Girls, it’s Valentine’s Day and just in case it’s not too late to change your plans for this evening I wanted to give you some advice. You’ll ask me: “What do you know?” And my answer is, “I’m a man.” I’ve spent well over 40 years being one, and quite a few of these have been spent studying – and mostly adoring – your species from various angles as a son, boyfriend, husband and father.
I love you. I want you to be fulfilled, happy and to find and keep the perfect man. That’s why you can trust me. I’m totally on your side. I want to make your lives that little bit easier by telling you
something very important you may not have fully appreciated about my species – the male one. It has to do with scent. And make-up. And dressing up. All stuff you probably thought was the female domain.
And so it is. That is, in fact, the whole point of this particular agony column.
Let me explain.
Tonight, with luck, you’re going somewhere nice with a man you want to be with.
Do you realise what an achievement this is? Essentially, you’ve won. He’s yours, to do exactly what you want with. You can go all the way. You can find him deeply boring and choose never see him again. You can opt for something in between. The point to remember is: you’re in charge.
When you’re in charge, something important naturally follows. It means you don’t have to try too hard.
That’s what I meant at the beginning about changing your plans for this evening. You’ve probably got this special outfit you were going to wear. And your favourite scent. And the make-up and eyeliner and so on all ready. And what I want to point out is that if all this is just about trying to ensnare your male, it really isn’t necessary. By all means go to this trouble if it makes you feel better about yourself. But don’t kid yourself you’re doing it for the man because the likelihood is he couldn’t care less.
I can’t speak for all men, obviously. Some, I’m quite sure, really love it when their women do themselves up like Geisha girls or Parisian whores caked in make-up and immaculate red lipstick and the heady, evocative scent of the boudoir. But a lot of us, trust me, don’t.
Scent: anything but the merest dab is too much. It needs to work on an almost subliminal level – think homeopathic dosage – rather than like a main battle tank. We’re not subtle, we men, but we expect you to be. Oh, and when you kiss where perfume has been it tastes horrid.
Make-up: ditto. You know what needs to be done to make your good features better and your bad ones invisible. Go no further than that. Natural is nicer; it makes us feel like we’re not being sold a pup or taken advantage of. We’re straightforward, we blokes.
Outfit: this could just be me but I don’t think I’ve ever, ever, ever seen a woman “dressed up to the nines” who I don’t think looks far better when she’s in mufti. Power-dressing for me is an
anaphrodisiac. It makes me think trophy wife; boardroom ballbreaker; high class tart.
Mind you, there’s a certain type of man who seems to like that kind of thing: the very, very rich one. If that’s what you’re after then ignore everything I’ve just said. But do remember, if that’s the route you’re going to take, that’ll be it forever: looking like a mannequin for the rest of your miserable pampered life.
Heeding James's advice? Here's GTG's pick of the best products for the natural look:
Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude EDT, £40 ( www.esteelauder.co.uk)