French Girls

Petite Bateau Essentials

When I lived in France I had a “host” sister, Myrtle. Only two or three years younger than me, Myrtle (pronounced Mer-teel), was, despite the few years I had on her, far more fashion savvy, self-assured and above all, utterly unapologetic of herself than I could ever hope to be. Most of my “conversational” French came from sitting in my small bedroom (which shared a wall with hers), trying desperately to translate her low, slightly sultry screams and what were clearly (language barriers aside) insults.

On my first night meeting my new host mother leaned forward and said in her soft, broken and often impossible English what I could only interpret as: “Sometimes, if Myrtle is angry, or jealous, she steals. Make sure to lock your door and don’t leave anything nice around because she might take it.” Jarred, I did as I was told and made a mental note that French girls steal.

Myrtle never took anything of mine (that I noticed), and frankly, I’d be amazed if I Parisian girl with Madame Dior bags and Alexander McQueen shoes felt compelled to take a thing from me…(To be fair, I had just discovered 7 For All Mankind and Nordstrom in St. Louis–which Myrtle did envy).

However, on several occasions, when Madame did my laundry, I was dealt, in grand total during my duration in their flat, two Petite Bateau undershirts. Obviously Myrtle’s, but perfectly suited for my size.

To this day I’m a junkie for the brand. Utterly French, it’s so plain, so understated and fabulously un-elegant, it was the very first thing that made me feel like a “real” French girl and not just a stow-away.

True, a really “good” person would have explained to Myrtle or Madame I had been given Myrtle’s tees by mistake…but that wouldn’t have been very “French” of me now, would it?


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