Because they traveled with and attended their employers in public and before company, personal appearance was highly prized in a lady's maid and attractive young women entering service had a better chance of nabbing this position than their more homely colleagues. This quality, combined with the intimate access to the boudoir, undergarments, and confidences of the mistress their position required, gave lady's maid a sexual allure. French lady's maids added exoticism, alien cultural values, and often an immigrants uninhibitedness and social climbing to the mix.
As a consequence, the attractive, amorous, scheming French Maid became a stock character in fiction, both high and low, and remains so today. The character is usually depicted in some variant of a formal evening serving outfit as would be worn by female domestics at upscale Anglo-American dinner parties at the turn of the 20th century. In fiction, the tuxedo-like black silk or satin dress with white trim is often displayed with hems much higher and necklines much lower than would have been tolerated on actual lady's maids of the day.