The official start of summer is June 21st. The REAL start of summer, here in Paris at least, is July 14th. After the parade and the fireworks people leave for the sea or for their maison de famille. Each conversation begins with “So, where do you go for the holidays?”It’s officially l’été and everyone hopes that the weather will be nice, the beaches empty and the in-laws relaxed.
So, let me ask you a question:
What are the memories you want to create for this summer?
Most people plan on what they are going to do during their summer, much less how they are going to do it. What would your ideal summer look like? You won’t be able to influence the weather (if you can, please contact me asap), if your mother-in-law is grumpy in fall, winter and spring, chances are that she will also be grumpy during summer; beaches, airlines and the people in the tent next to you don’t always behave like they should. So there are quite a few components you won’t be able to influence.
The good news is that there are so many things you can do to have the time of your life! Here are some of my favourites:
Ten Ingredients for an Elegant Summer
- Dress with intention. Picture yourself wearing a flattering summer dress (one that will hold your memories of holidays and sun and warm evenings and feeling feminine), a pair of shoes both comfortable and elegant and some beautiful and well fitted lingerie, sauntering along in airports and train stations with a high quality, light, and 4 wheeled suitcase. How does this make you feel? (Yes, you may go shopping :). Start with the suitcase. )
- Summer means fresh fruit, produce, herbs in abundance. Farmers markets are a feast for the senses. Surprise yourself and your guests with a new signature dish and drink. With fresh and tasty ingredients you wouldn’t believe how easily you can create food that will solicit ecstatic moans and gain you the reputation of a gourmet cook! Let this summer be the one where you became a food snob and refused anything pre-packed or pre-prepared ever since.
- Take time for your secret garden. We all enjoy to do, eat, read, watch or make things that are for us and us alone. Things that give us a lot of secret pleasure, although we’d be a bit embarrassed for the world to know about. You know yours! Whatever it is, I say, go for it! Summer in general and vacation in particular is the moment to replenish these particular batteries. It’s amazing how much these seemingly silly occupations can fill our hearts with joy!
- Downsize and upgrade. Because of course. Summer is ideal to open all your crates, drawers, cupboards, boxes, bags, closets, purses, to pull out everything (peu à peu, not all at once!), to let air and sunshine in and to look at your stuff in bright summer light. Put back only the best. Think light, joy, quality and elegance for everything you keep and for everything you acquire. When you consistently downsize and upgrade, it is next to impossible to not become elegant.
- Take regular time-out: from people, technology, eating, work, your goals, from being awake. In other words: spend quality time only with yourself, get enough sleep (7 hours minimum) don’t graze all day, switch of your computer and even (gasp) your mobile phone at regular intervals, and put your To-Do list out of sight.
- Treat yourself as a VIP. Get a haircut, a facial, a massage, have a luxurious picnic in nature or on your balcony, buy a new lipstick, have coffee in the best hotel in town, book a private yoga session or riding lesson, go and see some first class exhibitions or concerts (often free during the summer). Oh, BTW, did you buy this summer dress? Be stylish!
- Read and write. There is something delicious and elegant about writing a letter, an invitation, a Thank You note on beautiful stationary. The same goes for curling up with a book. Yes, technology is miraculous and I’m deeply grateful for the possibilities, connection and information at our fingertips – but I enjoy my fountain pen, handmade paper and an exquisite book edition too much!
- Create rituals. Take a look at your routines. Are your starting your day by downing a coffee, getting in and out of the shower without even noticing what you are doing, grabbing ‘something’ to wear and rushing out of the door? How could you upgrade that? Transform it into a ritual! What would be the ideal way to start your day? To end your day? To eat your meals? To plan your To-Do’s? To take care of your home?
- Take exquisite care of your money. Holidays can wrack havoc with your finances, and when we are travelling, most of us don’t feel inclined to be very conscientious about our spending. Think about your money as a tool to make you feel good. Not just during this summer, but for the rest of the year. And the beginning of next year. And the next ten years. What does your money need to have a good time?
- Think ahead (a little bit). Don’t spend your summer overthinking or worrying non-stop about what is to come in fall and winter. That would be counterproductive and turn you into the biggest bore in the Western hemisphere – not very elegant. Ceci étant dit, do schedule a bit of time to plan and structure the weeks and months ahead. A few hours will be an intelligent investment of your time to set things up and to clear your mind. And then you can go back to the beach or your book.
So, my congratulations if you are spending your summer in a dream location sipping margueritas, or explore the Kilimanjaro or get a private visit to the Taj Mahal. But none of those things are necessary, let alone a guarantee for an elegant (aka full of beautiful memories) summer!
I’m curious: which point is your favourite one? Do you have other tips? Let’s hear them in the comments.