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A woman in our community recently confided in me at a French Kiss Life Tour event. She told me that she was new to the community but was intrigued by my work. However, she felt that she wasn’t elegant, nor did she have any desire to “become elegant”. I asked her to say more.
“Well, I’m not in the upper echelons of society. I don’t have fancy clothes nor do I wear lipstick. I have a Southern accent and don’t know a lot about the arts.”
She continued to list various traits she had attributed to elegance.
I said to her,
“Honey, if that’s what elegance is, I don’t want that either…..
….well, except for the beautiful clothes and lipstick, of course!”
With such a hoity-toity definition of elegance, most women will run as far away as they can as we have been repressed for far too long.
Whenever I speak of the word elegance, I am talking about something much deeper than pearls and lipstick.
In fact, elegance has nothing at all to do with what you wear or how much money you have.
Elegance is a state of mind.
A new understanding of Elegance
In today’s English language, so many words are turned around, twisted, manipulated, and made to fit just about whatever you’re wanting it to mean.
It’s no different with the word “elegance.”For the various definitions I’ve seen for Elegance, there seem to be two distinct definitions:
Piss Elegance = displaying a contrived, often pretentious, sophistication, opulence; a debutante or a display of high society and exclusivity.
True Elegance = comes from the Latin elegantia, “taste, propriety, or refinement.” A refined quality of gracefulness and good taste. A quality of neatness and ingenious simplicity in the solution of a problem (especially in science or mathematics)
And, for the record, whenever I speak of elegance, I’m referring to the latter. I don’t translate it like many women do today, which is often visions of women walking snootily along the upper East Side of NYC.
For me, elegance means
- being selective and aiming for quality….not loads of crap.
- knowing what you value and building your life around it.
- thinking on purpose….not what you’ve been told to believe.
- surrounding yourself with beauty.
- letting go of anything that does not support you.
And, I deeply believe it’s something that most women want, but unfortunately, misunderstand.
As Diana Vreeland said: “Elegance is a refusal.” Cheers to that, Diana!
My elegant Ma who lived in a little trailer
My grandmother, Elverta (we all called her Ma), was the most elegant woman I’ve ever known.
She knew her values — family and faith — and built her world around it.
She was full of grace, grit, and gratitude.
And, she took amazing care of herself — eating fresh foods from her garden and taking walks around the little path on the perimeter of her yard.
She kept her home neat and simple — only filled with precious mementos and the few things she needed to live well each day.
She lived in a little single wide trailer with a flower garden full of daisies and carnations outside her door.
She didn’t hurry through her own life but counted her blessings every day.
She didn’t fight what was being thrown at her but accepted life and always reminded me: “Sweetie, this too shall pass.” And she’s right. It always passes – the high and the lows.
Living with fierce faith and beautiful acceptance…
This is elegance at its best.
When elegance becomes more about the outside than the inside
Who wants to be told what to wear? Who wants to become someone that doesn’t feel true to them? Who wants to be someone just to impress others?
But, I’ve tried these approaches, and let me tell you:
It was NOT elegant.
There was that one time at my first country club party.
Attending a party at a country club party had been on my “dream” list for years.
Here’s what happened:
I walked in the door thinking, “I don’t belong here.” And, when a woman doesn’t feel like she belongs, she spends the night trying to prove to everywhere that she does. (Note to you, the reader: This never turns out well.)
When a very prestigious couple approached me, I couldn’t pretend any longer.
Not feeling adequate, and therefore not knowing what to say, I quickly excused myself to go to the ladies room.
And in my quick escape…
I ran straight into the server carrying a tray of meatballs.
A Tray of meatballs drenched in copious amounts of marinara sauce.
Oh, and did I mention that I was wearing white?
You can let your imagination fill in the blanks.
I’ve since learned that true elegance is NOT about impressing others.
Elegance is a state of mind.
So, to clear the record, elegance is NOT about the clothes you wear, where you live, nor the number in your bank account… although these areas can become very elegant in your life.
Let’s be specific and look at how true elegance can look in our everyday lives in these areas.
Imagine if you were to …
… deliberately choose your thoughts instead of continuing to believe what you’ve been told is true.
… learn to feel your feelings, not escape or bury them through overeating, overshopping, overworking or over social mediaing (is that a word?)
… surround yourself with only those things you love or make your life easier.
… cultivate your confidence by stepping into the mystery of life not running from it.
… stop waiting for one day and completely abandon the idea of living with an internal battle of wanting one thing and doing another.
… treat people with kindness while also defining your own personal boundaries.
… dress each morning with intention instead of choosing the same ole’ outfit.
… slow down long enough to taste your square of chocolate.
… want what you already have instead of focusing on all that you don’t 24-7.
… stop waiting to be ready and instead play your way to success.
… have 3 clear top priorities at any point in life that you’re working towards (not 20)
… schedule only what’s important to you.
… create a calendar that reflects your desires and showing up for yourself.
… treating your body and mind like an incredible work of art (because it is)
… have clear values by which you live your life.
… eliminated the noise that distracts you from your own life.
… not obsess over what you think you’re missing but celebrate what’s right in front of you.
… read books that ignite a sense of passion and romance instead of making you feel broken.
… not look for others approval but approve of yourself.
… let people be who they are instead of trying to make them into who you want them to be.
…shine unapologetically knowing that it doesn’t dull anyone else’s sparkle.
… look for the beauty and possibility of each moment.
These are true examples of elegance in the everyday.
I have just released a free course where I’ll personally show you HOW to cultivate elegance in the everyday. We will dive into the 3 truths that all Elegant Women have in common, and you will learn specifically how to apply them into your life.
Now the list of ideas above, it may seem like a lot.
But do remember that Elegance is a PRACTICE.
Which leads me to the next point.
Elegance is full of grace & grit.
My elegant grandmother approached each day with grace and grit. She was perfectly imperfect. And she was so elegant.
A lot of women have convinced themselves that to be elegant they must be perfect.
Lie, lie, lie!
Perfectionism is for the fearful — those fearful of what others will think, not being good enough and failing.
Grace is the loving forgiveness we must extend ourselves when we scream at the kids, eat an extra cookie or any action that doesn’t align with what we deeply want. To me, grace is all about holding my own hand when my mind tells me I should scold myself instead.
Grit is the courage and strength to navigate our lives based on what we value and desire. It’s about feeling the discomfort that will occur when you start to live your life on purpose. It’s about facing your fear, not running from it.
Elegance is the essence of French Kissing Life.
It’s how I aim to live, and some days I do better than others.
And when I notice that I’ve fallen off the beam, I simply get back on.
Just grace and grit.
What would your life look and feel like if you were to embrace elegance as a way of life?
Design Your Most Extraordinary Life
Then, start living it
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