Friday, March 10, 2017

Elegance: A Lesson from 1962

"Elegance is refusal."
Coco Chanel

In April 1962 the White House was abuzz with preparations for the state dinner in honor of the Shah of Iran and his lovely young wife, Empress Farah.  Reports had reached Washington that the Empress would be wearing the most exquisite jewels from the royal vaults; and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, whose elegance in fashion and style had won global notoriety, involuntarily found herself set up to compete in what the world had turned into a two-woman beauty contest.

Although Tiffany and Company had made some of its most impressive pieces of jewelry at Mrs. Kennedy's disposal for the occasion, at the last moment she decided to forgo extravagance for a simple pair of diamond drop earrings and a small starburst clip for her hair.  It was a remarkable exercise in restraint; and the result was that, as the First Lady's personal secretary later recalled, "Jacqueline Kennedy's understated elegance upstaged even the dazzling, jewel-laden Empress."

Mrs. Kennedy's example is a valuable key to a lady's code:  understated simplicity is the essence of elegance.

Picture: Paris Match, April 1962.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Offering Sympathy

Rejoice with those who rejoice;
mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15

 When a lady offers sympathy to those who are grieving the death of a loved one:

  • Her message is SIMPLE.  She makes no attempt at flowery speech.    
  • Her manner is SINCERE.  Her tone is heartfelt and genuine, not hurried or perfunctory.
  • Her mode is PERSONAL.  She mentions the deceased by name and recalls a brief, pleasant memory of him or her when possible.  
  • Her method is PRIVATE.  She extends sympathy in person, by telephone or by handwritten note.  
A Sample Note of Condolence:

Dear Anne,

I was very saddened to hear of your dear grandmother Nora's death.  I still remember the tender kindness she showed me that weekend we stayed in her home during our days at Agnes Scott, the special care she took to make me feel welcome ... and the three pounds I gained from her famous peach dumplings!  Nora was a lovely woman, and I see so much of her wonderful spirit in you.  I know you will miss her terribly.

With loving sympathy,

Guidelines Regarding Social Media:

  • A lady may offer condolences by way of social media or text only when a family member of the deceased has chosen to announce their loved one's death through that channel.
  • A lady never writes "Sorry for your loss", which appears rushed and much less sincere than "I am very sorry for your loss."  For the same reason, she never uses texting abbreviations when conveying sympathy, such as, "SRY 4 UR loss."
  • Under no circumstances does a lady ask for more information than what has been given concerning the details of the death.
  • Under no circumstances does a lady interject her own experiences of grief into the conversation, detracting focus from the original news.
  • A lady never takes it upon herself to spread news of a person's death by posting it on social media.  Likewise, when she happens to be privy to detailed information concerning a death, she keeps it private.

Photo: found on Pinterest

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Driving Like a Lady

Traits of a Woman Lady Driver:
  • She signals her turns and lane changes
  • She stops at a distance which allows her to see the rear wheels of the car in front of her on the road
  • She paces her speed to make allowance for cars needing to merge
  • She waves her thanks to others who allow her to merge
  • She moves to the right lane to yield to faster-moving traffic
  • She doesn't follow too closely
  • She doesn't multitask behind the wheel
  • She keeps the volume of her audio system low enough to be able to hear sirens
  • She observes approaching traffic lights and paces her speed to avoid sudden braking
  • When she clearly observes an accident she phones the police to offer witness testimony if needed
Photo:  La Marais by Justin Chung Photography, found on Pinterest

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Lady's Rule on Gossip

A lady does not gossip, nor listen when others do.  If a person begins to gossip in her presence about Mary (for example), a lady might say, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but isn't that Mary's story to tell?" or pleasantly suggest, "Let's wait for Mary to tell us about that if she wants to."  

Busybodies often try to glean information about a person from that person's close friends or relatives. When a lady is approached with prying questions about friends or family, she might reply, "I really couldn't say, but I'll be happy to tell him (or her) that you asked!"  

Photo: found on Pinterest

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Noting Changes in Another's Personal Appearance

When a lady notices a difference in another's physical appearance, such as a change in hairstyle, hair color, or weight, she does not mention it specifically, unless the two enjoy an intimate friendship. 

Remarks or questions on such changes are too personal in nature for someone other than a close friend to bring up.  This rule includes apparently innocent inquiries such as, "Did you color your hair?" (which may put the other person in the position of discussing a subject she'd rather not), and “Have you lost weight?” (which can leave the subtle impression that the person needed to).

Instead, when a lady notices a particular change in the appearance of a person who is not a very close friend, she compliments only in general terms, such as, “You look lovely!” 

Photo:  found on Pinterest

Thursday, February 9, 2017

To Be ... Not to Be Seen

It is those who have no need to be in the spotlight
who are really worth watching.

A lady does not need an audience in order to shine.  She is who she is, whether or not anyone else is watching.

She runs her life by principles (her code), not pretense. She is genuinely concerned with what she should be, not what others think her to be.  She knows how to enjoy an experience without turning it into a photo opportunity...

... She can buy a new car without posting a picture of it on social media.
   ... She will keep a tidy house when no guests are expected.
       ... She can dine at a fancy restaurant without publicizing photos of what she ate.
          ... She does a good deed when no one will notice.

A lady of substance is more concerned with being than being seen.

Monday, February 6, 2017

To Better Myself Without Considering Myself Better

"Never wrong to better yourself ...
Always wrong to consider yourself better."
My Father

A lady is always striving to improve and strengthen her mind, her body, her spirit.  She aspires to new personal heights.  In doing so, however, she never comes to see herself as superior. She betters herself without ever regarding herself better than others.

Photograph: Audrey Hepburn by Mark Shaw, 1953.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Excuse Me or I'm Sorry?

When a lady needs to move past someone, she says, "Excuse me, please."  She doesn't say, "Sorry,"  because there is no reason to apologize for her presence or her need to pass.

"I'm terribly sorry," is only said when a lady has unintentionally caused some kind of trespass or damage, such as spilling a drink or bumping into someone.

Photo: found on Pinterest

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Responding to Invitations

When responding to an invitation, no matter how casually extended, a lady never uses the verb invite as a noun by saying, "Thanks for the invite."

She acknowledges the kindness with a focus on the other person by saying, "Thank you for inviting me," or "I really appreciate your invitation..."  The millennial trend of replacing "invitation" with "invite" has the subtle effect of minimizing the hospitality of the host or hostess and the courtesy being extended.

Photo: found on Pinterest

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Accepting Compliments

A lady accepts compliments regarding her dress with a simple and sincere, "thank you!"  That is all.

She does not proceed to tell where she bought the item, that she picked it up on sale, or how little (or much) she paid for it.

Photo: from Pinterest