the women. Simple black, gray, and khaki scarves on the businessmen. Scarves, scarves, scarves.

My friend and I were descending the Montmartre butte, picking our way down the cobblestones from Sacre Coeur and the Dali museum, bellies full of cafe cremes and cheesy croque monsieur sandwiches. We came upon a small street with many sellers of scarves. We started clutching at some of the thick neckwear hanging in front of one shop–women get such a tremendous amount of information by fingering the merchandise–and we each picked out something we liked. Her muffler was brown with large circles of tan and chocolate. Mine was a metallic blue with silver threads. We had both chosen scarves to match our eyes. Nine euros passed between buyer and seller, and the scarves got draped, the outfits accessorized, spirits lifted.

Maybe it’s because I’m here in the fall, but Parisian women DO seem all about the noir (“black”), noir, noir, noir. But these same women wrap great blossoms of fabric around their necks, as if they’d come from beds of zinnias, peonies, or hydrangeas: big-headed, movie-star flowers that make an entrance. And especially now that the rains are come in the afternoon, we need some color to brighten the drear. An umbrella keeps you safe from wet; a scarf keeps you safe from melancholy.

Parisians DO wear lots of black, but these neck decorations–slightly functional, mostly decorative–are the true nature, the true joy here. I love the colors, patterns, twists, and knots of the simple accessory of a scarf.

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