“M Charles Grandet, a handsome young man of two and twenty. . . childhood is not so very far away, and youth, on the borderland, has not finally and for ever put away childish things. . .but whether his uncle lived in Saumur or at Froidfond, he was determined to make his first appearance properly, so he had assumed a most fascinating travelling costume, made with the simplicity that is the perfection of art, a most adorable creation, to use the word which in those days expressed superlative praise of the special qualities of a thing or of a man. At Tours he had summoned a hairdresser, and his handsome chestnut hair was curled afresh. He had changed his linen and put on a black satin cravat, which, in combination with a round collar, made a very becoming setting for a pale and satirical face. A long overcoat, fitting tightly at the waist, gave glimpses of a cashmere waistcoat of some white material. His watch was carelessly thrust into a side pocket, and save in so far as a fold chain secured it to a buttonhole, its continuance there appeared to be purely accidental. His grey trousers were buttoned at the sides, and the seams were adorned with designs embroidered in black silk. A pair of grey gloves had nothing to dread from contact with a gold-headed cane, which he managed to admiration. A discriminating taste was evinced throughout the costume, and shone conspicuous in the traveling cap. Only a Parisian, and a Parisian moreover from some remote and lofty sphere, could trick himself out in such attire, and bring all its absurb details into harmony by coxcombry carried to such a pitch that it ceased to be ridiculous; this young man carried off, moreover, with a swaggering air befitting a dead shot, conscious of the possession of a handsome pair of pistols and the good graces of an Annette.” Honoré de Balzac
Annette is his married benefactress/ lover to which Charles writes letters to on beautiful stationary every fortnight.
In the end, Charles ends up marrying a very plain girl “Mlle d’Aubrion was a tall, spare damsel, somewhat like her namesake the insect; she had a disdainful mouth, overshadowed by a long nose, thick at the tip, sallow in its normal condition, but very red after a meal“ but she had artifice as a result of her breeding, a “distinguished air…her mother had taught her how to dress herself…under the same instructor she had required a charming manner, and had learned to assume that pensive expression…by means of large sleeves, stiff skirts, puffs, padding, and high pressure corsets she had produced a highly curious and interesting result, a specimen of femininity which ought to have been put into a museum for the edification of mothers generally.”
No one describes a flower boy or a plain society girl for that matter better than Balzac.