I have just finished reading yet another book on elegance and style. It is an odd habit I have formed over the last few years. It began with picking up a friend’s copy of ‘How to Walk in High Heels’ by Camilla Morton whilst we were getting ready for a night out in her bedroom. I was just killing time whilst she was applying her fake tan, but I got sucked into the pages and not long afterwards bought my own copy plus the book’s sequel ‘A year in High Heels’.
Around the same time I began finding great delight in simple chick lit fiction that found modern day women transforming themselves by applying vintage lessons on style and etiquette to their lives. The women in these books would find themselves dropped into a situation where they would have to learn a traditional feminine art that our Grandmothers seemed to have mastered whilst they were still children.
Add into this mix a love of classic films staring Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly and a small but persistent desire to capture some of this elusive old style elegance for myself was born.
Now every bookshop or library I enter I am drawn to the style and fashion photography section. I spend lunch breaks reading Amazon reviews on different ‘How to’ books concerning topics from fashion to manners, cooking to sewing. A few I purchase, fewer I read, fewer still I actually apply.
You see, although I have enjoyed my reading I have noticed that much of the advice given is aimed at a woman who is simply not me. For a start the women targeted in these books lives a glamorous life in London on a high income. They get hand written invitations to parties with dress codes where they mix with semi-famous people and CEOs and sometimes they go on yachts.
Where are the guides to elegant living for a woman like me, who lives in Burnley, East Lancashire? A woman whose income is modest? The kind of woman who would have to drive for an hour to the nearest city to find a designer boutique and would then stare in the window, too scared to enter in case they ended up repeating the scene from “Pretty Woman”. A woman whose receives party invitations via Facebook
A guide that’s relevant to me would include chapters on rainy BBQs and less on dressing for Monte Carlo. There would be segments on how to wash your fringe in the sink without cricking your neck when you don’t have time to shower before work. The term thrifty would apply to items that cost less than £10 not items that cost less than £100, and there wouldn’t be a designer shoe in sight.
Since I have yet to find a guide that suits my budget and lifestyle, I am endeavouring to write one myself. If there are no experts to point the way I will fall back on that excellent teacher named ‘Rugged Experience’ and that patient tutor ‘Slow Research’. By reflecting on my own frequent blunders and occasional successes I may create my very own rules, tips and observations for obtaining elegance in a way that is relevant to me.
The Red Rose Style blog (Red Rose for Lancashire!) is a product of these reflections, I hope you enjoy them.
Miss Cathy Adele