19 May 2009

Bien Dans Sa Peau: Part I

 bien dans sa peau, the french woman , vickiarcher.com

Bien dans sa peau, translates as being ‘well in her skin’.
This popular French expression relates to women, not to health and describes a general state of being rather than anyone specific female feature.


Ageing is a privilege, it is about so much more than how we look and while official channels, magazines, press and much of the online world, focus on ways we can look “younger” it is simply not the answer. It never was and never will be.

Women who get it right, who understand beauty is not about age, are comfortable with their own image and oftentimes blessed with self-confidence. We can recognise and accept beauty should come from within, we really do know beauty is about so much more, but it is sometimes challenging.

Will the people who don’t know me recognize that I have beauty within?
Will they judge my slightly flabby middle, those extra pounds that won’t disappear? And the soft jawline? That’s a giveaway.

So what is the answer? How can we find our inner confidence and become the woman we want to be?

There are the obvious ways – cosmetic surgery, beauty treatments and all the aids in between.
So many new machines and techniques have been developed in the last few years that promise to rejuvenate, re-texture, re-surface, tighten and tweak the face and the body. I don’t know if all these treatments live up to their promises and I don’t know if having these surgeries or procedures does provide you with the coveted beauty that we yearn for.

This interests me – I call it, ‘the fork in the road’ years. It is a time in my life where suddenly I don’t look the same as I did before and I need to re-define my style. The face in the mirror looking back at me is a stranger and it is time to rethink the wardrobe, the hair and in reality, the whole package. It’s that same day when your daughter walks out the door in your best pair of heels or your favourite bracelet and you realize that the pleasure is all in the giving not in the wearing.

How far to go? Which road to take?
I haven’t chosen my path and I think in a way that is a choice in itself. To follow a schedule of appointments in my quest for beauty makes me nervous. I am not yet convinced that invasive treatments will make me “younger”, prettier or even happier.  They most likely will help but cannot be the sole solution because even the most ‘beautiful’ and most ‘perfect’ women can often time be without magic.


And then there are the less obvious ways to face the onslaught of age.
We could find ourselves a younger, much younger lover. This is not for every woman but maybe the point is this – happy in love is happy in mind and happy radiates through, whatever the age. I like to think there is a reason so many younger men are seeking the company of older women; experience and wisdom must be the new aphrodisiac. More and more frequently in a youth-obsessed world, the advantages of age are being revered rather than rejected. This should put a smile on our ageing faces.


Or we could focus on our personal style, our unique signature. Why categorise ourselves? ‘I am a grandmother, therefore, I should dress like a grandmother‘ kind of mentality. Women are women first – then they are girlfriends, partners, mothers or grandmothers afterwards. Let’s stay true to us.

It is very simple if we want it to be.
The ultimate beauty secret, regardless of age, is contentment. Contentment comes from within.
Feeling fabulous requires a mix of ingredients – a healthy body, a stimulated mind, a spiritual peace and an emotional well being – and all of this must start with us; we cannot buy it and nor can someone else do the work for us. Self-confidence is what the outside world sees. Physical imperfections disappear with the confident woman; her inner beauty and intelligence shine through.


How to traverse the coming years?
Equal parts self-confidence and happiness, a generous splash of love, more lavish underwear and a dash of beauty technology/ therapy thrown in.

We are in this together, xv.


Bien Dans Sa Peau

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In This Post:




Oh what a pleasure to be one of the first to comment on this post. I’m sure you will get a huge response from this one! In Sydney recently, I had the pleasure to see Juliette Binoche dance in her show, In-I which was travelling around the world. Despite the fact she is in her mid-forties and had never danced before she managed to pull it off brilliantly. I’m sure it was because of her confidence and her self-belief that she could do so. Imagine having the confidence to embrace such a demanding new discipline and then tour the world with it! She was truly superb.
I have often pondered on the French women and their style. A writer who always makes me laugh and think is Helena Frith Powell. She has spent quite a lot of time studying the French and their anti-ageing tips. Her books are witty and well worth a look.
Vicki, if you discover any style tips for us – pass them along! Personally, I think from all your photographs you look beautiful and elegant as you are!


I must add that the photograph of Jane Birkin is stunning. What an inspiration she is. So much joy and life in her face! She looks ageless. What is her secret apart from Imadeen tablets? The other French woman who is anti-style but who I think is so beautiful is Brigitte Bardot. To me she is more beautiful now she has aged with all her wrinkles than when she was the young sex-kitten.
Where would we be without our admiration for the French and their great style? I did love the section on beauty in your book too, Vicky with your daughter’s photgraphs. Thanks for such a lovely post on a rainy night in Australia.


What a lovely post. I definitely believe that women who are confident and who know that taking care of others does not mean that they need to neglect themselves are the most beautiful women!


What an interesting post.
I agree with the first commenter Primrose – the response to this post with be massive.
I’d like to say that I think your inner beauty shines through anyway Vicki.
As for surgical procedures – this may be the answer for some, but the risks outweigh the advantages.
Not sure about the younger men thing – all I’ve noticed is a certain invisibility factor ! :)


I think taking care of our inner self radiates to the outside.
Assurance that we are doing the best with what have been given. This is a lovely entry~ Fresh air, proper nutrition, and a happy family.

A Gift Wrapped Life

Hi Vicki,
Oh, I could have wrote this post, not nearly as well! but have been pondering these thoughts as well as all my friends get their restylan and botox and yet,I am just not sure it is for me. I recently saw Annette Benning on a show and she looked work-free and I did find that so brave and shows a security that is admirable. I quess it’s a private answer, some age better than others, just good luck and genetics. But that is just the outside, the inside work we do mentally always helps and is the advantage of age, that I wouldn’t trade for a 30 yr. old body. Maybe women need to concentrate on developing their inner beauty and style and have a little fun with it, turn into an eccentric if they want! It is what it is after all. And we are the examples for the next generation, hopefully our message isn’t that you can’t age gracefully or beautifully. Thanks Vicki, a wonderful, thoughtful post. I will be pondering this over the next few days for sure.

Aunt Amelia's Attic

Mmmmmm, lovely entry. Oh I’m well past much of it. But still, the basic premise of “be well in your skin” seems possible for anyone. If it’s our own view of “being well in our skin.”

I’ll never have cosmetic surgery or a great hair do. ,-) But I can stop calling myself “wife, mother, grandmother” first! I can redeem the lovely “I’m a woman,” as the first self description! I can! I can!

Because no matter what our age, I for one, am very happy to be a woman _first_. :-)

Thank you!

‘Aunt Amelia’
P.S. Who is certain to be linking to this post of yours, today…

Alicia @ boylerpf

Such a great post! While in France, it was always a wonder to me how the French women looked, walked and in general..their personae. No matter the age or the outside beauty, their style and ease was apparent. It is an air of inner confidence that radiates and one that ALL women should attribute to. I’m with you on growing old gracefully without living well through chemistry or surgery. Now I need to adapt these positive vibes coming from within…and buy some sexy lingerie…lol! Sure does beat wearing granny panties!

my favorite and my best

great! great!!! yes- this beauty business is radiated from within. without a doubt.
eat well, drink well, sleep well, love well, work well, play well.
that’s the formula isn’t it?

Vicki Lane

Excellent post, Vicki! It’s a question I’ve thought about a lot — as do most women as they age. I’m always looking for role models on the aging gracefully track — having neither the money nor the dedication to pursue the illusion of eternal youth. As for the younger man — that’s right out — the older man who’s been my husband the past 46 years wouldn’t like it!

hello gorgeous

Loved every line of this post!

Your line, “French women seem to be women first” is great! I think a lot of American women feel it is too indulgent to spend too much time (and money on hair, lingerie, etc.) on themselves when they are pulled in so many other directions and have so many others to care for. We should absolutely be a priority in our own lives!

A young lover or a good one absolutely helps ;-) (isn’t that the French way?) but I think sex and intimacy often get overlooked when schedules get so busy…

Personally, I love a face that is aging with beautiful skin. It is so much more interesting and true than tautly pulled nonsense. The Jane Birkin shot is amazing. You cannot buy radiance like that.

Bonjour Madame

This is a fantastic post and so timely. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I’m at a crossroads in my life and this topic actually is one of the factors weighing in on my decision. I am tired of neglecting myself and not being kind to my body by treating it well. I have put off a lot of my feminity for the sake of a job and it’s taken it’s toll over the years. I’ve got an internal longing for a return to feminity and truly being a woman with all the accoutrements, lingere, and taking good care of myself that goes along with that. I have looked up to French women for years because they have it. These women you posted are great examples of it. Thank you for the reminder to pursue my dream!

P.S. Your book is a part of what I use to dream about it. I often crack it open and notice the gorgeous feminine details and take it all in.


I think there’s certainly something to be said for the cherishing being a woman and for feeling good about that.

I am starting to wonder if the secret to ageing well may not be to go to France. Jane Birkin, Kristin Scott Thomas, Charlotte Rampling, they all have British genes but are ageing beautifully over in France.


Wow. This post will stay on my mind for some time as I feel like you read mine. It is a topic impossible not to ponder, especially those of us with daughter’s around the house. But I agree. The answer is inside of YOU, not ON you, and true beauty really is skin deep. Real beauty radiates through the lines and wrinkles and warms everyone it touches.


So beautifully expressed. Isn’t that the point–coming into oneself? To become what we were destined to become, despite all of the bumps life throws at us. I’m still considering “work”, but am more at one with myself. I think that if one’s spirit and brain are truly alive, nothing else is needed. Thank you for the opportunity to dialogue on this question that will intimately affect us all.


Fantastic post, Vicki. The innate chicness and bien dans sa peau of French women, young and old alike, has been an eternal fascination for me for over 25 years, and I have always looked to them as my role models for growing up and growing older.

Did you see Anna Wintour’s interview on 60 Minutes? She is 59 and has access to the best plastic surgeons and dermatologists on earth, and yet, she looked like she’d had no work done to her face and was just aging beautifully. I’m sure she’s used very good products all her life and SPF … but I didn’t see any evidence of surgical tweaks, fillers, or Botox. She looked far more beautiful than anyone I’ve seen who’s gone the other route. Personally, I rarely think that those interventions make a woman look younger; they just make her look strange. Just my two centimes!

If you google “anna wintour 60 minutes,” you should be able to find a video of her interview.

The Clever Pup

Ah la Binoche is so lovely.

I agree with you on so many levels. I dislike it emmensely when magazines try to pigeonhole us. We ARE women first – not 40’somethings, 50somethings. No door comes down and says, “Now you have to cut your hair, now you must stop wearing red, now you must stop wearing tights.”

I cringe when I read comments on the Sartorialist ie “she looks great for her age” She just looks great.


Just finished reading your blog and am inspired to follow the French-Way….I am a grandmother(69 years) living in Charlotte,N.C. “FRENCH ESSENCE” has become a morning read for me..my niece shared your blog with me…so now I’m a follower…

Noel Solomon

Wow Vicki.. You amaze me and I truly love how you get me thinking. I think there is nothing more beautiful than natural beauty. Women dress to impress other women. (especially where I live!) In France, It’s not about what your wearing it’s about who your meeting. They seem more “there” to me in Europe. And here, euh… it’s more about “Do I look Okay?!”
Rayia left a comment on French Blue a bit back and said.. “Why, she’s ME Darling!
She’s the woman in my heart, the woman I am,
the woman I long to be, the woman I admire.
The woman we all want to be… Timeless!
We would not have lovely women like
Coco, Audrey, Grace Kelly or Jackie
without all of them loving who they are
and being (without apologies) just that!!”
I think that fits our post perfectly. Just love who you are!
I am there with Sande… I will be pondering on this for a few days. Wonderful Post You!

xoxo’s Noel

Fat, frumpy and fifty...

thank for popping by mine…
I’ve enjoyed this post as I adore these women expeically Inez And loulou…havent been introduced to Fanny before…
very opportune time to pop by, as toorrow I go register for my French citizenship…l’m so excited…

I will no doubt write about it…

l’ll be back soon!

Brilliant Asylum

I struggle with looking older, but it is kind of liberating too. I have no desire to have any invasive procedures, but agree that putting a little more money and time into the old routine will add that sparkle of confidence. I am still envious of the French women who can stay thin with each decade–and with all of that cheese and bread! I think genetics may be on their side with that one.

Thank you for the beautiful and inspiring post.


I need to move to France AND find myself a young hottie man. I look alright (I guess?) but boy, do I *feel* schlumpy. meh.

My Castle in Spain

A very interesting post Vicki ! The expression “bien dans sa peau” says it all. As a French woman, i can see the difference between how aging is perceived in France and let’s say US. In the particular case of actresses, i just love the fact that a real homage is paid to ageing actresses like Jeanne Moreau or artists like Juliette Gréco.
Of all the women you have selected for your post, Jane Birkin surely embodies a free spirit “bien dans sa peau” and ..definitely for ever young !

The Bloom Girls

I too have been pondering the same questions regarding age as I approach 50. I am open to surgical enhancements and injections, but haven’t as of yet had any procedures. Isn’t it funny that we spend so much time in our youth thinking about our outward appearance when really it is the inner being that ultimately leads to a more rich and gratifying life. I now look at young ladies in their 20’s and 30’s and they are beautiful simply because of their youth. Whatever road I take on this journey the most important thing to me now is to try and impart some of my wisdom to my daughter (26) and other young women that I know to embrace their youth and their beauty and concentrate on developing who they are as a woman, i.e., character, confidence, spirituality, etc.
This is an awesome post and one we all can learn and grow from. You so eloquently wrote what so many women feel. Thank you!!!



“…we cannot buy it and nor can someone else do the work for us.”
So glad to see some of my favorite style icons together! I have blogged in the past about Ines and Loulou,though not about Fanny who has marked my teenage years. Majestic women who have found their inner rhythm. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

Pamela Terry and Edward

Beauty comes from within… indeed. Personally, I love to observe faces, and it seems to me that the women who age the most beautifully are the ones who have spent the greatest amount of time thinking and dreaming of so many other fascinating things than their appearances. When they do reach the age when their beauty begins to change, it simply provides them with more interesting faces. Confidence, curiousity, and kindness seem to add more to a woman’s beauty than anything else.

And really, while I am a huge fan of my creams and potions, and I have always taken care to stay out of the sun, eat right and sleep loads…I do believe our faces reflect our lives. And aren’t they supposed to? Besides, I have never seen any plastic surgery that makes a person look younger. They just look different.


Oh how true….I do so believe in the French woman’s philosophy. Here in Americs (ESPECIALLY Vegas!) women are oh too quick to run off to the Plastic surgeon to make them young, while completely oblivious to the fact that youth and beauty come from within.
What a perfect thought provoking woman empowering post,


It’s true.some years ago i met an
old lady ,she was about 70.
First i did not understand how is possible that she seems so lovely, young and simpatic.Then i saw her blue eyes like the sky trasmitting hapiness. She Bien dans sa peau’…

down and out chic

beautiful post, i love it. these women are all gorgeous and i hope that i will age with grace and that i’ll continue to love myself, no matter how i look.


Merci, merci vicki de choisir ces femmes qui m’inspirent depuis mon enfance. elle sont belles dans tous les sens du mot. Charlotte Gainsbourg, la fille de Jane Birkin continue la tradition .
thank you, thank you vicki for showing off these women which inspired me since i was a little girl. they are beautiful in every sense of the word. Charlotte Gainsbourg , the daughter of Jane Birkin is passing on the good genes!.


Vicki, what an absolutely wonderful post! I think self-confidence is key in radiating beauty and aging gracefully, but it is something I have struggled with having for as long as I can remember. I continue to strive towards feeling more comfortable and confident in my skin, and in the meantime, I hope that inner beauty does indeed shine through!


Wonderful post, and you truly made me laugh with your line about waiting for our innards to make us shine.

I’m still patiently waiting for my liver and kidney to cooperate.


I LOVE this! And seriously my favorite quote in your book is that…

“There is no greater magnetism than a woman who is self-assured. This is the ULTIMATE beauty secret and one that French women truly understand.”

This fits right into that! Ummm do I see a sequel? My French Life Part Deux???



Amazing Post!! I so agree with you! These women are beautiful and the real beauty is being comfortable in their own skin and loving who they are…and not being afraid of who and how old they are. They just are!
Thanks for such needed enlightenment!!

Ingrid Mida

What a beautifully written and thought provoking post!
I think happiness and self-confidence radiate beauty, whatever one’s age. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt to dress with style and elegance.


What a delight to read this post. I am struggling with some of these issues right now. I am 44 and always have been told I am beautiful, but never really felt it. It seems that must come from within. Unfortunately when our (my) bodies begin to fail – the hair falling out, the bones deteriorating, the brilliance fading… its difficult to feel pretty. Reading your post reminds me that beauty really is a state of mind… an attitude, a choice. Sort of a cup half full rather than empty. I do love the French style AND attitude. I must work on the -come what may attitude. I don’t speak any French, but I am sure there must be a fabulous French phrase for this. Sort of a C’est la vie, if you will.

I am grateful I read this tonight. I feel as if my body is betraying me with several ailments. Bless you Vicki for reminding us beauty *must* begin inside within our heads… not on top them… xo Melinda


I loved turning 50, it was no big deal, but 3 years later, the occasional niggling feeling of insecurity has started to chip away at my confidence. Last week I was negotiating some business with 2 long-time clients (male & female). As we finished up & shook hands, my male client said "I hope you don't mind me saying this, but we were talking about you today & you know, you haven't changed a bit in the 20 years since you started coming to see us."

Mind a bit…. I certainly don't think so, I wanted to grab them both & kiss them! In an instant those few words did what no amount of surgical intervention, botox, magical face serum etc. could ever do. I talked out of their office with all my confidence restored, with a spring in my step & the biggest grin on my face! Thank you dear girl for this very important & reflective post.
Millie ^_^

Zita - Mlle Magpie

I always liked that “bien dans sa peau” expression. Feeling well inside your skin comes from an inner confidence, which would have not that much to do with your outside. And this is coming from France, where people are obsessed with beauty. So to me, it is one of the wonderful contradictions of the French. They value beauty, but also inner confidence perhaps just as much. I vote for feeling “bien dans sa peau’ at all ages!

The Pink Poodle

dear Vicki…I apologise firstly for missing a few posts..

AND i am soo glad you did this post..
OKAY… I am 52 yo this year…most people cannot believe I am THAT OLD!! (neither can i!).
anyway…I look at photos of me in my 20's and think where has that flat stomach etc gone??

BUT…it is now a little bit more flabby…(could lose it if i was a bit stricter re my regime)…BUT i do my tennis 3 times a week..
still have my long hair…
still feel fit…run several kms per week..

feel comfortable in my body/skin…still a size 12/14…
CAN look sexy…or daggy…depending on my mood..

I am ME…I am happy…I still have good legs…long hair…

still breathing!! VOILA!!

No need for cosmetic surgery…BOOBs still stand out nice & full..

not many wrinkles..

have my spray tan once a week just to add to my "GLOW"!!

THATS ME… at NEARLY 52 YO…BUT FEELING ABOUT 30 YO…with no enhancements….

My advice…JUST be yourself..whether you are aussie/french/english whatever..
LOVE your OWN BODY…appreciate your strengths & weaknesses…



La Belette Rouge

A fantastic post and you speak to what it is that attracts me to French chic, French culture and to learn the secrets of how French women manage to “Bien dans sa peau.”

I have read in a market study that Botox is well used in France. I have to tell you that I find something comforting in knowing that French women too turn to technology and/or whatever else it takes to feel good in their skin. French women, it turns out, are in fact mortals who want to look their best. What I so love about French women is that they seem to want to look like their best self and do not try to look like someone else. Idiosyncrasy seems to be a high value as opposed to conformity.

A Thousand Clapping Hands

When I look at the faces of these women I think – Beauty. Just look at Ines…I have not seen a current photo of her in years, and I have always admired her style – she is radiant. I want to age naturally, gracefully. For me the key is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and to stay thin. Nothing ages one more than gaining weight. I will have to practice what I preach – an immobile winter has reeked havoc on my (retired) dancer’s body and I feel like a different person.
Must tell you – one of the best things about coming home was having a stack of French Essence in my mail to read! Just a delightful joy.
Catherine x


Bravo!! I enjoyed this post more than any other. I would like to add one more person to your list, America model/actress Christie Brinkley. She fits this category beautifully.


Bravo Vicki! Lovely, truthful and a post full of heart!
So many of what you mention in this post, I breech with my clients. It is the self-confidence a woman gives off that creates an air around her of timeless beauty, sexiness, and that certain quality you know she has but you just can’t put your finger on it.
BTW ~ I LOVE Fanny Ardent and saw her riding the metro in Paris one day. I wanted so badly to go up to her but I was oh-so nervous. She is just gorgeous!

Olga Granda-Scott

First of all, thank you for your kind and encouraging words following my reflections about being a young mother. While I am young, I’m certainly not feeling the same as I did when I had just one baby. So beginning to feel old is something quite real for me lately. I too appreciate recent reverence offered to the older and wiser. It is frustrating that some people can only see youth as beauty. I know several women who in my opinion have ruined themselves with surgeries and botox, etc. A forehead that doesn’t have any lines is just not normal! And it is certainly not beautiful! Our facial expressions, created by curves and nuances are what make us unique. If your face can’t express differences between happiness and sadness isn’t there a problem?!
French women are so confident…maybe I will go out and buy some nice lingerie today…or perhaps a manicure.
Thank you for all your inspiration and (positive) provocation.
xoxo, Olga


“Bien dans sa peau”…..what a wonderful expression – and how fabulous to be described in that way! What a great post you have written, I couldn’t agree more. I am also a fan of Helena Frith Powell – and I have always thought Ines de la Fressange just stunning. Off to re-read it now!

Your blog, the way is gorgeous, and your home amazing.

Thank you,

Judith. ..de Santa Fe

After reading this astute and thoughtful post yesterday , I decided I wanted to ponder it a bit before leaving a comment. I felt it might help me clarify my thoughts .

Not at all! I finally decided that I must give it even more thought and post a response on blog. (as I see LaLa has done at My Castle in Spain)

For now, five simple notes –

1. It was so good seeing Lou Lou and Ines – I feel as if I grew up with them.
2. I decided to celebrate my 50th birthday by becoming a professional artists’ (interpretation: nude) model.
3. At 55 , I married a dear, sweet, gorgeous hunk … . who’s 18 years younger.
4. Jane Birkin and I are the
same age.
5. Aging gracefully takes more courage than I could have ever imagined.

My Castle in Spain

Dear Vicki,
i just wanted to let you know, i found your post so touching and vibrant, i linked to it today in my post. Your post also reminded me of a dear friend
Bien amicalement

A Cuban In London

What a well-writtena dn thought[provoking post. As the father of an eight-year-old daughter I sometimes wonder whether she will feel this type of pressure of being who she is not. And the answer is, sadly, yes. The only solution I can find, besides the ones you mentioned in your closing paragraph, is self-confidence. I know that you touch upon it, but I’d rather see it spelled out. Confidence and self-esteem.

Many thanks for such a brilliant post.

Greetings from London.


I loved reading this post, and looks like I’m not the only one – 69 comments already!! I totally agree that it’s the inner confidence, that make us women beautiful. It took me ages to learn it. And in case of French women it totally stems from the fact that they are women first, before they are girlfriends/wives/mothers… I love that. Many thanks. Polly


Lovely, lovely. Just exactly right for what I was thinking in my post today as well…thank you for visiting my blog and sharing your thoughts. Your post here is so nicely written and thoughtfully expressed–and I share your questions about the forks in the road. We could look at it as an exciting time to look forward to a new chapter in our lives.

xo sallymandy

Fifi Flowers

GREAT post!!! I soooo agree with you… the LADY in the mirror is NOT the GIRL I am inside! Inner beauty is what really counts… however a little Vitamin B (as in Botox) is a lovely helper!



What an asbolutely lovely article. I really enjoyed reading it, looking at the photos and quite agree with your piece. I love how you said that French women are women first, before they categorize themselves in any roles. Being comfortable in our own skin so to speak is indeed the key to looking beautiful because the confidence and beauty does come from within. Thank you for this wonderful article.

To being a woman first – at any age,
Karen Olivia


I like the way you are commfortable in who you are, Vicki. This comes through and your genuine-ness is apparent. You are very sophisticated, yet down-to-earth and warm at the same time and we all love that about you!


You said it Lady and may I add, said it so well! These women you chose to feature are all lovely and every year adds a story and character to their already beautiful visages. A wonderful post!


I love all those ladies. French ladies have always an unique touch, glamour, elegance, they have that certain allure…
I like your blog!


It's incredible that of all the women you could have chosen…you chose Lou Lou & Ines as your first two. I always thought they were stunning women… to the point where I gave my two daughters their middle names.. Isabella Loulou & Brooke Ines. For what it's worth my thoughts as a male are that sexy is put on, sensual is born or certainly "felt & thought". Plastic surgery may help a woman "put it on", but I doubt that it can make her feel and think it. You could put any of the women in the photos in a potato sack…they could still walk into any room and be the absolute centre of attention. Its "in" them…. they "oooze" style and self-confidence.

Just some simple thoughts from a mere male ;-)

The Clever Pup

Couldn’t resist. Did my own mini-post on this subject over at my place.

Vicki, Thanks for visiting my site today and I love your roses.

Miss Sandra

Dear Vicki,
Those are beautiful words for us to live by. I think I shall print them on the wall of my boudoir. You have a lovely blog. I plan to visit often.
Thank you for stopping by Harmonie House!
Have a lovely weekend!


Very thoughtful post this. I am barely 31 years old and I find myself thinking of these themes often. Dont know whether it is my generation that ages faster or just me. But already I feel that the weighing scale is conspiring against me and the once every well defined jaw line is rounding off. Have always been confident about the way I look and feel – but feel that feeling is chipping away. this post makes me want to do something about it and now. thanks.

Live In Full Color

Vicki I so agree with you. I live within walking distance to a French-American school here in New York, so everyday I see these wonderfully stylish French women picking up their children from school.

Even in their most dressed down state they somehow throw on a scarf or wrap a sweater around their neck and viola-are extremely chic. There is an ‘I am woman’ confidence about them, no doubt.

I think too that it must have something to do with their culture. In New York ( and in most major cities in the USA ) we are rushing to get from point A to B, while on a recent trip to Paris I couldn’t help but notice even the business men and women enjoying a leisure lunch and nice paced stroll in the middle of a busy day.

I think that the French (men and women both) are aware that indulging in the enjoyment of the senses and taking time to really know ourselves is in the long run- by far a better beauty regimen then the next latest and greatest ‘quick fix’.

Thanks for reminding me of this – I too feel at a crossroads of sorts!
Today I’m inspired to enjoy and ‘own’ who I am right now!

Marigail Mathis

Vicki, your article resounds with wisdom and points to ponder.
I work as a stylist and everyday I face challenges with women who don’t know how they want to look. They fear looking silly, age inappropriate, too dowdy, too sexy, the list goes on and on.

“So,” I ask,”how about getting a little French attitude, feeling confident? Let’s update!”

Then they start to glow.

Vicki, You glow, girl.

Bloomin' Anglophile

I have been a lurker for awhile, but this post has made me come out of hiding! I grew up thinking how silly it was that some women didn’t want to reveal their age–we are lucky if we get to stick around for awhile. Some women leave this earth too soon, with so many dreams left unfulfilled. However, I just turned 40 this year and it hit me harder than I thought it would. I think I am beginning to understand the denial of age! To make matters worse, I had one of those “straw that broke the camel’s back” experiences yesterday that made me realize that I need to make some changes in my life. Those changes will not include cosmetic enhancements–I am personally not in favor of them. I remember hearing an interview with Robert Redford in which he said that he didn’t like cosmetic surgery because it took away the character of one’s face. I take comfort in that!

As luck would have it, I am heading to Paris for a few days tomorrow. I am usually too busy looking at the art and the monuments to notice others around me, but this trip may be different. Hopefully I will bring home a little French perspective along with some good bottles of wine!

Thanks for a such a thought-provoking post.

-A fan from East Anglia, England


This was such a nice post to read and think about. A couple of weekends ago we attended our good friend’s 65 birthday party. It was so much fun and we all celebrated. After reflecting on the event I realized that most of my friends in their 50s and early 60s are afraid of aging and are not celebrating their lives and beauty. There are no more birthday celebrations or they are subdued events. These same friends are are hiding behind surgeries, treatments and skin care products. After the party I realized that our friend was incredible beautiful and truly the life of the party. She was the person who made us all want to celebrate as she basked in the glory of turning 65! She is forever investigating new things, traveling and not waiting on the world – she is jumping in to celebrate all there is to offer. Her husband left her years ago and she was a single mom raising two girls. Now her daughters are grown and while she has dated a few men, she maximizes every aspect of her life. After the party I made up my mind to be the person who continues to celebrate without regrets (or fears). I believe that your comment explaining that beauty is part mental, spirit, intellectual and physical is true and when we confidently celebrate these elements we are a more content, interesting person with more to give to the world. In turn the world gives right back to us and that energy is a form of radiant beauty.


Oh yes, you will recieve many a comment for this most wonderful, thought provoking post, I believe I am #92….

As I reach ever closer to 50, with 2 blissful grandchildren in tow.
I am in agreement. True beauty comes from with in one self. I believe a stress free life has alot to do with aging well.True we all have certain amounts of stress, the question is. How do we manage it? One can age faster, with unhealthy effects to our bodies and minds, due to poor stress management.

I too agree with Bloomin’Anglophile. We are lucky if we get to live long enough to come to an understanding about this.

I mourn a friend, who past away last week, at the age of 38. She didnt get to see half her dreams come to reality.

For those of us who are living, let us be happy with just that, for we have time to learn to be “well in our skin”.

Well done vicki. With your permission I shall add my self to your “followers”.

Jackie Von Tobel

Oh I wish aging was as natural and soulful as you make it sound! Maybe I just need to move to France…. You are right they do know how to live.

pve design

Wonderful. I am American, married to a man who was raised in France and I always wonder how he fell in love with me, when I visit and see all those incredibly chic French ladies. For me, they exude such confidence. Show us your photo!


I wanted to add how much I enjoyed reading all the comments posted on this topic. It was great to see such an honest and varied reaction. I wonder if anybody saw the Domino magazine (so sad about Domino) featuring Ines in her beautiful pink house?
I also wanted to comment I believe that in France mothers pass along to daughters style and beauty secrets which in something lacking in other cultures.
As for women ageing well and with style, I spotted an older woman with shoulder length grey hair trimmed very stylishly, white shirt and jeans, radiant skin slightly wrinkled but healthy and red lipstick. She looked totally stunning. I wanted to walk up and tell her so but of course far too timid to do it! I also discovered this American woman Cindy Joseph who started her modelling career with grey hair at 48. No, she’s not French but I think we would all agree she is stylish and radiant, grey hair, wrinkles and all. She has the same joy for life you see in Jane Birkin’s face.


You know I read Part 2 before I read Part 1 (not that it matters I’m sure), but I cannot tell you how much your words have inspired me to live more confidently Vicki. You are so right! A healthy body, a stimulated mind, spiritual peace and emotional well-being are keys to feeling good and I am going to make it my mission to achieve all of them – maybe then I might resemble one of those gorgeous women you featured on your post! Thank you for inspiring me… Heidi


A wonderful post and one perfect for my birthday week! Turning 50 has my thoughts go to all the things you discuss…if you don't feel good about who you are- how can you be beautiful to the outside world? Taking care of yourself and confidence can easily make a woman look and feel beautiful.


Your post changed my mood of the day. I'm passing this post to two of my best girlfriends too. From today I will start to build my self-confidentce and inner beauty. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm turning 30 in a few weeks, I think your article is the best gift in advance!


What a wonderful site! An d we are all confident and beautiful if we just set our minds first thing in the waking hours. Lets be beautiful
sexy and our best, lots luv,lindac


Have you seen the documentary, "French Beauty" by Pascal Lamche. The documentary tries to address the "mystique" that surrounds French film actresses. It relates to the discussion you presented on your post. I feel like I'm always asking you about film but that is my worldview. lol. I relate everything to film.


What a wonderful gift you have given to us all. You are inspiring and have a beautiful style of writing. The comments are also very touching.


These parisian lads, you describe them so well! My compliments.
For over time a try to construct a moodboard to show pictures of what Parisian chic actually looks like. So if you have a picture of beautifull Parisian Chic dresses or anything that brings you in that parisian state of mind sent me the link, picture or… So I can make it part of my moodboard.

Moi Decor

Hi Vicki, I have both your books and lov, lov your blog! Fabulous post, merci. I'm also amazed at how my French girlfriends speak, they speak of their husbands as their lovers. They also make everything sound so sensual and passionate – food, clothes, life. ( I don't always understand everything they say – but even that sounds exciting!)I do believe "Joie de vivre" is something you can not bottle or buy. You just feel it…


Awesome page, I haven't noticed frenchessence.blogspot.com till now in my browsing! Keep up the good work!


We must remember that beauty is more than skin deep, it takes time, not money, to shine from within. Having lived in Paris in the 60ies, I remember that style and beauty was ever present. Such a way of life. !!!!


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