Leveling up my entire life has been a big focus of mine in many different ways over the past 5 years and a lot of it I've documented here on my blog, so if you've been around from the beginning, you may have noticed many mini transformation moments. But lately it's taken a leap and I'm proud of what I've changed and am still changing, specifically in the area of elegance and rediscovering what that means and how it can work for me.
And I say rediscovering because I was a rather put-together, super polite, overly ambitious child who dressed and acted beyond her years. I was often teased for wearing dresses all the time, looking 'posh,' being the teachers pet (aka helpful/responsible), and being nerdy by actually doing what I was told. I was working in various family businesses and then as a dance teacher well before the legal age and my favourite music was the likes of Roy Orbison and Crowded House.
Elegance is an Attitude
I don't know if it was my Nana (who shares the same birthday as the Queen, she will have you know) or my mum's idea, but my older sister and I attended and completed an etiquette school when we were pre-teens, with a group of women who seemed a lot older than us. It was one of the most fun things I ever got to do as I was treated like an adult and this wasn't just play pretend anymore.
The lady running it was strict but fair and I remember realising she had a soft spot for me and my introverted-extrovert ways. I was - and still am - quite reserved and observing until I know it's safe to come out of my shell (hi, Cancerians). But it was during these classes that I learned that holding yourself with sophistication and dignity was less about looks - although it can play a big part - and more about attitude. I soon felt safe, developed some confidence to speak up, and had the class laughing in a relaxed but charming way. Being accepted for this taught me that you can indeed have elegance with personality and almost every social situation has evolved this same way for me since.
Having an elegant attitude helps me set, see and strive to be the most successful and graceful version of myself. It's having the self-awareness to know you were made for more and then executing on your full potential and, in modern terms, truly "living your best life!"
Style that Endures Speaks Volumes
As much as you can read all about the ways in which I've personally developed over the years and advocate so strongly for it, my sense of style has also "grown into itself" I guess you could say! In this era of fast fashion and accessible everything at the touch of button, quality can often get overlooked. And I didn't escape this toxic trend unscathed, I must admit.
In 2014 my life changed pretty dramatically and I suddenly had a small disposable income that was burning a hole in my pocket. Although I made some great investment-type purchases when it came to furniture and our home, I also discovered how easy online shopping was to click and forget. I think I spent more money returning items than keeping them, and that pains me almost as much as the nasty materials and ugly ethics of the manufacturing of them.
Now, I leave items in my cart or wishlist and walk away for 3 days - week and see if I'm still thinking about them. Often, I decide to save and purchase that one quality item I really want rather than half a dozen less essential pieces that maybe I only noticed because I saw someone else wearing them.
Comparison can steer your off your style path and have you buying trend driven items that don't even suit your body type causing major buyers remorse. So a big part of sticking with this is defining your style, knowing very clearly your wardrobe budget and sticking to it, and ruthlessly auditing your inbox of brands that aren't it - all topics I've written about along this journey.
...In My Opinion
Elegance is not defined by:
- a certain wealth status or background
- the brands you wear or don't wear
- being a certain personality type such as stereotypically timid
- beige, boring, stiff, or snobby style
Rather, I believe elegance can be:
- developed and learned by anyone at any age
- your own style, but refined and considered in quality and presentation
- smart, witty, interesting, interested in others, educated, and well-mannered but assertive
- an effective way to motivate yourself and change your life if you're wanting to level up
It's not about being a kept woman who sits at home doing nothing until she's twirled about at social events and vacations.
You can work, run your own business, work out, cook, clean and camp if you want to.
It's doing all these things with self-awareness, poise and purpose
- that's the kind of natural elegance I find very appealing.
I intend to live a full and fun life, always with respect,
always leveling myself up, always with authenticity, and this is just one of the ways in which I'm doing that.
How do you define elegance?
Are you having your own graceful transformation?
Let us know in the comments below...and enjoy the journey!