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Marion Cotillard
Life and Style

In France or in the UK, how do you recognise a "gentlewoman"?

By Manon Variol

You all know what a gentleman is: an elegant heartbreaker of irreproachable behaviour. But what would it be in a feminine version? A gentlewoman is this extremely polite lady, who always brings something when she is invited, eats a healthy diet and thinks of the happiness of others. But whether they live in France or in the United Kingdom, the gentlewomen are not quite the same...

A gentlewoman takes care of her look

A gentlewoman wears discreet make-up
A gentlewoman wears discreet make-up

It is said that in England, a respectable woman never wears flesh coloured tights. To avoid the grandma look, she will opt for black tights, slimming the legs and highlighting the silhouette. In France, the most important principle is never to overdo things : stay natural. For make-up, simple foundation, thin eyeliner and a subtle lipstick will be perfect. In terms of dress code, a French woman would wear no more than one or two colours. The aim is to be an eye-catcher without looking like a patchwork quilt. Obviously, the clothes she wears will suggest she has a beautiful body, but will not show too much of it : deep cleavage prohibited. 



She has a busy social life

A gentlewoman cares for herself and the others
A gentlewoman cares for herself and the others

A gentlewoman worthy of the name is engaged in several activities. The British ones would chose yoga, pilates or some other way of taking care of themselves. They also play boardgames and go to the cinema. However, they will not watch a vulgar blockbuster such as the latest Batman. You will tend to find them in one of these original and charming arty cinemas, watching a foreign film in its subtitled original version. During their free time, British gentlewomen will not hesitate to help people in need and work for a charity.

When they get involved French women will turn to their children's school association: organising the annual fair, baking cakes, attending parent-teacher meetings, etc. Because children come first. But that does not mean they will not go to a horse riding session or enjoy a night at the theatre.

Whether she is French or British, a gentlewoman has never said "LOL" and does not look at her phone when someone is talking to her. She listens to others and likes talking to them.

A gentlewoman during a night out

It must be aknowledged that a French gentlewoman will never arrive on time. But be careful to not be too late, on average 30 minutes is about right. When eating, she drinks wine or champagne and does not laugh too loudly, whether she is in her house, in the street or in a restaurant. Moreover, she will never have a second slice of cheese: one is enough! But instead of going to the restaurant, French people would rather invite their friends at home. In such a case, the gentlewoman would cook a good meal for her guests. There is no way she would serve takeaway or defrost food. 

Across the Channel, you must not be late when invited. You should not come too early, of course, but being 30 minutes late is unacceptable. Unlike the French, British people do not consider whisky to be a drink just for men. So you are more likely to see a gentlewoman drinking scotch. When she is invited, she will always send a thank you card to the hosts. This is a tradition that stopped being respected in France a long time ago...

At a friend's or at the restaurant, a gentlewoman knows how to behave
At a friend's or at the restaurant, a gentlewoman knows how to behave

Her relations with others

The French gentlewoman has to be careful of her behaviour towards others. It is well known that you cannot please everybody. Too pretty, too rich or too happy, French women will always find a reason to be jealous and act like young girls towards each other. However, men tend not to judge that much, and it is accepted that a woman can be close to one or several men. In the UK, this is not the same. If a woman is too close to a man, the rumors will circulate quickly. Therefore, a gentlewoman should not be more friendly towards a man than a woman. She will try and please to everybody by acting in the same way with both sexes. She will not wonder who has the most beautiful dress, she will simply try to make friends. 

But, whether she lives in France or in the UK, the real gentlewoman controls herself, keeps her distance and is never pushy. Especially with a married man!

For holidays or a day out, she will not go very far

A gentlewoman on holiday
A gentlewoman on holiday

French or British, the gentlewoman is curious, but she loves the comfort of her cocoon. She will go out in the areas she already knows, generally not touristy places so she will not be bothered by the crowd. For holidays, you will find her in her summer house by the ocean rather than in a hotel in the Bahamas. She likes to enjoy family time in a place in which she feels comfortable. Which also means that she will never be disappointed by room service.

You will for sure have understood that French and British gentlewomen are not so different, but it is always good to know the rules to avoid a faux pas. How about you, ladies, do you fill all the criteria?


18/04/2016 - s.pollock-hill said :

Your comment about being late reminds me
I once arrived a week early at the house of some friends of my parents in the XV in Paris at 8pm who had invited me to dinner. They were in their pyjamas and invited me in to join their TV snack supper AND back the next week, for dinner with friends!
Now THAT was classy - of them and careless of me!

18/04/2016 - s.pollock-hill said :

A French gentlewoman, (in my fortunate experience of a few) has style, class, panache, good taste, witty conversation,modesty, politesse, and knows how to value a gentleman, whether English or French. If she can read a map too and cook well- treasure her! Hopefully she does not smoke - but that is my pet hate.

03/04/2016 - deanejennings said :

I think the way one behaves is much more formalised than it is in the UK, its about a question of taste, style and decorum from a French point of view. The British are much more anarchic in these things and there are fewer taboos or informal rules. But many British men and women just don't know how to dress, drink or behave in a tasteful or stylish way.

I see many people walking around London dressed grunge, or badly coordinated or overly made up and too sexualised, which is just poor taste and lack of style frankly.

So no its not sexist, its showing the informal rules that are at work. There are rules of something in every society, even in the UK.

01/04/2016 - llya.mirissa said :

That is deeply backwards. I'm surprised you would think this an appropriate article to publish in 2016.

01/04/2016 - nicarb said :

I fond this one dead stupid

01/04/2016 - alvyda_r said :

Wow can't believe you could post such a sexist article. I'm unsubscribing from your emails.


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