It’s What’s Underneath that Counts
Kathryn (Kate) Kemp-Griffin, author of “Paris Undressed: The Secrets of French Lingerie,” showed a slide presentation and imparted her words of wisdom at yesterday’s Après Midi outlining the differences in American vs. French culture when it comes to “undergarments” (American) vs. “lingerie” (French).
I realized there was lots I didn’t say, while periodically heckling and cracking jokes (a bad habit of mine), for fear of divulging too much, too personal, as I must confess, France has created a lingerie addict out of me. When she asked, “What’s the difference between a 40€ bra and 80€ bra,” I couldn’t help but blurt out “40€!” Okay, that did get a laugh, but let’s get serious here (if we can). Yes, there IS a difference as she pointed out, in terms of quality, fit and feel.
Victoria’s Secret may have brought the idea of “sexy” (an American word for what the French would call “sensual”) lingerie to American women, but being American, along with their push-up bras and lace, also attached words like “Hot” and “Sale” to sell their goods. Have a look. Americans have completely missed the point of French lingerie. As Kate pointed out, the French don’t see lingerie as having the sole purpose of leading to sex, but as an “invitation to the senses” and “the art of living” while “hot” and “sexy” are vulgar words for something that is beautiful, to say the least.
Wearing beautiful lingerie is what makes a woman feel both beautiful and sensual from the INSIDE-OUT…this is one of those things I failed to say while Kate was telling us how she devoted her life in France to the subject…and is my own personal opinion. I have often counseled my own friends to get in the habit of wearing lacy undergarments even when just making a trip to the grocery store under their sweats and watch how they will feel good about themselves, translating into a more confident, more sensual exterior. That’s what gets the guys, not the lingerie itself.
In fact, you don’t need the lingerie to “get laid.” Sure, garters, stockings, bra and panties can be a kind of “performance art,” and there’s certainly lots of fun in that, but what if it was more about you than him? What if you just indulged in gorgeous lingerie just for your mental health and well-being, not to mention a better look? How many times here in Paris have I seen an older woman braless (this happens only in France, btw, as Americans wouldn’t dare, on the whole, go braless), but who would certainly look and feel better if she “perked up” rather than looking so “sad?” (You get my meaning, I’m sure.) It provokes me to go up to her and remark, “Sweetie, don’t you know, it’s all in the bra?” (But I don’t.)
As an American, you probably didn’t realize the importance of wearing matching bra and panties. It’s the whole look that counts — the entire silhouette, Kate explained. American men might not notice, but European men do. You’d be surprised how important it is to be stylish, even in the “underworld.”
I’ll bet you can eye a woman and mentally undress her, just to guess if she’s wearing good and sensual lingerie or the old cotton comforts she’s in the habit of wearing…unless she’s looking for something more. You can know the answer just by guessing if she’s French or not. Do the French women have more sex-appeal or not? And do you think her lingerie is one of the reasons, even if you can’t see the undergarments for yourself?
I confess that I can’t pass a lingerie store without looking in the window and too often venturing in and buying yet another “ensemble” to stuff into the already filled-to-capacity drawer. This is to avoid wearing the same outfit with the same lover more than once…one must keep him on his toes, “n’est-ce pas?” Yet, sometimes a repeat performance can be even more exciting — like hearing your favorite song performed live. Don’t you get a thrill?
Kate’s book points out a list of of French lingerie manufacturers and boutiques in Paris you can depend on for beauty and quality, such as “Aubade,” “Chantelle” and “Eres.” One that’s not on her list, because it’s actually Italian, but worthy by French standards (Italy is where I first discovered it) and less expensive than most, and one that I personally like, is Intimissimi. There are several boutiques in Paris and in Nice, where I’m a “regular.” According to their website, they aren’t in the U.S. and the nearest boutiques are in Mexico! (I suppose Donald Trump won’t be shopping there!) So, guess you’ll have to come to France!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(with Kate Kemp-Griffin)
P.S. In Special Memory: Special condolences this week go to my old friend and partner in the Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group, Marie-Elisabeth Crochard Fitère, for the loss of her husband, Jean-Marie…and to all my friends in Israel along with the entire family for the loss of one of our oldest and dearest friends, Ellen Dorfman Bitton. May they both rest in peace and teach us how valuable our lives are.
P.P.S. I’ll be in Los Angeles next week and am offering personal two-hour consultations between February 20th and 24th. The cost is $330, but the fee applies toward our search services, so not a penny is lost! If you are thinking of making an investment in France, you are sure to find the time with me very valuable. To schedule your meeting with me, email me at [email protected]