Here is part three of my review of “Lessons From Madame Chic”. We’ve been out of town and it threw off my intended schedule for blog posts. Better late than never, though. Right?
LESSONS FROM MADAME CHIC: PART 3
Part 3: How to Live Well
This was my favorite section of the book. Taking care of one’s physical appearance certainly is important but when you get right down to it, it’s how one actually conducts one’s daily life which matters most. The author no doubt agrees since this section is longer than the first two combined.
Chapter 10: Always Use the Best Things You Have
The idea of keeping certain items for company or special occasions may seem reasonable but don’t you and your family deserve the best, too? Isn’t every day a “special occasion”? Too many people have fine china tucked away safely and rarely, if ever, use it. Many brides these days don’t even register for china and crystal. I suspect that’s at least in part because they grew up with the idea that those things are only brought out on the rarest of occasions and it just doesn’t make sense to have so much invested in something you never use.
When I was a young bride living in a tiny, one bedroom apartment with very little of anything, I quite often served dinner on our china. It might only have been hamburgers or hot dogs but a pretty table makes the simplest of meals a celebration. As time passed and the children came along, meals served on our good china became a lot less frequent. I still tried to do it several times a year but if I had it to do over again I would make a point of doing so more often. Now that it’s just the two of us there’s really no good excuse. It’s just a matter of changing habits. One of my goals is to use the good china, silver and crystal at least once a week.
Chapter 11: Live Life as a Formal Affair
The author makes the point that, in her opinion, our society has become way too casual. Everything from manners to how we dress has strayed far from the more formal living patterns of even a few decades ago.
Just last week David and I saw this reflected vividly. We were in California to celebrate our 35th anniversary. David had asked me to marry him at Lawry’s Prime Rib restaurant in Beverly Hills back in 1980. We hadn’t been back since so we thought that would be the ideal place to have our anniversary dinner.
The last time we went there was a strict dress code. Men were required to wear a jacket and tie. We had no idea this rule had changed so David dressed accordingly. I wore a long dress, heels, nice jewelry and a pretty silk shawl. We were stunned to see people in shorts and flip flops. In fact, I think David was the only man wearing a tie in the whole restaurant. The food, service and atmosphere were otherwise exactly the same but I must admit I was disappointed in the fact that we seemed to be only ones dressed up.
Living more formally doesn’t mean just for special dinners out, however. Mealtimes, manners, etiquette, clothing, daily rituals, music, and even one’s language are all opportunities to add a bit more formality to our lives.
Chapter 12: Clutter is So Not Chic
It’s difficult to live a pleasant and refined lifestyle if one’s home is a cluttered mess. Too much “stuff” and things lying about where they do not belong make home a less pleasant place to be.
In our society, consumerism is a big issue and oftentimes the cause of a cluttered home. Mindless shopping as “entertainment” just makes it more difficult to keep a tidy home.
Chapter 13: Seek Out the Arts
I loved this chapter! Music, theater, film, visual arts…these are passions of mine. No wonder the French lifestyle appeals to me – the arts form an integral part of French society. After I read this I bought a season pass to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. There is currently a Matisse exhibit and I can’t wait to go see it.
Chapter 14: Cultivate an Air of Mystery
In this era of social media, the very idea of maintaining privacy and an air of mystery seems almost ludicrous. A quick scroll through the Facebook newsfeed will net you more personal information about friends and even acquaintances than an entire afternoon in a small-town hair salon. This source of over-sharing is so prevalent that we even have an acronym for it – TMI or “too much information”.
But it is possible to talk less, share less, and keep some things to ourselves. Even with our spouses it’s not necessary to share every thought that pops into our head.
And speaking of spouses or romantic partners, do we really need to attend to every aspect of our grooming in front of them? Perhaps a little mystery in this area might be a good thing, too.
There are six more chapters in this final section of the book but I think this post is already long enough. Check back next week for the final installment of this book review.
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Here are the links to parts 1, 2 and 4 of this book review series: