Well, my life may not be normal, but it sure is glamorous: today when I was supposed to be posting I was instead locked in an art gallery which contained no list of staff phone numbers (I snooped everywhere, I tell you) but many, many paintings on the themes of powerlessness, distress and alienation. We bonded, those paintings and I, while I waited for someone, anyone with keys to come and release me from my empty, gilded cage.
Fortunately, raincoaster here is a resourceful woman possessed of a large handbag, and thus is never without a paperback and at least one back issue of Vanity Fair. So it was that I became re-acquainted with an old friend of mine, the book Elegance, by Genevieve Dariaux; through the intermediary of the book Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro.
Some background: Dariaux’s book is really the definitive literary examination of the concept and practice of elegance (What Would Jackie Do notwithstanding, and I’m sorry but Breakfast at Tiffany’s was about a call girl and Capote really wanted Marilyn Monroe in the role, so there). Tessaro’s book is a well-done chick lit look at what happens to a particular woman when she tries to live by the rules set out in the original. Dariaux also wrote Entertaining With Elegance, which I’ve had for perhaps twenty years and believe me, between that and Miss Manners you’ve got the distressing concept of social interaction just stone-cold covered.
In any case, Tessaro’s book quoted a part of Dariaux’s book relevant to the TeenyManolosphere and I thought I would reproduce it here. It fits very well with the Frugal Indulgent’s Manifesto which I quoted earlier:
Little daughters are understandably the pride and joy of their mothers, but they are very often also, alas, the reflection of their mother’s inelegance. When you see a poor child all ringletted, beribboned, and loaded down with a handbag, an umbrella, and earrings, or wearing crepe-soled shoes with a velvet dress, you can be certain that her mother hasn’t the slightest bit of taste.
It is a serious handicap to be brought up this way, because a child must be endowed with a very strong personality of her own in order to rid herself of the bad habits that have been inculcated during her early years. The more simply a little girl is dressed – sweater and skirts in the winter, Empire-style cotton dresses in the summer – the more chic she is. It is never too early to learn that discretion and simplicity are the foundations of elegance.
Of course, to translate this to our modern world requires some rearrangement; for instance, anyone who’s seen Joe Simpson and his offspring knows that the above does not apply exclusively to mothers, if it ever did.