I am almost three quarters of a century old and I am, as we all are, a product of my generation and family’s taste and expectations. I have lived through hoop skirts, Mrs. Kennedy, minis and maxis, big shoulder pads and Ugg boots. I am a conservative dresser and I keep my hair shorter than many men wear theirs so that it will be out of my way. I love dangly earrings, but abandoned them for both my daughters’ infancy and my granddaughter’s, after one experience with a dimpled starfish hand ripping the hook out of my ear. I wear a lot of jeans and today am decked out in an old cotton sweater with bleach stains on the front. Almost all my ‘smart’ clothes are hand-me-downs. I am the farthest thing from a fashion maven that you could find if you searched the seven corners of the world.
And I am about to rant. The subject? The style and tastes that Sophie Tr Grégoire Trudeau and Michelle Obama chose to exhibit at the State Dinner at the White House on Thursday evening.
First, Grégoire Trudeau. The dress looked to me like a particularly cheap neoprene sleeveless wetsuit top in the garish colours to be found at Dollar Stores in the Florida Keys. And I wish she had combed her hair; we will return to this.
Obama. I loved the dress, but why she chose to wear a particularly demented octopus on her head is beyond me.
I think the Duchess of Cornwall has good dress sense, but the way she lets her hair fly and dangle and flop all over the place is equally a puzzle to me.
I grew up in a world where women combed and tidied their hair when they dressed for the day and so the loose, flopping hair always looks like bed head to me. And how does one keep such hair out of the soup, other people’s faces and the sticky hands of small children? I have no idea. Sensible women braid or pull back long hair or have it cut to a reasonable length. So I was taught. Loose hair attracts the attention of men in a personal way and that is not what a sensible woman wants. Also I like the look of sleek ‘up-do’ hair as it allows the woman’s face, posture and bone structure to dominate. The bust of Nefretiti was an icon of my adolescence.
Michelle Obama has classic mobile features and a beautifully shaped head and when she has her hair tight or short she looks absolutely perfect, in my opinion.
I have to keep telling myself that Gregoire-Trudeau is Québécoise and that the style and taste and expectations of French Canadians are different and sometimes beautiful. And I have to keep hoping that the next time she hits the front pages she will be in a pose or a costume that an elderly English Canadian can at least look at without wincing.
And, yes, I am waiting for scathing comments.