12 Things Elegant Women Don’t Do



It’s something I’m craving deeply in my life, especially when it seems the world is becoming more vulgar, fast paced and exhausting.

Can we just pause for a moment and take a deep breath?

Doesn’t that feel nice?

That’s where elegance begins.

I’ve been intrigued with Elegance since I was 10 years old and visited my Aunt Lydia in Charleston, South Carolina. I immediately knew she had something special.
At the time, I couldn’t put a word to it, but now I know what it was. It was elegance.

Over the last year, I’ve also noticed something else happening for me. I am becoming more and more intolerant of rudeness, vulgarity and excess. I truly don’t have the time or space for it in my life.

This has caused me to go into my creative cave to study elegance in detail – what it is and isn’t.

Contrary to popularly held beliefs, elegance is not about donning pearls and speaking in a British accent. It’s also not about having a lot of money or fancy cars.

In fact, you can be an elegant cowgirl or bohemian.

Elegance is a state of mind, first and foremost.

It’s a magical quality that a woman can possess no matter where she comes from, her financial statement or her career.

As Yves Saint Laurent said, “Without elegance of the heart, there is no elegance.”

I believe Elegance is the answer to the overwhelm, worry and stress that is plaguing our society.

Wikipedia describes elegance as,

“a synonym for beauty that has come to acquire the additional connotations of unusual effectiveness and simplicity. It is frequently used as a standard of tastefulness particularly in the areas of visual design, decoration, the sciences, and the aesthetics of mathematics. Elegant things exhibit refined grace and dignified propriety.”

In my studies, I have come to understand that elegance has far more to do with what a woman lets go of than what she adds.

If you’re desiring more elegance in your life, here are 12 things Elegant women don’t do so that you can increase your joy, productivity and success:

1. Elegant women don’t waste time on social media

Sure, elegant women enjoy being social, even social media. But, wasting hours scrolling your Facebook feed, getting sucked into the rabbit hole of articles, videos and drama is not their jam.

If you’re spending a big chunk of your day on social media, think about how you could better use your time — learning a new language, cleaning out your closets, reading a beautiful book, spending quality time with your family, writing a chapter in your novel, working on a side project or doing absolutely nothing.

Limit your time by scheduling your social media hours (which is what I do) or install software that limits your ability to log on to certain sites to help you resist the temptation.

Another hint: turn off the notifications on your smartphone. Control it; don’t let it control you.

You may decide to get off of social media all together.

Social media is not a bad thing. I happen to love being able to connect with people all over the world. But, I often ask myself, not just with social media, but with every decision: is this helping me be the best version of myself.

Wasted hours on Facebook? Absolutely not!

2. Elegant women don’t obsess over what everyone else is doing

An elegant woman doesn’t care what you are doing. She’s too enraptured in what she’s creating, enjoying and loving to be peeking over the fence into your garden.

Most people obsess over other’s actions because they are afraid of missing out OR out of envy.

The elegant woman rises above all that chatter and focuses on her life masterpiece.

In other words, she minds her own business.

By the way, limiting your time on social media will also support you in not looking around at others.

3. Elegant women don’t try to change other people’s behavior

She knows it’s not possible, so she doesn’t waste her time trying to do so. Instead, she’s focused on showing up as the best version of herself, having boundaries around what she will and won’t accept and allowing people to be who they are.

The result is that she takes control over her own emotional life. She knows the only person that can cause her to feel anything is herself.

4. Elegant women don’t worry about things they can’t control

An elegant woman understands that worry takes her energy in a direction that isn’t supportive of her most beautiful life. Instead of worrying about her life, she looks at what she does have control over and focuses her attention there.

When worry does arise, she acknowledges it and gives that part of herself some extra TLC. Then, she shifts her attention to all that’s good and right in her life and maps out her next steps.

As a wise, elegant woman once told me, “Worry is praying for what you don’t want.”

Focus on what you do have control of and saunter in that direction.

Plus, most things we worry about never happen.

5. Elegant women don’t dwell on the past

For the elegant woman, the past doesn’t define her. She defines herself.

Her past is done. She’s learned and grown from her experiences. It’s helped her define what she does and doesn’t want for her life.

Everything has happened exactly the way it was supposed to. She gathers the lessons and wisdom gained and looks ahead.

She thinks about the future she wants to create and the amazing opportunities at her fingertips. She doesn’t stare in the rearview mirror because she has places to go.

6. Elegant women don’t flaunt their money

When I had lunch with Iris in the South of France, it was obvious she had tremendous wealth. When I complimented her Givenchy jacket and Birkin bag, she simply said “thank you” and moved on to talk about volunteering in Ghana and the latest book she had read.

She never mentioned that she was an heiress to one of the world’s largest shipping companies. She didn’t need to.

There’s a huge difference between who the French refer to as “nouveau riche” (those who love to flaunt their money) and those who come from an old money mindset (those who have tremendous wealth and you’d sometimes never know).

When I consider the elegant (and wealthy) women I’ve deeply admired, such as Princess Diana, Grace Kelly and Oprah, they exude “old money” class.

While I enjoy designer handbags and first class seats as much as the next lady, there’s something pretentious about using your belongings as a sign of how fabulous you are.

You’re fabulous because of who you are; not what you possess. {tweet it}

An elegant woman may wear designer clothing, but the label doesn’t define her; her presence does.

7. Elegant women don’t try to do everything

Coco Chanel said, “Elegance is refusal.” The elegant woman isn’t afraid to say no to many things so she can focus on the few things that will elevate the quality of her life.

She doesn’t enjoying disappointing people, but she knows that the bigger disappointment is when she does something with resentment.

She also doesn’t operate with the FOMO (fear of missing out) energy that has plagued modern society. In her mind, she’s never missing out on anything because the party is always within her.

She knows what she values and she builds her life around it.

Her mantra is, “Less, but better.”

8. Elegant women don’t do clutter

It drives them crazy, as elegance requires white space and room to breath. The elegant woman is constantly editing her life and letting go of the things that don’t fit into her life.

She says no to excess — excess belongings, food, alcohol, commitments.

When it comes to what she allows into her life, she asks herself:

Do I love it?
Does it make my life better?

If the answer is no, she lets it go.

9. Elegant women don’t wing their day

She knows that an elegant life is a disciplined one. So, she creates a plan for her day, and she sticks to it like her life depends on it, because it does.

Outside influences don’t pull her away from what she’s declared important for her life. Of course, there are exceptions, such as sick kids or emergencies, but she knows very few things outweigh what she has deemed important.

10. Elegant women don’t over complicate things

Elegance is about simplicity and effectiveness. The elegant woman is always asking, “How can I make this easier?”

She doesn’t mind work, but she likes to work smart, not hard. She’s always looking at what’s not necessary or important so she can edit her life.

She also understands that most of life’s complexities happen between the ears, so she has learned to master her mind, so that it doesn’t master her.

11. Elegant women don’t try to be perfect

This is where elegance is so misunderstood. Mention the world elegance, and most people immediately think of a fully coiffed and well-behaved woman. That’s not true elegance; that’s considered piss-elegant — trying too hard to appear perfect.

Real elegance is a woman that embraces all parts of herself — the good, bad and ugly. She embraces her dark sides and flaws and understands that it’s what makes her so unique. She accepts all parts of herself, and for that reason, there’s no one as comfortable and at home in the world than the elegant woman.

12. Elegant women don’t take life for granted

She wakes up each day and goes to bed at night with a grateful heart. Because she is focuses on the best parts of life, she attracts the best.

Through gratitude and appreciation, she focuses on all that is good and right in her life and the world, and because of this, there’s always a sparkle in her eye and a zest in her step.

Could Elegance be the answer to most of life’s problems?

I think so. The more elegantly I live my life, the better it gets.

I’d love to hear from you.

1. Do you crave more elegance in your life?
2. What’s one action you’ll take this week to live more elegantly?

Let’s talk about it in the comments.

With an Elegant Heart,


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21 Responses to 12 Things Elegant Women Don’t Do

  1. Tonya – another fabulous post! Another way I am striving to incorporate elegance into my life is by eliminating time spent with naysayers, toxic people. Sadly, I’ve a few negative people with whom I work. Luckily, I don’t have a personal relationship with them, so it is easier for me to extract myself from their company. Too negative while I much prefer the company of uplifting, positive, problem solving people.

    • Talia, thank you! Yes, negative people are a part of life. And, here’s a little trick of how I deal with them. The negativity I feel when I’m around them is created in my mind — the thoughts I think about them. While it’s a lot more work to deal with your mind when you’re around ‘toxic’ people, we can’t always avoid them. And, it’s such a liberating belief that I can still feel amazing even in their company because of the thoughts I think. But, when I choose to be around people who don’t jive with my energy, I use it as a way to become stronger in myself. Hope that helps!

  2. Love, love, love this post, Tonya! Elegance is a daily mantra and practice for me. Elegance is definitely my state of mind. And I have decided to spend less and less time on social media like Facebook. I am designing my blog and doing a lot of reading and writing, which I love. I am listening to music I love, which inspires me and brings me so much joy. I refuse to spend time with toxic, negative people, and I have a strict policy against gossip! Red Velvet Rope Policy is in place. XXOO

    • Don’t you love the red velvet rope policy? It helps me quickly decide what I say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to in life. Keep up the elegant work, Regina. And, as always, thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  3. Dear Tonya, Thank you very much for yet another amazing podcast!
    how do you elegantly deal with people who behave rude and cross your boundries (I do not mean people you work with or live with) … I mean someone that you run into in the gym or in your interaction during your day as you go about your day that you don’t know but acts or says something that is rude and out of line by my standards which gets me all fired up but I don’t want to act like they do! what is an elegant way of setting boundaries with people outside of your circle of everyday life?
    Thank you!

    • Great questions Sima! Wanting someone to behave a certain way is different from boundaries. A boundary is stating what you will and won’t accept and having consequences in place when it occurs.

      For example, a boundary would be, “I don’t allow people to wear shoes in my house.”

      If they do, I kindly ask them to remove them. If they refuse (which they have never done), I would ask them to leave. You can do that without drama.

      However, when someone is rude, you can’t control that. People simply behave the way they do. What you do have control over, however, is how you respond.

      When someone makes a comment I consider rude, I notice the thoughts in my head. Do I begin thinking rude comments? Do I say something rude? It’s a beautiful access point to go in and work on yourself.

      And, of course, there are times I strongly and unapologetically tell them that I didn’t appreciate it, and because I’ve done so much work on myself, I can (mostly) do that without drama.

      Their comments and behaviors are about them. Mine are about me.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Thank you Tonya, somehow every single blog or podcast you send out speaks to me at precisely the right moment.
    My words for the year fit the Elegant woman to a T.
    I have removed all negative feeds from my Facebook, so when I do go in, only the posts I enjoy are there.
    I have removed all of my email sign ups that were supposed to add motivation to my day, yet just left me feeling overwhelmed with “having” to read/watch them.
    I am still working on the allowing my emotions to rule me, I am getting there.
    I am improving my self discipline to get what I need to do done and still have time to enjoy what I want to do.
    I have cleared out many items from my home that do not serve me. Still more to go, but already I feel my energy shifting.
    And best of all, I am finding peace within myself at last.
    What can I say, you are amazing in the way you inspire me to truly live my best life and bloom where I am planted

    • Oh Catherine, this made my day!

      Remember, it’s a lifelong process. I have those days when I am not so elegant:).

      However, I’ve lightened up, and ironically, the moment I take the pressure off of myself to do anything of this perfectly, I begin to feel more elegant. Oh, the irony!

      Thank you for your kind words.

  5. Tonya, this is WONDERFUL and I have to thank you for shifting my entire world-view. Seriously! I’ve hated the word “elegant” since I was a child, as my (very English) mother & her friends were all “elegant ladies” and I saw it as a straightjacket, a way to keep young women in their place: sit quietly, speak quietly, don’t speak unless spoken to (the ultimate in gagging women’s voices that extends to this day, btw — men who raise their voices are strong leaders; women who raise their voices are strident bitches . . . sorry, I digress!) & a dozen other “rules” to force me to conform to a way of thinking & being that I simply did not fit. Had I grown up with that definition of “elegant” I’d never have chosen the career I did (engineer), never gotten 2 tattoos I love, never played with some of the bad boys I met along the way, never done a LOT of the very things in my life that have made me who I am today.

    But I love YOUR definition of elegant! And am surprised to discover I embrace all of them, tattoos, strong feminist views & a habit of speaking my mind notwithstanding. May I add one? An elegant women minds her own business, keeps her unsolicited opinions to herself & offers only unconditional support to her friends’ dreams. (Maybe that was three, sorry.) And I’m not sure how this fits in, but I think elegant women stand up to bullies firmly but calmly & speak up for those who can’t.

    Thanks a dozen times over for this. I shall happily call myself an elegant woman from now on & aspire to become even more so.

    • I agree 100% about an elegant woman being one who gracefully stands up to bullying and is an advocate for those with no voice. Elegance does not mean weakness.

  6. I have to add that I didn’t actually see the contradiction in my own post until it hit the page: how to mind one’s own business, keep unsolicited opinions to oneself and still stand up to bullies & speak for those who need a voice. It’s a matter of knowing when speaking up matters, and when it doesn’t (& is more about ME having an opinion I want heard than in the other person).

    And as for rude people? Well, 2015 was an election year in Canada & Rude seems to have become the new Normal. It was either learn to take a breath, smile, say “excuse me” & walk away or be convicted of murder more times than I can count. Maybe that’s another thing elegant women do: never take anything personally. Or at least don’t take *idiots* personally.:-)

    • Janet, I love everything you said. Yes, the Elegance myth we are raised with makes any woman not want to embody it. But, elegance is actually very simple. I’m glad this post inspired you to reconsider the word.

      As for your contradiction, I’m full of them, because there is no one way, right?

      I believe that it’s our intention behind whatever we do that matters. Sometimes, it’s imperative that we speak out. Sometimes, it’s best that we don’t.

      Not taking things personally…I’m adding that one to the list, because it’s true. What others do speaks of them, not you.

  7. Thoroughly enjoyed this very thoughtful post, especially that first reminder of not falling down that rabbit hole known as social media-which invariably leads to the second idea of comparison to others. Love how you equate elegance with being genuine, present and self aware, rather than the usual connotation of haughtiness or affectation. The red velvet rope idea is perfect!

    So delighted you will be podcasting! As a freelance artist I love to listen to a variety of podcasts while painting and I know yours will add a positive lift to my day


  8. Tonya, this has been my favorite post of yours so far! It is really speaking to me today. I’ve been on a quest to cut back on FB time, and the rabbit holes of ‘fascinating’ articles that I can spend way too much time on. I do use social media for business, but I’m determined to keep my focus. Working on re-directing some of my current business focus! This week, I’m determined to cull through some old books, and clear my work-space (my studio has become cluttered…and it DOES make me crazy!). Thanks for the positive reminders- this has been an uplifting spot in my day!

    Wishes of cheer & beauty to you,

  9. Sometimes, Ms. Tonya, I feel like you are speaking to me directly. Wow! did I need to hear this today and really this week! I have been obsessing about some things that are truly so unimportant and a waste of time…not to mention not very ELEGANT! This made me do a YOU-turn…along with the lovely advice from all of the SCS sisterhood. I love you and adore this post soooo much. I may have to listen to it every day. Cheers to an elegant weekend filled with all things lovely.

  10. Tania, I love all of your articles and now am started to listen to your podcasts as well. Being a legally blind woman and a cancer survivor has it’s challenges, yet I still try to be as elegant as I can, although my wardrobe can improve, lol. Your articles are so inspirational and do help me each day in improving my French Kiss Life. Thank you.

    • Hi Susan, thanks so much for commenting. My aunt was blind, and she was one of the most elegant women I knew. She possessed this beautiful pride and systems to support her in always presenting herself in a beautiful way. Keep French Kissing Life, m’friend!

  11. Thank you for this podcast! The idea of the red velvet rope policy, especially as I’ve been able to apply to how much I let social media into my life has been a game changer. I started to notice that I am very sensitive to what I see on social media and that greatly limiting my time on it was probably best for me. Your advice helped me really confirm that in my mind and take action. After a major social media fast over the last few weeks, I have begun to feel that my thoughts are private, I can hear my own thoughts more clearly, and I’m not worrying or wondering why people didn’t “LIKE” my posts! 🙂 It’s like I now have my own inner social media in which I like all the posts myself!! I ordered the Modern Day Icon program and the calm, surity, and sense of fun and beauty in my life just keep expanding. Thank you Tonya!

  12. Thank you for such an informative blog tonya!
    May i ask you a question?
    How do I respond to friends who don’t text me back?
    Should i say something or simply ignore ?
    I sent a birthday message to one of my close friend but she purposely ignored ..
    So now I don’t feel like talking to her again ever in my life.

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