When I went to study abroad in France, we had a pretty exhaustive two-day orientation. It included the usual stuff on how not to be an American jerk (remember who was president in 2002), some tours of the old town, and also some tidbits on cultural differences - little things that would be rude or unacceptable in America, but that were totally fair game in France.
We were warned that eye contact with men would be interpreted as an invitation to come talk to us, to which I responded, "Wait! If we want to talk to a guy, all we have to do is look at him?!" much to the dismay of my professors and advisors. Then they let us know that it is okay to use a hunk of baguette to mop up any sauce incroyable from our plate and not let a drop go to waste at the end of a meal.
But by far, the most wonderful tidbit of all was that en France, it is perfectly acceptable to wear the same exact outfit two, even several, days in a row. Can you imagine?! I was overjoyed. In high school, I had a friend whose sole goal was to be voted "Best Dressed." Every night before she went to bed, she laid out her clothes for the following day, including accessories and plans for what she would do with her hair. She had a personal policy never to repeat an outfit within a two-week period. Exhausting. I had grown up going to Catholic school, so I literally wore the same exact outfit every day all year long, except for free-dress Fridays, which didn't even happen every two weeks. In high school, I valued sleep over everything else and could only envy my friend's discipline.
So when they told us this in France, I was delighted. I put my new French practices to use right away. I happily mopped up sauce and ate it on baguette. (Salad dressing, too!) I tried out my man-fetching eye contact skills, but if I'm honest, I was too timid and shy to pull it off. And I excelled at repeating outfits. The laundromats were expensive and I was on a student budget, after all. If something was not dirty, not only did I not wash it, I wore it again. The very next day. I pretty much thought it was the greatest thing ever.
I reluctantly left this practice behind when I left France, but I still long for it. Actually, in Switzerland, I figured since we were sharing a border with France, it was close enough and deemed it fair game. But here in the US, not so much. It could possibly work on the weekend. Or, maybe the same outfit to work Friday and out running errands Saturday? But I'm thinking if I had gone to work in the same outfit two, or even several (!!!) days in a row, there would have been summons for a meeting. Obviously, since becoming a mom, my clothes are never clean enough to wear again at the end of the day!
Cultural differences are so fascinating. Really, why shouldn't we wear the same clothes two, or even several days in a row if they're not dirty and it's a put-together, smart outfit? Would you do it? Do you?
PS - I recently recovered some of my emails from my time in France that I'll share with you next week if you'd like to read them. They're hilarious. France Lindsey was really something.