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Friday, February 10, 2012

Jolie Laide

“There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.” ~Francis Bacon

Ugly and beautiful are subjective terms, meaning there is no measurable standard common to all; it’s influenced by personal opinion and preference.  Hence the saying ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’  What you find beautiful I may find ugly, and vice versa- and we’re both right.

Last year I read a letter to an advice column that disturbed me- it still does.  A woman wrote in that she was ugly.  She said she knew this, and accepted it.  She said complete strangers would take it upon themselves to walk up to her and tell her how ugly she was.  I about fell out of my chair when I read that.  My guess is that someone told her she was ugly when she was little, and for the rest of her life she’d bought into the idea. This was, as my son’s second grade teacher says, a poor choice.  I for one believe we are entirely in the drivers seat on this one.

When all is said and done, how you choose to view yourself is what you present- if you tell yourself you’re unattractive you’re more likely to not groom or dress in a way that expresses confidence in yourself on any level. And that’s when you’ve created your reality- you’re not going to be attractive. This is a shame because then the world generally responds by giving you little attention and even less respect.

The French have a term I love; ‘Jolie Laide,’ which means “good-looking ugly woman : a woman who is attractive though not conventionally pretty.”  So what’s a person to do if they don’t feel ‘conventionally’ attractive? Well, first off stop telling yourself you aren’t attractive!  Beyond a certain point it’s all smoke and mirrors anyway.

It really is ALL in the presentation.  Start with the obvious basics- good diet, consistent exercise, and enough sleep. Keep your hair clean and get the best haircut you can afford, on schedule. Bathe daily and take care of your skin. Visit the dentist regularly. Keep your nails in good condition.  Wear the best clothing you can afford, and maintain your wardrobe properly.  It’s not that we don’t already know all this stuff, it’s a matter of making the conscious choice to do this whether or not you believe you’re attractive. In short, treat yourself as if you have value because, well, you do. This is the basis of ‘attractiveness’ no matter what you look like.

Next, focus on your good features and play them up. This might be where the ‘jolie laide’ concept kicks in.  This is where the smoke and mirrors comes in.  This is where it gets FUN.

Last weeks blog was about picking your best colors. With that info in mind, now pay attention to basic design lines- wear only the styles that flatter you. Stick with a few simple silhouettes and you can’t go wrong.  The rest is all about your personality- pick things that you love, in the colors and design lines that love you back.  Only wear things that express who you are and your sense of self respect.  Don’t be afraid to push the envelope, either.  Find creative, expressive ways to draw attention to what you’d like to highlight, and also creative and expressive ways to deal with what you don’t like.  It’s an incredibly chic expression of confidence- and very attractive, too- to see someone, ‘conventionally attractive’ or not, who is well groomed and carefully put together.  And it’s often far, far more interesting than just another pretty face…

Happy dressing!