Friday, October 30, 2015

Being chic when you’re petite

Image of Nicole Richie from

In my last post, reader Julia asked in the comments section:


I'm 15 and 4'11 and really self-conscious about my height. Do you have any 'appreciation' tips and does this affect my chances of being chic?


Julia, your question makes me really sad that you believe height has anything to do with being chic.  Parts of our physical makeup that we cannot change such as height, hair type/eye shape/skin colour, overall basic body type and even foot size, we may as well work with and play up the good things about them.  The alternative is unhappiness with aspects of ourselves that we have no control over.

In addition, I believe it’s how your being is that determines how chic and happy you are, rather than what your physical dimensions may be.

I’m 5’7 so I can’t give you my own life experience of being petite, however I do recall a girl in high school who was in my group of friends for a year or two.  At the age we were – around 15, we were probably mostly fully grown height-wise and this girl was petite – not very tall, and slimmish but curvy (she had a bust, butt, thighs etc).

What I remember about her is that I wanted what she had.  She was always laughing and having fun and had oodles of friends who loved being with her despite having moved to our school from another area (many of us had gone through school together so knew each other well).  Her hair was shiny and always looked nice and her clothing style was great too.  She had the biggest, warmest smile and a few cute freckles also.

What I noticed she didn’t do was get into cliques, gossip or complain.  She was passionate about her interests and generally looked like she loved life.  She was nice to everyone without needing to be their best friend.  She worked in a fish and chip shop after school and used to laugh about smelling like frying oil when she came home.  Even having a non-glamorous job did not detract from her attractiveness!

This was all because she wasn’t focusing on her perceived flaws but she was making the most of herself and her life.  She was having fun, and if she was bothered about her height, none of us knew anything about it.  If someone had teased her I’m sure she would have laughed it off.

Consider if she had a hang-up about her height, if she wished she was taller and thought she might be more popular if she was the same height as her friends.  Maybe she’d been called nicknames and this had stuck with her.  I don’t think she would have been as confident and that in turn would have led to her being more in her shell, not having as much fun etc.

I can think of a few other examples of friends who are not tall and they hate it.  Many times I have heard from them ‘I wish I’d gotten my (tall) mothers height instead of my (short) father’s height’, ‘I hate having to buy kids shoes sometimes’, ‘I always wear high heels so people don’t realise how short I am’.

It can’t be very nice to have that endless loop repeating in your mind.  Maybe you have been teased and you can still feel the sting.  Imagine though, if you took everything ever said to you about your height (or anything else) as a compliment.

If I think about applying this advice to myself it might go like:

‘Your legs are... very straight’ (my mother actually told me this when I asked her if my legs were nice when I was younger; I still tease her about it) – Thank you! I love my straight legs!
‘You talk too softly’.  Thank you!
‘You don’t look so fat now you’ve lost some weight’ (from my first husband).  Thank you!
‘You used to be blonde!’ (an elderly Aunt that I hadn’t seen for years) – Thank you!
‘You’re such a control freak’ (all my family members to me) – Thank you, I appreciate it!

Sometimes I even do say that exact thing to a ‘funny’/back-handed/passive aggressive compliment – Thanks.  I’ll take that as a compliment!

Remember, snide or smart remarks can only stick and affect you if you let them.  Be like Teflon and let stuff just slide right off.

What else?
  • Research chic ladies you admire and find the petite ones to serve as your chic role models.  They might be celebrities, or people you know in real life and admire the way they carry themselves.

  • Come up with twenty reasons why it’s easy and fun to be chic and petite, and twenty reasons why it’s better to be petite than taller.  Open up your lovely journal and create some inspiration for yourself.  Take every negative reason that you tell yourself and write down the opposite.  Ask yourself if there's any way that the opposite reason coud apply to you.

    Examples from above could be:

    Instead of:  I hate having to buy kids shoes sometimes and I always wear high heels so people don’t realise how short I am,

    You could say:

    I love being able to buy the kid size shoes because it saves me a lot of money, and I love that I can wear high heels and not tower over my boyfriend.

  • Instead of looking at your height as a burden, consider it a blessing and say to the Universe ‘thank you for my petite height’.  You were given your height for a reason and the more positive reasons you look for, the more you'll find.

I hope this was helpful Julia and thanks for a great question.  

Perhaps any other petite ladies could chime in with all the reasons why you love your height and how chic it makes you feel?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic

I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic:  Lessons in Everyday Elegance, the long awaited third book by Jennifer L. Scott.  It totally did not disappoint!  Written in the same easy-going manner as Jennifer’s first two books, Polish Your Poise expands more fully on the concept of cultivating your poise and how this relates to your daily life.

Even though I’m very familiar with Jennifer’s blog and her first two books Lessons from Madame Chic and At Home with Madame Chic, there were still new takeaways for me.  I prefer not to write in my books but I had quite a few Post-it flags sticking out by the time I’d finished.  Just a quick tip – when I’ve gone through a book and noted down all the quotes I want to keep, I stick all the Post-it flags to the back of a bookmark, ready for my next book.

One of the first takeaways from Polish Your Poise that I could put into immediate practice was not to lean on things all the time.  Jennifer writes that she couldn’t stand somewhere without leaning and I realised I do this too.  If I’m chopping vegetables I’m leaning on the kitchen counter.  If I’m brushing my teeth I’m leaning on the bathroom vanity.  If I’m serving a customer in the shop I’m leaning on the counter or even a wall or doorway…

It was just a lazy habit I’d not been aware of.  It’s much better for your strength, your posture and how you look if you’re holding yourself up rather than slouching against something. 

I don’t have scientific evidence of this, but a friend of my brother who needs a double hip replacement at the young age of 50 said it could be partially hereditary but he also believed that years of working in hospitality contributed to it and he spoke of standing on one leg a lot, which is exactly what you do when leaning on something, and it puts unnatural pressure on one hip rather than spreading your weight evenly over both.

So between the advice from Polish Your Poise and not wanting to damage my hips, I have stopped leaning on things.

There were also plenty of beautifully worded reminders too in this lovely book, such as this:

“You might not be living your dream life right now, but if you’re serious about cultivating poise, you must change your perspective.  Take pride in absolutely everything you do.  Cleaning house.  Filing those spreadsheets at work.  Ironing your clothes.  Dealing with that customer who walks through the door just as you’re about to close the shop.  Cleaning the pots in your kitchen.  Volunteering at your community’s spring fair.  Take pride in what you do.  Give it your all.  Give it your full attention.  Madame Chic took pride in everything that she did.   She didn’t waste time griping about her lot in life.  If she wanted to be doing something other than what she was doing, I would not have known.”

There were also many other sections I made notes on, to do with establishing routines, the helpfulness of having still moments throughout the day, exercises to do for good posture, the proper etiquette of greeting people (kiss or hug?) and a great chapter on ‘charming communication’.

Because I’ve watched Jennifer’s YouTube videos a lot and am very familiar with her voice, often when I was reading Polish Your Poise I could hear Jennifer’s voice reading it to me in my head – it was nice!

If you enjoyed Jennifer’s first two books – Lessons from Madame Chic and At Home with Madame Chic, you are sure to enjoy Polish Your Poise too.  And if you are a new reader to Jennifer and her Daily Connoisseur blog I don't think need to read the first two books before this one to enjoy and get the most from it.

Polish Your Poise is to be released this week, on the 27th of October.  I’m not surprised that it is a #1 Bestseller already, just from pre-orders.  It seems to be on a really good discount right now too.  I encourage you to treat yourself to the gift of inspiration and encouragement from Jennifer and Madame Chic.

I hope you enjoy Polish Your Poise as much as I did, and a big thank you to Jennifer for generously sending me an advance copy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Reaching your goal with a laser focus


I’ve been feeling a little bit scattered the past few weeks and it’s been hard for me to focus.  I have a big goal I’m working on and it’s nearing completion which I think has been the cause of my procrastination (it’s a bit scary for me!)

I’ve been busy behind the scenes writing my first full-length ‘proper’ book:  Thirty Chic Days:  Practical inspiration for a beautiful life.  I was inspired by the first and third series of my popular Thirty Chic Days blog series, however this book is completely new information rather than a compilation like my first three eBboks.

I’ve written twenty-two chapters so far, and the last eight are hard!  Often with goals like this or with losing weight or maybe a savings goal, it can be the final part when you’re the closest to your goal that proves the most challenging.

I was listening to one of my motivational podcasts out walking this morning, and the speaker talked about having a laser focus.  She said when you’re lacking clarity or enthusiasm, to have a laser focus on just one thing. 

So instead of thinking about the final edit or the cover design, I’m better served being focused on just getting the next chapter finished.  And then the next chapter and the next.  Before you now it I’ll be doing the final edit/proofread, having the cover designed and I’ll have finished my book.

So that’s where I am today, focusing with the intensity of a laser on just the next chapter.  I’m excited to share Thirty Chic Days:  Practical inspiration for a beautiful life when it’s finished, but until then I’ll get on writing!

Tell me, what’s one thing you would like to have a laser focus on today?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

10 chic ways to change your mood

I snapped this photo when passing this property (it's a medical centre) earlier in the week.  Isn't the flowering shrub glorious?  It looks like a beautiful bouquet.

Many of us fall into habits of perking up our mood by unhealthy and unhelpful methods.  I’m talking about the feeling of ‘I’m a bit bored/tired/blah/restless right now, what would make me feel better?’

The kinds of unhelpful mood-changers I’m thinking of are:

Alcohol (I’m not talking about a glass of wine with dinner)
Drugs for any reason
Regularly eating high-carb/fat/salt/sugar foods between or instead of meals
Over-shopping for recreation

Instinctively we know when we’re doing something for the wrong reason. 

I still don’t drink, I’ve never been into drugs and I feel fortunate enough that I don’t have an issue with excessive shopping, however I do change my mood with unhealthy faux foods sometimes too often.

I was horrified to read that in the olden days patients in mental homes were given lots of carbs because of the sedating and calming effect that they have.  That’s what I’ve been doing – medicating myself!

So I thought I’d create a list of healthy, chic and stylish ways to change my mood the next time I feel bored, tired, blah or restless.

One:  Music – Choose French music to feel chic, classical to feel elegant and refined (I love violin/strings), 80s and 90s pop for fun; moody alternative music I listened to as a teen for nostalgia, country music which makes me feel very laid back (and like it's summer) - the list is endless!  Whenever I’m in a nice store and they have something beautiful playing, I am reminded of how important music is when we want to make ourselves feel good.

Two:  Physical movement – Now that I am a regular walker and have been for over a year, I realise just how good I feel after a walk.  I don’t go that fast either, some days I positively stroll.  In fact, I can’t remember when I last power-walked…  I think that’s why I’ve kept it up so long.  At that time of the month when the last thing I feel like is exercising, I tell myself ‘just go the short route and walk as slow as you like’.  And I go, and it feels good.

Three:  Nutritious food – Whether I 'feel' like it or not!  Some days at work when I don’t feel like making my salad for lunch and think I’d like something more ‘fun’ (hot and stodgy are strong keywords here), I go through the options (very limited when you’re strictly gluten-free) and usually end up making my salad anyway.  Sometimes it’s just because I can’t be bothered washing the lettuce and chopping the avocado and celery and capsicum and ten other ingredients.  So if I just do it on auto-pilot it gets done and when I’m eating it, it’s yummy.  I’m sort of like a kid telling myself just to eat up.  And then I’ve had nutritious food which makes me feel physically good and avoided a meal that would have regret as an aftertaste.

Four:  Fun reading – I always have a bottomless pile of books to read, both from the library and titles I’ve purchased.  I look forward to most of them (and the few I don’t are returned to the library unread), sometimes though, it’s fun to play hooky and deviate from the pile entirely.  I go to my bookshelf and pick something fun and exactly what my heart needs at that moment.  It might be one of my French Chic books or it might be a fun chick lit that I reread over and over (such as Jemima J by Jane Green or one of the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella).  It makes me feel happier and in a better mood just thinking about doing this!

Five:  Inspirational blogs – A spot of blog browsing can be a great way to get my mind onto a better track.  I browse the ‘Reading’ sidebar on my blog and go visit some friends for a little while.

Six:  Browsing one of my glossy large-format books – I don’t open these all the time, but when I do pull one down and have a ten-minute read, I am transported somewhere else.  The visual beauty wakes up a part of me that might have been napping, I’m inspired to make my world lovely again and my mood is changed instantly. 

Some of my favourites include Vicki Archer’s gorgeous and evocative books (My French Life and French Essence), The French Cat by Rachael McKenna, Taschen’s Paris and the extremely inspirational My Stylish French Girlfriends by Sharon Santoni which is brand new out.  I have a library copy currently and I’ve just ordered my own – it’s delicious!

Seven:  Burning incense or lighting a candle – my husband offered this one after asking what I was writing my post about.  He said as a boy he never would have thought to do something like that but he really appreciated the girl touch it provides.  Now it’s often him that lights an incense stick, most often after work if we aren’t cooking dinner for a while.  He also reminded me that smell is one of the most powerful of senses to change our mood. 

We always like to have a selection, currently three Auroshikha scents  in Coconut, Jasmine and Cedar, a Rose scented incense (Moksh Swarna Gulab) from an Indian shop (‘makes your prayer truly divine’ the packet says) and Satya Super Hit.  I love the Sai Baba Nag Champa ones too but we don’t have any of those at the moment.  Please don’t be tempted to buy the cheap, cheap incenses, they aren’t nearly as nice.  We used to enjoy L’Occitane incense cones but sadly they discontinued them years ago.  I keep hoping they’ll bring them back!

Eight:  Call someone – this depends on how I’m feeling – if I’m likely to bring them down with my bad attitude I don’t, but if I’m feeling blah and having a lovely chat with someone will save me from a snackathon and catch up with them at the same time, then why not.  The same goes for returning emails.  There’s always a few I owe people, and once I get started I forget all about my faux hunger.

Nine:  Pick up a magazine – I don’t buy as many as I used to and have decluttered a lot of magazines from my home (I’d have my keepers but even they were getting to be too much and more of a stress than a pleasure - don't worry, I still have my Victoria magazines).  Currently the one that brings me the greatest feeling of inspiration and peace is Australian ‘Country Style’.  I love this magazine and have bought a few copies as well as borrowed back issues from the library. 

Even though I live in a big city (well, big for New Zealand standards  - 1.5 million people), I long for the day when I can move to somewhere smaller and with a slower pace.  Country Style magazine is my source of daydreams and, right now, helps keep this in mind as I live my ‘small town in the big city’ lifestyle.

Ten:  Tidy up your surroundings – even if there are other things I ‘should’ be doing, I often find that tidying up my immediate surroundings helps enormously with my motivation.  At work with a messy desk and half-finished tasks everywhere, if I take a moment to put things in order and do the quick jobs, I’m get an extra spurt of energy and finish everything with ease.  Same with home.  Trying to push through and finish a task (or get inspired to start one) is harder with little energy-sapping piles of clutter and that's when I get the thought 'oooh, what can I eat right now?'

What about you, do you turn to food or other things in order to change your mood?  How often do you give in and how often do you make a conscious decision to change your direction?  I’d love to know because I need all the help I can get sometimes!
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