About five years ago, my sister, mom and I went on a "girl trip" to Manhattan. On our way home, sitting in the airport, dog tired, they called our names to come up to the ticket counter. Oy... what now, PLEASE don't tell me they've overbooked and we're being bumped.
Well, they were overbooked, and we were bumped - to First Class. Now, I had never been in First Class before (and haven't since) - but I can tell you it was sweet. Very sweet.
As we were settling into our big, comfy, reclining chairs with lots of leg room, sipping our complimentary mimosas, I started looking around, wondering what kind of people flew First Class and could actually afford to pay for it. Were there any celebrities on board? Most of them looked like business people. Most of them were flying alone. I wondered, do people assume I belong in First Class, too? - or do I stick out like a sore thumb? Probably the latter, but, whatever. I did look pretty travel weary by then - but, you know, casual people fly First Class, too.
There was an interesting group up front. Now, I do NOT want to offend anyone, but I must describe this group - so I apologize up front. But, have you ever seen "The Nanny" with Fran Drescher - it was popular a while back. Remember her mother? Big blue hair, flamboyant clothes, Bronx accent? This was a whole group like that. - you couldn't get more sitcom stereotypical... big hair, bad toupees, LOUD clothing, LOTS of gold jewelry and chains, on the men... and they were having the best time! The whole group was flying to Las Vegas (the stopover). I remember one woman had on a matching shiny polyester jog suit with playing cards all over it, and shiny gold tennis shoes. It was too much. I tell ya - they were the most fun to watch. You could tell they were all long time friends, or probably all belonged to the same "group" of some sort. They were drinking up a storm and having a ball. Those folks knew knew to enjoy life.
Another woman boarded and sat across the aisle from me. She was very elegant, not at all ostentatious or flamboyant, but VERY classy. She didn't scream designer labels, but you knew everything she had on was expensive, and the "good stuff." I'm sure her handbag and shoes alone cost more than a couple of my house payments - and I have a big ol' California mortgage. She was very polite, very quiet and unassuming, but you couldn't miss her. She was very "Grace Kelly elegant"...
She was First Class.
She was an older woman - well older than me, and I found myself kind of fascinated with her. I wondered who she was, what she did- maybe she didn't "do" anything. She was obviously very well off. You just knew she always flew first class. Maybe she came from "old money." Maybe she was a hugely successful business woman? Maybe she was famous and I just didn't recognize her.
At one point she reached into her bag and pulled out the most gorgeous pashmina - very light pink... HUGE. Now I have a pashmina, and I love it, but it's not huge, and I generally save it for special occasions. By the way she just casually draped hers over her shoulders, you knew she wore hers all the time, or another just like it. It was everyday elegant - well, everyday for her - not me.
When we got off the plane my Mom and my sister both asked "did you see the woman across the aisle from you?" (we had been split up and weren't sitting together) - and we all remarked on how elegant she was, and how rare it is anymore to see a truly polished, elegant woman.
Maybe it made an impression on me because it was so different from where we live, in California, where it's more the norm for people to want to flaunt their wealth - think Beverly Hills and the like... designer labels and expensive cars.... flaunting - making sure everyone "notices." That's what I'm used to seeing. And that is not elegant.
She didn't flaunt anything.
When I saw the pattern for this shawl in my new Inspired Cables book, I immediately thought of her. I would love to wear this all the time - knowing it was expensive, alpaca, something gorgeous and unique, but wear it with an elegant air, like I hardly gave it a thought.
Ok... I'll wear mine with jeans, or nice slacks, but not $800 slacks with $800 shoes.... I'll make it "my own." I'll make my own First Class statement.
I'll never be that mysterious elegant woman on the plane, but I did see her one day, and she was beautiful.