Sunday, 11 August 2013

So Different - Women in the UK and on the Continent

First you notice the hair. British women's hair tends to be cut into geometrical shapes. Even when it's long, there is a blunt, hard line at the end of it. And it will always have been through the straightening iron. Continental women's hair is much softer, it's "Just-so" hair". You never ever see a French women with "salon" hair. It's freshly washed, but definitely not styled. As with the colour - British women love blocky colour, even their highlights (which they love) are mostly blocky beaver stripes. Teased, straightened, dyed. Anything natural is anathema - it doesn't merely look "made up" - it has to look "up for it". Natural is a look absolutely confined to the elderly in Britain.

Teased  hair, teeth bleached white with a blueish tinge, spray tanned, nails with "nail art" - you do occasionally see that look on women in continental towns - but they tend to be sex workers.

So what style do continental women go for? For a start, spray tans and artificial tans aren't necessary. The summers are long, and most people tan easily. Hair is, as I mentioned, natural, straightening irons aren't very popular at all. Teeth are left as they are. Of course most women wear make-up and fake eye lashes are as popular as in the UK (if not quite as long and black) - but they tend not to be combined with glitter eye shadow and fuchsia lip gloss.

Generally there is, I think, on the Continent a horror of looking as if you tried too hard. (Which is invariably the look British women go for - they want to be seen to make an effort, thereby sending a signal to men: I'm up for it.) Clothes emphasize this - it would be totally unacceptable to wear British-style clothes in a (relatively style-conscious) town like say, Munich, Barcelona, or any French city.The cleavage, the "heels", the skirt length, the style, the "body-con"... all wrong. People would stare, and not necessarily in admiration

I'm not saying the one is better than the other. But there is definitely no overlap.

Next: Men.


  1. How exhausting to have to do all that before one steps outside.

    I saw a woman walking down the street talking to a friend and she looked chic, natural, and happy. I thought to myself, she's someone from abroad. As she passed, she was speaking French.

    Ah, yes.

  2. So so true - even if sounds a bit harsh on the British ladies.....which in some instances is perhaps not the appropriate word. It's a weird phenomenon - and was it always thus? When did the Jordan ideal become widespread, if that is what it is? And why is it so widespread to want to look cheap, de-individualised, commoditised? Sad, bizarre stuff.