THE JULY 14 PARADE in Paris is watched on TV by some for the sight of jets in formation spewing perfectly straight streams of red, white, and blue. Or the precision marching of troops (this year featuring the former French colonies in Africa) down the Champs-Elysées. Call me shallow, but I watch it to see what the first lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, is wearing. Thinner than thin, this former model and current pop singer (she is also to appear in a Woody Allen film next year) started her reign in 2008 in a matronly purple suit and French twist, like a girl playing dress-up with mom’s clothes. By 2009 she had evolved to an all-white costume with short sleeves. This year she was the ultimate chic 40-something Frenchwoman in the ultimate slim black dress. On the viewing platform, sitting beside the colorfully dressed wives of African heads of state, she was a noir-ish presence in a blizzard of butterflies, but I liked it. Less cautious than previous years, and more fashionable, Bruni-Sarkozy—like Michelle Obama (and Jackie Kennedy before her)—is redefining appropriate to mean something defiantly undowdy.