My trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Seychelles was undeniably special. I learned a thing or two about surreptitious seduction and the power of muted style.
In North America, sexy is “easier” to pull off: we make it tight, add heels to it, or we show legs and cleavage. In the UAE, not all women are covered in burqas, but it’s rare to find anyone—except expats in Dubai—wearing short shorts or anything you might find in Bad Girl Riri’s closet. In fact, some malls require that women cover everything between the shoulders and knees.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t willing to take any risks. I was prepared to saunter through Dubai and Abu Dhabi unnoticed, equipped with long skirts and a jacket to throw over my shoulders. Yes, I was a little too paranoid, the dress code wasn’t nearly as ridged as I’d imagined. I did, however, learn that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the art of seduction: a little mystery is everything. Women in the UAE can give lessons, so I took notes.
Here are the lessons I learned:
Full eyebrows are forever.
Eyebrows frame your face, and once you pair that with great skin, there’s no losing. A fuller brow will always give a youthful appearance (à la Camilla Belle and Cara Delevigne). The runway makeup looks for SS2015 are simply iterations of the bare face with strong brows, but we didn’t need the fashion powers that be to convince us that this look is unbeatable.
Dramatic eye makeup will always be a come-hither look.
The simple act of taking a kohl eyeliner and drawing a cat eye is insta-sexy. After that, if you decide to go all the way with a smoky eye, it’s just sprinkles over the frosting of an already delectable cupcake. The ladies at a Sephora in Abu Dhabi reminded me how far a little eyeliner can take you. I stepped away from my friend for two minutes, and when I returned, I was blown away by a few simple strokes of black eyeliner.
Signature perfume—enough said?
Everyone needs a signature scent. In the UAE, they love their fragrances, from eau de parfum to scented oil. They also smoke their clothes with special incense so that it permeates the fabric and lasts all day. Woodsy and oriental scents dominate: there’s jasmine, amber, frankincense, oud and musk. These are strong scents that I absolutely love, but it’s not for everyone—and that’s okay. The idea is to find your scent, if you don’t already have one, and own it.
The glory of a head scarf.
Head-wraps, scarves, hats…try one.They add an eclectic look that just says your confident in your style. They’re not just for bad hair days or bedtime; they’re meant to show off that face. And let’s admit it, recently, we’ve been witnessing the proliferation of head gear in the fashion world—shocking (said no one, ever).
More can be more.
If showing skin is no longer an option, how do you pull off sexy? Women in the UAE are sporting the latest and best in designer goods. You can’t blame them: skin is off the menu, and there are high-end stores everywhere you turn. Well, when you’re forced to put a good outfit together, you may not have the budget for designer goods, but the answer is still long skirts, dresses, tailored suits, elegant blouses, structured shirts, a masterpiece of a handbag and a flawless shoe game.