Abstract coloured collage mentioning mum and love

Things I wish my mother had told me. Thoughts on the book.

Book Review: Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me, Lessons in Grace and Elegance by Lucia Van Der Post. John Murray Publishers, UK, London 2008.

I chose to write about this book because of its title. The mention of My Mother brings to mind so many things… Personal things I wished my mother had told me years ago, and most importantly, things I have to say to my daughters! This is going to be a review with that in mind.

Lucia Van Der Post is an associate editor of the Financial Times’s How to Spent it magazine, and has also written for the New Statesman, Departures and many others. She writes about style and luxury and has a devoted audience.

Inside  the Book

The book covers a variety of themes such as: How to Wear Clothes; How to look Good; Love, Marriage and Happiness; Perfect Presents; Fun and Games. Her Lessons in Grace and Elegance derive from personal experience and are solidified by her proven reputation as lifestyle writer. She offers valuable advice such as a list entailing what is worth spending money on. There is also her “golden rules” for shopping at the sales. Her advise is timeless and it extends beyond dressing elegantly and looking smart. She also offers insights into being a good host, a stylish professional and a delightful friend.

Going back to the title, there is clearly a positive message. You don’t have to worry about the things your mother didn’t tell you; you will find everything in here! And you do find everything in there.

What do I tell my daughters?

I think this book is practical rather than inspirational; it does cover everything in a very comprehensive way. More importantly, this book made me think about my role as a mother. It made me think about all the things I have to tell my daughters. It made me realize that I’m not here to teach them the basics and remind them to do their homework. My role is a lot more complex than that. It is equally important that they know how to take good care of themselves, how to manage their life, their manners, their feminine questions and aspirations. I’m not sure how much help I actually got from this book, but the title stayed with me over the years and made me feel more responsible as a mother. I hope I will be able to teach them how to determine their unique identity, how to define their personal look, how to set their priorities and lead their lives in a balanced way. Elegance and style included!

I would love to read your thoughts on this. As a mother what do I need to tell to my daughters? What would be the most important lesson? How do I teach them without being overbearing? Any ideas?

 

 

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Parisian Chic book cover, red with golden letters

PARISIAN CHIC, all you need to know about style with character

 

PARISIAN CHIC, A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange with Sophie Gachet, Flammarion, S.A.,Paris, English language edition, 2011

This is a review of my favourite book on style and elegance. I first read it six years ago and still read it for tips, ideas or inspiration. The creator of this book, Ines de la Fressange, is a respected fashion icon since the eighties. In 1983 she was the first model to sign an exclusive contract with an Haute Couture fashion house in Paris, Chanel. Today she is still actively involved in the fashion world, creating her own designs for her store. She has also written Parisian Chic LOOK BOOK – What should I wear today? and The Parisian Field Guide to Men’s Style. She continues to work in collaboration with various fashion houses. Sophie Gachet who worked with her for this book is a fashion journalist.

Style is about attitude

This book covers four main themes, how to dress, how to look beautiful, how to inject style into your house, and what to do when you are in Paris. Every theme contains colourful paragraphs with thoughts, tips and ideas. There is advice on what to do and what not to do! She makes some very specific suggestions for the basic elements of a comprehensive wardrobe and beauty cabinet. She gives lots of addresses of great stores too, both physical and online.

Ines has created herself the illustrations throughout the pages, and her daughter is the model in the fashion shots. This gives a very personal tone to the book.

The heart of this book

This book definitely achieves its goal, and more. It makes you love style, Paris and yourself! The playful approach makes the ideas relatable and easy to read. And it also makes you realize you don’t need to obsess about rules. For a truly Parisian attitude let your spirit free! Love and respect yourself!

The Parisian follows a few golden rules, but she likes to transgress too. It’s part of the style.” (p.11)

I like Parisian Chic because it provides guidance without being restrictive; it provides a starting point but leaves enough room for a personal touch. I enjoyed the ratio of words to images. There is enough text to explain and enough images to visualize and inspire. I love the fact that you can also see the author’s character shine through the pages, confident, unapologetic and radiant.

This book makes sense and it doesn’t lead to vanity. It leads to self reflection. Throughout there are remarks reminding us of the basic rules of taking care of ourselves.

Don’t go bankrupt buying expensive face creams – the best beauty parlor is your local dentist. An attractive smile and great teeth are the best way to forgive and forget the rest!” (p.117)

The message is clear. Don’t try to be someone else; try to be the best version of you. Let yourself shine through understated garments and accessories that function well together. Carefully chosen elements will add finesse to a woman that is oozing confidence and ease.

I first read this book a little after the birth of my youngest daughter. I had just returned to my normal weight and was in need for some new and timeless outfits. In my world, being a mom of two doesn’t allow for extravagant and ephemeral choices; not enough time, not enough money. So I decided to stick to her suggestions and over the years I bought several of those pieces. Her advice never failed me. I managed to accumulate a collection of basic items that can take me everywhere. No need to run around at the last minute. Unless I feel like it!