Exploring Elegance

ImageI’ve just finished two weeks of blissful annual leave during which I did almost everything I’d been fantasising about in the lead up to the break, particularly reading. I read two books, Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, which is an exploration of the Mormon church (fascinating!) and a little book called Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro.

I found Elegance in an op shop in Northcote last week, when I was browsing around after having breakfast with a friend, and it’s such a gorgeous little book I had to share it with you. The plot is about a woman in her early 30s whose life is rapidly turning to crap, when she stumbles across a book called Elegance in a second hand bookshop in London where she lives. The book she finds was written by a French woman in the 1960s and is basically an A to Z guide on how to be elegant. Our protagonist, Louise, basically uses this book to remake her life. It’s just wonderful. The Bride Stripped Bare without all the sex (actually there’s no sex, so there you go). Eat Pray Love without all the first world problems.

I could relate to Louise on so many levels. Her penny pinching and self-consciousness were endearingly familiar and like her, I tend to jump on new manuals for how to ‘do’ life with ferocious enthusiasm. And of course I don’t think there’s a woman alive who isn’t just a little bit interested in uncovering the perfect recipe for an elegant wardrobe.

This quote, for example, charmed me.

Be strict with yourself. Save. Economise on food if you must (believe me, it will only do you good!) but not on your handbags or shoes. Refuse to be seduced by anything that isn’t first rate. The saying ‘I cannot afford to buy cheaply’ was never so true.

Now, I’m not going to eat 2 minute noodles for the next month so that I can duck down to Chanel for a handbag, or Hermes for a scarf, but the comment about not being seduced by anything that isn’t first rate struck home and has encouraged me to take another look at my budget. The philosophy in Elegance, while shallow and superficial on one hand, does encourage a timely reminder of the importance of quality and making wise purchasing decisions. I’ll never be Audrey Hepburn, but there’s no reason why I can’t try a little harder to dress like her, is there? 😉