Frenchie Friday: 50 Ways to Be Elegant

how to be elegant

Elegance is not a word we often hear.

Worse yet, it’s not one we often aspire to embody.

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.

There was one place that taught me about elegance like no other could. I bet you can guess where.  Of course, Paris!

The City of Lights will leave you inspired as you experience elegance around every la rue. This is almost a birthright as they are trained in the art from childhood.

Consider how success is viewed and valued in the United States. That’s how the French admire elegance.

Are you wondering if it’s possible to have both?

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 on the Facebook page or in the section below and share your elegant tips!

If you read this list and are feeling inelegant, please know that these are qualities of my life that I continue to cultivate.  This is not about perfection; that’s never elegant.  It’s about awareness and simple shifts that you can incorporate into your daily life.

Want to share this article?  Click here and my elegant heart thanks you.

With Love and Grace,

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Tonya

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15 Responses to Frenchie Friday: 50 Ways to Be Elegant

  1. I love the list, Tonya, I was surprised to see you give us 50 ways! 🙂
    What I love the most are manners… etiquette is quite forgotten on the North American continent, and when you really taste the manners, they become you.
    Or you become them.
    And many of the points you listed here would come naturally, as an extension of the code of etiquette.
    And, of course, going to Paris often enough can and will change the idea of ‘elegance’ in a delicious daily routine.
    Lovely, thank you 🙂
    ~ Llyane

  2. Wonderful! Thank you for a useful list. My thought was I wish I could have interned for you when I was young! I plan to up my game for my daughters’ “internship” with me here as as a family. Thank you for inspiring!

  3. Wonderful, Tonya! Indeed good manners, morals and a code of ethics have become as good as non-existent today. Confidence confused with cocky rudeness seems to be the norm these days. In fact I believe there would be room for good old-fashioned finishing schools again. Be blessed,

    Gillian

  4. Wonderful suggestions. Posture and calm are two simple steps to appearing more elegant. I respectfully disagree on the simple wardrobe front. I think elegance comes in all forms of personal style. Not everyone wants to wear basics. It is all in your carriage.

    RE: #18 plurals do not require an apostrophe.

  5. I think an important way too be elegant is to keep your promises or commitments. I noticed women these days act quite carelessly towards wasting others’ time. This is valid for men too, but for women it is particularly bad if they appear untrustworthy.

  6. Hello,
    thank you for the list, it is truly inspiring, but there is a problem with the music track list – it can’t be seen anymore. Is it possible to find it somewhere else, as well?

  7. I don’t know whether you would agree on this, but I think an additional way to be elegant is to never to say the word “No” as much as possible. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable, but having seen the effect it has on some people, I try to phrase it in another way. I was also taught this as a part of customer service. You can say “No” gently, but often you don’t need to say it at all.

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