Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

An Indecent Suggestion

The World of Enough: Oysters and Champagne
I’m going to propose something radical. Something so decadent that some would consider it positively indecent.

I’ve noticed a trend among some of you and some of my contemporaries of late. I think that a lot of New Year’s resolutions may be taking hold. I’m hearing from people who want to get together for the first time in years. I’ve read of bloggers who are following their passions and hope to be able to make a living from them (I’m one. But this time it’s the ride that’s the goal. Just doing it.)

So. Here we go. Glance to the side, make sure that you are alone. And read on.

Make a date with yourself for lunch today. Alone. Just you and a notebook and pen. Go somewhere inspiring for lunch. Somewhere out of the ordinary.

Order a split of champagne with your meal. Drink the champagne before proceeding on to the next part.

Answer the following questions:

1) If I could dress in anything I wanted to wear regardless of price, suitability or availability, what would it be?

2) If I could live anywhere in the world where would be? And why?

3) If I could do anything at all without worrying about money, what would I do?

4) I’d really like to know more about………. .

5) In my leisure time I would love to …………. .

The first question is about your style. It may help you define what it is that you should keep in your wardrobe, how you would like to decorate, how you would like the world to see you. Take a small step in that direction immediately. Look for vintage, bespoke, whatever. But wear something you think is perfect for the perfect you tomorrow. For me it is a bespoke wardrobe with all the elegance of the 1930’s. This year I will have a MTM dinner jacket. Next year a suit. Begin to tailor (or edit) your wardrobe and your surroundings to reflect your new world view.

The second question is a loaded one, but it lets you know what you want more of. New York? It’d eat me alive after three weeks. Washington DC? Not again. Well, not without a boatload of cash and a place off Rock Creek Parkway or Glover Park, or in the Kennedy-Warren. St. Raphaël, FR? Been there and glimpsed the good life. What did they all have in common? Something “foreign,” exciting. I can visit each of those places. In the meantime, I look for the exotic, the art-deco’ish, the citified, here in Richmond. It helps to stimulate my senses and keep the wanderlust intact. Travel, even in your mind, is broadening.

The third question is where your passions lie. I answered that question the second time I got cancer. It was one phrase: “quit this nonsense.” People asked me what I would do when I “retired.” I made a list. I don’t have enough time in the day to do everything I want to do. But this blog was one goal. Take a small step towards making whatever it is happen. Want to travel? Check out a course on travel writing or photography. Want to paint? Is there a class nearby? Do some research. You’ll be surprised how much you may be able to accomplish on your current budget, as long as you budget some time and brainpower to the scheme.

“I’d really like to know more about.” I don’t know about you, but I have to scratch my brain once in a while. And that question led me to a bunch of blogs that are helping me with my search for an easy elegance. And to audit an art history course. Which makes me appreciate a whole lot of things. And gives me something new to talk about.

Your leisure time is your own. If you’re like me, you may be putting things on the backburner, while you “knock this other thing out.” That’s a mistake. Your leisure time will refresh your body and mind. I loved taking yoga, even though I had to carve out time to do it. Fifteen to thirty minutes a day of exercise keeps my spirits up and my clothes fitting nicely. Reading and listening to a favorite CD is pure bliss. Although I have to fight the guilty feelings that accompany my indulgence.

If there is one thing that I can tell you with absolute certainty after years working for a living it is this: the in-box was full when you got there. It’ll be full when you leave.

To mix metaphors, make sure your glass is always half full, too. Or to relate the whole thing to my image like a good copywriter should, “what would you do if the world were your oyster?”

14 thoughts on “An Indecent Suggestion

  1. A “pearl” of a post – wise words for all to heed, over oysters.
    Have a good laugh and watch Mr.Bean eating the”fruits de mer” platter.
    Laughter is good for the spirit and the soul.

  2. I followed my “bliss” three years ago when I pitched up, sold everything I owned and moved to the UK. It was something I’d dreamed about doing for a long time, and things aligned and I was able to do it. Unfortunately, my father got sick and I had to return to the States sooner than I had planned, but I have no regrets. Because my father was British, i have “right of return” and can eventually move back.

    Moving without a landing spot was the hardest thing I had done, but I was confident in myself and the fact that I could survive and thrive, so it all worked out.

  3. I printing this off so I will truly complete this assignment. You have no idea how much attention my wardrobe needs – a huge sack went out today. You are an inspiration.

  4. Thank you all! It’s interesting to not be writing in a vacuum anymore. And thank you for indulging my soapbox moments. I shall try and keep them few and far between.

    I’m pleased that each of you has followed at least part of your dream. Moving without a landing spot (as P-D says), whether in geographical, or career terms is never easy. But it’s always paid off for us. And losing baggage along the way hasn’t always been a bad thing.

    Mrs. Blandings, you have inspired me. I’m getting rid of a number of things that need to go that I’ve been holding on to for no good reason at all. That dream house is right here all around me. It just needs to grow up a little.

    Mrs. PVE, thank you for reminding me of one of the greatest truths out there. How far would any of us have gotten without a firmly established sense of humour? All the world loves a clown. And I intend to be far more serious about the most frivolous of topics at Saturday’s progressive dinner.

    Peak, that’s one of the nicest things I’ve heard. As a copywriter (former or at least part-time now) I rarely write anything that would qualify as “Words to live by.” “Some restrictions apply; results not typical” not withstanding. (How’s that Mrs. PVE?)

    P-D, I wouldn’t have doubted you for an instant. I’m sorry to hear of your father’s illness. I lost my Dad twenty years ago. Life changes can be precipitated by the damnedest things. But your confidence, I’ll wager, is unshakable. I aspire to it.

    For those gentlemen readers, tomorrow I promise to get back on track. And if you’ve any questions or suggestions or curiosity about a subject, leave a note or an email. I’ll do me best for you.

    Off to serve the coq au vin for the very patient Mrs. E.

  5. What a wonderful entry! I think I will do that tomorrow!

    I have been reading your blog for a while, and I find it so inspiring. You are like my “Emily Post” in blog version. I am also an anglophile (some would say a tad of a snob) and your sense of style and “properness” utterly appeals to me. I too am sorry that the days of elegant living seem to have gone by – I even make my husband read your blog! Thank you for all you knowledgeable posts. You’re a continuing inspiration!

  6. dear elegant – I’m looking at this post and going – I would love to wear fairy wings and a period costume – I know that’s not easy nor elegant nor “appropriate ” for my profession. But!! last night I went to a masquerade ball and I wore my mask all the way there and back and I loved it 🙂

  7. 1) If I could dress in anything I wanted to wear regardless of price, suitability or availability, what would it be? That depends on the sex I would choose. If I were a man (as I am), I would wear hand-tailored Savile Row, from head to toe — though my socks would by Gamarelli, the Rome shop that supplies pink and fuschia socks to cardinals and the Pope. If I were a woman, I would wear only vintage Poiret by day and vintage Capucci by night.

    2) If I could live anywhere in the world where would be? And why? Hanoi, Vietnam, because I could likely live in an old Indochinese villa full of fretwork and encaustic tiles.

    3) If I could do anything at all without worrying about money, what would I do? I would research obscure interior design topics, spending all my time in dusty libraries, blissfully flipping through out of print magazines and journals.

    4) I’d really like to know more about: How upholsterers do what they do.

    5) In my leisure time I would love to: travel, endlessly, without thought of having to come home.

  8. Dear EEL, came across you via Habitually Chic’s blog (your comments on fragrance) and have enjoyed your writing, specifically this post as it is a reminder that life’s short and we need to concentrate on what really matters I escaped from corporate life (you’re right about the full in tray) 6 months ago and have been having the best time ever since.

  9. Hello and welcome, AAL. Wonderful answers. What an inspiring virtual life. I’ll bet that you’re on your way to making a couple of them realities. Gamarelli socks would be wonderfully decadent…. to say nothing of the Savile Row wardrobe. (Drop by TheLondonLounge.net to really start pining away.) And that kind of travel is he essence of luxury.

    Jacqui O, ain’t it a grand old world out here? Thank you for your kind words. For an example of truly elegant writing, please visit An Aesthete’s Lament, accessed by the screen name on the comment above yours. Of course, I know that you are familiar with the others on my blogroll. I’m just doing my best to keep up with a very fast pack…. Reading all those other blogs and learned comments is like being admitted to a salon of like-minded people who know far more than I. I learn so much.

  10. I love your questions and I am going to take them to heart. I am already living in my dream city of Marrakech and building my dream house – and so on that front, I am all set. But my wardrobe needs serious, serious work. I am going to have to think about this and see what I can do.

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