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Arpana Jain

How to be elegant

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Elegance is not a word we often hear. Worse yet, it’s not one we often aspire to embody.

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  • We’re just trying to get the kids to school, run businesses, get to the office on time, clean the house, pay the bills, and put dinner on the table.
  • Living elegantly? Refinement?  Luxuriously?  Who has time for that?
  • Darling, I get it. Being a single mom and running a company definitely leaves me running around without makeup and my hair unkempt . . . on days.
  • Yet, I know when I’m dressed my best, I am living my best.
  • I miss the days when women sauntered down the streets, dressed simply and beautifully; when tables were set with a home cooked meal, candles, and ready for a 7:00 dinner spent with the entire family; when cultural refinement was not an option and resulted from time spent embarking on intellectual pursuits.

Unfortunately . . .

Elegance has become a lost art.And, for many, it’s an art form that many of us never learned. Like most women, I’ve had to learn the art of elegance.  And, whether your eight or eighty, it’s always beautiful to be elegant.

Absolutely!  In fact, I’m going to challenge you that through elegance, your body, business and life will improve in quality. Why? Because . . .Elegance is a state of mind.  

As Dianne Vreeland said, “The only real elegance is in the mind; if you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it.”

Regardless of your busy schedule, crammed wardrobe, or life circumstances, here are 50 ways to bring more elegance into your life starting right now:

  1. Start your day off with ease and intention. An elegant woman has a radiating inner peace.  In other words, mental grooming is as important as the physical.
  2. Maintain good posture. Shoulders back and head held high.
  3. Keep a simple wardrobe with beautiful statement pieces.
  4. Have a signature meal that you can prepare at any given minute.
  5. Dine, don’t feed. Slow down and savor your meal.
  6. Do not smack gum in public — be limited in your use. (Sorry, this is a huge pet peeve of mine.)
  7. Put the cell phone/ electronics away while you’re sitting at the table.
  8. When you are in someone’s presence, really be with them.  Even if it’s only for a minute, look them in the eyes and offer them grace and attentiveness.
  9. Learn the basics of proper wine service.
  10. Keep your nails manicured.
  11. Don’t complain.
  12. Be kind with your words about others.  If you’re going to talk about someone behind their back, say something good.
  13. Accept compliments gracefully.
  14. Do more of what comes naturally to you.  Where there’s ease, there’s elegance.
  15. Tip generously.
  16. Give creative and thoughtful gifts.  They need not be expensive.
  17. Keep a secret garden.  It’s not necessary to share your entire life story with a complete stranger.  Discretion is elegant.
  18. Use your manners and be polite– don’t forget your please’s and thank you’s.
  19. Remember that silence can be stunning.
  20. Eat beautiful foods in moderation.  Don’t stuff yourself.
  21. Use subtle makeup. Enhance your natural beauty, don’t try to hide it.
  22. Choose an elegant icon. Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly and among my favorite elegant ladies. Now, we have the lovely Kate Middleton as a role model for our younger ladies.
  23. Have a signature scent that expresses your feminine essence.  
  24. Speak eloquently and thoughtfully. There’s nothing elegant about the loud, obnoxious tourist.  And, don’t be that lady who swears every other word.  Save those expressions for when they are truly warranted.
  25. Don’t lose your cool in public. Remember: breathe. Scream later in private, if you need.
  26. Move gracefully through life… in heels and without.
  27. Learn to adore yourself.  Elegance and self-loathing don’t mix.
  28. Keep a sense of humor.  Never take yourself or life too seriously.
  29. Tidy up. Keep your spaces (work, home, car, … ) neat and tidy.
  30. Have dreams and live passionately.  
  31. Have boundaries. Gracefully stand against people who don’t offer you the respect you deserve.
  32. Keep fresh flowers in the home.  They are nature’s Chanel.
  33. Saunter, not speed walk, throughout your day.  Life is not a race (unless you’re at the gym).
  34. Send thank you notes. Everyone likes getting them.
  35. Study the arts. Bring intelligent and refined conversation to the table.
  36. Learn some French. If possible, learn from the French.
  37. Wear scarves.  This video will show you 25 ways to do so.
  38. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
  39. Listen to elegant music.  Here’s a playlist for you.
  40. Dress for your destiny … even if you’re merely taking a trip to the grocery store.
  41. Sip your drink, don’t guzzle it down like it’s the last you’ll ever have.
  42. Be responsible for your own happiness.  It’s too much pressure to put on others.  
  43. Have a heart of gratitude, especially when you think that there’s nothing to appreciate.  There always is.
  44. Apologize sincerely. If you’re going to say “I’m sorry,” make sure it’s warranted.
  45. Wear your tennis shoes to work out. Choose great shoes for every other occasion.
  46. Remember: you don’t have to have money to be elegant. It’s a mindset, not a shopping budget.
  47. Choose quality over quantity.
  48. Travel. It does wonders for your personal enrichment.
  49. Know who you are, what you love and what you don’t.  This doesn’t happen overnight, but you can start in this moment creating an intimate relationship with yourself.
  50. Comment below and share your elegant tips!

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