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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:

1. 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.

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower Hair Mist and Body Creme

2. 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!

3. 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.

4. Clear eyes. You can’t be alluring and bloodshot.  Just can’t.  Get some sleep and Visine.  You’re only human after all.

5. Looking at someone in the eye a beat longer that 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.

6. 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.

Photo credit: tumblr_mcca69kPIN1r4d0pso1_500

7. The Color Red.

8. A little unpredictability.  As in surprise and serendipity, not in an unstable Lindsay Lohan kind of way.

9. Off the shoulder anything.    But not at work…mmmkay.

Off the shoulder

10. 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.


11. 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

12. And when all else fails, Agent Provocateur.  I feel more alluring just thinking about buying something from here.

Agent Provocateur Lingerie 31

Who do you think is the epitome of alluring?


  1. Hello narcissista,
    The word sexy can be taken in so many ways. The concept of sexy is broad with cultural diversity. It’s one of those words that is personally defined. Can be seen as an insult or a complement.
    Glad to read your definition and breakdown.
    I’d like to add that healthy is sexy! If we feel healthy we shine, have energy and feel good about ourselves. If we feel good about ourselves we have a better sence of self.
    Healthy=Attractive=Sexy. There is a survival mechanism attatched to this as well.
    A silly analogy: Do we pick ripe fruit to eat?
    I enjoy reading your spin on things.

    • Hi Dr. Trani

      Healthy is a fantastic build, and you’re right, it’s a very primal component of sexy. I always feel like I’m “ready” to be sexy once I’ve gone to the gym. Thanks for stopping by!


  2. I totally ENJOYED this post! Not only what you said, but how you said it! In a world where sex has been commercialized to puke inducing level, it is a pleasure to read about allure of a feminine … a secret known since the beginning of time … that artful mix of just the right amount of mystery and promise! Have you seen Al Pacino in the Scent of a Woman … those were the days! Kate Winslet is my epitome of alluring.

    Well Done,

    • Thanks Daniela, and I have seen “Scent of Woman”; what a beautiful film that captures the essence of allure.

  3. And you’ve done it again!! A woman with a brain and she’s not afraid to use it :) I love that you’re giving me (yes, I believe your blog is just for moi) all of the advice that I need at exactly the time I need it: new perfume, check; perfect pencil skirt, check; the confidence to again dig out the heels, check. Awesome post–thanks :)

    • Ha ha, it makes my day that you think my blog is just for you, probably the nicest compliment I could get. A tip on the fragrance; they tend to sample liberally (even the body creme) so you can test drive it without forking over the cash:)


  4. Great post, this is a quality I embrace and am happy to say, the list is mostly on target for me. Wish everyone woman could possess this….

    • Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the post.


  5. Fabulous post. Heels, pencil skirts, the colorful red (can we suggest on the lips too?) Could have been written just for us! Thank you. x

  6. Loved this and couldn’t agree more. I remember the slivers of cloth that passed for mini-skirts in my 20′s and that I thought would get me attention (well, they did) or the rules one felt she had to play to be competitive out there. It was all to mask insecurity. With age and wrinkles, I have acquired the right to be me, the best looking me I can be – more confident, more at ease and, I am pretty sure, sexier. Allure has nothing to do with beauty but so much about putting out there the woman we have become. I have now spent way too long browsing your lovely and entertaining blog and done no writing of my own! But I love it.

    • Beautifully said, especially “putting out there the woman we have become”.

  7. Digging out my Carnal Flower, what an inspirational post! I love being a woman, we keep forgetting our femininity in order to assert ourselves as equals with men. We are not and we don’t need to be exactly equal. What we need is equal opportunity and in a number of areas we can then do an even better job :)

    • I agree with you, that it’s easy to forget how much fun femininity can be and also how powerful it is when it comes from a place down deep.

      (Hope that didn’t sound weird).


  8. Wow, a truly intriguing post. You are right about pretty. You can be pretty all day long but if you’ve got no allure to go with it, there’s just an empty shell. I’m afraid that many young women these days are using people like Kim K. and the Real Housewives as role models and they are all starting to look, dress, and talk the same. I fear for that future of clones!

    • Totally agree! Desperate is the opposite of sexy IMHO.

    • That is so true! I think of the women you mentioned , KK and the reality women of McSexy’s– the fast food, disposable version of sexy. Everything is so in your face these days. My only reservation about Halle Berry us that I’m not sure of her real allure and confidence. Her personal life seems to be such a train wreck . She is lovely, though.

  9. First of all, I have the same taste in sexy women as do you. For me sexiness is always about subtlety physically and, like you said, putting yourself out there emotionally. And confidence across the board. All of the ladies you mentioned would be on my list and also Gina Gershon, Paz Vega, Gina Torres, Deborah Kerr, Kathleen Turner, Diane Keaton.

    • Ooo….great builds! I especially loved Diane Keaton’s brand of sexy in Annie Hall which I just saw for the first time last year.

      • Yes! That is totally Diane Keaton at her sexiest and that was pretty much all her and Woody Allen letting her run with it.

  10. Fabulous post, made me feel sexier just reading it!

    • I’m so glad!

  11. Nice article, but I don’t know HOW you could leave 46 year old Halle Berry off of the list, She tops them all in the sexy after forty category.

    • I’m glad you brought that up. I intentionally left off women who are gorgeous in the conventional sense of the word. While I think Halle is stunning, her innate beauty is her calling card more than her inner velocity. To me sexy, alluring are women who transcend in spite of conventional perceptions of beauty, a lack of apology for what they are or aren’t. That to me is really inspiring.


    • Yes!

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