How To Have Je Ne Sais Quoi

The chic woman always has that je ne sais quoi… That indefinable quality. An elusive manner of comporting herself that defies explanation. The phrase literally means I don’t know what. It is mysterious!

Still, I’d like to offer an explanation for part of what gives a chic woman the intangible allure we call je ne sais quoi. I wonder if it’s because her sense of style comes from inside out. When I observe a woman who embodies je ne sais quoi there’s always a self-sufficiency, an absence of external validation-seeking. It’s as though her bearing says, this is me, and how you feel about it is not my concern.

Not arrogance, not attention-seeking. Quite the opposite, really. Not needing your attention. 

If you like this perspective, that je ne sais quoi is about strengthening your inner sense of style, your instinctive chic self, then here are some ways you can cultivate your own je ne sais quoi.  

It’s as though her bearing says: This is me, and how you feel about it is not my concern.

How to cultivate je ne sais quoi

1. Tune in to your inner voice

There are many ways you can pay more attention to your inner voice. You could do it as part of a daily meditation practice. You could write morning pages or some other form of regular journaling. You could take walks without earbuds and listen to your own thoughts instead. 

The idea is to tune out the noise from outside and hear what is coming from inside. The more you get to know yourself, the better you’ll be able to cultivate je ne sais quoi.

2. Stop faking emotions

Many of us are adept as having the reactions that are expected of us. We smile when everyone is partying and feel aggrieved when everyone is getting mad. But there’s a wonderful peace that comes from getting quiet and feeling whatever we feel, regardless of what’s going on around us. However contrary, however odd. 

We don’t have to express everything we feel, but being okay with whatever we feel, giving ourselves permission to have our feelings – that builds a lovely sense of self-trust. Like a child knowing they can wander off and explore, and the parent will always be there. This self-trust is a wonderful basis for je ne sais quoi. What others think is not so important when we have ourselves. 

This self-trust is a wonderful basis for je ne sais quoi. What others think is not so important when we have ourselves.

3. Don’t compare yourself

Unless you’re competing in some kind of pageant, there’s simply no need for comparison. There’s no judge, no prize. There’s also imperfect information – they may be doing better at this thing you know about and awful at that one you don’t.  

You will never win at the comparison game. There will always be someone smarter, more beautiful, younger…  The more we see ourselves as individuals on our own path, alongside but different from everyone else’s, the more we will have a chic inner confidence to underpin our je ne sais quoi

You will never win at the comparison game. The more we see ourselves as individuals on our own path, the more we will have a chic inner confidence.

4. Find your own formula

The chic woman learns from others and takes inspiration wherever she finds it. In her work, her creative practice, how she dresses, her health and fitness regime. But she doesn’t slavishly follow trends or diets or gurus, she is never a fashion victim, she never parrots others’ ideas. She knows we are each unique creatures, and she adapts everything for herself, into her own chic formula. 

To be someone with je ne sais quoi, you need to observe what others do well and adapt what you like, but make it your own. 

To be someone with je ne sais quoi, you need to observe what others do well and adapt what you like, but make it your own. 

5. Don’t try too hard

A sure way not to be chic is to try too hard. We all recognize the desperation of someone who must be liked, who demands attention, whose outfit works overtime or reveals too much. It is the opposite of je ne sais quoi; we do know what, and frankly, it turns us off. 

A better approach is to choose an outfit that expresses who we are in an understated way, to allow silence, to relax and let things unfold. This kind of coolness, nonchalance, insouciance – it is far more conducive to inner poise, to a chic demeanor. 

We all recognize the desperation of someone who demands attention, whose outfit reveals too much. It is the opposite of je ne sais quoi; we do know what – and frankly, it turns us off. 


Do you like these ideas for being chic from the inside out, for cultivating je ne sais quoi? Will you apply any of them? Do you have your own to share? I’d love to hear them!

How To Have Je Ne Sais Quoi
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The ‘Chic Life’ Philosophy

To live by conscious choice and not convention or habit. To have less, but better quality. To do more of what matters and less of everything else. To live with grace, elegance, style. To show love, kindness, compassion. To experience inner peace and joy…  Read More

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C’est Moi, Michele

Salut, I'm Michele. For me, 'chic' is more than how you look - it's how you do everything. A chic life is personal style, an organized home, elegance, confidence, living well, self-care, minimalism, joyful work, and happy relationships. And it all starts with knowing who you are. Thank you for joining me! Read More