Friday, 26 October 2012

The art of elegance

How true! I have always loved to visit secondhand bookshops in search of vintage 1950'S and 60's manuals on beauty and elegance. The advice given therein may seem outdated, but it is a testimony to the age when women, even working women devoted more time to grooming. When I read about the ideal wardrobe and then take stock of mine, I make a firm vow to reduce and order the multitude of closets (they have even invaded the garage!), where I stock bags, shoes, clothes, jewelry, make up, in, short everything, a girl needs. In the 50's, the ideal wardrobe consisted of; one black dress, one suit, with two tops,one good coat and one for going shopping, 3 handbags; a clutch for evening, a good bag and a holdall shopping expeditions! My own collection of handbags has grown with the years ; it has two parameters, great colour or great shape, and I certainly could not exist with only 3.

A great little manual from that bygone age was published by french publisher Marabout flash. Delightful reading, especially when you get to the part where advice is given for the" Celle qui ne parait pas son age" (for her who looks younger than her age!). the advice is to be sober in dress, not to wear short skirts, as one has to remember"La decence est toujours une qualite. Elle est indispensable chez les dames", in other words decency is essential if one wants to be a lady! When I read this, I look at myself and try to compare to how my mother dressed at the same age. It seems a world apart. I do not hesitate to get my daughter from school in leggings (the excuse: I cycle everwhere if possible and when not working!); my mother did look ladylike, always during the week, a suit or straight skirt with twinset and pearrls!!!Always coordinated her handbag to her shoes! AsI keep remembering, I start to feel more and more that I should turn over a good resolve and make an attempt at daily elegance, rather than the odd time when I go to a dinner party!

 For those of you interested to read in english one of those 50's manuals, I would advise to order Genevieve Antoine Dariaux's book "Elegance", it has been reedited and translated into English. You can follow up by reading Kathleen Tessaro's novel "Elegance,true love never goes out of fashion"; a story about a girl who picks up Genevieve's Dariaux's book in a secondhand bookstore and vows to follow the good advice, in the hope it will transform her life!

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