Make Your Life a Formal Affair
Monday April 16, 2012

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“Tailor what living life as a formal affair means to you . . . analyze the aspects of [y]our life that could use a little more flair . . . by introducing aspects that are often thought of as ‘formal’ into [y]our life you can live a richer existence . . .”  

A few weeks ago in the inaugural This & That post, I introduced a book I was eager to read, and boy, I wasn’t disappointed. Jennifer L. Scott’s recently released book Lessons from Madame Chic is full of 20 lessons she learned while living in Paris during college and how nearly ten years later she has incorporated these lessons into her life in California.

(the new cover, to be re-released on November 6, 2012)

(the first cover)

Filled with specific advice, anecdotes and descriptions of Madame Chic and Madame Chic’s entire Parisian family, Scott shares ways to live a fulfilling life that are not only simple, but help to create a luxurious life that is rich and focused on what most all of us seem to want to put at the top of our priority list – healthy relationships, good health and the ability to be our best selves.

As I was reading I found myself underlining a sentence or two on nearly every page that I didn’t want to forget, and after going back over these annotations I realized that the lesson of living formally doesn’t have to take the beauty or the spontaneity out of living, but in fact it can enhance it. By showing respect to the life we’ve been given and then continue to create for ourselves we consciously make it all the more enjoyable.

Below are a few ideas for welcoming in a bit more formality and at the same time simplicity that I especially took favor too. Have a look:

1. Play classical music throughout your home

If you don’t have any Bach cds laying around the house, simply go to Pandora on your computer, iPad or iPhone and search classical symphonic music, and it will create a radio station for you for free.

2. Eliminate snacking

Each meal that you sit down for is an opportunity to eat well. Scott explains how dinner in Paris with Madame Chic’s family always included at least three, sometimes four, courses and one was always a cheese platter, yet still her host family was slender because when they ate it was mindful.

3. Create rituals to look forward to

Maybe every Saturday morning you wake up and stroll down to your favorite coffee shop for a tasty treat and chat with a good friend, or you play checkers with your son every Sunday evening in front of the fire or perhaps you take a bubble bath and savor a glass of wine after Monday has wrapped up. Take time to discover the activities that you enjoy doing either alone or with those you love and make them regular occurrences that are something to look forward to.

4. Wear luxurious lingerie

The mistake that seems to be perpetuated regarding lingerie is that it is worn for someone else.  This is not entirely correct.  In fact, a woman should wear beautiful, high-quality lingerie for herself. Simply knowing you are keeping something to yourself and at the same time have treated yourself to something luxuriously wonderful is certain to raise your confidence at least a smidge. While it will take time to build your lingerie wardrobe, know that you are worth investing in.

5. Purchase a Clarisonic

Treat your skin as though it were porcelain. Be very particular and handle it with care. Scott highly recommends using the Clarisonic skincare tool that gently exfoliates while allowing your cleansing products to work even harder for your skin producing noticeable brighter and healthier skin. An investment, but one to save up for.

6. A 10 Item Wardrobe

Hear me out first. When I read this, I too shook my head as I thought it was absolutely implausible to only live with 10 items in my closet, but as Scott explains, the 10 items do not include outerwear (coats, blazers, etc), shoes or other accessories, and there is a spring/summer and fall/winter wardrobe that should rotate. With that said, the key is knowing your signature style, purchase quality items that are interchangeable and most importantly that flatter your unique beauty. By limiting yourself to 10 items you reduce decision making in the morning, save money in the long run and are confident that what you are wearing looks timelessly chic.

7. Only buy the best that you can

In an effort to de-clutter and welcome more quality into your living environment, choose wisely, purchase less and be particular about what comes into your home.

8. Maintain an air of mystery.

9. Less television, more theater, book readings, art exhibits, etc

Not only is this exercise for the mind, but it also is more interactive, helps you become more in tune with what is going on in the world and in your community and enables you to be an active participant in your life instead of idling watching others live their lives on television.

10. Always go shopping with a list to avoid unnecessary purchases

Whether it is the grocery store or shopping in your favorite clothing boutiques, always have a list with you to ensure you get what you need but aren’t tempted to buy something that simply grabs your attention or your stomach. Especially when it comes to clothes shopping, by adhering to the 10 item wardrobe you will know exactly what you need, what to splurge on and what to avoid.

These are just a few of the many gems of advice Scott shares in her book. Without hesitation I highly recommend her book Lessons from Madame Chic if you are seeking to live a life filled with quality, pleasure and contentment.

However, it was just announced last week that due to the success of the initially release of her book that the title has been picked up by Simon & Schuster and they are taking it off the shelves until this fall.  At that time they will be re-releasing it in a hardback copy (click here to read more). Until then, stop by Jennifer’s blog The Daily Connoisseur which is where the book originated.

Image: TSLL IG | The Simply Luxurious Life

15 thoughts on “Make Your Life a Formal Affair

  1. This is a lovely post. I can’t wait for the re-release of the book so i can get my own copy

    Some of the advice you’ve mentioned can be found in a few other French-inspired lifestyle books as well.

    I am definitely going to jot down these tips and slowly incorporate them into my life so it will become second nature to me as i get older 🙂

    xo Stephanie

  2. Okay, I love your blog and have signed up for your newsletter. It is informative, inspiring, visually appealing and so chic!
    Thank you for your daily reads….xxx

  3. hello shannon,

    what a great post! about the topic of lingerie..

    are there any quality lingerie stores/websites that you suggest or recommend? the only one in my town is a victorias secret!

    1. Great question. Depending upon where you live, check around for lingerie boutiques. Choose a quality store based on the lines of lingerie they carry. Living in Portland, Oregon, Jane’s Vanity is a lovely boutique with items from France and Italy – superior fabrics.

      Other than that, a blog that I have gone to many times, if nothing else because I respect their recommendations is Faire Frou Frou
      Check out the lines of lingerie they sell on their site, as you can then go to those brands’ websites directly.

      I highly recommend being able to try on the lingerie before you purchase it, but sometimes that isn’t possible. Always check to see what fabrics are used (silk and then satin are top on most lists) and know your proper sizing.

      Enjoy shopping and treating yourself. You’re more than worth it. 🙂

  4. I adore your posts! One thing though: be careful of statements like “her host family was slender because they ate mindfully”. Genetics play a larger role than anything else in body size, and two people can follow the exact same diet/exercise plan yet have vastly different body types. Please don’t assume curvy people are that way because they don’t eat mindfully or exercise!

  5. Oooh, you did a post on Jennifer’s book and blog. I can’t wait for the re-release of her book. I find Jennifer like you are fantastic bloggers and I’m always looking forward to new posts :))

  6. I can’t wait to have my own copy of this book in my Hands! The Relase in Germany will be in November…a loooooong time….Can I find somewere else more about the 10 Item wardrobe?

  7. I just pre-ordered this book from ITUNES for 10.99. It is set to be released in November 2012. I just came across your blog through, Une Femme D’um Certain Age, and I could not be happier. Your essays are thought provoking and inspiring and I find myself reflecting on the ideas/concepts you present in them. Having just resigned from teaching in the public schools after a long and rewarding career,(could not handle the hyper-focus on test-training at the expense of developing critical thinking skills and authentic learning), and I have been looking for ways to replace this loss by enriching and expanding everyday experiences from the inside out. Your ideas and points have validated my journey towards a fuller and enriched way of living and you have added additional creative paths to follow. Thank you for this thought provoking and inspired blog.

  8. I love your blog and I love Jennifer’s you-tube chanel. I borrowed Lessons from Madame Chic from my local library but I can’t get her second book anywhere here!
    I would love to see your books with all your annotations. Do you keep all your books? How do you store them?

    1. Jennifer does an amazing job, and has truly been an inspiration and great mentor as I’ve moved into the publishing realm of blogging. Regarding my books, I do keep most of my books, more of the nonfiction than fiction as I find them to be resources I might want to revisit down the road.

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