The Dress, part 2

Then we really went wild, jumped into a taxi and headed off for the Faubourg Saint Honoré. We entered boutique after boutique; it was as if time had stopped and we were running through a frozen film set. People came to life as we approached, everyone else blurring into the background. I tried on a slinky skintight sexier-than-peeled-grapes dress that looked great on me, and I relished watching Mr French eat me alive with his eyes (thank you for that, Mr Raf Simons). Almost everything seemed to fit, and as sales person after sales person entered the dressing rooms, I quite pleased I happened to be wearing my very best purple silk lingerie for the day.

Then we arrived at Prada. I was never much of a fan, finding the large metal logos on her handbags such a turn-off that I never looked beyond to the clothing. But the shop was there, and we were having fun, so we walked in and I asked the burly, rather intimidating security guard to point us towards dresses.

Downstairs, a lovely lady named Magali, asked if she could help us. I explained our challenge and she set to work, bringing me dress after dress. I did not know this at the time, but Magali is an image consultant, and spends her free time helping Parisiennes learn to dress. It was as if a good fairy had waved her wand, each dress was more beautiful than the next. It is no surprise that Miuccia Prada was nominated for the Design Awards for her spring 2013 collection. And she designed the dresses for Baz Lurhmann’s The Great Gatsby, adding a little capsule collection for the event. I was spoiled with an exceptionally rich collection.

I tried on a sublime finely knit black silk tunic with 1920’s fringe on the bottom that swayed seductively with every step. Then came a silk taffeta princess’ dress in rich blue with large green and ivory dots, a tight bodice and full skirt. A fun, 1950’s inspired white-trimmed black dress with a full skirt, v-neck and sleeves that rested just off the shoulders, followed by a shiny black silk dress with kimono accents that ended about mid-calf. It all fit, and it all liked good, I could tell by the look in Mr French’s eye as he sat there patiently waiting for me to don one dress after the other.

Finally, I tried on a grey silk dress that had been cut like it might have been made for Joan from the hit show Mad Men. Steel grey and sleeveless with a long pencil skirt, a fitted bodice and a rounded scooped-back opening nearly to my waist. The fabric was airbrushed with a large patch of white that through the skirt and across the bodice where some mauve Japanese style flowers printed on to the silk taffeta. Seeing it on there was no doubt. We had found The Dress.


The Dress, part 1

Last week I referred to a certain shopping trip for a special dress, but I was so distracted by the prostitute scene at a swanky hotel that I forgot to talk about The Dress. Or rather, Shopping for The Dress.

Between the two of us Mr French and I have five children (I know, this is an odd segueway, but bear with me). This is probably not the first time I mention this overwhelming fact. Five is a pretty big number, and it amazes me that we are responsible for all those little souls. They’re mostly grown, but we’re seven, so there is plenty of turbulence; emergency hospital visits, existential angst, growing pains and ski accidents are just a few of the bumps that have come our way in the few months. But right now, this week, everyone is doing ok. It’s amazing, and we are both savouring the moment, which is why Saturday was so damn fun.

We headed out the door to run errands; the cobbler, tailor, dry cleaner and the stationary seller were all on our list. As I Iocked the door, Mr French asked if I had brought the window dimensions along, we really should look into getting some curtains. I had not, but then again, neither had he.

Our errands brought us to the Bon Marche, and after getting ink for his pen, he suggested a visit to the clothing department for The Dress. I need a dress because we have been invited to a dinner party. In a palazzo. In Venice. Tenue de Soirée is what the very sober, elegantly engraved invitation read. I had called the hostess, and she had confirmed that she’d be wearing a long dress.

My first thought had been Yves Saint Laurent’s tuxedo jacket. I mean doesn’t everyone immediately think of the YSL tuxedo jacket when having a fashion emergency? No? Well, I’ve been thinking of this jacket for years, and this was the perfect once-in-a-lifetime excuse. I know it’s not a long dress, but it is THE Style Icon of my generation. I went to my nearest YSL and was quickly jolted back to reality: in my excitement I’d forgotten that the brand is now Saint Laurent. Again. After discovering that there were no jackets for me in all of France (yes, they took the time to look!) I complained to the manager about the name change, explaining that I was a traditional kind of girl.

“Then you should love it!” He protested, filling me in on the history of the brand and letting me know that Hedi Slimane, their new Creative Director, was taking the brand back to its origins, using the original name and the original logo. I didn’t leave with my smoking, but I did walk out that door convinced that Saint Laurent has some of the best customer service in Paris.

I would not be getting my dream garment. Not wanting to spend a fortune on a dress I’d have very few occasions to wear in this lifetime, I was determined to visit my old friends at Reciproque, a consignment shop that has a room of gowns. My friend Out and About in Paris had an even better suggestion: La Femme Ecarlate, a gown rental service. But everytime I’d suggest a visit to either shop, Mr French would simply grunt and head to an art exhibit.

So we were looking, but I was not shopping. Because the party is in Italy and there may actually be a spot of sunshine, I was hoping to wear a bit of color. At the Bon Marche, in an area featuring new, international designers we spotted a dress we both liked by someone from Lebanon. And then another, and another. Enough choices that it was worth disturbing the saleswoman to try on a few pieces. I went into the dressing room as she brought me the wrong dress, and then one that was two sizes too small, before confessing she didn’t have any of the dresses in my size. This made me feel fat and kind of grumpy.

Around the corner Alexander McQueen had a gorgeous tuxedo jacket with exquisite tailoring, the lapels integrated into the body of the vest. Even better, there was a dress version of the design. The designer, or creative director as they are now known, Sarah Burton, knows women and our bodies. I slipped into the dress, and it was a perfect fit. I liked they way it felt, they way it moved and the way Mr French looked at me wearing it. But it was black and stopped at the knees, and I didn’t really see the point since I already have something similar. At least I wasn’t feeling so grumpy any more.

Then we really went wild, jumped into a taxi and headed off for the Faubourg Saint Honoré…


Reciproque – 93 rue de la Pompe, 16e – 01 47 04 30 28

La Femme Ecarlate – 42, avenue Bosquet, 7e – 01 45 51 08 44

Cancale can cook

Our stay in Cancale was an absolute dream, with unexpected great weather and absolute calm. The weather, of course, was pure luck, but the peace and tranquility was thanks to  Les Maisons de Bricourt. We stayed at their Cottage Les Rimains, which is delightfully far from the maddening crowd, over looking the bay. Each of the four rooms has paned windows which frame a spectacular view of the bay, reminding us that nature is the ultimate masterpiece.

I was a bit surprised that no one offered to take our bags upstairs. This is a Relais et Châteaux, after all, but it was the only hitch of our entire stay and not being a whimp, it was not a big deal, but being a reporter, I feel the need to mention it in case it would bother others. After getting over the spectacular view, we saw that there were treats waiting for us; home baked biscuits, fresh apples, exotic dried fruits and Chouchen, a local honey-based liqueur.

Every morning we’d rise and head through the garden, beyond the white picket gate to begin our run on the GR34, water lapping the foot of the cliff.

Breakfasts were spectacular, whether served in our room with country ham and local cheese, or enjoyed after a run in the town square at the Grain de Vanille, Les Maisons de Bricourt’s salon de thé. Our taste buds were dancing with new discoveries; from the first bite of the morning’s pommé pastry to the bulgar powder we added to our yogurts.

On Saturday night we had reservations at LMdB’s Michelin starred restaurant, Le Coquillage, set in a 1930’s Chateau Richeux, several kilometers from the Cottage. We were familiar with the chef thanks to his spice shop in St Malo, which we had discovered on our last visit to the region. Being a spice loving, chili pepper-heat deprived Californian, I was an Olivier Roellinger fan before we took the five steps up to the front door.

A basket of fresh autumn squashes greeted us, with an invitation from the kitchen’s gardener to help ourselves. If I’d dared, they’d have been the perfect decoration for this week’s Thanksgiving dinner, but they were somewhat larger than my elegant little clutch, and I’m ultimately a fashion first kind of gal.

The place was literally jumping with staff and diners. Everyone happy and relaxed, fashion ranging from jeans and boyfriends sweaters to Chanel suits. The food phenomenal. We both chose the a St Jacques (sea scallop) tartare for our entrées and I’m still getting a thrill from the hit of crunch and flavour I’d get as bits of citrus exploded between my teeth. Mr French’s plat was abalone, fished from the bay by a certain Phillipe, while I spoiled myself with lobster grilled in the chateau’s fireplace.

There was an entire cart of mini pastries to choose from, most of them featuring excitingly fresh flavours and spices, with a few traditional rich offerings thrown in for good measure.

After the meal we curled up in leather club chairs, sipping herbal teas and digestifs, by a fireplace in the salon before being escorted “home” by our driver. Yes, we had a driver. The Chateau Richeux has 13 rooms and suites just above the dining rooms, but for guests staying further afield at LMdB’s cottage, they offer a free driving service for dinner, keeping the roads safe for everyone. Not a bad idea after an apéro, a bottle of wine and the digestifs!

We ended the night lulled to sleep by the melody of the sea. Sweet dreams afloat.

Les Maisons de Bricourt / +33 (0)2 99 89 64 76 |

Lèche vitrine*

a Street reNamed Happiness

Growing up, I was not the girl with movie star posters on her walls. Luke Skywalker did not melt my butter and I had no dreams of cycling off into space with my very own ET. I was a grounded girl I figured, my feet firmly planted in the rich California earth. Then the Goodfellas came out and I nearly swooned for Ray Liotta. Turns out, I like the bad boys. The really bad boys.

Which is when I realized that us girls, we all have a very particular taste of our own. Someone at must like bad boys, too, because she has helped he online dating site go brick and mortar, opening up a pop-up shop for single women.

Pilot Mec, I always wanted the Barbie plane!

Like human Barbies, the available men are displayed in large, pink boxes, with detailed instructions on the side just waiting to be unwrapped by an anxious young girl under the Christmas tree.

As I walked into the shop, I felt like Barbie herself, the entire Matel universe brought to life with a pilot, veterinarian, gym buff, and surfer dude. As I clapped my hands in glee, I turned to see Thomas, the event photographer who I met last week and who also happens to be a very good friend of La Fashionista (Mr French’s daughter).

“I’m…. I’mmmmmm….. here for work,” he stuttered, pointing to his camera and very hard-to-miss tripod.

“Yes, me too,” very glad to have OutandAboutinParis by my side as chief witness to my innocent curiousity.

Monsieur Surfer Dude

At 15h the place was humming like a night club, crowds spilled out on to the rue du Bonheur, with live music spun by Mr Techni, an open bar and plenty of treats to seduce the girls. Adopteamec gets girls. There was chocolate, and bubble gum pink tagadas, and mouth satisfying Magnum bars to pleasure their fantacies as they popped into a box with the tux clad Mr Chic, or the plugged in Mr Geek.

I had been shooting the IHT early that morning, so I thought it would be fun to get the guys with the paper. Opening the box of Mr Chic, I expected a look of utter horror. I am probably closer to his mother’s age than his own. But this is France where age matters less, and I was greeted with a warm invite.

Le Bar, serving teddy bears, red heads and geeks

As stereotyoes would have it, Mr Chic held the paper up to pose, Mr Geek started reading and I had to pry it from his hands, while Mr Muscle just held it up to the plastic box, the concept of reading well beyond his imagination.

If you’re looking for a bad boy of your own, Adopteamec is at 15 rue des Halles in the 1st until next week, before hitting the road for the dating capitals of Europe…


*Lèche Vitrine means window shopping, but translate as Window licking

*Adopt a Dude

A solid foundation

Lingerie shopping for that first date reminded me on my very first bra fitting in Paris. I was nearly 40, had had two children and had not changed bra sizes in a very, very long time. To be perfectly honest, I had not actually worn a bra in a very, very long time. Like an insect in metamorphosis, I was changing from a granola-munching, hairy-legged, commando-dressing Californian into me. I’d look at the moms picking up their kids at the girls’ school and, as a designer, I could not help noticing that having the proper under garments made a significant different to their lignes.

I was ready for some underwear. Remembering that my Mom had taught me to always purchase one bra for three matching panties (yes, my Mom was cool), I spent several hours strolling through the lingerie department looking for something I thought I could actually wear. I was finally ready to try on a few pretty, yet practical, everyday bras to see how they fit.

The woman at the changing room stopped me cold. “Are you sure you have the right size?”

Oui, oui, madame.”

“Well, I’m not so sure,” she replied as she clinically took her hands and cupped them over my breast. I let out a startled squeak as my eyes popped out of my head and my feet left the ground in surprise. “You’re an A cup,” she announced loudly enough for anyone to hear. She then put her two hands on either side of my rib cage and declared me a 90. 90A. The bras in my hands were 85B, which confirms that I am an optimist.

It also confirms that I had not yet learned how important proper fitting underwear is for a chic Parisienne style. I started paying attention, and at the gym I noticed that even for a workout, the girls were all wearing properly fitting, matching underwear, just like my Mom had said. And it was not necessarily expensive, many of my Parisiennes get their Dim underwear at Monoprix for bras that give a great silhouette with a comfortable fit for everyday wear.

Since girls just wanna have fun, they also like the lacy stuff from time to time. Practical girls head to Orcanta, where they have a large selection of many different brands with a respectably diverse selection of ‘moods’ in a variety of price ranges. When I am feeling particularly up-scale and naughty, I like Marlies Dekkers, for her flattering, extra-odinarily comfortable designs that are hot enough for a girl like Fergie from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. When I am looking for luxurious fabrics with that silky feel, I head to Princesse Tam Tam. Sometimes I get so carried away that I have to remind myself that I am there to look lovely when I am dressed and need to think about how the garments flatter me and my outfits (or not). For that, Aubade has the “cheater’s panty” which I will not picture here because my Dad and my kids read this blog. Not to mention Mr French’s assistant! If I really want to splurge, and I don’t care about what I’ll be wearing on top, I look at Eres for sumptuous silks in girlie not-frilly designs that have been proven to drive men wild.





Going Live

The problem with attempting online dating in Paris, is that if you are at all successful, then eventually, your ‘date’ is going to want to take things offline and actually meet you. Of course, that is the goal anywhere you start chatting up people online, but in Paris, chances are pretty high that you’ll be meeting a Frenchman who is used to seeing Parisiennes all day, every day.

Now, if you are a happily confident soul, this is not an issue (and you are a very lucky person) but if, like me, you are slightly complexed about your rounder than the-averag-local-girl figure and painfully aware that you are NOT a chic Parisienne, and on top of that had not dated, had not even contemplated dating, in the previous two decades, much less meet a new man for anything more adventurous than a coffee to discuss business, the thought can be overwhelmingly INTIMIDATING.

And that is exactly how I felt after Mr French and I had been ‘seeing’ each other online for a while. I wanted to meet him live, but I had no confidence and was paralysed by the simplest possible question; what do you wear on your first date with a Frenchman that you’ve never seen before, and who, more importantly, has never seen you?

Being plugged in, I posted the question online to see what the fashionistas of France had to say, and I got some fantastic advice, “Wear your favorite outfit, whatever that is. Something you feel absolutely comfortable and at ease in, something you know and that knows your body. Whatever you do, do not go out and buy something new.”

The advice continued, “Then go out and buy yourself the sexiest, most fabulous lingerie you can find. Something that you love and that makes you feel wonderful.”

Those women, like most truly chic ladies, understood that bras and underwear were not called foundation wear for nothing. They are the foundation of your style, they define your silhouette, control how your clothing falls and flows as you move and if chosen properly, they can give you a delicious secret that is visible to none, but obvious to anyone paying attention.

I started going through my closet, choosing my favorite jeans, my favorite blazer and some adorable kitten heeled boots that I simply loved. The blazer and the shoes were a color that seemed particularly appropriate for a date; chocolate. Then I went to Chantal Thomass where I picked out a little (teeny, tiny, even) something in a warm chocolate satin with laces. Not lace, but laces.

A week later it was D-Date. I am not crazy. I did not know this person and I had met him online. All this build up and angst was about a coffee date. We’d be in a crowded room together for as little as 15 minutes and a maximum of two hours if things went exceedingly well. Being the old-fashioned girl that I am, there is no way that anyone but me was going to be seeing my underwear that day. But it worked like a charm, and I walked out my front door feeling very comfortable in my old jeans, yet standing tall with my little secret…


A table

I was going to stop talking about dating Frenchmen after explaining the choreography of getting through the door on the first date. But last week, Mr French and I went out for a lovely meal and I was reminded that the dance continues while you’re at the table.

Okay, you’re sitting down, so it is not really a dance, but there is a routine. And you may, or may not want to follow this routine, that is totally up to you and your personal style, but like any skilled rancher, it is best to know the lay of the land before you start wrangling cattle (really bad analogie, but I’m having fun with it).

I realize that the year is 2012, not 1962, but if you are out for an evening with a traditional guy, you should not be surprised if he expects to place your order. Or not. At first, I thought that this was just happening because I am old and dating older guys and assumed that guys in their 20’s and 30’s do not do the same. I was informed otherwise by girls who would know. And because the French tend to love to confuse us (masculine and feminine nouns… ‘nuf said) your date may place your order one evening and expect you to order for yourself the next.

How’s a girl to know? If he asks you what you’re ordering before the waiter arrives, you can guess that he may order for you. Of course, he could just be asking out of sheer politeness and perhaps he is genuinely curious, or looking for a bit of inspiration for his own meal. You can’t be sure. Fortunately, the waiter will generally speak to Monsieur first, so your date will order for himself, and perhaps even for you and you’ll mercifully hear the order, which is your cue to order. Or not.

That bullet dodged, here comes one of those quirks of French etiquette that I have not yet learned to appreciate; a lady never pours for herself. Neither water, no wine. It is expected that she sit there and wait to be served. Love the concept. But in practice, I tend to get very thirsty, particularly at meals and I like to drink A LOT.  At dinner parties I find myself pleaing like Oliver, “Please sir, may I have some more?” Its only water I crave, yet I feel like an incorrigible lush after about the fifth or sixth request. On a date, this can be particularly bothersome. He may be gazing lovingly into your eyes, completely enraptured in the moment when you have to break the mood requesting that he serve you a drop to drink, feeling like a mother reprimanding her negligent son to clean his room. I have yet to find an romantic solution, but I was recently advised that holding up one’s empty water glass and shaking it works for women who have been married a very long time, so perhaps this would work on a date. I have me doubts….

Back to our dinner at Les Garçons. Les Garçons is a local café. Fun and easy with an impressively young crowd for our quartier. We were there for a casual Friday date and were enjoying the ambiance, food and wine immensely. Les Garçons serves traditional bistro fare with a decidedly international, modern twist. The have a burger of the day, with special sauces from across the globe and creative entrées that really follow the seasons. Like any true bistro, the menu tends to rely heavily on the meats. When it is quiet, the chef comes out of his kitchen to chat. He is very proud of his cuisine and it shows in the quality on your plate. We were having a lovely evening and Mr French was being particularly attentive. Which meant, he kept filling my glass. And filling it, and filling it… by the end of the evening I was hiccup-drunk!

If things are going well on a date, you may also let down your guard as he generously serves you glass after glass and before you know it, you’re dancing on the table tops and a complete stranger is sipping champagne from your mercifully new high heels. This is probably not a good idea in the beginning. I had to learn to sip delicately and keep careful tabs on the bar tab, oh, and I’d wear fabulous shoes, just in case things went too far and they ran out of champagne flûtes.

Les Garçons

The secret garden

For a brief time, my daughters were adopted by a French grandmother. Mamie is a kind,  beautiful, incredibly elegant lady with a large flock of her own grandchildren, as well as a part time job raising funds and awareness for kidney disease, but she somehow found time for my girls and me, too. Mamie’s hair is always in a perfectly impeccable chignon, she wears stockings and once apologised for being under-dressed because she had on a pair of slacks. In the rare moments that she is not working or taking care of the grandchildren, Mamie goes to the theater and book lectures.

When Mamie would take the girls for the weekend she would give them intellectual exercises, teach them card games and cook traditional French dishes like baked endives. My kids didn’t love everything, but that knew instinctively that you don’t mess with Mamie. You finish what is on your plate, forget that computers or cellphones exist, say please, thank you and non, merci madame. Against all logic, they absolutely adored hanging out with her, and somehow managed to choke down those endives.

One evening after the girls’ father left, Mamie showed up at my door, telling me I needed a break and that I should get out of the flat. NOW. This very moment. She handed me a coat and sent me on my way with strict orders to eat something.

Later that evening, back at home with the girls safely asleep, Mamie and I had a chat.

“It is really shocking that he left. He was so in love with you, but you know, its kind of your fault a bit, too.” she informed me.

I continued to listen as she explained the concept of le jardin secret, the French woman’s secret garden. At around the age of 40, women are well advised to take a lover. You never share this with your friends, your family, or anyone has have ever breathed. Not even those who are now 6 feet under. It is your garden. Your secret garden.

Since that chat, I have had a few years to talk about it with my parisiennes and read about it in ELLE and eavesdrop on the subject in cafés. The theory is that having a secret gives you confidence, which draws people to you (people like your husband, for example). The French also believe that falling in love is the ultimate diet, so having a lover is great for the figure. And it is safe to assume that when one has a lover, she pays more attention to her looks and her wardrobe. To be brief, a woman in love looks hot.

I don’t know about your average Frenchman, but I am confident that Mr French would much rather send me to a fat farm, offer me a day at a spa and invite me on a shopping spree. This strikes me as a ridiculously complicated way to re-attract your man and perhaps there is something seriously wrong with my sense of adventure, but personally, I’d rather bring out the mink-lined handcuffs to spicy up my marriage.

The husbands, Mamie assured me, remain totally oblivious, but are unconsciously drawn closer to their wives at an age when their eyes tend to stray, looking for some young blood to make themselves feel younger. Does this ensure his fidelity? No way. If the women have a secret garden, surely they are hoeing in somebody else’s yard. The idea is that, while he may stray, he won’t stray far. And if he does leave, well, at least you will have had an adventure of your own. I am going to have to take her word on this. It is not something I can imagine for myself, but I get a girlish pleasure knowing that the very traditional, deceptively up-tight ladies I see strolling my quartier are, like Mamie, very likely to have had a secret garden adventure of their own.

Dating Mr French

There is a scene in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta is in the car with Samuel Lee Jackson and he is discussing his recent stay in Amsterdam:
Vincent Vega: You know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
Jules Winnfield: What?
Vincent Vega: It’s the little differences. I mean they got the same sh** over there that they got here, but it’s just, just there it’s a little different.

Vincent then goes on to explain how the cheeseburger exists in the French McDonald’s, but it is called Le Royale. That is what made the movie great. Odd from the perspective of an incompetent gangster, but so true. Everything here is the same. We all eat, drink and sleep the same, but the French just do it with a certain je ne sais quoi.

I didn’t date very many Frenchmen before Mr French had earned my complete and undivided attention. There were more dinners and eventually, I let him pick me up at my front door.

This meant we arrived at the restaurant together, signaling my greatest “Le Royale” moment. Considering that the seven year old kid upstairs already insists on opening doors for me, and that my daughters’ boy friends make it a point of honor to be the last one through the door, its a safe bet that any Frenchman an adult woman would date expects to be the one opening the doors. This does not necessarily come as a reflex for independent girl from San Francisco, where men tended to be too busy flirting with her husband to even notice she was coming through the door. SLAM!

There is an entire choreography to entering a restaurant with a French man in Paris. You arrive together, then mademoiselle takes a half-step back as he opens the door, inviting you to enter. She steps in, the number of steps necessary to let him in the door, but then she must immediately step back to let him pass and be the first one to greet the maitre d’. Kind of like a back step, forward, forward, back, cha cha cha. It has taken me years to get the choreography down.

Once you’re in the door, you’re on your own, ladies. I’ve heard that French men say “je t’aime” immediately and then continue to shower you with the phrase, Mr French prefers to shower me with flowers. I’ve heard reports of men who grab you by the wrist and rush you home to meet Maman, while other men wait until after you’ve said yes to his proposal. I can’t generalize. I only know my own happily ever after, and I hope you find yours…

A First Date

Meetic Sign















I was in something in a tizzy over my first, going beyond the café, date. This wasn’t my first date with a Frenchman, in fact I’ve still never dated an American. But, this was my first date in 20 years!!! Was it really like riding a bicycle? Would I fall off? I had no idea, but I felt ready to find out.

Before heading out, I turned to My Parisiennes for advice. I was a bit wary of les filles around this time, because they had set me up on coffee dates with some of the wildest guys, occasionally knowing that the men were married! “Well, its not like he is in love with his wife, besides you never said you wouldn’t date a married man.” I learned to be very clear with my friends about what I was looking for AND what I was avoiding like a case of rickettsia (been there, done that… Africa 1993).

But these women were my friends and they provided some really fantastic advice about what to wear. Hands down, the best suggestion was to wear my favorite, most comfortable clothing that made me feel the most self-assured and at ease, ensuring I’d feel the most like myself. I chose a pair jeans with a low cut brown wool Burberry blazer that I’d had in my closet for ages.They reminded me that shoes are crucial in France. Even busy CEOs take a moment to bend down and shine their shoes before heading out the door each morning, while placement firms have been known to take potential candidates on shopping excursions for new shoes before an interview. It would have to be heels. Sexy ones that had been shined recently.

Love, by YSL

Then for that extra bit of confidence, they told me, go out and buy yourself some really, hot, sexy lingerie that you love. It will give you a secret that adds some mystery to the evening. If you’d like a second date, keep those panties to yourself and wait for another night before unveiling your new look. Of course, if one date is enough, remember to play safe.

Since I was dating men I had met online, they were not coming to pick me up at my front door. I was in no hurry to give out my home address. I headed out the door alone. Nervous, but confident with my new best friend, Chantal Thomass at my side.

Chantal Thomass

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