How To Feel Beautiful Without Being Perfect: French-Approved Rules to Live By

French actress Lou Doillon captures the essence of alluringly imperfect beauty

French actress Lou Doillon captures the essence of alluringly imperfect beauty

  1. Don’t Fear Aging. Tout simplement – put simply, a beautiful woman is a beautiful woman, and she’ll turn heads at twenty-two or sixty-one. The key? Wear your inner beauty on the outside—because on the inside, we’re all ageless.
  2. Always Keep One Element Of Your Look “Undone.” For all the work we put into primping and perfecting, real beauty is in finding balance. For example, pair an elegant outfit with undone-chic hair; or wear bold red lips with your loose tee and jeans.
  3. Don’t Fish For Compliments. Don’t seek approval from others. Instead, cultivate your confidence. Identify a few things you truly love about yourself, and make them your mantra of the week. “J’adore mes yeux.” (“I love my eyes”).
  4. Embrace Your Unique Features. When you accept the unique qualities of a bold nose, dark brows or spattering of freckles, they add character and confidence to your look—but when you love them, they become the je ne sais quoi that gives you an aura of irresistible allure.
  5. Don’t Use Foundation. Dab a touch of concealer here and there and keep your skin dewy, fresh and natural. Devoted to your foundation? Mix it with moisturizer before applying for a beauty that’s au naturel.
  6. Find Your Signature Scent. Nothing exudes confidence and allure like scent. Perfume is one of the most intimate expressions of who you are.
  7. Reveal Your Character Flaws. Always late? Painfully shy? Don’t take yourself too seriously, and accept these qualities as part of your unique, loveable and ever-evolving appeal.
  8. Wear Pretty Lingerie, Even When Non One Else Will See. Go for a bra fitting and leave with pretty sets in luscious laces and sensuous shades you love. There is something so powerful about feeling beautiful for you!
  9. Invest In Quality. Invest in a few fabulous, well-made items. A divinely soft cashmere sweater, irresistible leather coat, fabulous hobo or femme fatale pumps are signature pieces you can always rely on to feel strong and beautiful.
  10. Don’t Take It Personally. Rejected by a lover? Gossiped about by a girlfriend? Ce n’est pas important. (It’s not important). A confident woman isn’t easily ruffled by others (or at least doesn’t show it). YOU are fabulously perfect in every imperfect way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secrets of the Perfect French Pout

SONY DSCSensuality is the secret to seduction. And what’s more sensual than a lusciously perfect pout? French women seem to have mastered the art of kissable, come-hither lips, needing nothing more than a swipe of gloss to look irresistible. Add a coat of bold lipstick and you’re 100% bisous-ready.

For those of us who aren’t genetically blessed with French femme fatale lips, or if you’ve ever started the evening with a perfect pout—only to discover red wine stained lips a couple of hours later—this is for you.

Here are my Paris-approved tricks to smooch-worthy lips:

  1. Polish Your Pout. Exfoliate once a week for smoother, softer lips. Use a soft bristle tooth brush or a moisturizing homemade scrub (mix sugar and coconut oil), for the perfect remedy during dry, wintery months.
  2. Moisturize. French women swear by their high quality pharmacie-purchased lip balms. Find a super-hydrating balm you love and apply it throughout the day, taking time to apply an extra coat every night before bed. Also, drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated au maximum.
  3. Go Au Naturel. Sometimes a woman needs nothing more than a swipe of high-quality lip balm on her lips to maintain an air of unfussed chic. Add a touch of nude or mauve gloss for a barely-there look with a hint of flattering color.
  4. Plump and Glow. Nothing gives the illusion of fuller lips better than a dab of gloss. Apply a touch of semi-clear lip gloss at the center of the Cupid’s Bow and bottom lip, and voilà!
  5. Line Up. Lip liner is fabulously versatile; use it to make your lipstick last longer, as an all-over lip color base, or as border-control for creamy lip colors. Your lips will look fuller and your color will appear richer. The trick? Blend your liner and lipstick together with a fine brush for complete coverage without a hard line.
  6. Wear Red…And Nothing More. When it comes to wearing a bold red lip, strive for fashionable, not flashy. Red lips pop best when paired with au naturel eye makeup and neutral clothing (think shades of grey, beige and jet-black). They’re also the perfect accessory to add instant glam to an unfussed, casual outfit. When going for a red pout, be sure to prime lips with liner the same color as your lipstick, filling in the entire lip.

Read my lips: A little bit of effort perfecting your pout = complete confidence and total séduction.

Champagne: How To Drink It Like the French

iStock_000009456926Large - CopyAmidst a flurry of festive gatherings, nothing exudes luxury and style more than a flute of your favorite French bubbly. Yes, it’s my favorite time of year: Champagne season.

Before raising your flute and saying santé (“to your health”) there are a few facts you might want to know about this glamorous, sparkling drink—including how to store, serve and enjoy it.

Here are a few things you might not know (and definitely should) about le Champagne:

  1. Unlike Women, Champagne Doesn’t Age Gracefully, so drink it young (preferably within the year), when the flavors are at their best.
  1. The Freezer is Not Your Friend. Need to quickly cool a bottle of Champagne? Don’t be tempted to put the bottle in the freezer, as it damages the aromas and flavors. Instead, place it in an ice bucket (or in a pinch, the kitchen sink) filled with a mixture of water and ice for 15-20 minutes to bring the temp to a cool (not ice-cold) 50 degrees.
  1. There Is A Right Way to Open Champagne. While festive, popping the cork can jeopardize the integrity of Champagne. Opt for this slightly more elegant technique: untwist the bottom of the muselet (wire cage), but do not remove it. Then, in one hand, enclose the cage and cork while holding the base of the bottle with your other hand. Twist your hands in opposite directions. When you feel the pressure of the cork, try to push it back while continuing to gently twist until the cork is gently released. Voilà.
  1. Think Outside the Flute. Though the traditional flute is ideal for retaining Champagne’s sparkling bubbles, a tulip-shaped glass is better suited for savoring the complex aromas and flavors. The elegant Champagne tulip has a wider bowl that perfectly aerates the wine, while still giving a beautiful display of sparkling effervescence.
  1. Try A Grower Champagne. While large Champagne houses (think Veuve Cliquot) source grapes from as many as 80 different vineyards, grower Champagnes come directly from estates that cultivate their own grapes. The beautiful quality of these “home grown” Champagnes is personal and distinctive. Tip: To identify a grower Champagne, look for the letters “RM” Récoltant Manipulant on the label.
  1. Champagne Is Beautiful In Blush. Made by adding a hint of Pinot Noir or grape skins to the wine base, Rosé Champagne is delicious, and, of course, très romantique.
  1. Vintage Is Always In. Looking to impress with a luxe-level champagne? A single-vintage Champagne is made of grapes harvested from a single year, making it rarer, more prestigious and more expensive. Note: The majority of Champagnes (about 85%) are non-vintage, meaning that they are composed of several different vintages, rather than from a single harvest.
  1. Celebrate. Champagne is one of the most refined and glamorous plaisirs de vie (life’s pleasures), so make a toast and enjoy every decadent sip.

Happy New Year 2015!

Devastatingly Sexy: Le Bustier

Volupte BustierThe art of seduction has its seasons. Spring is a time of flirtation, florals, lace and color. Summer showcases natural beauty and carefree, sun-kissed romance. Now the cooler temps and shorter days invite a more sensual seduction. It’s sultry, exotic and mysterious. Lingerie takes a turn with rich velvets, soft silks, deep colors and alluring layers. My favorite of which is, Le Bustier.

Devastatingly sexy, the bustier worships a woman’s curves. The waist is cinched and the bust lifted, dressed in decadent laces, silks, eye-hook closures and lace-up backs.

Rock it solo with a hip-hugging boyshort for seduction le soir (at night). Have a sortie (event)? Layer it under a blazer or Velvet Bodysuit in Graymoto jacket and black jeans, and voilà.

Whether the bustier is your pièce de résistance or not, we can all take in the richness of what the season’s new forms of seduction bring. Our wardrobes shift each season, so why shouldn’t our lingerie? Look for sensual, touchable fabrics, rich hues and figure-flattering bodysuits.

Tap into the season’s gentle shift in energy, and you’ll find a whole new spirit of le sex appeal.

How to Eat Like a French Woman During the Holidays

COFL-00008671-001The season of decadence is quickly approaching. Here are a few tips for looking slim during (and after) the most lavish of holiday meals while still embracing les plasirs de la vie (life’s pleasures).

Develop a Discerning Palate: Forgo “cheap” calories for a few deliciously lavish ones that thrill your taste buds. The more selective and refined your palate, the fewer your choices (and temptations). I won’t touch chocolate unless it’s dark and artisanal (or in the form of a silky smooth mousse au chocolat). As a result, I don’t indulge often, but when I do, it’s absolutely divine.

Take Pleasure in Moderation. Just say non merci to seconds. Take pleasure in every bite, then move your thoughts to something else, like enjoying the great company. And be sure to leave room for a few bites of dessert. A meal is, of course, first and foremost about le plaisir (pleasure).

Wine and Dine: In France, wine is used more as an accent to a meal than an all-evening before, during and after dinner drink. Also, a verre de vin (glass of wine) in France is generally smaller (the classic glass is 125ml as opposed to our supersized 175ml and even 250ml glasses), and filled only partially. So enjoy your wine, but sip it slowly from a small glass of wine that’s only partially filled. You’ll drink less without feeling deprived. As for the before dinner drink on special occasions, dazzle your taste buds with some bubbly!

Take A Seat: Resist the temptation to stand while dappling in hors d’oeuvres and chatting with party guests. When you dine seated (preferably at a table), you’re generally more aware of what and how much you’re eating. You’re also more likely to savor each bite.

Go for an Après-Meal Walk. When you feel tempted to slip into a food-induced stupor after a large meal, slip out of your heels and into on your flats, grab your Chéri, ami (friend) and go for une promenade (walk). Not only will it awaken your digestion and burn calories, but a walk helps to clear your head and has a meditative effect that rebalances your energy (to put you in the right mindset for Black Friday shopping!)

Say “Oui” to Chic Shapewear. Sometimes a French woman’s best kept secret to looking svelte lies en-dessous (beneath). Yes, a little shapewear can go a long way to smoothing and slimming your silhouette. In the spirit of staying chic, look for shapewear with a hint of lace… so you’ll feel stylish in your underpinnings, regardless of what you put on.

Secrets of the French Cool

To many French women, one of the biggest style sins you can commit is that of looking “overdone.” Any effort one puts into looking chic must be altogether discret. French cool is all about having a sophistication that seems as if it simply happened; as if you just had a natural knack for being supremely stunning.

Ironically, achieving this kind of unfussed elegance does require some work. The good news is that it’s more about a shift in perspective than anything else. There are tacit rules to the art of cultivating this kind of unapologetic confidence and enviable style.

Here are a few of the rules many French women live by:

Rule 1: Embrace Your “Imperfections.” Focus on your favorite features and let the rest add character to your natural cool. We often don’t realize how much time and energy it takes to cover up, maximize, minimize, erase and negotiate “les petites imperfections.” Despite your fears, be yourself and own your look, turning “flaws” into true elements du charme. (Jane Birkin’s gap-toothed smile was considered très sexy!)

Rule 2: Mix New and Old. Create your own look by mixing new with vintage, casual with tailored, or classic with trendy. The same goes for mixing brands and designers in one outfit. This is the key to creating your own style—a signature of French cool.

Rule 3: Simplify Your Makeup. It’s not that French women don’t wear makeup… it’s just that they pretend not to. Makeup is used to highlight one or two features, not all at once. A seductive red pout is almost always offset with a natural eye. A sweep of eye liner looks ravishing on bare skin. Achieving this kind of understated balance makes a statement that you are bien dans ta peau (comfortable in your own skin), and unafraid of owning your sensuality as a woman.

Rule 4: Tousle Your Tresses. Not only is laissez-faire hair acceptable, it’s stylish and downright sexy—especially when paired with an effortlessly chic outfit, lace underpinnings, and a pop of your best color lipstick. Not sure how to capture the look without looking completely disheveled? Start with the Undone-Chic Chignon.

Rule 5: Balance Your Accessories. Accessories are the signature of an outfit and should reflect your unique style and personality. A cardinal rule is that accessories should never compete for attention. Showcase a scarf or a statement necklace—not both. Stylize a classic look with a few select pieces that hold their own: a fabulous purse, gold cuff, silk scarf or chic sunglasses. Lastly, bring in personal, unique pieces wherever you can; your grandmother’s ring, your favorite vintage scarf, or an edgy leather jacket you bought years ago.

Rule 6: Seduction by Selection. The game of seduction is more about what you choose to hide than what you show. The taquinage (tease) is far more sexy than the reveal. Shake up the classic look of jeans and white button down shirt with a pretty black, navy or even rich purple lace bra. It’s seemingly effortless, slightly rebellious, and totally intriguing.

Rule 7: Dress for Yourself. Trying too hard to please others is the ultimate trap of a contrived look. When you dress for yourself, you feel good in your skin, exuding a natural confidence and effortless cool. Just ask yourself: What will make me feel really good?

Of course, whatever your style, your inner chic is your most effortless and stunning asset of all.

Read 10 French Icons to Watch to learn about today’s reigning queens of French cool.

Are You Guilty of Lingerie Self-Sabotage?

Have you ever caught yourself saying: Well, I’m the only one who’s going to see it, so it doesn’t matter what lingerie I wear?

If so, you’re one of many American women who suffer from a classic case of what I like to call “Lingerie Self-Sabotage.” Yes, you’re short-changing your most valuable feminine assets… and it’s time we give them the love and quality they deserve. The remedy? A gentle shift in perspective.

Here are the most common traps women fall into, and a few tips that may have you singing a new tune:

DO look for your favorite T-shirt bra in a fun color, like this gorgeous Poppy red

DO look for your favorite T-shirt bra in a fun color, like this gorgeous Poppy red

Trap #1: I’m just going to work, I need comfort and practicality, not pretty lace.
Beautiful lingerie is a secret confidence-booster, giving you instant poise. Since confidence is an essential tool for success, start your ensemble (outfit) with your underwear drawer. Be feminine AND comfortable underneath your polished appearance, and own it. This girl means business!

Trap #2: It’s a Sunday and I’m staying home. I just want to be comfortable.
When comfort is your first priority, look for a breathable T-shirt bra that feels like a second skin. Chic accents like the soft lace on this Simone Perele Caressence bra, or a pop of color are easy upgrades that instantly de-frump your look. The truth is, you deserve to feel divinely comfortable AND stylish, even under your most casual weekend wear.

Celeste Demi Plunge and Tanga in Cassis

DO go for soft, wearable lace in a flattering color, like this Chantilly lace set

Trap #3: I’m single. No one’s going to see what’s underneath!
Despite common belief, lingerie is not about a man… it’s all about you. Your curves are absolutely worthy of a matching bra and panty set that feels as good as it looks. Mais pas d’erreur (make no mistake), when you wear pretty lingerie, you exude that inner “oh la la” that French women cultivate so seamlessly. So be ready! As my mother always said, you never know who you might meet on the way to the grocery store!

Trap #4: I’m too busty for sexy or beautiful bras.
Time to toss your granny panties (and bras) to la poubelle (the trash). You can absolutely have everything on your checklist: supportive (check), comfortable (check), beautiful (check) and even sexy (absolument!) bras go up to H cup and beyond. Do look for: slightly wider straps, ballet u-shaped back, reinforced cups and curve-hugging support. A full busted woman should never have to sacrifice style for comfort and support.

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DO look for a nude bra with pretty details. And buy the matching set!

Trap #5: I only feel comfortable in nude bras that disappear under clothing.
This is for the devoted bra nudists out there. First, look for nude bras with stylish accents, like touches of lace, embroidery, and elegant straps (like this Simone Perele Revelation 3D Demi). Next, buy the matching set; you’ll instantly feel more put together. And finally, reach out of your comfort zone a millimeter with updated nudes like feminine Blush Pink that are just as invisible but infinitely more stylish. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be tempted to dapple in something a little more colorful

Your new motto: I deserve the best, inside and out!