This morning, I got off the streetcar behind a beautifully put-together woman. I knew from her accessories (which we sell) that she worked in my building, though definitely in a different department on a different floor. As she strode the two blocks from the streetcar stop to our office entrance, I marvelled at her elegance. The way she dressed, walked, held her purse, it was as if she weighted nothing and was floating rather than walking. Looking down at my rainboots (which I wore regardless that there is no rain in today’s forecast, but rather because my most comfortable shoes are being fixed and I was NOT going to wear heels again) and decided that I will never be elegant.
Let’s step back so you can get the same glimpse that I did of said elegant woman. Her hair was dyed blonde, but nicely, as if her natural colour was a dusty blonde and these highlights just made it shine. She had on a beautiful sleek blue blazer with dainty grey gloves and a thick but soft looking pale pink scarf. Her pants were a bold checkered print which I would never get away with without feeling like a clown, but which she wore with the perfect amount of confidence and sass. Her purse was the same pale pink as her scarf and it was this small accessory that solidified the deal for me. I would NEVER carry a pale pink purse. Not because it’s not lovely, because it is. But because I am an absolute mess and it would never stand the test of existing on my person while commuting for more than a day. I would no doubt spill my coffee on it, or put it on the floor in a mud puddle, or smack into someone holding their lunch. The possibilities are endless. Really.
I took the last few minutes to look down at myself. It’s getting cold and I’ve got gangly long arms and find it ridiculously hard to find a coat that fits me, so I currently don’t own one. In the meantime, I wear a puffy vest from Old Navy (which has fleece inside and is the closest I’ve ever been to being wrapped in a cloud) over top of my silky tunic for work. (As a side note, it is clearly not real silk.) I woke up late this morning and though I had planned to wash my hair, instead threw it into a messy bun which I like to lie to myself and say looks stylishly messy, when it really just looks.. actually messy. And then of course, there are the rainboots. And my stained lunch bag, which I replace every so often but only to stain the new one immediately. I don’t even know how it happens.
My bag is stuffed with things I always want to carry with me, but probably don’t need. 2 notebooks, 1 agenda, 4 page marker tabs, 2 books, 2 book envelopes, my umbrella (like I said, it’s not supposed to rain today), colourful pens, and my wallet. Elegant Woman’s purse is a huge tote, which I can see right into as she dangles it toward the floor with a few fingers. She has the same lunch bag as me (gift from the company) but hers doesn’t look stained. There is nothing else of note in there.
So, you get the picture. You could always follow me up to my cubicle where I sit with my legs tucked under me, with my headphones on and my music way too loud (my boss scares the living daylights out of me when I catch him out of my peripheral vision, leaning against my shelves laughing at how his arm waving and desk tapping will not break me out of concentration). I clunk around the office making too much noise in the heels I put on when I get there to “look nicer”. I spill my coffee on the way from the kitchen to my desk. I pile all of the things I don’t need from my purse on the end of my desk. (Yes, of course I need all three notebooks!) But I’m proud of my desk. I have no doubts that it does NOT look like Elegant Woman’s desk. Hers probably has a Kate Spade notebook (just one), a picture of her and her boyfriend on holiday, an art calendar and perhaps an expensive, brightly coloured pen.
My desk looks like my personality threw up all over it. I have a polar bear and two owl paperweights which hold down nothing, a ton of books, three calendars (one practical, one pretty, and one that I draw all over in highlighter with small dates to remember), a bookmark one of the coolest kids ever gave me, more stationary than anyone in their right mind needs, a picture of Jay from nearly 5 years ago, clean-shaven and smiling with that smile that made me fall in love with him, an assortment of pins from promotions and Christmas gifts and tons of pictures I print out with quotes that say things like “Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage” by C.S. Lewis.
All this to say, I am as far from Elegant Woman as can be. And I love it.
Because you know who else is far from elegant, in the best way possible? Anne Shirley. And I would much rather be Anne Shirley, than Coco Channel any day of the week.