Something about this toasty California day is making me crave fall — which, if my fantasies hold any weight, will be a season in which I wear a slew of outfits straight out of the 1967 classic Belle de Jour. Disturbing sexual plot points aside, there is something very attractive to me about Severine Serizy’s buttoned up, classic look right now. Especially when worn by a woman who is anything but buttoned up or classic [read: Severine, for prostitution-related reasons, and me, who has no intentions of dabbling in prostitution but has a face you would be hard-pressed to find in an LL Bean catalog and a personality that one might call eccentric–on a good day].
Catherine Deneuve, who plays Severine, has noted that, “The clothes in Belle de Jour are very important to the style of the film. Even today, it is still timeless.” Timeless is the key word. The older I get the more I am drawn to clean lines and simplistic outfits. Minimalism, as fashion likes to frame it. I find the starched collars, longer hemlines, and loose sheaths worn by Deneuve in the film to be much sexier than all of the skin-baring, tight dresses that seem to propagate in neighborhoods like the Meatpacking District, or virtually every enclave in Miami.
I believe that true sex appeal radiates from an outfit that leaves something to the imagination, one that privileges a woman’s brain over her body. This belief is definitely not the status quo, but any man or woman worthy of my time or my friend’s would rather pick a brain than ponder a breast. Outfits not bent on showing skin allow for someone’s personality to shine through, whereas those worn only to reveal end up belittling the self and shrouding it behind the shock of bare limbs. Pride in your body and a little showing off is no crime–but the hard-to-walk-in-heels and dresses that constantly need to be pulled down as they ride up a tad too much lead me to believe that personal preference isn’t always key to women’s outfits. I love a short dress. But I love it with chunky men’s loafers and an oversized trench coat. I am drawn to these things not for their effect on the male libido but for their effect on my mood, the way they make me feel–a woman who can revel in her femininity and her sexuality without having to surrender it to the particular judgments of a man.
If you’re trying to adopt this l-e-w-k for yourself this fall, which you absolutely should be, try one or more of these pieces and you’ll be golden: Maison Martin Margiela turtleneck sweater dress, J.W. Anderson Panel dress, ASOS leather loafers, Vince military jacket, Animal Ears riding hat, Carven poplin shirt, KG by Kurt Geiger Mary Jane strap shoes, and BB Dakota Camelot Belted Jacket.