How to be Charming

How to be charming?

Oh I wish I knew. Sometimes I think I know. Sometimes I think I am. Definitely not always. Some days are better than others. Surely that is true of even the most effortlessly charming people on earth. Charm is a quality, but it’s also a skill.

I bought this postcard eons ago and kept it on my bulletin board. It’s a good reminder.

Il faut le charme.
Il faut le charme.

Do you agree?

Point n’est besoin d’être jolie; il faut le charme. “Point isn’t need to be pretty; it must the charm.” Granted that is sort of the David Sedaris* version, but it means charm trumps beauty.

I’d even say charm is beauty. Have you ever known someone “good-looking” who was just ghastly? They don’t stay good-looking for long in my book. By the same token, someone who may not be an oil painting becomes beautiful when you love her. Or him.

So anyone out there with a daughter or son going through an awkward stage, or nervous about starting a new school year or maybe a new school, or if you’re feeling awkward yourself, take a tip from ol’ Sarah Bernhardt, who knew a thing or two about le charme. 

Sarah Bernhardt, by Jules Bastien-LePage
Sarah Bernhardt, by Jules Bastien-LePage

Put a twinkle in your eye and and a hint of mischief in your smile. Wink at someone. Compliment her. Flirt with the elderly man at the hardware store. Pretend you’re charming even if you’re not. Fake it till you make it. You’ll feel better. Charming. Nothing’s prettier than charming. Be charming.

*If you haven’t read David Sedaris’  Me Talk Pretty One Day about his growing up in North Carolina, his living in New York, and his moving to France–and you don’t mind laughing out loud–give it a whirl.


    1. Yes! Me too, Paige. And I forgot to mention sister Amy Sadaris – who is just as funny and talented. I saw David speak once in New York and I swear I started laughing before he opened his mouth.

  1. During that awkward phase, my mom always told my girlfriends and me that it is not necessarily a good thing to peak at age 14. Need I say more!

    1. That was great advice, Shari. I hope all mamas of 14-year-olds read this and repeat it! Thank you, xox, Frances

  2. I took a class the other day and we had to “Curtsey” and I thought it was all so “charming” – I vote to bring back charm.

  3. Frances,
    You cannot know how timely this is in reference to a 14 year old granddaughter. Like a cool breeze or clairvoyance of need for the moment.
    most cheerfully and hugs,

  4. LOVE this sweet little post! Charm is magic and beauty and you either got it or you don’t, AND – YOU Francis have GOT IT!!!

  5. Miss Frances, you personify Southern charm. Oh, my, went on to see if David Sedaris’ book was available, I can relate to language difficulties, my parents learned English in their late 30s and my Mom’s dealings with the butcher were … interesting to say the least. When she could not remember a word, she’d make one up OR act it out. Ordered “Me Talk Pretty One Day” and one by his sister, “I Like You, Hospitality Under the Influence.” Laughed out loud reading one of her suggestions “A good trick is to fill your medicine cabinet with marbles. Nothing announces a nosey guest better than an avalanche of marbles hitting a porcelain sink.” Needless, to say The Somber Ones do not approve of my laughter, oh, dear, but it’s Friday, we deserve a bit of hilarity! I’ll be filling my medicine cabinet with marbles this weekend, ha!

    1. Saw a statistic once that 75% of guests look in the medicine cabinet – so at one holiday party we removed everything and placed two naked Ken dolls with a “Merry Christmas” banner… – LOTS of guests commented on it… Reinforcing the research and having some fun.

      1. Was re-reading this post and saw Randall Day’s comment, I am SO borrowing his idea this holiday season, too funny!

  6. OKAY FRANCES…you have it and so does Duvall…..that southern charm I always thought born into families down through the years…
    AHHHH HA! the moment when I read something that is a gentle reminder….anyone with charm and grace has KINDNESS streaming in their veins…as with the thought… NEVER underestimate the challenges everyone you meet/ each and everyday /are JUGGLING>>give them that smile…even if they scowl back at you…let nothing stop your spread of SUNSHINE! and the little bit of magic in charm.a hug northern HUG…Luann

    1. Thank you, Luann, and more than once I’ve been inspired by your example. It is so true that we never know what someone else is going through and how powerful a kind word or gesture can be for them. Love, Frances

  7. I loved your post on Charm. Thank you so much. It’s a very good reminder to not let day to day things get in our way to not be charming. I really appreciate the sentiment and as a vintage southern gal living in so. Ca, I try to have a lot of charm but then do seem to fall short at times. I plan to strive to be more charming. Thank you again.

    1. Thank you, Andrea, and we all fall short sometimes. The point is to try, and to be self-conscious in a good way, and other-conscious in a kind way. But surely we Southerners in So-Cal are a positive influence, no? 😉

    1. To Lissy and Craig, I can only say that maybe it takes one to know one, but if I am half as charming as you two, I’m happy! Thank you, x, Frances

  8. Great post Frances. Charm is lost today, especially among young women. Something to work on…
    “You know what charm is? A way of getting the answer yes without having asked any clear question.” ~ Albert Camus

  9. You made me smile today with this post. Thanks for reminding us of what really matters. This book comes out in two days – and I am eagerly awaiting it’s advice: Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential. Also – I once read: The Art of Conversation: A Guided Tour of a Neglected Pleasure and liked it as a quick pick me up prior to the holiday parties/cocktails. I found myself more inspired and less challenged as the season approached. Thanks again.

    1. Thank you so much, Heidi, and thanks for the book info. They both sound like great suggestions and I will put them on my list!

  10. My mother’s take on this was: “Pretty is as pretty does.” She didn’t consider herself attractive and felt oppressed at times by “the pretty girls.” She always focused on what people actually did… And could be friends with basically anyone.

    Bill’s mother, a pretty girl if ever there was one, had the same standards and her swell friends were shocked at the number of maids, gas station attendants, kitchen help, waiters, and other service folk who crowded into her funeral

    I also ran across this saying not long ago… “Kindness is an option when fondness is not.” Helpful in our anxious and aggressive age.

    1. Dear Randall, LOL on the Ken dolls and love your stories of your and Bill’s mothers. They both did a mighty fine job with you too. Well, with you anyway. 😉 (HA!) Thank you as always for your insight and your grace. xox Frances

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