A Modern Woman’s Guide to Elegance

I once read a book by Kathleen Tessaro called Elegance. It became one of my favorite books, and it got me started thinking; What is elegance to a woman? It is many things encompassed in one word. But certainly most of all, elegance is that sacred ‘something’ every woman wishes she had. We look at pictures of Angelina Jolie, and Cameron Diaz, and we wonder what gives them that knowing little smile. They look so sure of themselves, and elegant, seemingly without even trying. How does one achieve that, especially if you can’t afford a personal trainer, a therapist, and three nannies? Different women have different routes to finding their elegance, and some of us get stalled along the way, by life-kids, work, and catching up on sleep. To some of us elegance may mean a certain air; a way we’d like to carry ourselves, or the way we’d like to be viewed by others. To others it can mean a feeling of serenity with our bodies, our pride in ourselves. For all the definitions of elegance, there’s no doubt some women know they have it, and some women don’t. For all the single mothers, the working wives, and every woman in between, here are some basic ideas to uncover your elegance.

Elegance: The Sweats Myth

A self-professed woman of elegance once said, “I believe it is a slippery slope downhill to sweatpants and mini-vans, and I simply refuse to go there.” Great quote, but that woman never knew the joy that can come from getting into your most comfortable pair of sweats after a day in a suit and heels. There’s nothing wrong with sweats, just add your own personal touch of elegance. Instead of putting your hair up, brush it and let it fall softly over your shoulders. Put on some pretty hoop earrings, and don’t forget to wash the make-up off. Put on a little moisturizer, blush, lipgloss, and a favorite comfy shirt, and you’ve given your sweats your own signature elegance. Make sure they’re not too baggy, hiding your body. Get yourself some cute bootcut yoga pants or sweats in the color you feel pretty in, (black is so slenderizing) and wear some comfortable ballet flats with them. Aesthetic elegance is all about how you add your personality to staple pieces.

Elegance: What to Splurge on, What to Scrimp On

Let’s talk jewelry. Invest in a pair of delicate gold or silver hoop earrings. They set off your features, and are always understatedly elegant. A fine gold chain with a charm pendant on it will set off your warm tones, and always looks lovely with a v-neck blouse or t-shirt. A great bangle bracelet can help to streamline and modernize your look as well. The key is a few signature pieces, don’t overdo. Don’t ever wear earrings, bracelets, and necklaces all at the same time. One or two pieces is fine, but not all three. You don’t want to look overly decorative, taking away from your beautiful face. Elegance is all about balance.

Elegance means being able to pull off a look that is distinctly you. Go to Target and buy a pretty scarf or belt, and some cheap tanks, or shirts to wear under other clothing pieces. You can afford to go low end on most things, saving money to get just a few high quality garments that will never go out of style. For instance, a couple of great, high end fitted blazers can be mixed and matched with several kinds of shirts, pants, skirts, and dresses. A great blazer will show off your figure without making you look frumpy or top heavy, and will accentuate your waist in just the right way. Also, purchase some dress pants, casual pants, and one or two pairs of jeans that are a great fit for you. If you’re a petite, and have short legs like I do, paying a bit more for a great pair of pants or jeans, and having them tailored, is well worth the money. That way you’ll always look like a million bucks, even in a Target t-shirt. Luckily, you can always find great shoes for every occasion without having to pay hundreds. Ann Klein has extremely comfortable shoes, even comfy stillettos, for less than $100.

Set aside the money to go and get your hair professionally washed, trimmed, and/or highlighted every six weeks. This helps you look your best, feel your best, and have a little pampering in the midst of a stressful life. Layers with highlights or lowlights that frame your face always bring out your eyes and make them sparkle. A Great, easy hairstyle will give you a headstart on finding your elegance.

Elegance:I Feel Fat,” Said the Goddess

Remember, every woman, I don’t care who you are, is a goddess; The reason the word sexy was invented. Play up your curves, your dimples, your alabaster or deep caramel skin. Play up your elegance!

This does not mean wear Britney Spears ‘butt-crack’ jeans. It means wear bras and panties (worth the money) that show off those curves and slopes. Wear straight-leg jeans and a flowy, empire-waisted top. Wear at least a little bit of a heel, and walk with one foot directly in front of the other. This will make your hips swing without you having to think about it too much. If you think about it too much you’ll look somewhat like a duck who has been drinking too much. Don’t forget to add just a dab of perfume, not too much!

Do those things, keep your chin up, with a hint of a smile on your face, and see if you don’t feel like you light up a room with your own brand of elegance. Goddesses are not fat; They’re luscious creatures exuding joie de vive and confidence!

Elegance: Accentuate Your Attributes (Yes, You Do Have Them)

The point of make-up is not to cover up your face. It’s to open it up and bring out the features that make you different from every other person walking the planet. Think light and fresh. Remember, you want to look like you, not some flawless representation of yourself. Wish your lips were poutier? Here’s a cheap tip: Put on cocoa butter, and watch them plump up. Then add some peachy pink lipgloss over that. What a knockout smile!

If you absolutely must wear foundation, just rub in some complexion primer and put on a light layer of powder. Then add a touch of blush, or bronzer if you feel you are too pale. A peach hue for blush added to the peach lip gloss makes every skin tone look clean and healthy. Then just swipe on whatever eye product you feel accentuates your eyes best, but remember, not too much black eyeliner and black mascara. You don’t want to hide them-your elegance always begins in your smiling clear eyes.

Elegance: Get Your Groove On

Now that we’ve given you some ideas for helping you along the path to physical and aesthetic elegance, what shall we do about your inner elegance? What good will it do if you sashay all over town lookin’ like a million bucks, if you feel run down and stunted on the inside? There are many books to read, and tips to try, to help you with this particular dilemma. But my best, most immediately effective advice is…Get a theme song girl! That’s right, a theme song. Ally McBeal was right, every woman has a song that makes them feel great. A song that while walking down the street, humming it to yourself, you can strut to. Find yours, and listen to it on the way to work or before dealing with the kids in the morning. And after that, walk in like you own the place. Elegance is fierce!

I really believe that every woman, no matter what her age or circumstance, has a God-given right to elegance. It is a myth that only movie stars or Park Avenue ladies who lunch can be elegant. If anyone has more of a right than anyone else to have the market cornered on elegance, it’s the real women who are holding up the world every day. If you are a single mom who holds the weight of a child’s future on your shoulders, or a wife who takes care of everyone else but herself, you deserve what every woman was meant to have-elegance.

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