Living in Leisurewear

A few times in recent weeks I have stopped just shy of committing an almost unforgiveable act: leaving the apartment in my bathrobe. Thankfully I realized each time at just the last moment, and said to myself: I can’t go out in this. I’m in Paris.

Rough Day.

Is that sad? It’s the fact that I’m in Paris that stopped me from stepping out in sleepwear? (As if somewhere else it would be acceptable?)

Now, let me explain a few points.

I wear normal clothes under my robe. I get up, shower, dress, tend to basic hygiene… you know, I still aim for at least the appearance of being a normal, functioning human being. (Though some days it’s hard, people, it’s hard!)

It’s only after all that that I throw the robe on again – because it’s friggin’ freezing in my apartment. The robe’s cozy and warm, and heck, all I’m doing all day is staring at the computer screen, anyway. Why not? Saves a bit on the heating bill.

The thing is, I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing – lost in my little fictional universe – that I kind of forget that I’m wearing it. So when I go to check the mail or pop out for a baguette….well, the robe almost comes with me. I put on my shoes, head for the door, and then…oh. Um, I’m still wearing it.

It’s the mail situation that poses the biggest possibility for disaster. I don’t need a coat because the mailbox is inside the apartment building. That means I don’t think too much about what I’m wearing – I can just dash downstairs.

And that’s where the Paris part comes in. I mean, really, if I were still in New York, I would *totally* just run down a couple flights of stairs in the bathrobe. Not that I should romanticize slovenly habits, but hey, I miss feeling like I can do anything I want sometimes. I clearly remember days when I’d roll out of bed, throw a coat over my pajamas and do some small errand in the neighborhood. And no one cared.

Here? Looks of horror. People are supposed to look presentable. (Presentable? Overrated). I’m a girl, I like looking nice (sometimes), but as you’ve probably gathered from the few photos you’ve seen of me, I’m mostly about comfort.

And let me tell you, my enjoyment of Paris actually started increasing ’round ’bout the moment I decided to stop feeling badly that I couldn’t bike (or even walk) in heels, that I had a wardrobe consisting of vibrant colors, not just black, and accepted that I didn’t know how to tie a scarf properly. (Also that my accent is pretty much here to stay and that I should still keep smiling even if no one else does).

I have actually adopted the perenniel scarf-wearing (though I still don’t tie it well), but to balance that out, I’ve taken to wearing comfortable, bright white orthopedic sneakers. (Yep, I’m style all over the place.)

But my attitude of, well, just not caring, has actually seemed to work in my favor of late. I get weird looks, but when it’s obvious I’m fine with my shoe selection – and really, aren’t you kind of jealous at how comfortable I am? – I’ve been treated to some nice service.

Like when I went to get some new designer glasses recently. The fashionable gay man serving me gave me a look of disdain at first (I had the white tennis shoes on and a badly-tied scarf – oh, oops, and some other clothes on, too – now wouldn’t *that* make a get-up!). I had him eating out of my hand by the end. Vous etes charmante! I am charming, aren’t I?

Actually, I have no idea how that happened, but I think it’s because I made fun of myself, kept talking past the wall of disdain – and made it known that even a slob can afford Prada glasses with a good Mutuelle (complementary health insurance).

But I guess I’m not yet comfortable enough to walk out of the house in a bathrobe.

Which, ok, I’ll concede maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. Eh, sometimes we need limits, right?

Does this count as a tale for my Faux Pas Friday series? I guess it would if I actually *did* go out in my bathrobe (What will you give me if I do?)

Sorry I kind of let the Faux Pas Fridays go by the wayside. Not that I stopped committing faux pas. Oh no, never. Just stopped keeping track, I guess, with the whole not caring thing. But it *is* a fun series and I always like hearing yours. So if you have any faux pas to share – linguistic or um, just living life stuff – let me know in the comments! Best stories always get a shout-out!

P.S. I actually *have* put a long coat over my PJ’s and gone to the market in Paris. Just saying.

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27 Responses to “Living in Leisurewear”


  1. 1 Lindsey October 29, 2010 at 11:28 am

    This is the life of a budding writer! I see you with tea mugs, tissues, and papers strewn about while your characters come to life. You’ve clearly managed to work the sartorial system to your favor – you got him eating out of your hand! Keep wearing those bright colors, girl – you make the rules! :)

    • 2 paris (im)perfect October 29, 2010 at 12:45 pm

      Thanks, Lindsey! You *do* have my number. As I write this, I have manuscript pages strewn across the table and a mug of tea. And of course, I’m in the bathrobe. I am pretty psyched about how I’ve managed to turn this somehow to my favor. I’ve actually been having instances of nice customer service…that is, when I do venture out (sans bathrobe). :)

  2. 3 Onika October 29, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Exo-home presentability is a major issue in the UK too. I miss Brooklyn so badly sometimes I’ve developed a whole new category in my wardrobe: local clothes, as opposed to zone 1 attire (I live in zone 2).

    Also, ‘talking through the wall of disdain’ could be the story of my life. Thank you.x

  3. 5 HelenQP October 29, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Oh, I don’t know. Sometimes I go to a restaurant in the US and I look around at other diners and have to blink twice to erase the impression that we’ve gathered for some kind of mental patient pajama party. Standards, people!

    ps. try putting a few rips in the bathrobe or wear it inside out. With charm and confidence, you might start a trend.

    • 6 paris (im)perfect October 29, 2010 at 2:16 pm

      See? That’s one of the reasons I miss the US. (Just kidding).

      Yes, yes, I’m not suggesting I want to stay permanently in my bathrobe. I did say there were limits. Still, I am becoming more convinced of this whole charm/confidence offensive. I might have to try it out.

  4. 7 Kasia Dietz October 29, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Perhaps a black bathrobe is not a bad idea? Coupled with a chic scarf and your new Prada glasses you’d have the paparazzi following you in no time!!

  5. 9 Stephanie October 30, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    It’s one thing to snap a picture of a little old man carrying his baguette, or a cute little french boy munching on the end of one… but it would be a whole nother thing to capture a young woman wandering the streets of paris with a baguette… in a robe!

    #1 favorite image of Paris of all time!!! lol

  6. 11 Paris Paul P October 30, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    If the robe is as cool as the picture of it, I’m thinking going out in it wouldn’t be so bad…

    • 12 paris (im)perfect October 30, 2010 at 9:49 pm

      Just to be clear, the picture isn’t actually of my robe – but I’d dare say mine could definitely match this one in terms of style. As mentioned, I *did* use to go out – at least in my apartment building – in such a thing. Just haven’t yet tried in Paris. Hmm.

  7. 13 Rob Folendorf October 31, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    How else will changes progress if we don’t take those chances? I lived in Paris as a young man back when deGaulle kicked out the American troops. I had long hair, the only guy around then with hair past his shoulders. I wore seersucker pajama ensembles with cowboys or cars and flip flops. i was a student and wander the Louvre all day dressed this way. Everyone always stared at me. I hope they learned about comfort and expression.

    • 14 paris (im)perfect October 31, 2010 at 8:25 pm

      Well hey there, Rob. Good for you! I believe this is a clarion call for me to take the streets of Paris by storm in my bathrobe. Thank you very much. (I actually have to admit I think I could pull off the pajama ensemble + cowboy hat + flip flops pretty well. In fact, I’m pretty sure that at some point I *did* do the PJ’s plus flip-flops look, no problem. Somehow I’ve drawn the line at the bathrobe, but you are right. What, really, am I waiting for? :) )

  8. 15 Deux ou trois choses November 1, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I totally get the robe thing, I’m always cold as well and when staying home tend to either stay in my pj’s or do what you do which is more respectable, get dressed THEN put the robe back on, lol. But even at home one is never safe from mocking laughter as often the la poste guy brings up packages for me to sign. He is always laughing every time he sees me, around noon, still in my robe and pj’s.

    I love the fact that you actually go past the meprisante faces and then they love you with your personality…usually once the bitchy brick wall goes up I put my own up to match theirs. It’s given me something to think about…

    • 16 paris (im)perfect November 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm

      Hi there. Oh good. I’m so glad people can relate to the bathrobe thing. And apartments here are so cold! I mean, we need *something* to keep warm, no? That’s funny about the postman. That happens to me, too, though I usually take the robe off. What’s worse is that he passes around 10:30 AM and I’m often not up, so I really am still in my PJs. (Hey, I work late into the night, people, for anyone wondering why I’m still asleep at that time).

      Anyway, I’m not saying people *always* appreciate my sparkling personality. But yeah, I’ve seen the more comfortable I am just being who I am and sticking to it, the more people eventually respond. Can be hard with the initial glacial looks you get, of course, but oh how sweet when you break through!

  9. 17 Gina November 1, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Another American in Paris here…two words: trench coat. Over my nightgown with a cute pair of flats, and I’m off! (ok, maybe I AM “off”). ;) Seriously, I don’t go far, but I’ve been downstairs to take trash or recycling and once with the (ex)boyfriend to move the car. And with the trench on top of it all, no one’s the wiser.

  10. 19 PigletinFrance November 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    LOL! Did you know that a supermarket chain in the UK banned people from going there in their PJ’s and slippers? I couldn’t believe it when I found that out!!!

    I’ve been out to the bin and letter box in my PJ’s and often answer the door to the postman. Goodness what they think, I’d never thought I shouldn’t do it until I read this… now I’m worried!

    • 20 This Time Now November 14, 2010 at 1:26 am

      Hilarioius!
      I’m sorry, the last thing I want to see at a supermarket is anyone in their pj’s. Yuck! I mean, can’t anyone throw on some pants a t-shirt and a trench coat and do their shopping quickly? Hopefully they will have taken a shower and brushed your morning breath away. To me, anyone in a robe in a public place just looks unwashed. LOL! Love this post!

      • 21 paris (im)perfect November 14, 2010 at 1:52 am

        Yes, yes, I understand. I’m glad I clarified that I *do* shower and brush my teeth first :) Bathrobe’s like a security blanket (and heating bill saver). Also, I’m a writer and kind of weird sometimes. Glad you liked the post!

  11. 22 Lupinssupins November 8, 2010 at 2:42 am

    I LOVE this post! Such a sharp difference entre Paris et ici! Before my Middlbury year in Paris, we did the immersion summer session on the home campus in Vermont, where my first class (8h30, en plus) of the day was in the same building as my dorm! Talk about temptations for classroom attire! But the profs were all French, in fact in those days, all but 2 (& not mine) were FrenchMEN, so no one dared arrive en pyjama. Alas, the dining hall was a bit of a hike away, tho, w/ limited breakfast hours to accommodate other language schools’ seatings. So I did end up forfeiting a few paid for breakfasts & paying for one elsewhere, after class. Chez moi, I’ve taken to sleeping in sweats en hiver (can’t stand leaving the furnace on at night & it gives the kids nosebleeds!), so cherching the mail or laundry or signing for a package makes no never mind, as Americans would wear sweats everywhere if it weren’t for maitre d’s or employers w/ standards.
    De tout cas, Sion, keep on defending comfort! St. Louis is bloody tropical in the summer, yet the downtown set insist on going around in long sleeves & suits! In the good old, pre-A/C days, there were at least seersucker suits.

    • 23 paris (im)perfect November 8, 2010 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks! Yes, 8:30 AM classes – that would be *very* tempting to show up in sweats! I will keep defending comfort. I do think there’s something to be said for style, but at certain hours and for certain tasks – eh, why bother :)


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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