How To be A Femme Fatale


It's Femme Fatale week and today, I'm sharing a longer, more detailed version of my How to be a Femme Fatale article. I had so much fun writing this, since it's very tongue-in-cheek! As we all know from my post on historical femme fatales, being a true deadly dame isn't probably the wisest choice but we cal all "play", right? :)

The definition of a Femme Fatale is a seductive and alluring, mysterious woman who charms her lovers and leads them into dangerous and even deadly situations. The translation of "femme fatale" means "deadly woman". Read these 15 steps to learn how to be a femme fatale...

Look Like a Femme Fatale
1.) Makeup- blood red, glossy lips and dark, full lashes. The rest is just for fun. Play with fake lashes and use a great mascara. My signature mascara that I've used since middle school is Maybelline Full n' Soft. You get great length and a lot of fullness. I use the black waterproof formula because when a femme dives from a window into a river to escape danger, she doesn't want her mascara to run!

2.)Clothing- You have to have a wiggle! A femme fatale can walk into any smoky, dimly lit room and get the attention of every man in the joint. Accentuate your curves with a great fitting bra, girdle or waist cincher. Wear a wiggle dress or pencil skirt in dark colors. Black is great but nothing says mystery to me like burgundy, deep jewel green, navy, ruby red, sapphire blue, rich purple and my favorite- gray. Mix heavy fabrics like wools with slinky silks and satins.

3.)Accessories- Mystery, danger, sexy... great 1940's sunglasses, a hat with a veil, black gloves, fedoras, fur collars or stoles, caplets, long jackets and the like. When I think of a femme fatale, I think of gorgeous high heels too-but make sure they aren't too high or too uncomfortable. A femme fatale always moves with grace and doesn't clunk around like an exhausted horse. There is nothing sexy about a woman who can't walk in heels.
 A femme fatale is always dodging danger and finding herself in compromising positions, so you need to be able to move in those shoes! If you're a smoker, a vintage cigarette case is a must. If you're a non-smoker, keep a pretty vintage compact in your purse and pull it out to re-apply lipstick.

4.)Hair- All classic femmes fatales had luxurious, silky hair. Waves, curls, victory rolls, a great up-do to expose the length of your neck are all good options for hair. Keep it looking fab with a dab of shine serum.

5.)Find your Scent- Leave your aroma hanging in the air. You have to have a seductive and tempting scent. A femme's scent should be womanly and feminine but not too fruity. You don't want to smell like the girl's locker room in high school! When it comes to perfume, a little bit goes a long way. When you sashay across the lounge and slide cooly across the leather seat of a bar stool, next to an unsuspecting fella, you don't want him to pass out and hit the floor on account of your strong perfume!

When in doubt, spray your perfume in the air in front of you and walk into it. When you buy something new, wear it at home for a day as a trial run to make sure that it mixes well with your body chemistry. Speaking of knocking a man out with your scent, make sure to keep some mints in your handbag, bombshells!

He doesn't want to smell chili cheese fries when you're whispering your dark secrets into his ear. Go for mints, not gum. An alluring lady probably doesn't smack away on gum all night. When you have a signature fragrance, every time he smells it, he'll think of you!

Have a Femme Fatale Personality

1.)Have a great sense of Humor- a lot of people think that a femme fatale is always dark, brooding and dramatic- not the case at all! A femme has charm and charisma. There is nothing sexier than a great sense of humor and a gorgeous smile.

Have a few good jokes up your sleeve, even a bit on the naughty side. Don't be afraid to laugh. In fact, laugh with your whole body! Toss your head back a little, use the tip of your finger, to wipe a tear of laughter from the corner of your eye (be careful not to smudge your eye liner, of course!). A femme fatale is clever and sharp witted. It wouldn't hurt to have a few quick responses to common statements. Here are a few light-hearted quotes from classic femmes fatales:

“Darling, the legs aren’t so beautiful, I just know what to do with them.”-Marlene Dietrich
“If you always do what interests you, at least one person will be pleased.”-Katherine Hepburn
“Be yourself. The world worships the original.”-Ingrid Bergman
“I’m afraid of nothing except being bored.”-Greta Garbo
"Don’t keep a man guessing too long–he’s sure to find the answer somewhere else.”-Mae West
“Is that a pistol in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?”-Mae West

2.)Be Independent and Self Sufficient-Be able to buy your own drinks, open your own doors and drive your own car. Be strong and don't be afraid to take charge if you need to. It is always acceptable to allow a gentleman to do these things for you but make it known that you are a capable woman and can take care of yourself. Know how to say "no" politely but firmly. A femme fatale is known for being dangerous, so she must also know how to avoid or escape danger with ease.

3.)Be a Lady- A woman can be very sexy and provocative and still remain classy. Leaving it to the imagination really is the best approach when it comes to the attire of a femme fatale. A below-the-knee skirt and silky blouse that shows no cleavage can be sexier than a bikini if you know how to use it. Practice sitting with your legs crossed, bending over to pick something up (not the Legally Blonde bend and snap!)and things like that in front of a mirror so you can see your own movements and how you can adjust them to be more ladylike, if needed.

When it comes to being a lady, pay close attention to table manners as well. Learn how to properly eat spaghetti (no knives to cut the pasta), learn when you should put your napkin on the table or in your lap and also know how to calculate a proper tip. Practice walking in heels, being poised and moving with grace. The classic femmes had great posture. My mother always said to envision a string going from the base of your spine and extending all the way up, into the sky. Always make sure that "string" is straight. And of course, a femme fatale and a lady tries to be subtle in her words, actions and appearance.

4.)Be honest- While bringing the spirit of the femme fatale into your own personality, be honest about yourself. Don't pretend to be someone you're not, don't be a blatant tease and don't let your statements overload your own capabilities. Many will argue that a femme fatale is supposed to be a double-crosser and very dishonest but the motive of a classic femme fatale is to entice a man to get what she wants.

 Men are smarter than some women give them credit for so if you're dishonest, they won't be charmed by you- they'll be put off instead! Some believe that one of our favorite femmes, Mata Hari wasn't really a spy and that she lied and said that she was....and that's how she ended up being executed by a firing squad! So, learn by her mistake,always be honest!

5.)Have a Femme Fatale Attitude- I think of a Femme Fatale as being kind of a ball-buster. My mom talks about our ability of having "Irish Diplomacy" that is, the talent of telling someone to go to hell so they look forward to making the trip. A femme fatale should definitely have Irish Diplomacy! The best way to develop your femme fatale attitude is to study other great femmes. As always have a few sarcastic "quips" up your sleeve too!

Be a Femme Fatale
1.) Have interesting and mysterious hang-outs- and I don't mean dark alleys and parking garages. Try the mystery section of the library, a corner of a coffee shop or old book store, quaint jazz clubs and places like that. Frequent interesting places but don't compromise your safety. A femme fatale is more brains than beauty. Always stay safe and avoid shady bars and scary parts of the city.

2.) What will be, little lady? Your signature drink- A femme fatale has to have a signature drink. I love a good margarita but the image of a margarita says "college girls who want to get trashed" to me. You want a good, strong, mysterious drink. When I say strong, I mean personality, not alcohol content. :) Go for a dark, brooding merlot or really knock someone's socks off and say "I'll have a jack n' coke...with a cherry!" Not a drinker, no problem! Say,
"I'll just have an iced tea, doll." followed by a sharp "sweet" or "unsweetened".

3.)Have unique talents or hobbies- Believe it or not, I have quite a few femme fatale hobbies of my own. I love archery and weapons throwing (knives and axes) and have won first place in competitions for both. I love to bellydance too. It's a great work-out and its fun! My husband and I met at a sword fighting competition. Sadly, I wasn't one of the best sword fighters! You don't have to be a weapon-brandishing bad ass to be a femme fatale, though. Many femmes have foreign language skills, tech skills, are talented artists, dancers, etc.

4.) Study other Femmes- The best way to learn how to be a femme fatale is to watch other iconic femmes from the day. This week's Friday Night Fashion and a Movie post will feature classic film noir femmes to watch and learn from.

5.)Your Femme Fatale name- Just for fun...Take the first name of the best actress academy award winner from the year you were born. You can look it up here Take the last name of the meteorologist from your local news station. Mine is Geraldine Ehrhardt! SO glamorous!

Now get out there and flaunt your mystique and glamor! And don't forget to enter my Femme Fatale Giveaway coming this Saturday!!


  1. Well done, what an amazing post!
    I think every gal, vintage or not, needs a bit of femme fatale in her.

    Cher Howard is my femme fatale name......I think I'll keep working on that.

  2. Hmmm, Faye Fishel -not so femme fatale.
    Faye Gardner-better
    Faye Maze-ummmm I am going to have to work on this one!! hehehe!

  3. LOL, Faye Gardner is a good one! It's silly but I had fun with my femme fatale name too! :)

  4. What a brilliant article, I loved it!! I shall have to try and be much more elegant, you are such a perfect femme fatale, you put me and my clumsy ways to shame! Those pictures are just beautiful, by the way.
    From Carys of La Ville Inconnue

  5. Wow - what an awesome post!!

    hm.. Katharine Etling.. or Katharine Schäfer? um.. German is not that glamouros I guess.. But if I translate Schäfer it will become Shepherd... hm.. :")

    I really enjoyed this post! Great work!!

  6. ahhhhhh --- if I read between the lines correctly, are you a part of the SCA or some other medieval reenactment group? My husband and I are also rapier fighters, and I've been thinking about taking up archery!

    As always, fabulous post!

    loves loves loves,

  7. Wonderful!

    I say, make men pursue YOU, never chase men.

    Insist on being treated like a lady, period.

    Yes, have your own secret or private life: that can mean a solo trip to the bookstore or a movie.

    Enjoy being alone <--one of the most important (after all, if you don't love your own company, not many will).

    Also very important: ladies, always have your own money, a stash, just in case. Never completely depend on a man financially, no matter how in love you are, keep up some sort of part time job or business.

    I hope my comments weren't too controversial, take it from an old lady who has lived a little ;)

  8. I couldn't agree more! Independence (financially and socially) is so important for the soul! As a mom and a housewife, it can be a little difficult to achieve but even a trip to the grocery store alone or a nice long (and uninterrupted) bubble bath really makes a difference. As a housewife, having my own money is also not easy to come by but selling vintage and handmade on etsy has always been a good source of fun money for me. It's nice to not have to run every spending by the hubby!

    Fondue Goddess, yea we used to be part of a live action role playing game (GEEKS!) but I've loved archery since 4th grade! It's surprisingly relaxing!

  9. So that's all it takes?

    LOL, kidding!

    You look smashing...

  10. I now know my femme fatale name, but shussh I cant say, as this would be revealing my age :-)

  11. Miranda Wells or Winona Marshall. Not sure which I like better. ;) I'm rather amused that both are "W"s and "M"s

    Just catching up on latest followers and after reading your amazing blog feel honoured that you do!!! A girl after my own heart!!
    Got to go back and read more!!
    Annie x
    p.s got some cute Vintage dresses in 16 + coming in October for the Birdcages & Butterflies, vintage, thrifted & Refashioned section!!

  13. Great post! It was fun, witty, and informative! Great advice! I loved the part about cocktails and being a lady. Margaritas are so college! lol!

    As for my femme fatale name, mine would be "Louise Hill." Doug Hill is the local weather guy on Washington, DC's ABC affiliate and local news radio, WTOP News!

    Nevertheless, great work! And your look is gorgeous! Keep up the amazing work, Brittany!

  14. Just found this site, love it.

    Yours truly,

    Jane Minton

    ps. this was amusing to me, when considering names for my last daughter I was trying to come up with a classic, vintage name for her. Choices came down to Jane and Lana. My husband just wasn't letting Lana go, we went with it. Now I know Jane was meant for me anyway! :)

  15. Loved your piece in Vintage Life! It was nice to see more pictures of you here too. My femme fatale name would be Faye Malles - pronounced malice. I guess that would be a fitting fatale name. hee hee

    ♥ Rebecca Jean
    Midnight Maniac

  16. Ah, Rebecca, you get the award for most awesome femme fatale name! Faye Malles, how cool is that?!

  17. Nice suggestions! I made something similar, but my post referred to "glamour goth lady" which in fact looks familiar with the "femme fatale" idea! I think that both has a lot to do with black, mischeviousness, bloody red lipstick and porcelain skin ;)

  18. This is so, so rad! I love your blog, I'm so glad I found it. <3


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