Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day Nineteen: Mystique

Jackie Kennedy - Queen of Mystique

'For some reason she particularly wanted to impress that Tess O’Leary.  Cecilia had an illogical attraction to enigmatic, elegant people like Tess.  Most of Cecilia’s friends were talkers.  Their voices overlapped in their desperation to tell their stories.  You had to jump right in without waiting for a pause in the conversation because otherwise you’d never get your turn.  But women like Tess didn’t seem to have the same need to share the ordinary facts of their lives and that made Cecilia desperate to know them.’

-          Liane Moriarty, The Husband’s Secret

I love this quote from ‘The Husband’s Secret’ which I read a while back (such a good read it was too).  It reminded me to covet mystique.  I forget sometimes you see and need reminding.

Author Anne Barone (‘Chic and Slim’) speaks of it, as does the Jennifer L. Scott in ‘Lessons from Madame Chic’.  In fact I’m sure I’ve seen in all the French Chic books I’ve read that mystique is one of the French woman’s greatest weapons.

But why is mystique such a drawcard?  Why is not doing something more powerful than doing it?

I’m sure you can think of times when you’ve magically possessed mystique and how good it felt.  Not blabbing out everything that came into your mind, asking questions and answering them, ducking uncomfortable ones expertly and leaving somewhere knowing you left a good impression.

You probably can also recall occasions where you have been the complete opposite.  I know I can, and I still can remember the awful feeling afterwards of knowing that I talked too much, gave away information that was not necessary or too personal.

Granted, they’re probably not thinking too much (I hope), as most people are more worried about what others are thinking of them instead.  Still, I’d rather be the type that people think of as friendly yet reserved, self-assured but caring, and someone they can rely upon to keep their confidence.

In one of Anne Barone’s books she wrote of a woman who was on the same airplane as her, and during the flight Anne heard every one of the woman’s words about her health complaints and many other unsavoury and boring topics.  I’m pretty sure I remember correctly that the woman might not have even have been talking directly to Anne, but someone else.  Her voice was so loud Anne couldn’t help overhearing.

Firstly, how annoying would that be for other passengers, and secondly, I never want to be that person!  In public places, the first thing I do when I am talking with another person is to not talk too loudly.  Part of it is politeness, and part of it is my wish to be private.  Let’s add mystique to our list of motivations shall we?

I’ve written about mystique before in a couple of other posts here and here.  Obviously I am still coveting that mysterious enigma mystique, and one day I might even achieve it!


  1. I have never been drawn to too much information or gossip and that is not usual and can be seen by some as "snobbishness" but I call it discretion. I don't know if the French are more discreet but it's certainly chic to be so.

    Great series Fiona.

  2. I agree that being reserved or having "mystique" is an attractive quality. It is not exactly an American trait where "letting it all hang out" (if I may use a phrase from the '60's) seems to be the norm. And those of us who are reserved either because of shyness or a genuine desire to be more private are often accused of being snooty. Having an air of mystery takes a certain amount of self-assuredness which I truly admire.

  3. I am definitely not mysterious but I really don't enjoy loud voices in public places. I tend to be shy and private but I would agree that self-assuredness is probably the key to an air of elegant mystique.

  4. My husband calls it "diarrhea of the mouth" when he describes someone who talks so much, basically just to hear him/herself speaking it seems. I agree (though it is a pretty awful way to describe it!).

    Part of this is when people are talking on their cell phones in public places. I hate having to hear all of it, and at such volume, and with the crazy looking gesturing sometimes.

    Occasionally, I catch myself divulging too much information when speaking to an acquaintance and I almost always regret it.

  5. I love a little mystery in anyone. It intrigues me.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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