Archive for May, 2012

Stillness

When my personal style idol, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, bagged JFK, Jr., the world of woman’s gossip was awash with advice about how to pull off such a coup.

  • Read and abide be ‘The Rules’, they told us.
  • Withhold sex for [insert recommended number] dates, they speculated.
  • Don’t touch your face or hair, they said. Carolyn, apparently, did not.

And at an early and impressionable age, that’s the one that stuck: stillness is largely the trick (one that I have not mastered, incidentally, but aspire to).

Here’s the story about a fixed object. It forces the things in its sphere to do the approaching — not the other way around. So if your magnetism draws someone to you, you can be assured that the interaction is desired and authentic — and anything can happen from there.

In my post about the Smokey Eye, I spoke about the power of looking, and that holds true here. Sitting quietly and confidently composed allows you to survey a room and make measured choices about the people onto which your eyes lock. It’s that predatory and mysterious power, and the fact that stillness is not seeking or desperate, that makes it sexy in a man or a woman.

But wait, there’s more.

We live in a world increasingly driven by the power of image. With Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other forms of social share, we have all become publishers and controllers of our own depiction. Since no one wants to publish bad images, think about your best ones. Only a winning smile trumps the beauty of repose, wrote the woman who gesticulates so madly that the vast majority of her photos are botched.

Speaking of pictures, the one I chose for this post features a medallion that also advises quiet. From a blogger who has the word ‘Speaks’ in her handle, we can also guess that this is another skill I haven’t totally cracked. What I can say is that a lot of men probably think talking is overrated and should be reserved for commercial breaks. And of course, they want us to listen more. There’s power in listening, too, as it allows you to divine connections and departures from your true priorities and values.

All this to say, stillness and quiet, if taken too literally, are just plain boring. We need animation and clever conversation. We need jokes and clowns. We need to dance.

What I advocate here is a bit of pre-meditation and control of what, how and when we express ourselves. There are times when speaking is the most powerful thing in the world, and there are other times when keeping your counsel will give you the upper hand. Finding your level can make all the difference.

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Tanned skin

By now you have probably gathered from all the gushing on Twitter that, desperate for some sunshine after more than a month of gloom, cold and rain, I decamped to a place where I knew the sun would be shining: Tel Aviv.

Beyond an assured sunny forecast, I have always had a penchant for anything you can slather on bread: hummus, babaganoush — ‘baby food’ as an old flame once said. So whether it was the dip on my pita or a dip in the sea, I left Tel Aviv feeling well and truly nourished.

What I gather did the trick, though, was the sun.

I have a friend who is really great at asking questions that start conversations by making you reveal your decisions and priorities.  These range from the typical last meal type of thing, to ‘What are three designer items you would buy if money were no object?’* Once she asked, ‘If you could do any of the following without consequences, which one would be habitual?’ (note here that the question, originally asked after hitting the mini bottles on an EasyJet flight, now sounds a lot smarter.)  At any rate, the options were class A drugs, smoking, drinking, promiscuous sex or sunbathing.

You’re clever; you’ve seen the title of this post. Guess which one I picked?

There are few amongst us who don’t look and feel better with some colour. Similarly, there are fewer things more relaxing, sensual and indulgent than soaking up the sun’s rays, then cooling off in the water just to feel its heat and transformative properties all over again.

Also, consider how you feel about your body after a day in the sun. I guarantee you, you hold yourself differently, you move with more freedom, you wear less make-up and you definitely wear fewer clothes. Suddenly, you like yourself just a little bit more. You feel thinner, you feel healthy and you’re showing off a bit. It’s okay. We all do it.

What about tan lines? We make efforts to avoid them (and should, as white strap lines peeking out of skimpy tops can be pretty déclassé) but, naked, does anything highlight your sex more effectively?

So with all this, does tanned skin attract men? I hope so. What’s not to love about a woman looking her most naturally beautiful and reminding them of her warm, exposed skin?

Since life is not my friend’s quiz, I have to nod to the fact that we must be sun safe. There is nothing LESS attractive than crispy pink skin that makes you look like a pork scratching. There’s also the ageing issue, which I was acutely aware of wading into the water next to impossibly brown Israeli women in hot pink string bikinis (seriously, why do they all look like Bar Refaeli there?). But that’s just one more great thing about the sun. It makes us feel young and dream of the carefree days of our youth, our idealised selves, or even our ideal retirements.

And who wants to look like that anaemic vampire whinge,  Bella Swan, anyway? I don’t want a life consigned to difficult child-bearing, some creepily attached amber-eyed in-laws and total devotion to an intensely boring mate, so I’m okay taking my chances with a life outside the dramatic yet skin safe rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.

*My chosen designer items are Louboutin nude heels (UK 5) Chanel handbag (2.0) and a Burberry trench (size 38, me thinks). Just in case any of you were feeling generous.

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Streaking

One trend remains true in my life. Around May, I will inevitably end up at Twickenham, whether for the Sevens or Army vs. Navy. I never plan it, but I always manage to get there.  These occasions bring out good friends, fancy dress and streakers — in fact, this year, I saw a record four in just one half, leading me to wonder if there’s any point to coming home late and watching Sexcetera when I know where I can get a live show.

We’ll get back to those streakers, who before they disrobed, were dressed as bumblebees, Tinkerbell and ballerinas.  They actually have a point in this post.

But before that, I want to talk about what happens after rugby.  At last year’s Sevens, the sun was shining, I was in the throes of a new relationship, loved up and beaming. This year, I was decidedly more single, in the rain, but in a festive ‘where else but England?’ mood. The streakers helped.

Call it the Laws of Attraction, but after last year’s Sevens, I ended up with a surprise trip to the BAFTAs (note to reader, your pre-formalwear menu should not include stadium hotdogs, but we live and learn); this year after Army/Navy, I ended up with an invitation to a Wetherspoons (oh, how the mighty have fallen). It was trumped by an offer of a surprise set-up in a West London piano bar.

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have gone. I’d had several pints at Twickenham and like Monica on ‘Friends’, my hair grows with the amount of moisture in the air. I was also trying a new trend that I don’t know how I feel about — bright skinny jeans (see Hosiery for similar effect), and they may have been a bit baggier than normal as I’m currently a bit skinnier than normal. The worst part? I was in flats.

So when I arrived at the bar, I had already decided that the night might not be a success. (Note that pre BAFTAs, I was imagining a mystery brunette making the best dressed list. See the difference?) Did my date actually throw up in his mouth when he saw me? I doubt it, but it doesn’t matter. When he didn’t laugh at my first joke (streakers are comic gold), it confirmed what I suspected: there was no there there.

I will actually never know what went down. Fact is, the guy was a gentleman. We had a lot to say to each other, he plied me with wine and stuck by my side. That said, it did feel like work and when a tall blonde in a cocktail dress approached, he looked more interested in her than his afro growing, smurf-legged friend. In flats.

So I dug deep. I stood as tall as possible. I flirted with the guy next to me to save some face in front blondie. But after a while, it was going nowhere, so I headed home. And it’s because life is a confidence game that I did.

Ironically, most people who meet me describe me first as confident. I wouldn’t. I think I simply don’t care about a lot of stuff, and that reads as confident. But confidence, in terms of true self belief, that’s harder to come by. Life knocks you back enough, so when you have a stupid night in Kensington and you’re without your confidence building go-tos — whether high heels or controlled hair — you can’t afford to squander what stores you’ve built. I figured it was better to cut and run. If the blind date did like me after all, I have to be confident he’ll find me. Whether it was my fault that it went South, or the blonde interloper, or just a genuine lack in connection, I can’t say. I wish I could turn this post into a thought piece on preserving confidence. I wish I could give you tips. But truth is, I’m not sure I have any. The only one I do have is that when it comes frivolous situations that make you doubt yourself, it’s just not worth it to dwell.

Instead, I’m going to take my cue from those streakers, as I promised I would. While you won’t see me naked on a goal line anytime soon, I do have to say that people, fueled by good friends, a good crowd and some liquid courage, can overcome whatever suspicions they have about what other people think. So make your choices wisely and stick with the people who build you up, buttercup. The kind of people who go with you to Twickenham.

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