Style is hard to define isn't it? It is such an individual pursuit and each of us has to define it for ourself. I believe there are two sides of style or chic. There is the outward expression and the inward expression. The line between the two is crossed very easily because someone who is very stylish outwardly, but unkind or harsh loses their stylish status to me. Of course there is also the phenomenon where someone who doesn't appear to be stylish at all on first glance turns out to exude such passion and warmth that you find yourself looking again.
Style to me is definitely more than what I am wearing, but I can't say that it doesn't include what I am wearing. They are both important, but ultimately being a stylish girl is cultivated inside of me. I propose to you that fixing your inside style will make your outside style glow, and you will be one of the impossibly stylish girls who has it all.
With that I give you my Very Stylish Girl List for 2007.
1. Simplicity is an ever-hopeful goal. I long for simplicity in all areas of my life from my skincare, makeup, wardrobe, cooking, budget and relationships. The irony is that attaining simplicity isn't simple at all. We are constantly bombarded with things that we need or want. Before seeing it on the commercial, in the magazine or in the store we didn't actually need it or want it, but now do. That is good marketing.
Simplicity requires thought, organization and a certain state of mind. Well, I am not perfect, and maybe ultimate simplicity will always be my unreachable goal, but I find it very stylish to manage my life so that I have simplicity where I can.
2. Recycling, because it make me conscious of the impact I have on the environment. I have to take my recycling to the center and it is not convenient, but I consider it important. To me, it is just a basic responsibility. The act of recycling connects me to the cycle of buying. I don't just put it in the trash and consider that it disappears. It goes somewhere.
3. Choosing my purchases in a decided and conscious way. Most of the time (not always!) we are the victims of our own decisions, not victims of circumstances outside of our control. When you choose to purchase a car or house or too many shoes that keeps you working overtime and stressed, know that it is your choice. Part of living consciously is knowing that if you want that house or car or shoes that is ok, but enjoy them fully knowing that you are trading your life energy (or work) to own them. How we spend our money affects us in so many ways, so be informed. Don't just be a product of marketing or competetion with others. Remember that trends always change and you will never really keep up with them. What you decide to purchase impacts other parts of your life.
4. Cultivating relationships with family and friends. Let's face it, family and friends are really what makes life worth living. Connection to others is so precious and valuing them more than things is something we need to work on as a culture. We have become a nation of neighborhoods where people don't know their neighbors, we work too much and are too materialistic. Our focus has turned away from relationships with people and towards relationships with our cars, houses and credit cards.
5. I have been on a mission for a long time to make a campaign against shopping as the national pasttime. I am guilty as anyone except that I don't actually enjoy shopping, but it is necessary if you want to buy something. The point is that shopping as your only hobby is just not chic. It is not living your life. It is buying the illusion of living your life. Think about this for yourself. Do you shop when you are bored or depressed. If you have a free afternoon, do you go to the mall? Do you have other passions in your life? Shopping can be an addiction, and it's not cool, which leads me to my next one.
6. Being debt free is totally stylish. I am personally on a mission to get out of debt in the next six months. I was out of debt 2 years ago, got into debt by investing in a home office for work, moving to Houston & not finding a job for 6 months. The great thing about accomplishing something once is that you know you can do it again. When I graduated from college I had $25,000 in debt. In four and a half years I paid it all off and bought my first condo. Ok, I didn't pay the condo debt off, of course. I did not have a high salary, but I did have a very modest lifestyle. It led me to live a creative life and I loved it.
7. Eliminating clutter. I just read the book Clearing Your Clutter with Feng Shui. She talks about stuck energy. The concept is self explanatory. Clutter leaves you stuck. You need to move it out to move on with your life. This is something that I've instinctively known for a long time. I know how difficult it is to get rid of things. When you look at a pile or an object, describe what you are feeling. There is a reason you can't let it go.
8. When in doubt, just be generous. This is a motto that Gustavo and I came upon while traveling over Thanksgiving. He had his shoes shined and when it came time to tip he gave the guy a dollar for a $4 service. It seems adequate, but he was lamenting about it all the way to the next concourse. It occurred to us, why not just err on the side of being generous. I personally feel that tipping has gotten WAY out of control in many venues, but in some cases it is the right gesture. I'm not sure about tipping on the drivethrough to Starbucks, but why not tip generously the guy who just lifted your suitcases out of the shuttlebus?.
We have to live with our conscience. When it comes to being generous, go ahead and pay the compliment, give the tip, hold the door open, smile at someone, or bake cookies for your neighbor. It isn't always necessary, but do it anyway. I find that I'm the one who actually receives the blessing because it feels great.
9. Forgive. Holding grudges is not chic. Besides the whole wrinkling issue with fretting, be compassionate with your forgiveness and you will feel more peaceful inside and look more peaceful outside. This takes practice and sometimes a good imagination. Not if, but when you feel assaulted by someone just imagine that they have a reason for being so nasty. Be happy that you don't. Stop the anger by putting up your little guard that deflects their energy into another universe and doesn't absorb into you. You choose how to react. You decide who you are, and same for them. Forgiveness is an action that shows that you are in control of yourself. That is stylish. Don't regret yesterday and don't worry about tomorrow. Don't waste your time holding grudges.
10. Cooking is so chic. After all, didn't someone say that food is love? Cooking is a creative outlet that gives immediate rewards and endears you to the recipients of your epicurean delights. This is a hobby that nourishes our bodies, our minds and our relationships. Having a dinner party can be as simples as soup, a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine. Where there is food, people gather. Even if you are alone, take pride in your food. Buy yourself the best. What you put IN your body is more important that anything you put ON it. Cooking isn't about perfection, but it is about the experience of enjoying a basic need of life.
11. Smile with your eyes from your heart. Be a sylish girl on the outside, and let your inner beauty come out through your smile. We are in certain places and with certain people for a reason. Smile because you can. You can find joy in your life no matter the circumstances.