French Feminine Secret: Be an Unique Piece of Art

“Style is knowing who you are, what to say, and not giving a damn.”
~Gore Vidal

I love sitting at a Parisian cafe and people watching, especially the women.  One by one, they walk by, possessing their space with confidence and an ease that says to the world, “I am who am I am, and I don’t give a damn if you like it or not!”

While they all seem to have a certain beauty; they are all unique.  One woman wears a pair of red stockings with a blue shorts and black leather bomber.  Another one passes by wearing a long chiffon skirt and t-shirt followed by a lady in a man’s dress shirt accessorized with a tiny hot pink belt and combat boots.

French women seem to have perfected making themselves their own piece of art, from how they dress  and walk to how they eat and communicate.  The world is their runway, which is why you’ll rarely see a French woman walking the streets in sweatpants and a t-shirt, unless, of course, that is her style, and then she’ll most likely throw on some funky shoes, maybe a scarf, and work that look like no other.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that advocates that we should look like everyone else, and even more important, we should be liked by everyone else.  So, the moment a new trend hits the newsstand, we run to the nearest store to conform to the new mold, because God forbid if we didn’t fit in.  To be unique and stand out from the crowd is social suicide.  In France, the opposite is true.  To not be unique and own who you are is tragique.  And, if everyone likes you, you’re vanilla.

Making yourself art is owning who you are and working with what you have.  French women do this so well.  They don’t try to hide their flaws; they flaunt them.  What many perceive as a defect, the French woman will see as an asset, something that sets her apart from the masses.  This acceptance creates a confidence and sex appeal that perfection would never offer.

I couldn’t help but notice how this phenomena plays out on American soil.  I was recently at an event in Aspen.  I couldn’t help but notice that almost every woman in the room looked as if they had been cut out of the same mold – long, blonde hair (I’m a blonde, so no offense), faces with too much Botox (I have nothing against Botox, but moderation is key), lots of makeup (I love makeup, especially lipstick, but again, moderation) and all were wearing some version of tight blue jeans with an even tighter shirt.  By our cultural standards, these women were beautiful and perfect, not a hair out of place and not an ounce of fat on their bodies.  I will not deny their beauty.  However, In the middle of the room was a brunette woman wearing a flowing sundress, little makeup and her hair was tousled, like she had just had amazing sex.  She was unique, and yes, she was stunning, not in a Hollywood kind of way, but in a “I know who I am, and this is how I roll” sort of way.  That is tres sexy!

Giving yourself permission to be your own self-made piece of art requires courage and boldness.  It requires not giving a damn.  After recently moving to a Colorado town where the dress code seems to be t-shirts, shorts and Vibrams, I’ve had a chance to practice this…a lot.  So, I wear my DVF wrap dress and four inch wedges to the coffee shop, and when someone says, “Hey lady, you’re not in the city,” I simply respond, “Merci, monsieur” and they look at me like I’m an alien.  That’s okay. I don’t desire to conform to a cultural standard in how I dress, run my business or live.  I don’t want to be a water downed version of me. I’m all in, committed to being me.

Of course, making your life art is about much more than how you dress.  It’s about your passions, desires and how you connect with the world.  It’s stating your opinion, regardless of what others think.  It’s building a business that is a unique reflection of your and your gifts.  It’s about showing up in the world as 100% YOU!

However, what the world often sees first is how you dress, so start there and let that give you the courage to show up fully as yourself in all areas of your life.

_________________

Want to dive deeper into becoming more of who you are?  Join me for Le Voyage Paris: The Art of Being a Woman this October.  You will experience first hand the power of showing up in the world as your most authentic self and walk away with the confidence to flaunt your unique self wherever you go.  Click here to learn more.

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10 Responses to French Feminine Secret: Be an Unique Piece of Art

  1. Dear Tonya,
    I loved this!! I have exhanged emails with you before and shared that my boyfriend of two years dumped me saying “You must weep everytime you look in the mirror.” Shortly after that I was in the hospital in icu and almost died 3x in a week. I have been disabled ever since and fighting to lose weight. I have a narrowing in my trachea, the size of a soda straw, severe osteo arthritis, fibromyalgia and copd due to having had 10, yes 10 pulmonary embolisms. I also have a non-malignant tumor on my thyroid which is also where the stricture is located in my trachea.

    Do you see my dilemna in trying to lose weight? I follow Weight Watchers fairly close but because of all my physical issues, I have no way to exercise. So I don’t lose anything. And I weigh over 300 lbs.

    I am so tired of being judged by my weight. And not being able to fit into the tight blue jeans and shirt. Wouldn’t I love to though! I am seeing a therapsit because of depression and I came in last week wearing a bright yellow tee shirt with a parrot on the front. My arms, which I always try to hide because they are so big, were bare. But I had accesorized with a bold yellow necklace and large hoop earrings. My makeup was perfect; I had been practicing!

    My therapist said she barely recognized me. She commented that the last six months I had always worn clothes that covered everything and were black. I told her that I had decided, whether a man ever wanted me in my condition again, I was going to stop trying to hide all that was impossible to hide and enjoy pretty colors again, and statement jewelry and go back to being MY version of a diva, which before I became ill everyone said I was.

    So your ideas today just thrilled me and I had to share that with you! I love reading your stories and I look forward to reading more. You have an important message to share and there are so many of us who need it. Thank you for blessing my day!

    BTW, where are you living in Colorado? I live in Colorado Springs.

    Light and Love!

    Ricki

    • HI RICKI,

      Thanks SO much for sharing your story. I am inspired by your willingness to be vulnerable and real. SO beautiful. And congrats for taking the time to look your best, regardless of your weight. That is a very chic thing to do! Keep that up, and you’ll start seeing improvements in how you feel about yourself. Don’t hide from the world. Walk proud and tall, my love!

      Oh…I’m in Durango!

      xoxo,

      Tonya

    • Thank you for sharing your story! I’m new to this site & haven’t figured out where it posts the date that comments were posted, so I am sorry I don’t know how old your post is! But I am wondering how you are doing now? Have you found a new man, someone who is kinder than the last one? I hope you’re doing well!

      ~Tanya

  2. Are you serious? Instead of complimenting, they tell you you’re doing it wrong? Lol!

    At one time I lived in a small town like that, and sad to say! I caved. I was 18 at the time so I’m not judging myself too harshly. By the end of that one year I was in shorts and T’s 🙁 Stay strong 🙂

    On another note, I adore your style, from your writing, to website, to – of course – your energy. thank you, Tonya.

  3. Tonya, great article. Loved it so much I read it out loud to my 14 year old who is surrounded by “vanilla”. It’s these words of complete clarity about who you are that gives our girls the courage to be themselves. Thank you. Xxxooo

  4. My SIL asked me what I was going to wear to an event we were both going to attend this past weekend – and I said – “a dress. I’ll pick one that feels right that day, but I know it’ll be a dress.” her response – “You always wear dresses…and you always look so cute…I have this new sundress that I have been dying to wear.”

    But…she showed up in capri pants and a sweater. I looked at her and said – “where’s the dress?” Her reply – “I didn’t want to be overdressed and everyone else here is wearing pants…so…”

    I took a long swallow of my pinot noir and smiled…as I was inwardly thinking – that’s a shame…because now you just blend in. I received so many compliments that night – and was in my element. Love the feeling I get from being authentic me.

  5. Wow! I just discovered your site through your interview with Amy Pearson, and I am devouring it. I’ve known for a while now that my brunette, casual, West Coast, yoga-pant-24-7 self could use a bit of frisky lingerie and femininity.

    BUT, what I really didn’t expect was, how good your blog would make me feel about the style that I already have – as a passionate reader, iconoclast, unique fashion plate (when I do get out of those yoga pants), and yes, brunette! I feel as if I’ve been yearning to find my inner blonde, so how remarkable to find the blog of a blonde looking to find her inner brunette 🙂

    (all I mean by that is that I think of lingerie, lipstick, luxury as ‘blonde’ qualities and reading widely, sophistication, and natural beauty as ‘brunette’ qualities – but if that doesn’t resonate, no offense is intended!! i think that what i really mean to say here is that the full expression of femininity in our lives is all about being a fleshy seductress and a brainy siren, a librarian and a babe – basically, embodying the archetypes of both the blonde and the brunette – even if we can only have one hair color at a time 🙂

  6. I found you via Sarah Jenks, and I’m so glad I did. I LOVE this post, both as a size 12 woman and as a wardrobe stylist in San Francisco. This is what I strive for, both with myself and my clients. Find your inner voice, and express it through your clothing and accessory choices. We do NOT need to all look alike. I am so happy to read your article!! 🙂

  7. We spent 3 weeks in France last summer, and I cannot agree more with your observations. There’s something magical and delightful about the attention to detail and the expressiveness in fashion, food, and architecture. It appears effortless, and it’s not very expensive. Of course, it is possible to spend a lot of money on fashion (or food). But the average Parisian is not rich. Interesting fashion can be had in markets and small boutiques. We bought fabulous jewelry in a Sunday market in Uzes (in the south) from a young artisan, which draws compliments constantly.

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