When the President of France is Younger Than You

The following ever happened to you: At the beginning of a dinner you grab the menu, open it and stare at the tiny ants that have assembled themselves into neat rows on the first page? You discreetly squint and hold the menu at arm’s length and quietly damn the 21st century trend of not having proper lighting installed in all public spaces?

Join the club. I just received my first bifocals today.

Luckily I’m not the only one getting older. The improbably, impossibly cool Parisian style icons Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas are ageing, too. Their bestseller How to be Parisian (Wherever you are) (and frankly, everybody wants to be their kind of Parisian, including those who say they don’t) has a sequel, out now, aptly titled Older But Better, But Older.

My colleague was born the same year I graduated.

What are the French style gurus telling us this time round? It’s a delightful little book full of all kinds of tips from plastic surgery (yes, French women are very much into plastic surgery) to fitness to beauty to dealing with relationships and admitting one is increasingly often in the more mature segment of (any) party:

I could skip the parties, restaurants, club nights and weddings. Or I could attend only events where I was under the average age. Charity dinners, the opera, retirement parties and second or third marriages. I’d be bored out of my skull, but back to Mademoiselle.

I was born in the last century.

More years, less eyelashes. Therefore no skipping mascara anymore. Glowing complexion looks younger than matte. Achieve this by mixing moisturising cream with a primer. And go for cream blush. And not too much powder, which will sit in the (sigh) wrinkles.

Now I avoid white wine.

The Frenchwoman’s trick is to try to look not young, but ten years younger than she is. And trying to look like she’s not trying, obviously. A white shirt (a bit masculine, cotton or linen) is always the right move. Remember: the more wrinkles on your face, the better ironed your clothes must be (I don’t know how these cancel each other out, but that’s the advise). An impeccable, white T-shirt shows off your neck and collarbone, but careful with showing off your (new pair of) breasts. They write “hinting is more enticing”.

Take care of your extremities: your hands and fingernails, your feet (and shoes) and your head (and hair). Also, we are told one glass of good wine is better than several shots of bad vodka.

I just can’t go out two nights in a row anymore.

Then something I personally fully subscribe to: a deep-tissue facial massage staves off the need for a facelift. Apparently Parisian women whisper their technicians’ contact info among themselves. Try to have a monthly massage.

Did you check the weather?

The style section is very French, very Parisian, with simple garments and no bells and whistles. Caroline de Maigret models the outfits and looks depressingly chic. You will absolutely not need this book, but it makes for a fabulous present and is an entertaining easy read.

You still don’t know how to spell Nietzsche without checking Wikipedia first.

I hope this topic didn’t add to you festive anxiety.

Have a jolly good Christmas.

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