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I haven’t worn a skirt in months. My boyfriend is meeting me at a hot new eatery in Hollywood—where I have no intention of letting him pay—and I find myself yet again reaching for jeans, a slouchy top and black stilettos before I let my hand wander over to a multitude of neglected dresses, skirts and florals. What gives me pause? Recently a successful French chef, drunk on wine, oysters and his own opinions, lamented to me about the modern woman’s migration from coy and feminine to assertive and even aggressive. I wanted to clock him at the time—and might have if he didn’t own the restaurant—but it got me pondering: is there something to be said for femininity and attracting a mate?
I’ve come reluctantly to the conclusion that it’s time to dispel notions that being ultra-feminine is somehow anti-feminist. It’s time to take the stigma out of going girly. Old-fashioned can be fashionable, and in the perpetual pendulum swing of style and society, even fashion-forward. Can you find your inner feminista without compromising your 21st-century standards?
Chivalry: Friend or Foe?
You’re cold, and he offers you his sweater…should you take it? Of course you should—you’re cold! Should you expect him to lay it on a puddle for you to walk across? Clearly no. Some traditions of chivalry are laughable in modern context, but some gestures never go out of style. It boils down to what you accept versus what you expect. Don’t expect him to pay for every meal but do feel free to accept his offer to buy you dinner. You’re not living in a Jane Austin novel, nor is anyone questioning your ability to open a door. Contemporary chivalry is a sign of respect—so don’t get ruffled!
Florals & Frills: The New Power Suit
Actually…do get ruffled! High collars, Chantilly lace, puff sleeves and ruffled cuffs are back en vogue in silhouettes that pay homage to the artfully antique with a decidedly new bent. Embrace the true icon of femininity—the dress! Dresses with empire waists or ruffled flounces lend a note of girlish charm to your look without making you look like you’ve just graduated from charm school. These days an ultra-feminine dress is actually a bold and sophisticated style choice; you’ll stand out against a backdrop of sleek modern frocks and ubiquitous black.
Girl v. Grrrrl: A Sliding Scale
Speaking of black, I have a hunch the opining Frenchman was probably thinking of some figment predatory biker chick in a black motorcycle jacket and boots, bulldozing her way through a host of men without apology. Personally, if she’s out there, I salute her, but the truth of the matter is most women fall somewhere between the meek ingenue and angry feminist. Why get saddled with a label? That floral ruffled dress will actually look highly sophisticated under that motorcycle jacket and embrace both ends of the spectrum—leather and lace.
Playing Coy without Playing Games
A hard truth is that some men—my oyster-swilling friend comes to mind—are intimidated by women who take the lead in pursuing a romantic connection. I have to admit, “playing hard to get” has been one of the most useful weapons in my dating arsenal—and I actually enjoy being “chased.” Letting a man pursue you is a strategic way to stoke his interest and shroud yourself in a little bit of mystery. This requires a bit of skill and improvisation—most men will give up at some point if you seem truly out of reach. Once you’re in a relationship, though, taper off the act. It’s time to open up a little and let him in.