Have you ever seen a woman so pulled together, to call her beautiful, stylish or pretty just doesn’t cut the bill? You’re not sure of what or how to compliment, there’s not one thing casting her spell. It’s a certain je ne sais quoi. In English, this translates to: ‘I don’t know what’.
For a phrase with an unsure translation, it’s not surprising je ne sais quoi fashion has various interpretations. Publication Who What Wear asked French women to describe what the saying means to them. Most answers relate to women who meticulously prep their apperance, yet seem as though they’ve carelessly applied makeup and thrown together an ensemble.
This vibe is what every female can hone. It’s not about your physical traits and neither does it imply skimpy clothing. Below I’ve defined how you can achieve a je ne sais quoi attitude using my own definition.
Je ne sais quoi fashion is about your uniqueness
Thanks to social media and apps like VSCO, being “basic” has become cool. Instagram is awash of repeated Notting Hill houses, flower walls and looking in the distance poses. The lines have blurred between inspiration and copy. So many of us are choosing to replicate what we see on IG, almost turning our style towards costume.
At my most insecure, I told myself: “I have no style and no good taste.” I therefore went on Insta and Pinterest to mimick popular trends and styling suggestions. And prior to this, I kept up with celebrities to steal their aesthetic. I went through a Marilyn stage of wearing red lipstick everyday, I purchased outfits magazines suggested Audrey would wear, and when Kim K burst on the scene, I emulated her contour and baby pink gloss.
Happily, I put my identity in a box and let dust settle over its cover. But je ne sais quoi is about self-awareness. Owning your attitude and feeling comfortable enough to not follow others and blend in to conformity. Appreciate your quirks and push yourself to dress in a way you’ve always dreamt.
Je ne sais quoi is confidence
How do you create confidence? According to Forbes, standing up for yourself is a helpful step. During my early twenties, I soaked in critique like a sponge. If someone told me to change my hair or outfit choices, I simply agreed without hestitation.
Numerous times I adjusted my aesthetic after listening to the opinion of others. I ended up with a complimented look and wardrobe, but none of it was me. I may as well have given myself a new name and took on a different persona.
Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn – Orson Welles
One photographer told me my look is too sweet and innocent. They made me practice more sharp, stronger poses, also suggesting I wear darker eye shadows and lipsticks.
So, on my next photoshoot with a different photographer, I took the former’s advice and tried to look edgy. The finished photos revealed my confidence drop and physical uncertaintly, not quite sure how to match my personality to my image.
To find confidence, it’s good to ensure you have alone time. In addition, an analytical mindset to query what’s true to you. The more you challenge yourself to find new interests, research new designers, artists and people, the more wisdom you’ll bestow in understanding who you are and what you’re about. I put together a brilliant post called: 5 Must-Read Tips to Build Confidence in Women.
Je ne sais quoi is passion
Passion to embrace your identity. Stand up and say – this is me.
It’s not about quitting your job and heading to Broadway or to a street corner to sell art. Unfortunately, reality plunges at us and in a hectic, fast-paced world, passion is hard to find.
Therefore, whatever you do, bring your creativity. I keep editing my routine cooking, I will suddenly want to experiment with a hint or wine or pasta that’s not sided with tomato.
Find a book that you can’t put down, find a breakfast that’s interesting to eat. Take your oats into overnight, buy a different topping.
These little modifications that stop us from mundane gluttony, that’s what slowly builds passion in other areas; it what makes us continually be curious.
But if you can, do something wild. Put yourself out there and take on your miniscule fears – blind dates anyone?
Je ne sais quoi is change
Because to have a certain something, you have to know enough to understand what your thing is.
And I don’t think it’s about trying to be sexy or beautiful. Rather, happy and content with you. Mysterious as well, everybody loves a little intrigue.
What do you think of je ne sais quoi? For words that mean ‘I don’t know what’, can you define it?
If you loved this, read: Getting Comfortable with Your Sense of Style