Most of us would like to be elegant or more elegant, preferably effortless. What is elegance? Now, of course, elegance is in the eye of the beholder. For some Audrey Hepburn will be the epitome of elegance, for others Lady Gaga, or their grandmother.
Personally I find elegance one the the most attractive features there is! Of course, I’m not talking about the frock or the jewellery, but about the attitude or the way of living.
10 Ways to Live Elegantly
Yehudi Menuhin wrote about his wife Diana what is my favourite definition of elegance: “She claims to observe no moral precepts, only aesthetic proportion (=elegance), but that in practise proves to work quite as well as the Ten Commandments in the avoidance of vicious behaviour and the encouragement of virtuous.”
Now, what does this mean for your everyday life, you wonder? Here are my suggestions:
1.) Know what you want. Have you noticed that pattern? The more someone complains, the less she has figured out what she really wants for herself. Too many women (and men!) have never taken the trouble to truly find out what it is they want from life. The problem seems to be an old one: gnōthi seautón (Know Thyself) was the inscription on the temple of the oracle of Delphi. Without self-knowledge, neither the Pythia, nor her modern-day equivalent (your shrink, BFF, coach or taylor, hairdresser or astrologist) will be able to do much for you.
The task is of Wagnerian proportions, but clarity on who you are and what you want will vastly enhance your elegance: “I’m a woman. I can be as inconsequential as I choose.” *
2.) Once you’ll get clearer on what you truly want, don’t wait for permission to live exactly as you want! If you’re not genuine, you can’t be elegant, period. And no one can do this at your place, but you can surround yourself with people who will encourage you to be yourself.
BTW, do you know what the number One regret of dying people is? “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
3.) Live as you want and don’t obsess over what other people think. Because no matter what, if they want to think “things”, they will do so. There will ALWAYS be people, and sometimes they are your nearest and dearest, who don’t like your nose, your voice, the way you dress/eat/laugh, the color of your dog or whatever.
Why, you ask? Because they project their own story into others, or, put simply, they treat you how they feel inside (something we’d all do well to remember when we, in turn, have our “moments”).
4.) Stop waiting for imaginary things to happen. Good or bad, 99.9 % of them will never become reality, whether it’s a meteorite falling straight on your cat or the guy with too many rings and the shirt open till the navel who points at you in the street and goes “You.Shall.Be.A.Star.” or the prince on the white horse who begs you to be allowed to pay all your bills whilst sitting at your feet or the miracle diet, which will _finally_ solve ALL your problems, or the earthquake engulfing your car, or…
5.) “Elegance is refusal”, Coco Chanel famously said, and what’s true for your outer style is certainly true for your inner style, too. Do have a secret garden. Don’t brag or spill every detail of your life. The visit at your dentist’s with all the glorious details. Your ex-boyfriend’s bohemian tendencies. Your current boyfriend’s amazing performances. How you got drunk and sick last at the party last weekend. Your PMS. In short, all the stuff reality shows and a big part of social media is filled with. And, dare I remind it, respect other people’s secret garden….
6.) Don’t complain and pity yourself. Yes, we all have moments when we curl up on the sofa with the tissues, the chocolate, the red wine and empty the batteries of our cell phones calling all our friends because things are so haaaaaard. Note that I said moments, not weeks or months or years. Let it be the exception. Anyway, it’s not healthy, scientists say.
7.) The perpetual damsel in distress may be an entertaining rôle for the damsel herself, but certainly not to everyone around her. Accept, don’t expect help. Everyone is busy with their own problems. When you receive help with yours, accept it gladly and gracefully, but it is certainly no given! The less you expect, the more elegantly will you be able to accept!
8.) Now, even being in a situation where you need help doesn’t mean you’ll have to belittle yourself. It’s a common way for women to deal with difficult situations, and it’s completely devoid of elegance. Don’t apologize, say Thank you instead.When you allow others to be elegant, guess what’s happening with you?
9.) Get rid of feeling guilty (about the state of your house, about saying No, about your taste, your career, your working hours, the fact that you are a stay-at-home mom, your desires, your weight, your sex-life or the lack of it, and your child’s math grades). Once she reaches adulthood and its cortège of lifestyle choices, guilt seems to be the very fabric a woman is made of. Each time a woman lets go of guilt, her elegance and joie de vivre soars (and her coach is one happy girl!)
10.) Be kind to yourself. There is nothing elegant in grimacing at your reflection in the mirror, in calling yourself names because you don’t have the figure of a boyish 12-year-old or to berate yourself because whatever you do, you’ll always feel you’re not good enough.
Watch or re-watch this 3-minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk
If elegance is something you long for, know this: the very fact that you want elegance, means that you are already elegant. Go ahead and cultivate even more of it. We are all work in progress!
*Meet one of my idols, the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey.