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?

 

 

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!

 

 

Our community

This is a post about our community, about who we are and what unites us. This is an opportunity to introduce myself and explain my reasons for being here. I want us to learn from each other. I want us to discuss how we can get inspired and live our passions, and also how we can balance dreams and reality.

Who we are

We are the women who care about elegance and style and this is neither our profession nor our only concern. We strive to balance those in a full life with limited resources.

We live complicated lives. We have a job full of demands, a partner that expects us to be superheroes and serene at the same time, we have children that need our care.

We desire to do our best

  • to do great at work and look the part every day. Own the perfect look, and the right set of skills for that promotion
  • to host dinners with home cooked goods without losing composure
  • to organise the loveliest party with a personal touch, care, attention
  • to attend family gatherings of any kind without losing our temper while wearing the right attire

Introducing myself

I am here to provide a platform for our explorations, for our communication, for sharing tips and ideas. I am here to discuss balance  and the challenges it poses. I will review books on our favourite subject, style, and post my notes on a separate page in this blog. Next week I plan to post my thoughts on my favourite book so far! It’s a surprise! I have read quite a few already but feel free to make suggestions; I’d love to read them all.

In this blog you will find tips and posts about organising a beautiful party without losing your mind. I will also provide an outline for scheduling the preparations. The focus is on delivering without forgetting about yourself. To remember the food, the decor, the dress, and also to breathe.

Sharing our passions

I want us to get to know each other, exchange notes and ideas. Find the images that inspire us in books, magazines and online and share them. I want to discuss ways to live our passion.

Firstly, choose to live your passion!  Then you will find the way. Make it a priority and form your world accordingly.

Practically this means create room for your passion, in your mind and in your life.  For me that means clearing my office space from old school books and redundant notes, and putting in a bookcase. I want it to be red. And then I absolutely need to place an inspiration board above that bookcase. I can almost see my board full of pictures of colourful china, tranquil rooms and outfits that take me places.

On balancing dreams and reality

How do we do all that in a complicated life with complicated finances?

Balance comes into play here. There is much to say about finding balance. Lots of posts will follow on this topic as it constantly intrigues me.

I will be writing lots about balancing the options and choosing the best one for you. About disentangling yourself from perfectionism and choosing the solution that is right for you.

The tailor made version of things that compliments your character, and lets you shine through the adversities and the challenges of everyday life.

The main thing is to stay focused

Don’t forget what’s important to you

Go for the little things every day. One step at a time, only make sure you remember where you are going.

Finale

 It is evident that this is about belonging, about common ideas, and common priorities.

It would be amazing to take this community forward and empower each and every one of us. Drive progress and improvement with tips and ideas.

For our peace of mind and our styling choices

For our presence in the outside world and inside our minds

For our fulfilment and happiness and love for ourselves and others.

Receiving feedback would be amazing so please send me your comments using the reply button below. Thank you so much!

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Your rainbow

You have the colours, you have the brushes. Paint your paradise and in you go.

 

A quote from Nikos Kazanztakis, a Greek writer nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature nine times.

When I first read this, it was on a wall in an office. I was there for business reasons but it transported me to my paradise. It made me imagine that I was under my rainbow. Upon return home I bought watercolours and painted a rainbow on my kitchen window. Under my rainbow I painted a heart. Every time I look at it I feel good.

Where would you like to paint your rainbow?

We love reading

We love the smell of paper

the sound of the turning page, the tranquillity of spending time with a book.

Our beautiful book.

We also appreciate the ability to connect with others at any time, any place. Reading is a conversation with the author, a discovery of knowledge, a journey into something new. And this can happen in so many ways.

New habits are formed today. Connectivity is everywhere. Blogs, sites, social networks; all occupy a large part of our lives. Our online activity has changed our ways of reading.

Reading has evolved so much. We read all the time now, even if it’s just colourful tweets! It is so easy to share our thoughts, to connect. The digital world is bringing us all closer together.

Our love for reading brings as all closer together.

Reading is our answer to the need to explore, to discover, to ask questions. The way reading adapts to our modern ways is proof of its reign. Proof of our intrinsic need to share stories and thoughts.