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Dear Matthew:

Do French maids really dress like French maids?

-- Tony Falde, San Diego

Well, yeah, Tony. They tried dressing like deep-sea divers, but it was tough doing floors and windows. In fact, that's the origin of the famous phrase, "I don't do floors and windows"; the phrase originally was, "I can't do floors and windows." But I guess what you're really asking is, do French maids dress the way we think French maids dress when we suit up for a Halloween party -- tiny black dress, tinier white apron, fishnet stockings, black heels, that little ruffled head thingy, and maybe a feather duster. That daydreamy idea is just a saucy modification of a typical turn-of-the-century housemaid's outfit in the U.S. and Europe -- plain-colored (perhaps black or gray) dress with a long skirt, white apron, white cap. Naughty vaudeville routines hiked hemlines and added sexy footgear. I guess they're French because anything French has always been hot.

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