Baisable is the French word for Fuckable. I tell you this as I have recently been advised to: “Always be fuckable: when standing in line at the bakery on a Sunday morning, buying champagne in the middle of the night, or even picking the kids up from school. You never know.”
Now I know where I went wrong all these years. There I was trying to stay clean and coordinated when I should have focused on looking fuckable. It has obviously worked for the women who penned: How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits. Caroline de Maigret, Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, and Sophie Mas are hip, happening, employed and attached mamans: the every-women of chic.
I spent a lot of time in Paris over the years, though admittedly not wandering around with soignée, BCBG*, oh so cliquey girls like this. I can honestly say I have never once come across a single woman who fits the stereotype peddled by the glut of books that outline how superior French women are to the rest of us. It’s total bullshit that French Women Don’t… Get Fat/Have Facelifts/Sleep Alone/Breed Naughty Children etc
The women I worked with – all in rock’n’roll – were regular, everyday girls of all shapes and sizes who were just like my English colleagues. Except for one thing – they didn’t drink as much. But then, no-one drinks as much as English girls. I used to flick thru those books at Heathrow on my way over the miserable grey sea that separates England from France, they were about as representative of the Parisiennes I knew, as a Magnum ad is of the way a woman eats ice-cream. (God those ads annoy the crap out of me. Eating ice-cream in the bath? Licking at it like a demented hooker?).
But I digress. This book is for all of us who have ever looked at a French Vogue and wished we could be so effortlessly cool. I know I never achieved it. A lot of the book is, I suppose, meant to be flirty and flip. And some of the aphorisms are fun (Go grey all the way … salt and pepper is for the table) – but the rest had me thinking … huh?
“The Parisienne retains her little imperfections, cherishes them even (the gap in her smile or her slightly crooked tooth, her prominent eyebrows or strong nose): these are the signs of a certain strength of character and allow her to feel beautiful without being perfect.”
And this is what de Maigret looks like.
“Embrace your inner snob. (Because let’s face it, that’s who you are.)”
“The Parisienne is never satisfied.”
“The Parisienne is arrogant.”
“The Parisienne already knows what she must think: the opposite of what you think, no matter what.”
Oh for fuck sake …#1.
“Enjoy the face you have today. It’s the one you’ll wish you have 10 years from now.”
“Anticipate, prepare for the future, but never totally correct.”
“In truth, more than wanting to look young—which is but a fleeting illusion—they want above all to become the best possible version of themselves, outside and in, at any age”
Oh for fuck sake…#2.
“When it comes to revealing herself, she follows one golden rule: less is definitely more…A skirt that rides ever so slightly up her thigh when she sits down in a café; a wide-necked tee that slips down her shoulder as she waves for the waiter; the surreptitious hint of her breasts when she leans down to pick up her bag.”
“You don’t have to spend a decade’s worth of salary on your wardrobe, or flaunt designer brands the whole time. All you need is one signature item: the one you wear when you need to feel strong.”
“If the Parisienne could wear just a Burberry trench and nothing underneath, she would be in heaven.”
Oh for fuck sake…#3.
“Deny. Deny. Deny.”
“Shake it up and spread the love: cheat on your lover with your boyfriend.”
“There’s no such thing as a secret that stays secret. The truth always comes out. Refer back to rule number one.”
Oh for fuck sake #4.
On Being Naked:
“It should always be meaningful.”
“If you don’t like your ass, walk sideways, your back to the wall, and show off your breasts. If your legs are too short or your thighs too wide, go on your tiptoes. If you don’t like your breasts…do something about them, but in the meantime, cross your arms, and when in bed, opt for positions lying on your back.”
Oh for fuck sake #5.
Just as an aside, in case you are despairing: some of the most famous Parisians: Marie Antoinette, Josephine Baker, Romy Schneider, Jane Birkin – were and are foreigners. Meantime I’m off to Burberry. Just in case. After all, you never know who I could meet at Pick’n’Pay.
(All excerpts/photos from the book “How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas. BCBG = Bon chance, bon genre: translated as good luck, good genes.)