The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #160
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"'How does one become a butterfly?' she asked pensively. You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar."  —Trina Paulus

In a blink of an eye, in an unexpected, ordinary moment, the unimaginable can materialize before your eyes. And in such a moment, due to its magnificence, a feeling of surreality washes over you and you stand confounded, yet buoyant as it feels you've reached the surface finally after much hard work, planning, and hoping what seemed against hope. Butterflies have always been a source of spontaneous glee for me. As I shared more than six years ago, spotting a butterfly is a reminder: “This was what the struggle was all about.  Now you have the knowledge.  Now you know how to fly on  your own and reveal your gifts to the world without disguising yourself to fit in.” Much like the people that come into our lives and the opportunities that cross our paths, we cannot know when the butterfly will metamorphosize from the stage of being a caterpillar. Two weekends ago, we decided to go paddle boarding, and along the way, the butterflies began to dance around me. Like a child giddy at the sight of a new puppy, I all but tap danced on my board. As we continued to paddle, I noticed they were puddling, and it seemed endless butterflies were all clustered at this one wet, muddy puddle area on the side of the river. Never before had I been surrounded by so many fluttering wings, paying me no mind and going about their nutrient gathering behavior. Then again this past weekend, as Norman and I were on a walk amongst the pines, more than a handful of butterflies joined us as we took our weekly constitutional.  And I couldn't help but remember how six years ago, the butterfly was on the other side of the picture window and Norman was intent on watching it, trying to make sense of what it was. Now, the butterflies walk with us and Norman doesn't bat more than an eye or a quick nod. And so I began to ponder further lessons butterflies can teach us. Always trying to remember the lesson of the butterfly, as mentioned above, these most recent encounters made me take note that no matter how badly we might want to become something or evolve into something, sometimes it is our intense focus that blinds us and prevents what we desire from materializing. While we must put out into the world, and know within ourselves what it is we seek, what it is we wish to become, once these truths become clear, we need to step back and just go about the everyday tasks, take the necessary risks and take on the uncomfortable challenges so that we can gradually grow and evolve into the person we wish to be. At that point, we don't know when we will attract the similar energy of others or jobs or beautiful life moments that take on the guise of the "blink of an eye" moment mentioned at the top of the post. We cannot know. Just as I couldn't know about the many butterflies I was going to paddle into when I placed my board onto the water that morning. But here's the lesson, we have to keep putting our board in the water. We have to keep paddling in order for those moments to have an opportunity to be discovered. You may be wondering, Okay, Shannon, speak to me directly. What are you talking about? How can I apply this to my life right now? Two things: First decide what you want and how to attain it, followed by focusing on what you've decided and letting go of what isn't part of the equation. Now what you've just ascertained will be unique to each of us, but something that is universal which will help you along your journey is to strengthen these 11 skills, focus more on your "to be" list rather than your "to do" list, cultivate everyday habits that build a life of true contentment, and become comfortable in your own unique skin. In tending to each of these, you let go of your strangle-hold on the outcome and hold fast to what you can elevate (yourself and the person you bring to the table each and everyday). And in so doing, the life that is meant to be yours will cross your path and you and it will begin to intertwine as you recognize how well the two entities work together. This is the butterfly moment. The natural coming together, and the ability to recognize it and appreciate it and be reminded that the life you've built did take work and will continue to take work, but the work enables the quality of your life experiences as you travel together with the partner you have found, with the friendships you have built, with the career you have invested in, to be heightened to a level you may not have truly trusted was possible. Edith Wharton says it beautifully regarding when the moment you've hoped for will happen (the butterfly moment so to speak), "They seemed to suddenly come upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in a winter wood." You truly cannot know when it will all come together, but at least you know you'll be ready to walk with it when it crosses your path. And it all begins with what the first quote at the top of the post brings to our attention, decide to let go of being a caterpillar, in order for your wings to break through and reveal themselves to not only the world, but to you. You may just be amazed at what is hidden in the depths of your being if only you would allow it to come forth. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~What Butterflies Have Taught Me

~Let Go and Elevate Your Life

~12 Ways to Live a Full Life

~Why Not . . . Trust the Timing of Your Life?

 

Petit Plaisir:

~Paris Can Wait, starring Diane Lane, directed by Eleanor Coppola
~View theaters and times here 
~If you are in Bend, it plays at the Tin Pan Theater through this Thursday June 22nd. Over the weekend, the small boutique theater in Bend brought to its small screen the film written, directed and produced by Eleanor Coppola. Yes, that Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather series, The Outsiders, etc.) for 54 years. Debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival this past May, Paris Can Wait is Eleanor's first narrative feature film, but you wouldn't have known. Now, not all the critics are loving it: The Boston Globe felt it was strained and relied too heavily on clichés, even those who thought they would love it came away unsure due to the ambitious ending, but it is precisely the different approach to making the film that makes it lovely. Coppola has shared that the film's plot was inspired by her own life (be sure to read the San Francisco Chronicle's interview with her here), but not every piece and parcel of the story (there was no male companion). Along with the struggle Diane Lane's character (Anne) wrestles with is what Coppola herself did as well, the "'inner conflict, the push and pull' she’s felt her whole adult life about pursuing her own creative ambitions while raising three children and supporting her husband’s career".  As well, both women (the character and Coppola) have suffered the loss of a child which is briefly, but touchingly included in the film. Some readers have shared with me, they didn't enjoy the insinuation of infidelity, but I think that may be taking it further than Coppola intended as nothing occurred, merely adoration and a woman (Anne) who was keenly aware and  steadfast. What Anne's journey does do for her is awaken her to her strengths, to her passions, to the realization yes of her imperfect, but still very adoring husband. And by not giving viewers the concrete ending, leaving us wondering, Coppola does something I must applaud her for: She doesn't tell us how to think. As someone who has been immersed in Hollywood due to her husband, then daughter and son's successful involvement with silver screen productions, she doesn't fall prey to the formula. Maybe she does have a sequel in mind, but I hope not only because this film, as she has stated, took six years to raise funds as it wasn't full of "aliens, nobody dies, there are no guns and no car crashes. There was nothing that an investor wants to invest in. No sex, no violence".  Rather it was a piece of her life she wanted to share and explore, and in so doing, she allows the viewers to ponder what we don't often see in movies: a leading female role who is complete all by herself so long as she embraces her passions, lets herself feel what she feels, appreciates her allure which may be initially noticed due to her beauty but is profoundly powerful and substantive due to her intellect and character. And whether or not she remains with her husband (who isn't perfect) or explores her attraction to Jacques, played by Arnaud Viard (who also isn't perfect or ideal either) shouldn't be needed for a happy ending. What the happy ending is is liberation for Anne who hears the reminder from Jacques to share her talents with her husband (and perhaps the world if she so chooses), and to savor the pleasures of everyday moments and food without rushing to Paris.   https://youtu.be/LGyZnzjm7Og Download the Episode
Direct download: 160ButterflyParisCanWait.mp3
Category:happiness -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #159
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Style trickles into everything you do, who you are, and who and what you attract in life. Whittle down your style to what matters and project what's meaningful to the world: Be the lighthouse. Be honest. Be real." —Kate Schelter

Settling on a style that is our own can be overwhelming. Beginning with the style that adorns our bodies, but also the style with which we approach life, our routines, our hobbies, our habits, our way of contemplating and dancing with the life we have, and journeying toward the life we want. With so many options, ideas, seasons, and lifestyle icons to draw inspiration from, there is such a thing as paralysis by abundance.

Creative director and stylist Kate Schelter understands the quandary which is why she wrote her new book Classic Style: Hand It Down, Dress It Up, Wear It Out. Having read through the style resource, I picked 18 gems of wisdom I have found to serve as trustworthy guideposts when it comes to homing in on our individual classic style. There are of course many more as well as a wealth of examples which is why I encourage you to take a look at the book, but until then, let me offer you a taste to assuage the fear that curating your style might be impossible. Quite to the contrary, you can do it, and these sage descriptors of classic style will help you do so.

~Be sure to tune into the audio episode of the podcast as I dive into each item on the list in-depth, sharing specific examples. Below merely touches on the surface of the content that is shared. 

Your classic style will . . .

1. Bring you joy

2. Be functional for your lifestyle

3. Be deeply simple 

4. Add a touch of a signature

5. Be unmistakably beautiful to you

6. Free you from constraint

7. Move toward what you fear

"The jitters are love in disguise, reminding you that you're getting closer to what you want. Face it. Go toward it. Do it. Dive into your most meaningful experiences and relationships —the ones that make you feel like you're alive. Don't worry if you can't access what you want just yet. It will come. "

8. Have no expiration date in sight

9. Be a reflection of your character

10. Will use a limited color palette

11. Offer proper proportion and scale

12. Will focus on less rather than more

Schelter suggests shopping like an editor, "Turn down the volume. Tune in to yourself. You really don't need much."

13. Involve creating your own personal classics

"Find fabrics, colors, cuts and shapes that work on you. Then Repeat-wear and rely on them without a second thought. Know that they are yours to trust."

14. Find a balance when it comes to personal grooming

"Just the right amount of grooming: not too much, not too little."

15. Require quality tailoring

16. Involve investing in what you love

With patience, saving up and waiting for what you know will work and what you know you love will earn you the reward of "quality, craftsmanship, and charm".

17. Require you to not buy based on the size, but buy what looks best on your body

18. Not knowing is actually a positive sign, so long as you keep your eyes open

"When you embrace not having a set direction, you may experience the "dead zone" (dormancy, fear, dread, confusion, self-doubt), but that always comes before the spark of spring . . . When you give up expectations and rules you sow seeds for creative thought; you give yourself room to find your individuality and your own vocabulary. You are no longer defining yourself in someone else's terms."

Listen to your life. Listen to what puts you at ease, what makes you feel beautiful, what fires up your confidence. And then ask yourself why. When you listen, when you tune in to what your life is revealing to you, your true personal classic style will come forth.

"The key to personal style is simple: Forget what's cool and trust your gut. The magic is in your mix. When you draw confidence from your classics — pieces that you come back to again and again — your style is your own. Classics let you do more, and be more, with less." —Kate Schelter author of Classic Style 

Petit Plaisir:

~Springtime Peonies
  • Best to buy in the bud stage as they will last longer; don't forget to cut an inch off the bottom and remove all leaves that might be submerged in water. Add plant food.
  • Common peony meanings include romance, prosperity, good fortune, a happy marriage, riches, honor, and compassion — but peonies can also mean bashfulness via FTD.com
  • Peonies are native to China. They are highly valued there, and are often referred to as the “king of flowers”.
  • The peony is the state flower of Indiana.
  • It is also given for twelfth wedding anniversaries because the peony symbolizes honor, fortune, and a happy relationship.
Download the Episode SaveSave
Direct download: 159ClassicStyle.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #158
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
Perhaps you've seen her pottery: simple, purposefully imperfect, white with black singular font, whether for your morning tea cup, the salt and pepper holder on the stovetop or a dish for your furry best friend. Rae Dunn's passion for simple and functional pottery has brought her deserved recognition. And it is with her eye for the simple everyday that led to her new book of French inspiration titled France: Inspiration du Jour. An artistic sketchbook of Rae's travels through Paris and Provence, be swept away to France no matter where you live as you peruse the pages. With pictures of everyday life in France paired with watercolor illustrations of the scenery, food, drink and daily activities, discover why Rae finds beauty in the everyday moments. Today on the podcast, Rae Dunn joins me to talk about how the concept of the sketchbook came about, why it's important not to overthink anything you are curious to try or explore and rather just step forward and feel your way, the power of serendipity, the realization of where true beauty resides and the importance of treasuring the imperfect. The discussion is one with a successful woman who simply followed what she loved and in so doing created a successful business which reminds us all to "notice and appreciate the small things". Have a listen to the interview and discover more than a few simple pleasures at the end of our conversation as Rae reveals this week's Petit Plaisirs. ~Rae Dunn's website ~Follow Rae Dunn: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram (a new illustration each day) ~Shop Rae Dunn pottery here and here ~Learn more about her new book France: Inspiration du Jour here ~Sharon's Art Studio in Golden Gate State Park ~Rae Dunn's recommendation for what to visit in France: Picasso Museum in Arles, France - Musée Réattu

~a sampling of Rae Dunn's daily illustrations on Instagram~

~samples of Rae Dunn pottery~

 

Petit Plaisir:

  ~Find more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.
Direct download: RaeDunnInterviewFinal.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #157
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
Jazz and France is a coupling that instantaneously grabs my attention. Add a woman who has followed her passion, appreciates the moment and lives life to the fullest all the while staying grounded in this ever-changing thing called life, and I want to get to know her further. Elizabeth Bougerol is not only the front woman of The Hot Sardines vintage jazz band that is making "the old sound new" again, but she is also the co-founder with the bandleader and man at the piano, Evan Palazzo (above with Elizabeth, bottom right). The band's music has been described by The Times (London) as "simply phenomenal" and their music has reached the No. 1 slot on the iTunes Jazz chart in the U.S. and internationally. With songs in both English and French, their first two albums are a must-have on your jazz playlist. Elizabeth joins me on today's episode to talk about jazz and the journey she has been on as The Hot Sardines have begun to catch many an ear of fans and critics alike over just a few short years. As well we discuss passion projects, knowing when to leap, redefining the term "stability" and of course we talk about France, where she was born and raised and regularly visits. The discussion continues into the differences between the French and American cultures and the different approaches regarding daily living, and the importance of living in the moment. From food to listening to the voice inside that wants to give something a try that may not align with your perceived self-image to taking advantage of opportunities even if you do not feel entirely ready, today's conversation is one to take 45 minutes out of your day and enjoy. I have a feeling, if you're like me, you'll walk away with at least one (if not many) thought to ponder and apply to your life. See one below, as well as the song (one of two) that is played and discussed during the episode. ~The Hot Sardines' website ~Elizabeth Bougerol's website ~The Hot Sardines: Instagram | YouTube |Facebook | Twitter ~Tour Schedule Albums: ~The title song of The Hot Sardines' most recent album: "French Fries + Champagne" ~The litmus test which sparked the partnership between Elizabeth and Evan: "Your Feet's Too Big" ~Elizabeth's recommended destination to visit in France: Cancale  

~@hotsardines - Instagram pics: Elizabeth with Alan Cummings singing "When I Get Low I Get High"; with Alan Cumming who is featured on French Fries + Champagne; Elizabeth enjoying French Fries + Champagne; The Hot Sardines~

~The song I have been playing on repeat. "Wake Up In Paris".

In our conversation on the podcast, Elizabeth shares her inspiration for the song, as well as how long it took her to write it. Be sure to tune and discover where exactly the inspiration came from for the first two notes of the song.

https://youtu.be/ulsK9jvgsAw

Petit Plaisir:

Elizabeth shared with listeners, not one, but two of her favorite Petit Plaisirs. Have a look below:
~On the road: 
~At Home (see below):
    An enormous thank you to Elizabeth and her team for taking the time to join me on The Simple Sophisticate. ~View more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here. Download the Episode
Direct download: ElizabethBougerolFinal.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #156
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
Each time NYC stylist Tiffani Rogers stops by The Simple Sophisticate podcast we begin with a conversation about the most recent trends and fashion events, but then it leads to a life discussion as we both, women in our 30s who are striving to enjoy the everyday, making it our own as well as reach our full potential while learning from the many lessons life abundantly shares with us. And this interview was no different. As mentioned in the title of today's episode, relationships and how to meet new friends and potential romantic partners are both discussed, as well as inching toward 40 and loving it. Tiffani also shares a couple of life lessons she has learned thus far, and we discover there is one approach we both use to remind us that we are doing just fine in this thing called life. Be sure to tune in. Below are all the links, photos and videos discussed on the blog. Style by Tiffani
  • Shop the City - Shopping Guide of Manhattan, use promo code SIMPLYLUX to save 10%
  • Discover Tiffani's styling services: personal wardrobe, bridal, special occasion (online or in person)
    • Did you know you could hire her to be your on-call stylist? Yes! Weekly, Monthly, Yearly or Seasonal check-ins
  • Visit Tiffani's blog for insights into taking care of your wardrobe, shopping and styling
~Past interview with Tiffani Rogers on The Simple Sophisticate: ~2017 Met Gala, honoring Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo. Red Carpet style discussed on the episode:

~Priyanka Chopra in Ralph Lauren~

~Gisele Bündchen in Stella McCartney~

~Katy Perry in Comme des Garçon~

~Blake Lively in Burberry~

~Watch Norma Kamali video on the difference between 21 and 71 here 

 

~Petit Plaisir

~Blueberry & Rhubarb Crostata, find the recipe here.
Download the Episode
Direct download: TiffaniInterviewFullEpisodeMay2017.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #155
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

~Julia Child's kitchen as seen at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., as it was in Cambridge, Massachusetts~

The more I read about Julia Child, especially in her own words, the more I find inspiration regarding how to successfully journey through life. Saying yes to life, remaining curious and refusing to be intimidated by obstacles, unknowns and not knowing how to do something, we all could probably learn something from Julia Child whether we enjoy cooking or just eating good food. And the lessons she provides are applicable in every arena of our lives. After reading and loving My Life in France, the Petit Plaisir in episode #152, I wanted to come up with a list of some of the life lessons unearthed about how to navigate each of our journeys successfully in Julia's own words. Below are six, but there are far more. If the list intrigues you, I highly recommend picking up her memoir which was published just after her death, as she herself, along with her nephew having completed it just prior.
1. Listen to what stirs you. When a passion worth pursuing presents itself, you'll know. 

"Now that I had started writing, I found cookbookery such fulfilling work that I intended to keep at it for years and years."

2. If we choose to, we can change.

"After driving to Rouen, we stopped in for lunch at La Couronne, where we ordered exactly the same meal that we'd had on my first day in France, more than two and a half years earlier: portugaise (oysters), sole meunière, salade verte, fromage blanc, and café filter. Ah me! The meal was just as sublime the second time around, only now I could identify the smells in the air quicker than Paul, order my own food without help, and truly appreciate the artistry of the kitchen. La Couronne was the same, but I had become a different person."

3. Self-doubt is natural, and a sign that you truly care about what you are trying to do. Continue to push forward.

"Ah me. There was still so much to learn, and cooking was only half of it. I felt I'd have to teach at least a hundred classes before I really knew what I was doing."

4. Often the first rejection is a test to determine your true desire.

"I sighed. It just might be that The Book was unpublishable. I wasn't feeling sorry for myself.I had gotten the job done, I was proud of it, and now I had a whole batch of foolproof recipes to use. Besides, I had found myself through the arduous writing process. Even if we were never able to publish our book, I had discovered my raison d'être in life, and would continue my self-training and teaching."

5. The key to delicious food is quality ingredients.

"This is the kind of food I had fallen in love with: not trendy, souped-up fantasies, just something very good to eat. It was classic French cooking, where the ingredients have been carefully selected and beautifully and knowingly prepared. Or, in the words of the famous gastronome Curnonsky, 'Food that tastes of what it is'."

~TSLL Capsule Menu (how to create it and the Fall Sample Menu)

6. Time, perseverance and asking for help from experts does pay off

"It would eventually take us two years and something like 284 pounds of flour to try out all the home-style recipes for French bread we could find. We used two French textbooks on baking and tutored ourselves on the fine points of yeasts and flours, yet our best efforts still fell short . . . One day I read a newspaper article about Professor Raymond Calvel, an eminent baker and teacher at the École Française de Meunerie . . . Professor Calvel showed us what we'd been doing wrong, and taught us all about making proper French bread . . . By the end of the day, our loaves were turning out just right, and I was feeling euphoric. It was as though the sun in all his glory had suddenly broken through the shades of gloom!"

~Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume II by Julia Child & Simone Beck

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Decor Inspiration: Julia Child's Provence Home, rent it!

~Julia Child Rules

~11 Life Truths About Contentment That Seem Impossible Until We Experience Them

~Petit Plaisir

~Dark Chocolate Truffles, click here for the recipe

Direct download: 155JuliaChild.mp3
Category:inspiration -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #154
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." —Nelson Mandela

Amelia Earhart, at the age of 23, had a dream awoken within her that she could not explain. Filled with both fear and pleasure, she "knew she had to fly". Julia Child was determined to change the dining, cooking and eating experience of Americans, also known as the "servantless cook". At the time, no one had written, nor demonstrated how to successfully engage with real food, delicious, satiating cuisine as she had (and as I know, many of you are quite aware being Francophiles ;)). And so it was hope, not fear that she, as well as Amelia Earhart pursued their vision with dogged perseverance. It was the nebulous vision held within, unknowingly willing their dreams to materialize, how and when they could not know. I am reminded of Nelson Mandela's quote often with the many different new experiences and people I have had the opportunity to encounter in my now nearly two years living in Bend. A multitude of unknowns dance about untamed in my life that have tested my confidence, faith and desire. From the desire to become once again a home-owner, to producing a second book of quality and inspiration for devoted long-time and newly introduced readers of living simply luxuriously to finding and cultivating real love and friendships based on trust, curiosity and similar passions shared authentically, just to name a few. And it is at times of doubt and unknown situations, that self-preservation can be the default my mind wants to revert to. After all, it is a rare individual to travel unscathed by pain, loss, hurt and disappointment through life; and therefore, it is only natural to allow the mind, when it recognizes seemingly similar behavior equivalent to a pain-inflicting person from our past to put up its defenses, assume the worst and no longer step forward. But such behavior is to ignore Mandela's directive, such behavior is to make a choice that reflects our fears. And when we continue to make decisions that reflect our fears, we are no longer building a life in which we can thrive striving toward our fullest potential; no, instead, we are merely surviving and watching pass by beautiful opportunity after beautiful opportunity, of the life we have not yet experienced, but could if only we would make choices that reflect our hopes. Last week, I began to make firm plans for a summer holiday in 2018. Money has been invested, dates have been confirmed, rentals have been secured. While I am not sure how all of the details will come together or even exactly how long I will be away, I at least know a dream I set in 2011 will be taking place. I chose to build a life based on hope. I chose to believe that the pieces would gradually fall together if I set out the invitation enabling them to materialize. I chose what I am excited about, rather than what I am fearful of. To have hope may not seem to be enough, and I would argue, while it isn't enough, it is a significant part of the foundation of the beautiful life we wish to build for ourselves and those we love. Think of it as building a sanctuary in the country, complete with koi ponds, long, tree-lined lanes and thoughtfully planted perennials that awake in their designated seasons in order for a full year of natural beauty. Such a creation, while yes, taking time, also requires of the dreamer to plan, design and educate themselves, but then act in a manner that involves decisions that open the door to the possibility of ample and abundant beauty. Conversely, a life built on our fears resembles a fortress of stone, iron walls, gates, anything to protect the individual(s) inside from being penetrated by the unknown. No engagement with the outside world unless deemed fit and suitable. No plan except to build higher walls that are no more natural and healthy, let alone beautiful, when it comes to a well-lived life than forced solitary confinement.

"Worry retards reaction and makes clear-cut decisions impossible." —Amelia Earhart

Yes, the former example leaves us open, leaves us more vulnerable, but it also invites the natural world to thrive. The seasons to work their magic, relationships to grow and mature, life to move through its cycle and for the residents to appreciate each step. Whereas the fortress controls everything, or creates a way of living that presents a façade of having everything under control.  When in actuality, the beauty that could flourish is killed due to lack of sunlight. In other words, hope is driven asunder. No, we will never know how everything will work out. We will never know precisely when the economy will ebb and rise or why prior to the event that sparks the change. We will never know when we might run into that person that captivates our attention more than anyone we have ever met before. We will never know when we will hear yes, or when we will hear no. We will never know when our time will be up or for those around us. We will never know anything except how we choose to respond to any situation. Having hope doesn't mean we are being fool-hearty. Having hope doesn't mean we cannot do our homework. But when we are left with unknowns, choose the hopeful outcome rather than the fearful one, and your behavior and words as you interact and engage with the world will reflect this choice and thus the energy that is reflected back to you. A funny, and aha moment awareness I had recently is that not all of my negative defaults have been a result of personal experience. Some of my negative, self-protecting defaults have come from the media, from plots and tales that are told as entertainment and some as cautionary tales. Now most, I have recognized were experienced unconsciously as a younger child and adult, and so the lesson for myself is to feed my life experience well. Not only with the entertainment, literary journeys and news I consume, but also with the people I spend time with. What conversations, what lives, what tales are shared? No, we must not sanitize our lives; we must know what is going on in the world; we must be aware of suffering to an extent so that if nothing more we can be a part of the effort to alleviate it; we must be conscious citizens. But then we need to get in our lane. A lane that is based on self-awareness, clarity of direction and a mind that is constantly being fed and nourished and live our lives well. But how do we that, especially when at times it will feel as though living in fear is far smarter? First, vent or express your frustration in a healthy manner: understand that you are not seeking a solution, but rather a means to express and release the frustration. And then do not dwell. Move forward. You are human to feel frustration, maybe even anger, but in recognizing that we cannot control everything, we recognize what we can control how we respond in such moments. Second, and most powerful, let go of the outcome. We can only control our behavior, our thoughts, and our preparation. Focus on these three things and let the others go so that you can enjoy the life you have cultivated for yourself, no matter what life may bring, toss or surprise you with. And as we go about our lives, having invested in hope rather than fear, we are more likely to awake unexpectedly to a ladybug on our shoulder.

"When I was a little girl, I used to run around in the fields all day, trying unsuccessfully to catch ladybugs.  Finally I would get tired and lay down for a nap. When I awoke, I’d find ladybugs walking all over me.” —Under the Tuscan Sun

https://youtu.be/G7t_gCfTPlM

"...decide...whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying...." —Amelia Earhart

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Make Your Own Life Rules: How & Why, podcast

~Decide to Act

~Remember to Embrace Your Unique Journey

Petit Plaisir:

Sweet Palmiers, click here for the recipe (savory is an option as well)
 
Direct download: 154ladybugs_.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #153
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

". . . for those of you who are tired of trying to squeeze into constrained categories, who long for integration and wholeness in everything you do, without limits on who you are or who you will become . . . it's time to move beyond labels." —Maureen Chiquet, author of Beyond the Label

Labels by definition provide a boundary, an end, a predetermined area of where something does and does not exist. And while a label on our wine bottle that we have chosen to serve with dinner may reveal the year in which the grapes were harvested or where a particular item of clothing or an accessory was made ensuring us of what we choose to support regarding labor, these aforementioned labels are helpful, reassuring and welcoming, but contrarily, labels placed on people, individuals, women, men, different ethnicities, generations, are limiting. In many cases, labels for people have and do lead into stereotypes, all of which are reductive, oversimplified and purposely (by the one placing the stereotype on another) limiting on the group of focus. In all cases, as Maureen Chiquet, the former CEO of Chanel shares in her new book Beyond the Label, "The labels themselves make life more difficult." As a child when grand family-gathering food holidays would arrive on the calendar, it was always the women who were in the kitchen cooking the extravagant meal and after dinner, it was always the women who were in the kitchen cleaning up. I hated the assumption of these roles which nobody conferred with me about. Granted I was a young girl, and I did what I was told, and as a young girl, I didn't know why I felt this way, but as I grew up and still saw this pattern in some instances, I then knew why I had just grave reservations: I didn't want to be in either group, especially not the clean-up group as so much work and effort had gone into the meal. Was it the women's job to cater to the men who sat in the living room, laughing, chatting and sipping their coffee or evening drinks? There was no part of this assumption or label that appeared fair. Now some of the women may have sincerely wanted to be doing the cooking as well as the cleaning, but I know I was not the anomaly. Who wouldn't want to be fed and relax after the meal? I share this experience with you not to complain, I am adamant that while I love cooking, the clean-up task should at least be shared, especially if it is a dinner for two as a way of thanking the cook or providing more time to chat and unwind together, but to offer up the conversation about the roles we inhabit and why we do so. Often we step into roles not because we have an earnest desire to clean the kitchen, per say, but because we've seen others do it before us and that is "just the way it is done". If we constantly adhered to this way of living life, women would still be domestic property of their husbands with no means to be independent. Needless to say, roles should be questioned to determine who is benefiting and why such a role is being perpetuated. The labels and roles we embody throughout our lives should be in accordance with the individual, regardless of sex, regardless of social standing, regardless of . . . well, pretty much anything. It may seem safe to do what has been done before, but it is limiting, it is squashing of the incredible gifts each of us has to offer not only to the world and those we choose to share our lives with, but to our spirit and true contentment as we experience the life we have been given. Whether it's the assumption that the teaching profession is best suited for women because they are born nurturers (a false assumption, and a limiting label by the way for all the men who are innately nurturing as well) or the assumption that tall men with deep voices are better leaders (why? Because . . . they can sing bass and have to duck to get through the door? The last I checked, neither abilities were needed to lead successfully.), we reduce the potential to flourish and find the best fit for every individual when we place labels based on exterior appearances. As Maureen Chiquet points out immediately in her new memoir and life guide, she "hates labels and boxes".  And it was her fondness for the French culture that drew me further into her book as she shares in her introduction, "It wasn't just beauty that the French seemed to live for and breathe in, but a kind of freedom that emboldened me to radically extend the border of my more conservative Midwest childhood in the 1970s." Her curiosity is what opened the door to recognizing that the labels that were being placed on her, or she felt being placed on those around her were inaccurate and soul-depleting. And it was her curiosity that led her to achieve the life and professional success which she leads us through as readers. She listened to the voice within, she was fortunate to have parents who encouraged her curiosity and didn't limit her dreams, and she was courageous enough to do even when she didn't know what the outcome would be. https://youtu.be/gNp6ohq-9Sk Today I'd like to share with you 24 sage words of advice from Maureen Chiquet's new book, released last month as a means of encouraging us all to examine the labels we accept to be placed upon us and come to understand why so that we might let go of those that are limiting and remove all together labels or at least help to redefine or change the world's understanding of the possibilities of said labels that we may fall under at different periods of our lives. 1. Listen to your curiosities and follow where they lead you

"It's often a matter of following the whispering intuitions and inkling that defy standard categories such as college major or job title . . . I do know the kinds of attitudes and sensibilities, the questions and the curiosities, that will lead you on paths to self-discovery, beyond recognized borders and conventions, and well beyond the labels that others want to use to define you."

2. Reclaim femininity on your own terms

"Being a woman [is] not a handicap but an advantage, a source of strength."

Simply by reading the word "femininity" we may have an idea of what the word entails, but we immediately limit in our minds what a woman is capable of being if we provide a definition beyond the actual definition "the quality of being female; womanliness", we limit what is acceptable for someone who is a female to do. In other words, there is no one way to be a woman. With every woman in the world, there is a different way to be, just as there are more than seven billion people in the world, there are seven billion different ways to be.

Take a moment today, tomorrow or sometime soon to examine how you live your life that assumes behaviors and roles you partake in merely because you are female. Who set those rules? Why do you follow? Does it sit well with your being? Some women, no matter society's expectations will revel in wearing make-up and pearls, while others will be out on the lacrosse field at six in the morning training with their teammates forgetting entirely about wearing any sort of make-up. A woman is simply a woman for the sake of biology, that is all. Beyond that, reclaim your own definition.

3. Redefine how a leader leads

"I started to understand that if women weren't rising to the top more often, it wasn't only because they weren't 'leaning in' or weren't just as ambitious as their male counterparts. It wasn't just because corporate policies didn't allow enough time for maternity leave or the flextime needed to raise families. These things were, and still are, crucial and must be addressed. But the underlying issue, the nut no one had cracked, was what kind of leadership we value and how we teach, assess, and promote 'good' leaders in all organizations —whether women or men."

4. If you feel something is missing, trust the observation of the void and look beyond "the world's obstacles, rigid structure and set definitions." To be able to look beyond, we must first look within. We must become so well in tune with ourselves that we know when something is not present and needs to be, even if we cannot put our finger on it at the moment. From my own experience, even at an early age, there were many instances, people, situations and ways of living that just didn't make sense, and so as I began to build my own life, I explored, I asked, I became more informed and I stepped out of what I had been introduced to by others and began introducing myself to ideas that were new to me until eventually I found what made far more sense disregarding whether others approved or not. 5. Follow Coco Chanel's approach to life: learn the rules, then step outside of them

"Chanel seemed to break every rule by combining seemingly opposite elements and by elegantly subverting convention to create something breathtakingly timeless and fresh . . . a woman who refused to blindly accept the aesthetics of her time in order to invent her own."

In the rhetorical writing class I teach, one of the first lessons I share is while there are many rhetorical tools an artist/writer/speaker/architect/musician can use, in order to use any one of them, they must first know the standard rules of grammar they are breaking. Therefore, when they choose to use the rhetorical tool, they know why they are breaking it and what effect they hope to provoke.

6. Savor life's beauty When we follow our curiosity, it is a striving toward creating a life that we want to dance with each and every day. And if we are lucky enough, when we are lucky enough, to cultivate this life, we don't want to rush, we don't want tomorrow to come today. We want to savor each and every day. In other words, "slow it down, relish it, take it in fully". 7. Become comfortable with a little discomfort Uncertainty or unhappiness. The two concepts were juxtaposed recently in an article I read, and the point was quickly absorbed. Are we willing to give up a little discomfort in not knowing how or when something we hope for, but deeply want, will occur in order that we may no longer be unhappy? Often we stay in circumstances, or remain under labels that do not fit us because it is what we know. And knowing is, for more than a few, far more comfortable than uncertainty. In the long run however, we only do ourselves a disservice and miss out on the beautiful life we could have led. 8. Let go of external definitions and lenses through which you have been defined and start from scratch. Ask why?

"The Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself." —E.E. Cummings

9. Search until you are broken open similar to the relinquishing of a protective shell In coordination with #7 and #4, many times we do not know what we are missing or what we will find when we step into the unknown.  However, the protective shell we are under, that we think is offering us the best possible life, is actually the limitation, the barrier we need to step out from underneath if we are going to realize our own unique potential. It is easy to know and accept this life concept, but I sincerely recognize far harder to put into practice. But, if you are feeling squashed, and keep bumping into a wall that time and time again has demonstrated it is not going to move, try a different path, even if you don't know where it will lead. So long as you head out into the direction that speaks to your curiosities, trust that you are doing yourself a grand favor. 10. Refrain from following prescribed expectations and instead simply "be" and express yourself authentically (and allow others to do the same). Find your tribe. Search out people who sing the same song or at least applaud you for staying true to yourself. Along the way, you may have to let go of those who want you to stay in the lane they became accustomed to you traveling, but model by example and support everyone's mode of travel and path chosen to travel down. When we all become more accepting of different ways of living life, we free each other to step into a lane (or off into the open field) to be what comes most naturally and applaud the unique contributions we all can give. 11. Knowledge allows the magic to happen

"Every discipline in the humanities —literature, history, art history, philosophy, or religious studies —teaches us how to question how we see and interpret the world and who we are as human beings."

As someone with a bachelor of arts degree, I took classes in art history, communications, history, literature, dance, sociology and a few other arenas in the humanities family that each contributed in their own way to the journey I am on now. I may not have pursued a specific career in most of these fields, but as I examine the careers I am pursuing, all of these classes have offered skills, knowledge and aha moments that helped me connect the dots and have given me a deeper understanding of the world, and thus my journey within it.

"[S]he who has the most information wins." —John D. Rockefeller

Ultimately, knowledge can only open doors and the beauty is, it can never be taken away from you. Knowledge of the "why"s in the world, how certain religions came to be, why this war was fought and this right denied, etc. are all bits and pieces of a grand puzzle that will help you understand why the labels that may be given to you don't actually fit at all. Allow all that you know and wish to know, as you pursue it fervently to be the key to opening up doors that curiosity leads you to.

12. Focus more on how it will work out and what could go right, rather than getting caught up in the reasons why it cannot be fulfilled (life has a funny way of adhering to what we consume our minds with - self-fulfilling prophecies)

"It a little bit like when you are skiing. If you begin to stare at all of the rocks, crevices, and obstacles, you're sure to hit one."

13. Take the first step even if the plan isn't complete

"Sometimes, you have to take that first step without a fully formulated plan, follow your intuition, and be ready to go with the flow, just like plunging into oncoming traffic at L'Etoile."

14. Improvise regularly

"Indeed, if you only memorize the score, you can be sure to hit the right notes, but will anyone remember your bland tune? The creative spark depends on patience, persistence, and practice, but you have to be willing to take risks, too. To improve requires having a sense of where you want to go, then letting that resonance emanate from deep within yourself, the place where love for your sole expression resides. "

15. Let go of fixed expectations 

"Letting go of fixed expectations, or at least being willing to upend them for a time, allows the possibility for an act of creation to surprise us, to leave us dizzy with the excitement of discovering something new that, somehow, feels just right, as if we were waiting for it all along."

16. Seek out respect coupled with love

"I had never felt love like that from any guy I had dated. It went beyond love; it was the purest form of respect."

17. Find a path that allows your "beauty", your real assets to be be utilized

". . . 'beauty' — my real assets (intelligence, character, judgment, and taste)"

18. Embrace challenging circumstances as they unearth the pearl of a life you truly wish to cultivate

"Challenging circumstances and discomfort are often excellent teachers inasmuch as they require us to get closest to what we fundamentally care about."

19. Raw learning experiences exist everywhere in every stage of your journey

"No opportunity is ever too small to show you what you can accomplish, and no boss is ever so mean that you can't learn something, even if it's only to show you how not to lead."

20. Empower people and you empower progress

"People work harder and ultimately deliver better results when they feel empowered."

21. Be calm, confident, self-aware and clear about where you want to go in order to have success

"Horses react to humans in a pure, intuitive way. 'They mirror how we show up. More than eighty percent of our communication is nonverbal, so these nonverbal creatures can reflect back exactly what's going on with us and whether they trust our presence and will follow our lead.' Once you found yourself interacting with, leading, or heading a horse, you learned 'in your body' how to show up differently, how to be attuned to others without losing touch with yourself or your goals."

22. Be the leader of your individual life, manage yourself well to be able to lead others well.

"In order to lead — and to get anyone else to follow you — yes, you do need to listen to others . . . a lot. But you also need to be attuned to yourself —your hungers, your drives, and your trigger points. In other words, you have to manage yourself in order to lead others."

23. Understand how to regain your footing and balance

"I have found that taking a moment to move away from circumstances where you might feel pressure or triggered —to ask yourself what's most important to you underneath the surface —helps restore your equilibrium."

24. Examine and then release assumptions of how life should be that do not align with your newly defined self

"There is no one right way. There is not one label you can slap over your family and call it perfect . . . It is the labels themselves that can make these choices even more difficult. If we don't unpack these assumptions [women should bear more of the parenting responsibility than men even when we wholeheartedly pursue our careers], if we don't stop and ask why it is so, we just end up exhausted and discouraged . . . by letting go of definitions others might set for us as well as the idealized images we have created ourselves . . . we get what we most want . . . the trick is knowing what it is you do actually want and being clear with yourself and your partner on how you both want to lead and prioritize your lives."

One of the most perplexing answers I struggle to give is when somebody asks me what I do for a living. I fluctuate between "Which should I say first: a teacher or a writer, or better, a blogger?". It will depend upon the person I am speaking with, but most often, when I state that I am a teacher, there is a handful of assumptions that come along with it, most of which are untrue in my case, but you don't want to dive into a deep philosophical discussion necessarily. As well when I open with "I am a blogger", some become even more curious and others dismiss the title entirely. But the truth is, I feel limited by each, and perhaps you do as well, which is why Beyond the Label resonated with me. People ask such questions: what do you do for a living? are you married? where did you grow up? as a means to better get to know the person they are speaking with. The motivation is largely friendly and benign, but as most of us know, the answers, especially upon a first meeting, immediately build assumptions in the listeners mind - for better or worse. And so perhaps the fault is on us all, but that means all of us can play a role in moving beyond the label. "By moving beyond the label, we can all make our workplaces and our lives more effective and more equitable."

"By releasing ourselves from these restrictions, we have a shot at creating success on our own terms."

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

Petit Plaisir

~Diana Krall's new album Turn Up The Quiet (to be released May 5, 2017), her 13th album, 5-time Grammy winner
~view her tour schedule here ~The list of 11 songs on the album: 1. Like Someone In Love 2. Isn't It Romantic 3. LOVE 4. Night and Day 5. I'm Confessin' 6. Moonglow 7. Blue Skies 8. Sway 9. No Moon At All 10. Dream 11. I'll See You In My Dreams  
Direct download: 153BeyondLabels_.mp3
Category:self-improvement -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #152

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." —Henry David Thoreau

To dream big. To dream beyond others' imagination is a risk. However, to dream so vastly is to reveal one's capacity for hope of what could possibly become reality. Do you remember what you dreamt about as a child, in particular your daydreams when the sky truly was the limit? Do you remember why you dreamt what you did? More often than not what we dreamt about had more to do with what we thought we would feel, how we presumed our way of life would be and thus the contentment or fulfillment we would reach. And the exciting news I want to share with you today is that the sky still is the limit. Even as we step into adulthood, our dreams are a roadmap of where we want to go, of what we are passionate about.  The important part that we must consciously engage ourselves in is the dissecting of the dreams that refuse to be forgotten. In other words, look closely at your dreams from childhood. In some form, which ones are you still dreaming about? Maybe as a child you dreamed of traveling the world, partaking in safaris and scaling Mt. Rushmore. Examine now what is dancing through your daydreams. Is it the same thing or is it adventures, perhaps more tame? Look less at the specific destination itself and instead at how you conjectured it would make you feel when you had the opportunity to travel to parts unknown. Perhaps it was the freedom you wanted to always have in your life. Or maybe it was the comfort of nature surrounding you. If you have the courage to investigate why you dream about what you dream, what you dare to dream in other words, you will find a roadmap to your truest contentment. Along the way as you unearth the truth, you may discover a need to become better skilled in certain arenas, and so you do just that. As you continue to proceed, you are aware of what, while being low on your priority list, is impeding your progress, so you understand why you must let some things go that no longer align with your truest path. The gift of dreaming big and having the courage to pursue what you've imagined is that what we focus on, in which pursuits we deposit our energy, we help to manifest and eventually nurture into reality.

“The future you see is the future you get.” – Robert G Allen

While it may seem impossible as you gaze at your dream from afar having only just begun or having so much further to travel, the good news is so long as you stay focused, journal regularly, check your subgoals weekly or monthly, you will gradually come closer to what you wish for. Why? Because you are no longer wishing, you are doing. And with each step, with each task completed and each exercise of willpower to say no to what might jeopardize or get in the way, you are inching closer toward making it your reality.

“At first, dreams seem impossible, then improbable, and eventually inevitable.” – Christopher Reeve

Upon moving to Bend, an amazing dream became a reality, calling Bend my hometown. Something I honestly had doubts along the way would ever come true, living, calling home this beautiful mountain, nature-loving, small-town feel with a big city undercurrent. But I never gave up doing what I could to put myself in the best position to give it the potential it needed to materialize.

Now that I have lived here almost two years, a few of my other dreams have seemingly been stalled while others have blossomed beyond my expectation. And as I consider the latter of those two realities, I am reminded that never giving up completely is always the best idea. Sometimes we have to put dreams on the back burner or at least keep working towards them habitually, but what is needed is letting go of the expectation of when they may come to be what we hope they might be. As we do this, we're still making progress, but we're letting go of the pressure, we're recognizing that maybe we really don't have all of the control, but so long as we control what we are able, when the right opportunity presents itself, we will be able to seize the moment.

In moments of doubt, when I am not sure if my dream is even a possibility anymore, I find myself shaking my head. When a step back or a regression of progress appears to be taking place, I want to kick myself and then more doubt is piled on. But then I wonder, what would life be if we didn't have dreams to pursue? Dreams are a form of curiosity, of wondering, can I do this? Am I up to the task? Am I capable? The reassuring answer is, you are absolutely capable, and along the way some pretty amazing moments could happen as well that might open even more unexpectedly splendid doors. And those temporary setbacks, they are going to happen. First, look at why they occurred, and often what you will find is that you were living life, and balancing as you moved forward to navigate what you had to navigate. Simply because you had to take a step back, doesn't mean your progress toward your dream is dashed. It simply means, you may have to reroute, or refuel earlier than expected. But you can do that, no? Because if it is a dream you are ardently passionate about, you will refuel, you will reboot and you will figure out a way to reach your goal.

“Capture your dreams and your life becomes full.” – Nikita Koloff

Imagine the story your life is writing right now. Imagine the anecdotes you are collecting along the way to be appreciated once again upon reflection. View your life as a story, make the choices that will make the reader smile, and since it is a story, accept that there will be moments you do not want or expect, but if you are the savvy writer that I know you are capable of being, you will figure out a way to write a happy ending.

Dream big and let your dreams guide you along your magnificent journey of life.

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Dare to Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

~11 Things You Must Do to Create the Life of Your Dreams

~Why Not . . . Achieve Your Dreams? (3 part series)

~Petit Plaisir

~My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme
~Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Direct download: 152dreamfirstPlanlater_.mp3
Category:inspiration -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #151

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"There is something about the French woman, a sense of freedom that must read and show in the way we dress." —Marion Cotillard

No one has yet pinpointed when the allure of French style came to epitomize the pinnacle of effortless, chic style, but nonetheless, the flattering stereotype continues to be perpetuated and this post will do the same.

Why? In all honesty, if you have been to France, you have seen it. You have crossed paths with the style seen in Paris that embodies classic staples worn with such ease and confidence that the woman appears to be on her own catwalk wherever she goes. Now not every French woman embodies the qualities oft associated with simple, chic, effortlessness just as not every American woman is intrigued by fast fashion and putting more in her closet (if you are a reader of TSLL, I am pretty confident you do not fall into that traditional American stereotype).

But since the French woman has lessons to share when it comes to the style of quality over quantity, and demonstrates how magnificent it can look, people from around the globe have taken note, which may be why so many non-French women have impeccable, signature style as well.

"What defines French Style? An effortless chic attitude - the Parisienne always wears great basics. It's about clever mix and match." -Evelyne Chétrite

Wherever we find the inspiration that moves us to shift and change our wardrobe, it is worth investigating exactly what the fundamentals are of that particular approach to style.

To begin, I must make a confession, I am not someone who enjoys shopping for clothes, but I do thoroughly appreciate and feel most confident when I know the clothes I am wearing work well on my body for whatever occasion I may be involved in. Thus, I have always wanted to drill down to how to cultivate a dependable, chic wardrobe that is versatile and lasts. So it was not a surprise when the French woman's approach to style caught my attention.

Let's take a look at how to incorporate the 10 fundamentals of French style into our lives so that we too can look our best, spend our money wisely and limit the time we spend in shops and online boutiques so that we can go about enjoying the simply luxurious lives we have created.

1. Staples over trends

"In an era of excess, Frenchness speaks to a certain kind of abstinence - but also of a noble refusal to compromise on quality, as well as the confidence to resist tacky gimmicks." —Lisa Armstrong, The Daily Telegraph

Watching the seasonal runway shows are great fun and full of inspiration and ideas what new way to wear a button up blouse or what to pair with a knee-length skirts, but don't hop on the bandwagon if it's a one-season phenomenon. How do you know if it's a one season phenomenon? Ask yourself, would you wear it if you hadn't seen it on the runway or if wasn't cheered by Vogue and the fashion elites? If the answer is no, then just appreciate it and move on.

Staples may seem safe or boring, but as we will discuss in #2, when you purchase well, know your body and tailor to your needs, you will shine. And the key word is you. You, rather than your clothes will be what everyone will notice and that is the intent to dressing well each time we step into our closets. Instead of considering what will draw attention, what will shock, what will woo onlookers, ask yourself "what will look best on me and help me elevate to feel and do my best?" Return to those clothes again and again and again, and you will never be disappointed.

2. Invest, don't skimp

A French woman will have Chanel ballet flats and maybe even a Mulberry tote, but she won't have oodles of ballet flats in her closet or more than a few handbags unlike an average American's closet that is overflowing with bargain finds that may have looked wonderful on the rack at Ross but no longer shine two or even five years later.

Hone in on what you need, save up and purchase what you love and will continue to use for years to come. My Lanvin ballet flats were an investment (always order one to a half-size larger than your regular size), but they were exactly what I had always wanted for years. When I finally purchased my first (I have two now - beige and black) pair, the price was expected, and I continue wear them at least 2-4 times a week (they continue to look wonderful and work with a long list of outfits).

3. Subtle over shocking
Choose neutral hues that work with your skin tone in order to infuse a multitude of options. The white jersey tee works beautifully under your blazer, but it can also be tucked into a pencil skirt worn with heels to offer a high/low look to the office. Don't forget to wear it under your leather jacket as well paired with your favorite jeans. Shocking, while fun, has a shelf-life. Subtle again allows the woman to shine rather than the clothing.
4. Fewer but better
You will have fewer items in your closet and what a beautiful sight that will be when you walk in. Clutter is stressful, too many choices can numb us and make it difficult to choose. Fewer, but better options simplifies the process but amplifies the outcome.
5. A skill rather than a sport
As I mentioned at the top of the post, I honestly do not like to shop for clothing. Beginning when I was a young girl, I became quickly frustrated looking for clothing that fit my tall frame and thus began to see wardrobe building as the goal, not a sport that would waste hours of my day. A significant part of why I share what I learn and discover about style on TSLL is because I want to alleviate the frustration that I had so that you too, whether you love shopping or not, will be able to shop well each and every time, utilizing your time wisely so that you can enjoy the life you have built. Do I love beautiful attire and the craftsmanship, absolutely. If I could snap my fingers and have the wardrobe of 10-15 staple items for each season hanging in my closet that look brilliant on my body, I would snap away and spend the time I would have been shopping walking my dogs, working on a creative project, traveling or any one of the hobbies I enjoy. And so TSLL exists to reveal the tools we all can possess so that we each can build our signature wardrobe without feeling we have to do so each season, because we truly do not if we shop well.
6. Keep it simple
A beautiful silk blouse paired with designer jeans that fall just to the ankle worn with a stunning pair of Roger Vivier flats. Nothing else. Classic pieces, quality pieces. Trust your purchases so that when you do pull them on and pair with them with the other items, you will know they work. Another reason to have fewer, but better items in your closet is that you become more familiar with them as you will have had them in your closet for many seasons. You will begin then to trust what you have, what looks flattering on your body and what other items might pair well with it. The simplifying of the process is a significant factor to loving and trusting your style.
7. Subtle, but sincere statement pieces 
Begin to let go of the costume jewelry. I used to regularly have my large tear-drop earrings that were not that expensive but fun conversational pieces, and then I began to realize I didn't want my clothing to be the conversational piece, I wanted to be talking about topics of more substance. So I purchased these earrings and wear them with nearly every outfit. They are simple, basic, but just the right femininity for work and play. A simple pair of diamond studs would also work beautifully. The key is to not be afraid to invest in a few investment statement pieces, but make sure they are subtle so that you can wear them for years and perhaps a lifetime.
8. Find what works and wear it regularly
If blazers are your flattering cut similar to Emmanuel Alt, then include a couple of quality blazers in a variety of hues in your closet. If you know crew necks are better than v-necks, stay loyal and do not deviate. Such a discovery of our style takes time, but so long as we pay attention, are willing to explore and try something new if other approaches aren't working, we will eventually find what works for our bodies, lives and comfort. Over the past few years, one of the trends that has become my signature is the jumpsuit. Not everyone loves the jumpsuit, but it has been a staple in my wardrobe - layering with blazers, wearing long-sleeve monochromatic versions in the winter and splurging on a versatile silk jumper by Vanessa Seward when it went on sale that takes me to work and is ideal of cool summer afternoons with sandals.
9. Mix the high and low
As much as your investment items are the foundation of the French woman's wardrobe, not every item you wear has to be über sophisticated. Wear a pair of boyfriend jeans with heels (low/casual - boyfriend jeans; high/dressed-up - heels) or a bomber jacket over a camisole worn with an over-the-knee pencil skirt and sandals. The balance of seriousness with playful displays prowess of how to build and wear a wardrobe exuding confidence and personality.
10. Elevate yourself, don't hide

The clothing you wear is meant to spotlight the talented, intelligent, fun and curious woman who you are. While clothing can offer some armor in a world that can be difficult at times, don't hide completely behind your sartorial choices. Let your signature shine. Choose clothing that regardless of the designer label is made well and elevates your confidence. Stick to what works, let go of what doesn't and dress for you, not to mimic what you should do.

Part of embracing the French woman's approach to style is reconciling with the clothes you must get rid of, but on the flip side when you don't have to go shopping as often to fill the gaps or find that one item that you just don't seem to have, you will discover an ease with knowing what to wear when that will be priceless.

As much as I love the power of the sartorial choices we make, I have always wanted the clothing to be the background (an impressive background, but still in the background). While being known for what one wears is initially flattering and a temporary confidence boost, it is knowing that the woman each one of us offers to the world is more than what she wears is valued far more than the clothing and image she projects that motivates me to fine tune and all but perfect my approach to style. And each time I gain more clarity, I look forward to sharing what I learn with you.

May we all fine-tune our wardrobe so that we may make a worthwhile first-impression but follow through with a breath-taking performance offered by our intelligence, charm and wit.

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~The Francophile's Style Guide: The 14 Essentials (podcast episode)

~Why Not . . . Master the Art of Dressing?

~Why Not . . . Organize Your Closet?

~20 Ways to Live Like a Parisienne (podcast episode

~How to Cultivate Your True Style All Year Long - inspired by Ines de la Fressange's new Parisian Lookbook (podcast episode)

~Shop TSLL Capsule Wardrobe boutique here

~As my way of saying thank you to listeners of the podcast, I have produced two new episodes for this week due to my loss of voice last week and inability to have a new episode as each Monday for over two years (except in one other instance) there has always been one. I appreciate your understanding, your well wishes and your interest in living simply luxuriously. Here is the link to episode #150. Have a lovely week.

~21 Life Lessons Learned in South Korea

Petit Plaisir:

~The Curse of La Fontaine: A Verlaque and Bonnet mystery by M.L. Longworth
~begin with the first novel in the cozy, set in Aix-en-Provence mystery series, Death at the Chateau Bremont   

~Image: French model Ophelie Guillermand captured by Tatel Velasquez

  Download the Episode
Direct download: 151frenchstyle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PDT