What is it about a French woman that makes her so sexy?
As a decadent domestic minx, with no small interest in being adored, I was curious to see if the answer could be found in two lipsticks and a lover? According to Helena Frith-Powell in her sharp and witty book, Two Lipsticks and a Lover, there is much more to indefinable French chic and alluring Gallic sexiness than the title suggests. Being smart, sexy and impossibly French requires effort and more than a little 'je ne sais quois.'
As Coco Chanel once said, “Elegance is refusal.” Elegance requires pencil-thin, smartly dressed restraint. It means saying no to the extra cheese, no to the croissant and a definite non, merci to that third glass of wine. (ouch!) Au revoir to the muffin top. Au revoir to the lush!
French woman see chic and vogue as paramount. Making an effort at all times and not skimping on the details is rule number one. Leaving the house, even to take out the rubbish, will always require lip-gloss. Exquisite and expensive matching underwear is 'de rigeur' and a bad hair day is simply out of the question.
As Frith-Powell points out, “If someone is badly dressed or looks shabby, the French will not take them seriously. Letting yourself go physically is seen as a sign that you cannot hold things together intellectually. The big thing is the souci de soi, or care for oneself, in every way. This means brains and looks; you can’t let yourself go and be intellectually rigorous. In other words, the French would rather forgive an extra-marital affair than a bad hair cut.”
If you want to be indefinably French and gorgeous it is vital to make time for yourself; visit the hairdresser, walk instead of drive, pamper your body potions, eat smaller portions, buy yourself a lipstick or two and entertain a lover on the side.
But style and sexiness come at a price. With so many elegant temptresses on the ground there is little time for friendship among the girls. According to Frith-Powell, French women are a typically jealous and suspicious lot. One reason they spend most of their time trying to look so good is to stop their girlfriends seducing their husbands. The term 'femme fatale' is a French one. Resisting their instincts and passions is not in the genetic makeup. As Vicomte de Valmont says in the book Dangerous Liaisons, “It is beyond my control.”
Clandestine 'affaires' are commonplace. Illicit romance or 'les petites aventures', are an accepted part of French culture, a culture that has given women independence and freedom. As Frith-Powell observes, “If you cut a French woman in half, you will see the words 'liberte, egalite, fraternite' written throughout like a stick of rock. And of these the most important is liberte.”
The whole notion of freedom is deeply inscribed in the French psyche. Marrying and then misbehaving is seen as being free. For French women, sex and seduction are part of a repertoire that ensures her success and social standing. It is important that men adore them. Infidelity can be justified. If a woman is in love, anything is excusable. No one will condemn her; in fact, they are more likely to condemn unfulfilled love. Love and lust excuse any conduct.
Sacre bleu! Coco Chanel would no doubt agree. Elegance may be refusal but passion is an overwhelming “OUI, OUI, OUI.” The domestic minx says 'Oui' to French chic, 'Oui' to liberte, and 'Oui' to two lipsticks and a lover, although I must say two seems hardly enough…Powered by Sidelines