I was a walking fashion faux pas in the South of France, not once but twice. It’s not that I’m sartorially stupid. I simply believed that the inhabitants of St Tropez, whose patron saint is Brigitte Bardot, would embrace my hippie dippie boho heart.
So, with Bardot top of mind, I selected a screamingly bright, multi-coloured, sequin scattered Camilla jumpsuit to wear to lunch at the legendary Club 55. It seems I had not received the memo – the entire dining room was in white with the only deviation, a light blue trim.
People gaped and not in a good way. There was tittering, a few men reattached their sunglasses. The plus snooty maitre’d looked as though he’d just digested a bad plate of moules.
“No madame does not have a reservation,” he said firmly, as I wished the piece of earth underneath me, possibly the most expensive in the world, would swallow me up.
But then my fighting spirit kicked in. Hopping around to his side of the stand, I showed him my name. He shuddered and insisted that we would have to wait in the bar.
By this time, people were pointing at me and laughing out loud. You think, I’m exaggerating, sadly I’m not. The French can be a cruel race as Marie Antoinette will attest.
After an hour or so spent in Club 55’s naughty corner, I staged a revolt. I strode up to the maitre’d, my famous death stare further illuminating my features. Then something must have kicked in, as we were immediately seated at a table with huge menus placed in our hands. It was 4.30pm. Somewhere across the room, people were dancing on their chairs. They were getting as loose as my outfit.
Of course, as soon as the shops opened the following day, I went on a shopping spree for white clothes. I bought white lace dresses, cotton culottes and a bizarre white embroidered Greek mini tunic that could only ever be worn in the South of France. I now owned so many white clothes I could marry a different man every day of the week.
My second major fashion misstep was believing that a day spent in the sun at the chic Paloma Beach Club at St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat called for one thing – a rashie.
My best friend, Sue, who spent every summer at this billionaires’ basking spot with its chandelier near the loos, was appalled. She refused me to sit with me in the coveted A-row of sunbeds until I removed it. She was then even more alarmed when looking at the shape of my well-worn togs – because as anyone who has worn a rashie will attest, who worries about what’s underneath?
The next day I was back at the shops again, this time with Susan in tow and now I’m the proud owner of a high cut navy swimsuit with a bejewelled neckline. It was perfect for Paloma but I’m still paying it off.
So, the moral of the story is don’t be like me when you summer in Europe. Do your social media sleuthing in advance to find out what people are wearing at each destination. After all, who knows, things may have turned around completely at Club 55 since that summer and tout le monde will be dressed in Camilla crafted kaftans. Everyone that is except for you.
Ros Reines is one of Australia’s best known gossip columnists. A former music journalist in London, she has worked for several newspapers in Sydney including The Sydney Morning Herald and wrote for The Sunday Telegraph for 18 years. Her book ‘The Social Diary’, which is set among Sydney’s A-list in the Eighties is her second novel after the well received Gossip in 2005. She is currently working on the sequel, set in the present day. She lives in Sydney’s ‘East’ & is especially proud to be the single mother of son Joel.