The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Being Incredibly Sexy

My mother raised me to believe that’s its better to be pretty than sexy.

I disagree.

Pretty is simple and limited to an accident of birth.  Sexy on the other hand, is earned and inherently more interesting.  The problem is that sexy gets twisted into too many vulgar interpretations.

To me, the definition of sexy is allure which transcends high cheekbones and youth.  Allure is inner magnetism that shimmers with nuance and possibility.  At the same time, it’s intertwined with vulnerability and a willingness to drop pretense.  It isn’t necessarily a come-hither invitation to the opposite sex; it’s a deeper, primal connection that makes you attractive to other people.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about allure is that it can get better with age and practice. This is because at its essence allure is a constellation of feelings, experiences and senses that lives between your ears.

We all have it in us, but sometimes we need help coaxing it out.  For inspiration, here’s a handful of women who I think have mastered the art of allure.  A few common denominators:

  • They apologize for nothing; not their age, their bodies or past mistakes.   Ellen, Kate, Julia and Nigella didn’t get the memo that you have to be young and skinny to be really sexy.  And if they did, they would crumple up it up, toss it in your face and tell you you’re an idiot.
  • They’re not desperately clinging to their youth or something they’re not.  This is because they have more to offer than what’s on the surface.  Marion Cotillard, Juliette Binoche and Karen O are far from conventional bombshells, but what makes them smolder is that they have stuff going on underneath their skin and it seeps out to inhabit whatever they touch.  The moment they open their mouths you want more.   Think about it; when was the last time you wanted to know what a Kardashian had to say?
  • They actively exercise their right to enjoy their sexuality and take a bite out of life.  If you haven’t seen Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet or Maria Bello attack a sex scene then you haven’t lived.  It’s not that the scenes were necessarily more explicit or racier than others, but the actors were just as naked emotionally as they were physically.
  • A sense of fun, spontaneity and a little mischief.  Take Mila Kunis; sure she’s in her prime, but what makes her remarkable is that she seems to have retained some centeredness in a world populated with tall, blonde women with inflated chests.  She doesn’t seem to have noticed or cared.   She’s bright, has a sense of humor and she always looks like she’s done something just a little naughty.

Since conjuring up all of this inner allure doesn’t just happen, here are some prompts and reinforcements to take you from zero to sixty:

  • Good perfume, carefully used.  My weapon of choice is Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower, a tuberose based scent reported to cause “spiritual ruin”.  The perfume itself is sexual napalm, so for the day I use the lighter hair mist and a bit of the body butter.  I think good perfume is worth the splurge, but it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it makes you feel fantastic and leaves just a touch of scent.
  • Touchable hair.  It’s a brutal truth, but most think hair worn loose and long is sexier, but the most important aspect is touch-ability.  Leave the Fox News hair helmet at home!
  • Pencil skirts.  The trick is a good pair of Spanx and the cut; make sure it doesn’t pull across the hips, but scoops just a bit under your rear so it clings to your shape.  A subtle slit in the rear on the side is lovely as long as it isn’t up to high.  It should hint, not scream open for business.
  • Clear eyes.  You can’t be alluring and bloodshot.  Just can’t.  Get some sleep and Visine.  You’re only human after all.
  • Looking someone in the eye for a beat longer than you think you should.  We avoid eye contact more than we realize so giving someone a blink more of lingering eye contact makes people feel special.
  • Stilettos.  I love my flats, but I notice a distinct change in the atmosphere when I slip on something high and mighty from my shoe basket at work.
  • The Color Red.
  • A little unpredictability.  As in surprise and serendipity, not in an unstable Lindsay Lohan kind of way.
  • Off the shoulder anything.    But not at work…mmmkay.
  • Hands and touch.  No, not necessarily on someone’s thigh, that’ weird and can get you fired or slapped.  Think more a hand on a shoulder, or just embracing someone if they need it.  Like eye contact, we hold back more than we realize.
  • Anything V neck.  You don’t have to spill a ton of cleavage at all.  Like the subtle slit in the skirt, a v-neck hits that there’s more to come and is universally more flattering.  A nice trick with blouses; have your tailor sew up the existing button holes and create a new one in a more advantageous place on your blouse that sits right above your bust
  • And when all else fails, Agent Provocateur.  I feel more alluring just thinking about buying something from here.

Who do you think is the epitome of alluring?