At the turn of this century, my Australian friend, Judy, owned an upscale women’s shop at Lake Tahoe called ‘Square, Spotted Blue.’ The name referred to a local butterfly indigenous to the High Sierra. Her store offered the highest fine quality, fashion-forward, boutique styles for her discerning clientele who desired unique clothing unavailable at national department stores. Theme sweaters with three-dimensional embellishments, artistically designed coats, jackets elaborately detailed with appliques, and labor-intensive crystal jewelry from European designers were coveted by the well-heeled residents and visiting tourists, who were only offered ski clothing and souvenir tee-shirts at other shops.

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Judy has exquisite taste and is generally the best dressed woman at any occasion. Her friend Fiona, who was also Australian, was physically stunning.  She was well over six-foot tall, curvaceous and exuded ripe pulchritude.  Her hair color varied  from red to blonde at any whim.

Fiona adored bling. Her ears, fingers, wrists, and ankles sparkled. She was the first woman I ever knew who wore thick fringed black eyelashes, bright red lipstick, and snug leather pant/boots without looking like a hooker.  Fiona’s style was over-the-top. She represented a segment of Judy’s customers willing to make an emphatic fashion statement.

Judy, a world traveler, was always highly critical of the typical American vacation wardrobe. She didn’t like the casual dress. She perceived the informal look as disrespectful to other countries. Invariably, Europeans, and especially the Asian visitors, were always far-better attired than were the home-grown guests. If you doubt this, just visit Las Vegas and watch the fashion parade. Those visitors in designer duds are from overseas. Those sporting tee-shirts and Crocs, conspicuously lacking essential foundation garments are from the states.

I once took a trip to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I was looking forward to High Tea at the Empress Hotel. However my husband was not wearing the required coat and tie, so we were turned away.

On becoming a Fairmont property the  Empress Hotel dress code was updated. Its website suggests “casual elegant, please no torn and/or ripped jeans, short shorts, cut off pants, beach wear, flip flops, or baseball caps.”

I felt fortunate to join Judy and Fiona on a buying trip to San Francisco’s premium fashion trade show at the Moscone Convention Center.

We stayed at the Japanese-owned Hotel ANA on Third Street, conveniently situated just  across from Moscone Convention Center. The 36-story hotel was home to Asian business travelers as well as those attending the events at the Center.

Our rooms were on the upper floors and we took the elevator down each morning, returning in the late evening. By our third day we were exhausted, our feet ached, and our demeanors were well worn, bordering on abrasive. We still had a grueling day ahead of us, and we still needed to help Judy make the final selections for her shop inventory.

Fiona, voluptuous in a satin blouse, tailor-made European trousers, and stiletto high heels joined us in the elevator. She had been reared on an Australian sheep ranch and married the boy next door, who needed to build his own airplane to date her, as they lived 120 miles apart. (They really were next door neighbors, Australian sheep ranches are huge.)

We three ladies were in the elevator when a diminutive Japanese man entered. He was pulling his wheeled suitcase on a tether, his eyes downcast, when he ran straight into Fiona’s bust–his nose implanted in her cleavage. When he looked up at her, I swear I saw little hearts dance from his eyes, like the cartoon of Pepé Le Pew, the Warner’s Bro’s French skunk, when he sees a black and white female cat. Fiona’s eyes narrowed. The man had to make a three-point turn with his wheeled bag in order to face the elevator doors. (The best reason to own spinner luggage.) The doors opened, and mistaking the next floor for his destination, he said, “Lobby. . .?”

He proceeded out, but quickly returned to the elevator, once again running into Fiona, and burying his nose in her bosom. At each successive floor he proceeded to exit the elevator, inquired “lobby?”and returned, yet again pushing into her cleavage. Understandably, Fiona seethed.  When we finally did arrive at the lobby,  the  man judiciously poked his head out to check the floor. Fiona couldn’t hold her tongue any longer, she roared “It’s the lobby, @$$#*%^!”

He turned, bowed to her and said “So it is, I shall not return this time.”

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