Billowy white clouds surrounded downtown Beverly Hills like a Scandia down comforter as I walked down the sidewalk on an afternoon shopping errand. While I was waiting for a crosswalk signal to give me the green walking man symbol, a 30-something woman stepped in front of me to get first dibs on the curb. Her positioning gave me a chance to eye her without being noticed. And eye her I did.
She was the most exquisitely dressed person I had seen in as long as I can remember. Perfectly groomed. I would guess she was Spanish based on her coloring and features. Flawless, tawny skin. High cheekbones. One of those women you'd call handsome. Her dark hair was slicked back in that severe fashion J-Lo sported at the Oscars. She was wearing glasses, but the chic kind that serve as an architectural accessory versus nerd alert shorthand. In shades of pale grey from head to toe, she wore a chic jacket that was perfectly tailored with sweet little seams scooping out the back and curving into a flaired hem. Her skirt was box-pleated in a woolen, mini-windowpane plaid of grey and the palest of pinks. (If you're picturing Talbot's, think Milan instead.) Her shoes looked like hand-painted silk with dramatically pointed toes that reached toward the asphalt, as the top of her head reached to the sky with ballerina-worthy posture.
I was in awe. I was in awe in my yoga pants and t-shirt. My casual garb had blended in with the locals and Rodeo Drive tourists, but this woman was a like a Prada pushpin on an American Eagle Outfitters bulletin board--standing poised and in sharp relief from all around her. That moment with her made me realize what a fashion wasteland the West Coast is and how lazy most Southern California residents are about their clothes. It's a shame, really. But as much as I admired her as a beacon of grooming and fashion savoir faire, just the thought of the care it took for her to put on her silken stockings without a snag or pucker or irregular shadowing pattern exhausted me. I have no patience to imitate that level of perfection. I barely have patience for the crosswalk sign to change.