Whether you like it or not, looking and feeling French is the latest craze. If you look French, men will hold the restaurant doors for you, be charming and generally behave in a much more civilised way. I never really quite understood why, and come to think of it, it is totally unfair and completely unjustified, but that’s simply the way it is. No later than this morning, I woke up in my London hotel room, and went downstairs to have some breakfast. The thing is, I am not a morning person, and I was still half asleep. As a result, I missed a step. I didn’t fall or anything. I just missed a step. Within two seconds, I had no less than three guys around me, acting really concerned:
“Are you alright, mademoiselle?”
Please. I was fine, thank you very much, just a tad asleep. One of the guys even said something like ‘French woman have a certain je-ne-sais-quoi’…I couldn’t believe it. I had just missed a step.
Let’s be clear here: looking French is a slow process. It isn’t as easy as it seems. It takes year of education and conditioning. But fear not: if you don’t have it, you can fake it. So here it is: my checkered advice to look and feel French. And as a silver lining, you will not have to put up with French strict education system. Try it, and feel all the better:
1. It is all about confidence. If you arrive late, don’t apologise. It is perfectly normal for a French girl to be late anyway. Otherwise it means that she is a bit too eager. Just be sure of yourself, and fill the room with your natural charisma.
2. Never make a joke at your own expenses. We French don’t do self-depreciation. After all, sense of humour is relative, right? Just be proud of what you are, and feel good about yourself.
3. The wardrobe of a French woman is pretty neutral: black, beige, maybe a bit of grey or brown, but not much else really. We hate looking like Christmas trees. If you must, just wear one colourful piece of clothing like a bright scarf or a red shirt…Oh, and avoid bright yellow please. Unless you are having a car breakdown on the motorway, that is. Obviously. In the same vein, we French usually prefer to suggest rather than to show. What I am trying to say here is that showing too much flesh might be a turn-off. Now you know. And would you please avoid putting too much hairspray? First of all it stinks, and it makes your hair look like cardboard. Who wants to have a hair sculpture rather than good hairstyle? Any takers?
4. Be opinionated. We French love a heated debate. In fact, the more opinionated you are, the better. Try comments like ‘This is simplistic, to say the least.’ So very French. People will be impressed, and you will get everybody’s attention. Voila!
5. Don’t smile too much. Embrace your grumpy side and feel all the better for it. We French women do not try to please at all costs. It is OK to disagree with what is being said. After all, why would you make all the efforts? It is a two-way avenue. Just state your opinion honestly, and stick to your guns. It will be appreciated.
6. Less is more. For instance, if you wear some make-up, it is either the lips or the eyes, not both. And it is always better to look fresh and natural. The trick is to have a good-quality foundation at hand to be ready really fast. Trust me on this one. Similarly, if you have a great necklace, don’t wear fantastic earrings as well. It would confuse everybody, and you want to keep things simple. Just one great piece is more than enough. After all, you don’t want your jewelry or accessories to steal the show. You want people to see you! Don’t con
7. Don’t have any milk in your espresso. This one looks anodyne but is really important. Having milk in your espresso is so unFrench. Practice at home if you must, you need to be able to do it effortlessly. No grimaces please.
8. Whatever happens, always look in control. Don’t be surprised, and act classy. For instance, nobody needs to know that you desperately need the loo. Act normally, stand up, and just go slowly. Once again, it is all about self-control. And yes, you can do it. Of course you can.
9. It is all about posture. Do you remember your head teacher yelling at you “heads up, shoulder back’? Well, he was right I am afraid. A good posture works wonder. And for the record he was also right when he was telling you not to be too loud. Just imagine if everybody was talking louder than usual. We wouldn’t be able to hear a thing!
10. Just be yourself. Because come to think of it, it is what makes you look best. Yes, just yourself.