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Retro career advice from the author of 'French Women Don't Get Fat'

November 12, 2009 |  9:21 am


Have we gone back to 1959? Mireille Guiliano, the author of "French Women Don't Get Fat," has written a book of career advice, "Women, Work and the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility." With a business manifesto that includes "bad hair is a branding catastrophe for women," it's hard to tell if she's writing advice for today or for the "Mad Men" era.

In a piece on WOW, which was founded by women who blasted through stereotypes and glass ceilings, including Leslie Stahl, Lily Tomlin and Marlo Thomas, Guiliano writes:

Many women who aspire to reach the top of the corporate ladder don’t realize that simply being a woman is a powerful tool. View your femininity as a selling point of the brand that you market to the world, and your gender will almost always be an asset, not a liability.

Fair enough. But exactly how does one use her femininity to sell her brand? She writes thank-you notes on stationery. She asks questions. She is a team player. She never uses profanity. She smiles. A smile is, Guiliano writes, "the ultimate accessory."

Before Guiliano became an author, she was the chief executive of Clicquot Inc., the Champagne company, where she worked for two decades. She certainly knows the business workplace; maybe her formula is exactly the way to get ahead. Still. In 2009.

But wouldn't it be nice if she was dispensing her advice to the men in the office, as well as the ladies?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Peggy Olson (actress Elisabeth Moss), Betty Draper (January Jones) and Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) have limited career options in the 1960s work environment of "Mad Men." Credit: Genaro Molina Los Angeles Times