Monday, July 11, 2011

Being feminine in everyday life

One of the things I love most about being born a girl, is the chance to indulge in the daily expression of being feminine. The ideal French woman is the ultimate in sophisticated elegance and femininity.

Here are some of my favourite ways to feel feminine every day:

- I remind myself to walker slower and more elegantly. I imagine I am a chic woman in a movie. Channelling Amelie or another movie character is fun if I am feeling in a frump. It immediately makes you lighter on your toes and more expressive, in a non-over the top way of course.

- Wearing soft, pretty colours near my face. Or softening a dark top with pearls or a scarf that throws a flattering light onto my complexion. Wearing a bright colour feels very feminine too. Not a clown of brights though, one bright colour with a neutral is my favourite way. Red with white, denim with Kelly green, black with soft blush pink/beige.

- Standing up straight, imagine a string pulling me up from the crown of the head. Imagine you are a ballet dancer when you move.

- Wear lightly applied makeup in soft, sheer tones that flatter my colouring. Ensure there are no hard lines and that everything is well blended.

- Eat and drink in moderation. Indulge in chic foods I could imagine a svelte Parisian woman eating. Sometimes if I am stuck for a lunch idea I ask myself, if I lived in my bijoux Paris apartment, what would I make? And I must admit, as much as I enjoy relaxing with a tasty brandy, I always feel more feminine with a sparkling mineral water.

- Doing daily stretches and going for gentle exercise walks. I do errands on foot if they are near. A tote bag is used including sunglasses, and a fold-up umbrella if the weather is inclement.

- Let not one critical word come from my mouth, either about myself or others. This is an ongoing challenge for me. I am working on overruling negative thoughts with positive ones. And trying not to be so instantly judgemental.

- Make my thoughts positive – it softens the face. It really is incredible how facial expressions (on a seemingly neutral face) can make you seem hard or soft.

- Washing hair more frequently. Men love clean, fresh-scented hair.

- Take an extended bathroom spa time on the weekend. Exfoliate thoroughly over my whole body, apply lotion, polish toe-nails.

- Part of my coming home routine in the evening is to remove all jewellery. But I sometimes leave something on, ie pearl earrings. Just to be pretty.

- Lightly spritz with a feminine fragrance every now and then.

- Surrounding myself with feminine colours. Not just in clothing and makeup, but everything in my life – home furnishings, stationery etc. Some of my favourite colours are soft beige-pinks, creamy whites and silvers, dove grey, ethereal seaglass blue-green.

- Playing music as a background, much like movies do. Gentle classical pieces and relaxing spa music is fabulous for having on low as I go about my day. French hotel sounds such as Buddha Bar, Six Senses and Hotel Costes are a enjoyable alternative that instantly make my everyday life seem much more cool. They are often very sexy too. And that’s never a bad thing.

- Having softness around me – mohair rugs in the winter or soft, cool cotton palazzo pants in the summer. One of my favourite ways to make a difference to the bed is to place a light-weight duvet inner under the sheets as a kind of mattress topper. It makes your bed feel very luxe and cloud-like. And it stays in place under the fitted sheet, even without straps or elastic. I like that I can wash it regularly too, unlike my mattress, which doesn't really fit in the machine.

- Being a domestic goddess. It's true what they say about a home needing a woman's touch. As I enter or leave a room I try to do one thing to straighten or tidy. I open the windows every day, even in winter if only for an hour or two, so that our house smells airy and fresh. Making your home a peaceful retreat for you and your family is a very feminine thing to do.

I’m sure I’ve not listed many other details. What are your favourite ways of being feminine?

Watercolour by Beverly Brown


  1. Longtime reader, first-time commenter here!

    Fiona, I adore your blog and am so glad you've been posting more often. This post in particular is fantastic. I often look to your posts for inspiration in my own life, and your suggestions here about feeling feminine really hit home. I'm been feeling decidedly un-feminine recently. Sometimes it's so helpful to make a few mindful changes in our surroundings to bring about the changes we would like to see in ourselves. Merci, merci!

  2. I agree with you that there are many things one can do to feel more feminine, like the ones you mention here. At the same time I have to say that for me personally, femininity comes from more than the outer things like clothes, make-up and posture. It comes from within as well, and it doesn't make me feel less feminine walking in the mountains to go fishing than I to be dressed up to dine at a fancy restaurant, to put it that way. Because my husband suffers from both arthritis and nerve damage from a work accident, I have to do my share around the house like mowing the lawn in the summer, shoveling snow in the winter or like now, painting the outer walls of our house, but I'm still feminine doing these things, although perhaps not very chic:)

  3. Great ideas. All of them. I needed to read this today.

  4. I like to remember that what my husband loves most about me is that he married a woman. An intelligent, funny, sassy, and talented person... but he values the sway in my walk and the curves of my body the most. Instead of trying to come across as strong, I aim to be soft.

    I think so much of being a woman is your mindset, and how you follow through on it. I've never felt so womanly as I do now pregnant, though because it's so physically obvious! :)

    And by the way, I loved this post, and particularly loved your mention of colors. I love rich colors mixed in with soft greys, blues and blushes.

  5. One of the best changes I have made for myself in the last year or so is that I've started to allow myself time for self-care such as grooming and makeup. I grew up in a home where such "vain" things were frowned upon. (My mother once expected me to get ready for a wedding in which I was a bridesmaid, in 20 minutes!) But I just never fit into a low-maintenance lifestyle. I like things simple, but they need to be polished. I am much happier since I accepted the fact that I love beauty and that includes my own "beautifying".

    I can vouch for the fact that becoming consciously positive can make you happier. That said, I think there are times when we need to fight for ourselves, and sometimes that means being hard and critical. I have been through such times and I don't regret being that way because it was necessary for survival. The key is to regain positivity when the crisis is over.

    And I think you can be positive and feminine and still be strong, physically as well as emotionally. I personally feel more elegant and less frumpy when I'm fit and strong.

    1. Anonymous, I, too, was raised with a very ‘vanity free’ upbringing. No makeup, no curled hair, longer than was stylish clothing at times (thank goodness for skirts that could be rolled up on the way to school, and down, again, afterwards!). I am more ‘vain’ now.
      I also was intrigued by your comment about feminine, positive strength. That would make a wonderful blog post, Fiona, to explore what it can look like to be both strong (emotionally and physically) and still feminine.
      Fiona, I love reading your posts! Just discovered your new Chic Closet book and cant wait until it arrives!!! Thank you for taking the time to write and blog and share your creative inspiring ideas with all of us!

  6. your list is lovely fiona. i have never considered myself overly feminine, prob just the opposite but the one point you make really resonates with me right now and that is to be more accepting of everyone. i find myself slipping into judgemental behaviour at times and it really is unbecoming. thanks for the reminder!


  7. Fiona,

    These points are all excellent pointers.
    Your writing is very calming and I have read your post twice.

    lor mr sowing down my eating and savouring the flavour of food is so much more feminine than gobbling! I think a Parisian girl would be dining this way too!
    I use scent and wear frilly lacy lingerie to remind myself that I am very much a woman.

    Feminine is as much an attitude as it is anything else. I believe that one can be feminine mowing the lawn or painting the walls like myfavouritethings mentioned.


  8. Great post, and like others - perfect for me today.
    I also like to make sure our home has fresh flowers, a definitely feminine touch.

    A trick I use when I'm getting dressed for the day is to imagine that I might run into an old boyfriend, that I hadn't seen in years, and if I feel like I'd be OK with
    that, then I know I'm OK to leave home! I'm very casual in my clothing, because I'm a painter, but I really do try to look good when I leave for the studio.

    Thank you for all the feminine reminders today.

  9. I do many of the same things - especially when I need to kick myself in the pants to be active and conscious in my life. "What would my heroine make for dinner?" "Would my inner French girl tend to her skin now or watch more bad TV?" "Would my perfect self insist on eating only good-for-me food?"

    I used to play these head games in my 20's as I was trying to map out how I wanted to live my new adult life. Now, on the eve of my 40th birthday, I still play these little games and continue to find them useful.

    When you continue to be inspired by your ultimate, ideal self, you are progressing, however slowly, to your goal. It's important to continue on the chic path!

  10. This post is very inspiring. I love many of your own ideas and this post compels me to think of my own. I think life is made up of the amalgamation of 'little things' and this post is a reminder of that idea. Many thanks. MamaP

  11. I don't actually aspire to femininity - and I could certainly never walk more slowly to try to look more feminine - but I do like to keep my home as immaculate as possible, and I think grooming/self-care are important, even if my aim is confidence rather than 'femininity'.

  12. I love wearing accessories, carrying a great handbag, flowing nightgowns, decorating my home to reflect my feminine wiles ;). And I love reading your posts!! xxBliss

  13. I love being super-smooth from head-to-toe exfoliation and being well shaved. I also love having a fresh, perfect manicure and pedicure. Oh, and I love how I look and feel exiting the salon after getting my hair cut/colored and blown out. Those are my favorite feminine moments.

    Great post, F!

  14. "Make my thoughts positive – it softens the face."

    This was certainly timely for me. A colleague had been remarkably rude this afternoon, and I was seething and wondering if I should say something about it although the moment to do so had really passed. I'm sure my face had a really unpleasant expression on it while I was stewing.

    Re. slowing down when I walk, I need to remember this. I've consciously to do so in the past, after one colleague commented on the forward-bent, determined librarian walk that she sees all around her, but I've started to forget about it. So thanks for reminding me to make myself slow down and glide!

  15. I adore this list...I can only add that I always wear lipstick and perfume, even when I'm alone. Love this post!

  16. I'm reminded of my femininity whenever my husband pulls me close for an embrace. He always says that he likes the way that I "melt" into him, an I never noticed until he pointed it out. He places his hand on the small of my back to pull me close, and my body naturally (must be al of us, actually) arches at that spot. Similar to a cat when you lift them from their middle to deposit them elsewhere. There really is a difference between us in this response - when I do the same to him his entire body moves and comes as one-stiff-as-a-board object. Anyway, I am always conscious of this, now that I am aware of it, and I'll make the other parts of my body take longer to meet him. Especially since I know it is something he likes.

  17. Let me apologize for my bad spelling/grammar. I'm away from my home and typing on my phone. So sorry!

  18. I'm a ballet dancer so being feminine is a way of life for me. xx

  19. As a woman who lives a few months in the bijou apartment in Paris, I rejoice to see your blog on feeling feminine, gracious and French. Soft colours,
    scent, simplicity, fresh flowers and daily walks are aspects of my Paris life that I try to include in my not-so-Paris life. Merci for sharing such lovely suggestions.

  20. You are so right about positive thoughts reflecting in your face. We have two grandmothers in our home: the bright, positive one and the negative one. Guess whose visage is the prettiest?

  21. So interesting, Anonymous, thank you for your comment! I always have that in the back of my mind when I feel annoyed about something. I don't want to end up a prune-faced old bat so I breathe... and let it go.

  22. Fiona, Your site never fails to calm and refresh me! I applaud your pursuit of a lovely, simple, quiet life. Your thoughts are uplifting and really set us to "rights" about what is important and what is not. I hope your Christmas season is relaxing and refreshing. Blessings!

  23. Thank you so much, Anonymous, for your lovely comment. I appreciate it!

  24. Hi fiona,

    I'm just going back re-reading your posts, this one has been my all time favourite since you posted it in 2011. I plan to work on reestablishing what has slipped in my life. Lucy

    1. This is one of my favourite posts that I've written too, Lucy :)


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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