Why are so many of us American women fascinated with our counterparts in France? Why do they have such an allure? They have a certain je ne sais quoi that we, well a lot of us, myself included wish to develop for ourselves... we just, or many of us, don't know how. Plus it seems the older the French woman gets, becoming a La Femme Française d'Un Certain Âge, the allure is greater. I shall once again as I always do now and again on FGF's , I am proud to be an American, an American woman, I am am not trying to become French by any means, but it certainly does not hurt to channel my inner French
girl woman ....and that is what my FGF posts are always about.
Part of it seems to be that French women appear to look better than many of us at the same page, not younger per say, but just better; chic and polished, which makes them appear or seem younger. I am proud of my bear 49 years and for the most part how I look for my age, but there is always room for improvement. Part of their allure, seems to be a self confidence that many French women have, something that many say I seem to have, but trust me I have a big struggle with it, perhaps that is what draws me to reading all these books about French women. It is not that French women do not have road blocks themselves, but they are realists, and it makes them resilient, and is the core to everything that gives them their allure, their choices in how they care for themselves and live their lives. They believe in simplicity, quality over quantity. They use a critical eye and apply what works for their own personality, their best features are played up both physically, in appearance and in what they wear...they create a total image that just fits them and only themselves. They do not aspire to be anyone other than who they are...ironic really, as I write this cause in reading all these books, it seems that what we crave to create within ourselves ( some of us) to show the world, to be more like the French woman, makes us anything but.
So what can we do as American women of a certain age to perhaps give a nod to and acquire that allure, but stay true to ourselves ... just an improved version? It is actually pretty simple, and something that so many of us just simply grow out of the habit of doing or maybe never have done, either because of life getting in the way or because we do not feel worthy...who knows really...so what is it? Caring for oneself. I know, who has time...who has the money? Ok, at 48, an empty nester and one that can not work due to my health, I have more time than most, I shall admit that and my husband as he puts it "works so I can pamper myself" ( yes I am a lucky woman)...but there was a time when I was a young mother of three girls and a working mom as well, working from early in the morning till early evening and then coming home and working at home, being a housewife and mother, and mostly on my own because my husbands long hours. I would very often forget to care for myself, but I had a wonderful husband that encouraged it, nearly ordered me to do so. I began to get my nails done, making sure to get my hair done on a regular basis, and though I then and still do have PJ and no make up days, I always made and still make sure to brush my hair, put on lipstick or gloss and spritz on either body spray or perfume each day. As years have passed and as I said being an empty nester I now also get pedicures, monthly massages, even my walks are my way of caring for myself. Each night, well most nights, I take the time to cleanse my skin, apply various skin products, and each morning I apply sun screen lotion. I enjoy the act of caring for myself and find that when I skip it, any of it I do not feel as good about myself and well that shows to the outside world... as the author of Forever Chic puts it, "Like a Frenchwoman, I've learned to make myself a priority. This is not selfish; it's intelligent." Yes it takes discipline, dedication , but it can be fun, enjoyable and add a bit of joie de vivre to ones daily life.
Within the book Forever Chic, there is a page dedicated to the ten secrets of remaining "Forever Chic" like the French woman...some I already do, some, well not sure I ever will, but then that is my personality. So what are they? The first is Posture. My Mom used to drill into me to stand up strait, shoulders back, tummy in etc etc ...I resented it then, but am grateful for it now and I in turn drilled it and still do into my own daughter's heads, one out of the three has great posture ( sigh... I tried), and though mine is not great all the time, when I catch myself slouching I hear my mother's voice and instantly stand up strait and it makes me feel so much better. One looks taller, slimmer, clothing looks better and honestly the body will thank you over time for it. So the one that I have a hard time adapting full time is titled " Enough Already" and speaks to the amount of make up a woman wears. The French woman as I have discussed here many times, is all about minimal make up, the natural look. It does not just speak to make up however but also to clothing and accessories... "anything too stiff or constricting automatically looks uptight and dowdy" . I LOVE make up. I like playing with different looks. There are days when I do just wear lipstick or gloss, but most days I love playing with and applying make up. I do not mind having people knowing I am wearing it. That's not to say I want to look garish, and at times I do worry about making myself look older with how I wear my make up ( lately re-channeling my inner pin up/1950's woman which requires a bit more than the average woman) as we are told as we age to wear less and less to look younger...I believe there is a happy medium for sure. Clothing, well I am a very modest person and though I do show a bit of leg and a bit of cleavage ( well when I had more...no idea if I shall do so now after my breast surgery), and in always dressing more classic, and often retro ( no matter the era I am channeling at the time) tends to make me look very "buttoned up", but I try very hard to never look frumpy.... it happens, it does, but not often. Maintenance is the third tip, and I have covered that above, fourth tip..."Get Over It" refers to learning what you don't like into an asset, move on and don't obsess..."worrying only leads to more wrinkles" .....I am having a hard time with all of this, especially right now while I am healing from the breast surgery, and I have not been immune to standing in the mirror looking at my skin, or my little pooch from having three children ect ect , but I have become better with accepting my body and see myself the way my husband does, as beautiful. The fifth... " You are Unique" , celebrate your differences... stop comparing yourself to others...goodness gracious this is a tough one for me, I think for many of us in this day and age of social media, photo shopping, and un real (and un fair to us everyday peeps) portrayal of women. I can get behind number six....."Every Day is an Occasion" , number seven " Be Kind" and number eight, " Poésie in Motion" ....the act to lope or sauntering with purpose, but with a bit of a bounce in your step, be graceful. Nine...."Float on a Cloud~ of Fragrance "...well you already know where I stand on that belief; unlike a French woman I do not have a signature fragrance, rather a scent type, anything with roses. The final one, number ten "Fake it Till You Make it" . I am all about this final one!!! I have always had an issue with self confidence, I am also an introvert, and finally with my health issues I rarely feel good, it just comes down to degrees of how bad I feel, so each day I wake up ( if I have slept) putting forth an effort to fake it. "Apply all of the above and you will appear vibrant and confident. That's the ultimate youth and beauty trick. (tried, tested, and approved by moi)" via Forever Chic by Tish Jett
Of course there is much more to the allure of a French woman, so much more. I have shared many of the aspects of which and what they are in previous posts as I have journeyed through various books, but this is a good start right? With each book so much of the information is the same, but stated in a different way, some very basically, some far more in depth, and yet with each book, through each authors eyes and how they put words to paper I learn and often re-learn how to not only channel my inner French girl/woman, but also how to embrace and realize what makes myself as an American woman of a certain age special and how to create my own personal allure and fine tune it as I continue through life. I hope for those of you who follow and read my blog each week find the same thing happening. My goal is NEVER to change myself or YOU into a French woman; Accepting what I/we can not change, and working on what I/we can, with the goal of a better version moving forward in life.
*Here is another blog all about becoming more elegant, the French way, which of course also speaks to allure.
* You can purchase Forever Chic HERE
* all images are from various google image searches on 1950's French women , elegant , in sunglasses and fashion models as well as searches through pintrest.