A lot of people don’t want you to know this, but becoming who you want to be isn’t always about eating kale, responding to your partner’s sexual needs and getting in touch with your soul via horoscope hotlines. I am here to show you the easy way out; the elevator bypassing the stairway of life, the no-win no-fee 0% typical APR path to your dreams, a shortcut to spiritual contentment. First of all, you must decide exactly who it is that you want to see in the mirror every day. Remember, you can be absolutely anyone you desire (as long as they’re one of three included in this little list. If not then I’m sorry, I can’t help you).
1. THE SUAVE LITERARY FRANCOPHILE
LISTEN: To early Serge Gainsbourg and pretty much everything pre-1960. Anything after that is out, unless Yoko Ono or Björk had something to do with it. Expect to say things like: “Oh, I wouldn’t know, I don’t listen to the radio.” “Rihanna? Who’s Rihanna? Is she a hairdresser? Because I think a girl called Rihanna did my short-back-and-sides last week.” And “let’s get naked and listen to the final movement of Tchaikovksy’s Symphony Pathetique over a glass of merlot.”
HANG: At Shakespeare and Co. in Paris. If you can’t afford the travel then The Book Club in Shoreditch will have to do, I suppose. But only if you really really can’t afford to cross the channel.
WEAR: You need to strike a delicate balance between looking endearingly unwashed and sartorially sharp. Think expensive but unironed shirts, scuffed brogues, second-hand suits and a vetiver-heavy fragrance that will make you choke when you spray it. Oh, and you always need a cigarette between your fingers.
READ: Kafka, Nabokov, Borges, Ginsberg, Foucault, and various obscure first-edition novels which will jut scruffily out of your jacket pocket and can only be found in smoky second-hand bookstores; preferably one with a fat, bespectacled owner splayed out on an armchair scrutinising your choices. Learn from him, because you’ll need to master the art of the judgmental stare.
WATCH: Truffaut, Truffaut, Truffaut, Truffaut, Truffaut, Truffaut, Bergman, Truffaut, Truffaut, Haneke, Truffaut, Truffaut, Truffaut, Buñuel, Cocteau, Cocteau, Cocteau, Truffaut.
EAT: Anything that sounds unusual but tastes delicious and sort of Autumnal, eg. venison and hazelnut, pork and chocolate, lamb and lavender. If you can’t afford the type of culinary artisanship which you so require, you’ll have to settle for some miserly porridge and dream of the day when your literary talents are finally recognised and you’re bagging six figure book advances.
2. THE GIRL WHO GETS HER PICTURE ON THE SARTORIALIST
LISTEN: To all those, like, super-hot, sort of indie-ish hipster-ish bands that explode onto the scene in a cloud of frenzied PR girls and hack journalists before disappearing into obscurity once we’re all bored of them, and realise that they sound exactly like that one band that did that thing that they’re doing now way back in the 80s.
HANG: On the street. You don’t want to get caught doing anything but walking across roads or standing outside pretty old buildings and fashion shows. You’re going to have to employ a PA to get that coffee which is eternally glued to your left hand, because what if you miss The Sartorialist’s roving eye as you dash into starbucks for a skinny frappuccino?
WEAR: Now, this is a tricky one. Firstly, you need to spend several days trawling through all the street style blogs on the web, absorbing each and every style, trend and minute detail into your mind (a bit like this). Then, you should spend every penny you own on JW Anderson, Christopher Kane and Acne, combining them with vintage clothes that would be ridiculed were they new, but are ultra-stylish due to their old age. Or, you could take the Susie Bubble approach and run through Opening Ceremony covered in superglue. Next, lurk outside fashion shows for all your worth with a cigarette in one hand and an iphone in the other. Sure, it looks like you might be organising a meeting with Grimes’ ‘people’, but you’re actually playing Angry Birds and waiting for Tommy Ton to tap you on the shoulder.
READ: You don’t really read, but you’re really into, like, looking at the pictures? Your coffee table is a treasure trove of thick hardbacks filled with black and white photographs of Hollywood icons. Oh, but Grace Coddington’s autobiography is a big fat exception to your no-words rule. It’s okay, there’s no need to panic; it’s printed in extra big letters so you don’t even need the help of that magnifying glass you got in a super-cute little vintage christmas cracker last year!
WATCH: Anything by Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, or starring Tilda Swinton. Like, films that really, you know, connect with your emotions and stuff. Plus Gwyneth Paltrow is SOOO cool in The Royal Tenenbaums. Don’t you totally want to be her?
EAT: Nothing, unless that little voice starts telling you to go towards the bright light, in which case you curb your hunger with half an almond. Your Instagram followers don’t need to know this detail, however, and you can successfully jade them by photographing the pages of Nigella’s new cookbook and passing off her creations as your own.
3. THE RICH, WORDLY CREATIVE
- Fred and Marcia Weisman by Hockney
LISTEN: You’re not fussy. You’ll listen to anything as long as it’s GOOD, you know, none of this auto-tuned electronic nonsense which everybody is so caught up in these days. You love all the great singers with whom we’re on first name terms, like Ella, Billie, Nina, and Barbara, and though you don’t like to admit it, Cher. You’re also partial to a little Depeche Mode at times, or maybe some Siouxsie and the Banshees. What really rings your bell, though, is classical. Think Wagner, Richard Strauss, Puccini and Verdi. You saw the most fabulous production of La Traviata at the Royal Opera last year, and you’ve got a couple of seats booked for Lohengrin in the winter.
HANG: In your spacious old house in Chelsea. All of the walls which aren’t bookshelves are painted white, and your living room is so big that the sofas don’t even touch the walls. Instead, they’re back to back with antique wooden chests covered in Diptyque candles and letter-writing apparatus given to you by the Norwegian Ambassador after you dined with him at Glyndebourne.
WEAR: Your clothes are exceedingly pricey and only the best, but you don’t like to shout about it, so you stick to simple cashmeres, chambrays and jerseys. You always cut a classic silhouette, and your chosen outfits have been stylish for about a century, already. You’re happy, however, to take things up a notch with a Cartier piece when you go out for dinner with your friends at a private members club (you’re welcome in several, but some of them are becoming terribly trendy, attracting all those insufferable internet types).
READ: Everything. You’re extremely clever and you’ve been devouring novels since before you could walk. What’s more, you’ve still got the money to shop in Foyles, which is always a treat. To you, the word ‘amazon’ only brings to mind that sprawling South American jungle and an ancient race of burly female warriors. You’ve read several books about both. Oh, and remember to subscribe to The Paris Review and the TLS — you need to keep up with things in the literary sphere, if only to rush out and buy everything shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. You never know when Hilary Mantel might enter conversation at a dinner party.
WATCH: Hollywood classics, Shakespeare adaptations, occasional BBC thrillers and a large dose of Hitchcock. They don’t make them like that anymore.
EAT: You’ve become very well-versed in fine dining over the years, so you know what you like. You employ a cook to deal with these matters, but when you’re in the mood you do like to step into the kitchen and cook up a rich, boozy casserole, or just a smoked salmon salad when you’re only a little peckish.
Originally published on thezemblan.com