The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style

~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

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #150

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

The blossoms of spring have begun to bloom; the scents, vibrant green grass and and brilliant pastel hues offer their natural talents of awing us mere humans. And after a winter that didn't seem it would in, the blossoms all along knew they would bloom; they just needed time.

As many around the globe yesterday celebrated Easter which manifest from the pagan holiday coinciding with the spring equinox and the earth's reawakening, I found myself reflecting on all around us that requires time in order to flourish. From the dogwood and magnolia blooms to the delicate baking of a soufflé, extraordinary seemingly unimaginable occurrences and revelations require time to incubate, to evolve and realize the possibilities which are harbored within.

Below is a list of simple as well as significant life events that require the exercise of patience and trust that in time, beautiful outcomes will materialize.

1. A transcontinental flight to a destination on your bucket list

2. Learning how to truly listen

3. Accrued compound interest on savings

4. The zit-from-hell that sprang up out of nowhere

5. Attainment of an academic diploma or skill certificate

6. Learning a new language

7. The pesky debt you are working to pay off

8. Becoming a better communicator

9. Loving well

~responsive vs. reactionary - episode #145

10. Mastering cooking techniques that appear impossible: slicing an onion, flipping an omelette, building a sauce without it separating

11. Mastering your mind

12. Discovering what ignites your soul, stirs your curiosities and what, if pursued, will lead to your fullest potential and true contentment

13. Respect from others

14. Trust from others

15. Personal growth: developing these 22 skills

"The two most powerful warriors are patience and time." Leo Tolstoy

Part of the reason I savor the arrival of the spring season, as I mentioned earlier this year, is because the world around us reminds us that evolving into our better selves is possible. And the most important lesson that the arrival of spring teaches us to wait. We must not rush what needs time to develop, to breathe, to heal, to gain its footing and establish its strong foundation so that when it does arrive, it will last as long as it is most capable of doing.

Often I reflect on this life lesson of giving what we seek, what we desire, what we are hopeful for, as a litmus test for what Charles Stanley reminds,"Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we're waiting for." So the next time you find yourself frustrated that something isn't arriving quickly enough, ask yourself "How deeply do you truly want it?" And perhaps if you still choose to be impatient and rush it, you were simply looking for a placeholder because you hadn't found what you truly desired. And on the other hand, if you reflect, step back and recognize the need and willingness to be patient, you have discovered what for you is worth seeking. Perhaps for you, you have found your path, the journey you truly wish to be on.

~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 #151. Have a lovely week.

~Petit Plaisir:

~Soft Boiled Œufs et Mouillettes Pour Deux (eggs and soldiers for two)
~View and print the recipe here  

~All images captured by TSLL Instagram.

Direct download: p150wait.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 11:59pm PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #149

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"What's true style? Knowing how to mix the right combinations of ingredients." —Ines de la Fressange, author of Parisian Chic Look Book: What Should I Wear Today?

Most of us have heard of and are incorporating into our lives a capsule wardrobe, but as much as we'd love to hire a stylist to tell us what to wear every day and how to style the clothes we've invested in, we either absolutely cannot afford such an extravagance or well, let's get serious. But the truth is, we can do it ourselves. Understanding how to cultivate true style into our lives throughout the entire year is completely possible so long as we learn the necessary tools and fail-safe combinations. Former Chanel model and the epitome of Parisian chic Ines de la Fressange has just released her new book to follow up her wildly successful first Parisian Chicand in it she does the work of the stylist. Parisian Chic Look Book: What Should I Wear Today? does everything for you except the shopping. With nearly every page in the 130 page book filled with styled outfits and noted for which occasion they would be perfect for, this look book is your guide when you step into your closet. This look book is the finishing touch to building your confidence that you do know how to dress well without having too many clothes to choose from and feeling you have nothing to wear. What I would like to do today is share a glimpse of Ines' suggestions and my favorite outfits, and then I highly recommend you pick up or check out this book. If you are someone who appreciates the classic Parisian chic approach to style, if you adhere to a capsule wardrobe approach and if you want to keep it simple but mix high and low items ensuring you look effortlessly style, take a look inside the book and discover how to become the stylist you've always wanted to hire. 1. Stock your closet with the essentials
  • capsule wardrobe essentials
  • handbags
  • shoes
  • jewelry
  • lingerie
  • outerwear
  • scarves
  • belts
Often we have almost everything we need but a few finishing touches are missing. Take a look at her detailed list (above are just the categories) and find what you may need or what to look for the next time you are shopping or a wonderful sale on your favorite designer clothing or accessories offers a beautiful price. 2. Stick to a dress code unique to each general occasion
  • business
    • beyond the uniform that works for you, how to choose an outfit that transitions from one work place to another business appointment (applying for a loan, a business dinner, etc.)
      • "I Have a Tricky Day Ahead"
        • silk print pants
        • v-neck sweater
        • black velvet flats
        • classic watch
        • bangles
  • family gatherings
    • lunch with a family member, a great aunt perhaps?
      • high waisted pants
      • ruffled or signature blouse
      • pendant necklace
      • high heels or platforms
      • a scarf as a belt
  • personal get-togethers
    • a dinner with an old flame
      • over-the-knee pencil skirt
      • velvet jacket
      • camisole
      • heels
      • classic watch
  • evening attire
    • Dinner at Home with Friends
      • blue jeans
      • white blouse
      • black belt
      • gold bangles
      • black velvet flats
  • vacation
    • airport attire
      • stylish sweatpants
      • t-shirt
      • v-neck sweater (oversized)
      • flat slide sandals
      • navy men's overcoat
  • special, unique occasions
    • museum buff
      • black midi, (perhaps body-con) dress
        • denim jacket
        • lace up sneakers
        • saddle bag
        • bracelets
3. Stick to neutrals One common thread I noticed through all of the items Ines suggests is a neutral color palette. Black, navy, white, khaki/biege, gray, light blue, stripes. While there were a few signature pieces, a sequin gold camisole, printed silk pants, a hot pink sweater and a red saddle purse, these boisterous colors were few, but powerful. The mixing and matching becomes easier when you adhere to a neutral palette that complements your skin tone. Don't deviate from this. For example, the pop of color I often choose is blush pink: my skin instantly looks more bronzed and healthy and it pairs well with everything else in my closet depending upon the season and occasion. Other than that its navy, gray, black, white, stripes and light blue. 4. Finish with few accessories, but don't forget them Each of her looks as you pour through the book reveal typically one piece of jewelry being worn if any and an expected, but signature tote, coat or pair of shoes. 5. Purchase well and don't fuss The key with Parisian chic style is mixing the high and low: a beautiful white silk blouse from Saint Laurent paired with classic denim jeans and costume jewelry bangles. Knowing what you are wearing looks well on your physique will enabled you to say no to extra details and finish with just the right amount of detail. Then once it all comes together, you can relax and enjoy wherever you are headed. 6. Learn the fashion style tricks 
  • wear a khaki military jacket over a little black dress
  • wear a rock t-shirt with a pencil skirt
  • buy clothes in the men's department
A sampling of items that what works for me:
  • jumpsuit
  • denim jacket
  • pencil skirts
  • simple black dress
  • long shirt dress
  • black/navy v-neck sweater
  • black/white t-shirt
  • navy blazer
  • trench coat
  • blue jeans
  • slip-on sneakers
  • wellies (farm/ranch boots)
  • black tote
  • classic watch
  • brown/black belt
  • camisoles
  • black panties
  • black bra
  • men's camel coat (I actually wear a woman's but it is one size too large)
Ultimately, seeing how to pull something together, seeing it on a model is a useful visual we often do not see when it comes to basics and not all in one place. Covered in gold that shimmers, the book will be easy to spot on the shelf as you look to use it again and again and again until these classic ensembles become engrained in your memory. THe most significant take-away for me was a sigh of relief when I saw the outfits. The number of items involved were minimal, the key was quality items paired with finishing touches that worked with the woman's body and the other neutral pieces. So start with #1, begin to build the foundation which is the necessary clothing and then have fun and look forward to stepping into your closet again.

Petit Plaisir:

Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes for the Home Cook by Elisabeth Prueitt   Download the Episode Download the Episode
Direct download: 149InesTartine_-_32217_6.34_PM.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

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