French women don’t get fat. At least that’s what we’re told. They also have that certain je ne sais quoi. It makes me almost embarrassed to be an American women. And if that were not enough, the French shabby chic look is all the rage. It’s simple, rustic, and just is, much like I am told are French women. And French women, never make the American style error of being overdone. They invented messy beach waves and own great shoes.
I admit I have always been a wee bit jealous of women like Bridgitte Bardo, who despite her obvious need of dental work, was sultry, sensual, and beautiful in her heyday. Not a classic beauty in any sense, she nonetheless oozed sexual appeal. And unlike Western woman who are held captive to feminism, French women never try to be a woman in a man’s world. No, they have elevated exploiting their own feminism to an art form.
But where and when did French women become slaves to wearing black and red lipstick? As a woman who loves her color, despite that I appreciate that French women always look so effortlessly chic, I find it all a tad bit boring. And I know it is so American of me to think this, but so conformist.
What I find missing from the conversation on the style of French women is austerity. The French have a long, colorful history of war and, dare I say, high unemployment. In light of this, it is much wiser to pick a few outfits in black, quality made of course, then to spend on trends. And that fat thing? Forced austerity and limited commodities may have played a large part in the French’s much-admired self-control. One only has to look back two generations to see how my grandmother could squeeze a penny until it screamed. She was raised during the depression era and never forgot it. I still hear her clucking in my head if I spend foolishly.
Though a lot can be said on avoiding fashion trends and going for the classics, particularly when one doesn’t have the means to spend frivolously, I find myself being somewhat offended that Americans are ridiculed for our style. To be fair, when you have the likes of young Miley Cyrus continually in the tabloids, it’s easy to own the ridicule, but she’s a calculated aberration. I’m in camp Taylor Swift. Now here’s a young women who has kept it classy, made fashion fun in a nonsexual way, and makes this old grandma proud to be an American. And the fashion press loves her.
So here’s my fashion advice, which isn’t worth much, but I feel compelled to share it anyway. In your 20s, cover it up. You are beautiful anyway and what is left to the imagination is always better than the reality. If you are in your 30s, retire the camo and the statement tees and buy some real clothes. Despite what the world tells you, you won’t die when you turn 30. Gurl, you are just getting started! In your 40s, have fun with clothes, just don’t dress like a teen or look desperate. At this time in your life, you should be learning what cuts look good on your body and accepting it. I know it’s hard, but I have faith in you. It’s time to break away from the pack and not buy every trend. To ladies who have a little experience behind them, such as myself, go French! Less is more. You can still have fun with handbags, jewelry, and shoes. Classics do not have to be boring. Own your stature and your crow’s feet and you’ll be a happier woman.