Thursday, March 3, 2016

How to be chic when those around you are not

It’s all very well to decide that you want to uplevel yourself and be a more refined person with chic habits and a stylish way of living, but what about the other people you share your life with?

Maybe you’d like to have elegant four-course dinners when your family would prefer to eat in the front of the television.  Maybe you try to keep a positive mindset but your husband is discontent, cantankerous and moody.  Maybe your family dresses in sweats when you go out but you want to try dressing up more.

I know my mum used to despair when she tried a new recipe and her ungrateful children would say ‘ooh yuck, what’s this’.  She is a champion soup maker and tried Gazpacho on us once which is meant to be served chilled.  You can imagine how that went down – ‘cold soup???'  Poor mum, she really tried to educate us...

So here are my four tips on being chic, when those around you are not.

Harness the chic energy.  When you come across a new and exciting concept or are inspired to do things differently, it’s easy to get carried away with enthusiasm.  That’s fine, but keep the fun to yourself to begin with.  It’s so very tempting (and I know because I’ve done it) to trumpet your new thoughts to your family and try and get them to do it with you.  Whether it’s a chic and healthy eating plan, walking after dinner every night, deciding to dress up a bit more or decluttering the house, it is easy to be excitable when a thought is new and fresh.

A far better method is to keep all that lovely energy contained and let it power you to make the changes you can’t wait to implement.  Have you ever found that when you share a plan, it loses some of it’s fizz?  And then you might not even carry it through because your enthusiasm is gone.  I truly believe that talking about something lets out some of the magic.  It is exactly like a bottle of Perrier losing its sparkle once you’ve opened it.

Know that you can only change yourself.  Nagging at people will not make them want to change to be more like you.  It will only make them dig their heels in.  Think about it from the other perspective – do you thank people who make ‘helpful’ suggestions as to how to better yourself?  Or do you think ‘I’ll do exactly as I want thanks, feel free to keep your thoughts to yourself’.  I know I do.  Even if it’s a really good suggestion, I still would rather come up with the idea for myself.

That's supposed to be the secret too, by the way, of successful people - they get other people to do what they want, but the other person thinks it's their own idea.  When I've mastered this I'll let you know!

Lead by example.  Since the only person you can control is yourself, show others what you’re doing rather than telling them.  Don’t say what you’re going to do, just do it with pleasure.  They will notice, they will see you’re having fun and getting results and they may wish to join you, or they may not.  Either way it is their choice, but if you look like you're really enjoying yourself, they'll probably want to come along too.

If your plan involves other people, say it’s going to a French-subtitled movie, you could offer a trade-off.  Say to them ‘I’d love to see this, would you be happy to go with me, then you can choose a movie that is entirely your choice another night?’.  I do movie turn-about with my husband, so it's my choice one night and then... spy thriller another.

Another plan that involves others is eating dinner at the table.  I admit, most of the time my husband and I eat in front of the television.  However, if I’m feeling in a chic mood I might set the dining table nicely and light candles.  ‘Ooh, are we having guests?’ might be the question when he gets home.  ‘No’, I say, 'I just felt like being fancy tonight’. And he’s happy to go along with it.  Maybe you could have Fancy Friday or Set the Table Saturday in your home and introduce eating at the table thin-end-of-the-wedge style.

At home when I was growing up we ate dinner at the table, and maybe on the weekend we’d be able to watch a Disney movie eating dinner on the coffee table in front of the fireplace.  Happy memories!

As far as dressing up goes, if it feels good for you, just wear it.  Don't worry if you think you don't 'fit in' with those around you.  Every day in the shop I see many different people - most dress smart casual like I do, but some really dress up - ladies in a pretty frock and high heels, and men in smart suits with a sharp tie and nice watch.  It's really nice to experience and it definitely makes me feel like lifting my game, so you never know who you will inspire around you if you dress to please yourself.

Infuse yourself with positivity and chic inspiration.  I feel fortunate that my husband is very easy-going and has a happy disposition most of the time but what if your other half is a bit of a grump or very negative?  The main thing you will want to do is infuse yourself with goodness so that you are protected from the negativity somewhat.

Every day I listen to podcasts.  I read books that uplift me, both fiction and non-fiction, and I read blogs with a positive message.  I don’t read the newspaper or watch the news very often, and I notice how much better I feel for this.  I write happy thoughts in my journal and look for all the ways I am so very blessed.  There's tons!

By filling myself up with happiness and chic motivation, I am not relying on others around me to dictate how I feel.  And, I can even affect how they feel.  I know if I come home in a foul mood I infect my husband with it.  And a bad mood is my choice, I don’t have to give in.  So more and more I choose the path of ease and forgiveness – it feels better for me and those around me.  It’s better for your health too!

These are just a few of my tips on being chic when those around you are not; I think it all comes down to feeling the confidence to do what you do.  Are there any thoughts you like to add to this conversation?  I'd love to hear them.


  1. Lovely post Fiona and I am struggling with those around me but I'll keep motivated by remembering your post.

  2. Fiona -

    I have been bullied for years by people in networks. Very nasty people who stalk you everywhere and because they have buddies in law enforcement and the government, there is no way to deal with them. Civil rights lawyers don't return calls because they are buddies with them too and their friends tell them to ignore you before the lawyer has even spoken to you.

    I have lost everything because of nasty people in networks - some of whom are psychopaths and like to use web forums like this one to stalk and bully people. They coopt friends into helping them by telling them loads of lies.

    As much as what I appreciate about what you are saying for situations where there are at least some social supports remaining, I don't see any "chic" way of dealing with this.


  3. I love your tips. I firmly agree with infusing yourself and your environment with positive things and not trying to change others.

  4. I am fortunate to have a husband who enjoys dressing up, eating at lovely restaurants and, although he doesn't really care for subtitled films, will accompany me if I ask. In fact, when I say that I might be overdressed at an event, he reassures me. We raised three sons and times were sometimes tough, so we are enjoying our comfort and good luck. It's fun to be a "chic older couple." Love your blog, Fiona.

  5. I love this post Fiona! I strive to be elegant in a casual way, I have since I was in junior high school. It's funny to think I would have married a man who has absolutely no interest in fashion (he typically wears shorts and a tee or sweats on a daily basis), fancy meals, socializing with impressive people, and so on. But this is exactly why I love him so. He is unaffected. He keeps me grounded and reminds me (he has no idea he inspires me this way) what a good man/human being should be. Actually, he is the most elegant person I know :)

    Having said this, I will continue to prepare quality meals, dress appropriately, and present myself respectfully in general - this is part of my true nature. I'm glad my husband appreciates these things, he is a bit "old fashioned" in that respect. He once told me he was glad that I don't cuss!


    1. I love your comment. You sound like a lovely couple.


  6. Thanks for your post, Fiona. I especially like what you said about being an example and don't say what you are going to do, just do it. I am the queen of announcing things like "I'm going to quit drinking" or something similar and not doing it. My husband must roll his eyes everytime I make some bold announcement and then don't follow thru. I'm inspired from your post to show by example what I am doing. Thanks, Carla.

  7. Wonderful advice, Fiona. Thank you! I especially like your Perrier analogy ...

  8. Lovely advice Fiona. Like you I have been on a "news diet" for about 6 years. I never have the news or commercial radio playing in the background. I only read positive books/podcasts etc that help me "grow" in some way (be it fiction or non-fiction). Like you my Husband is very easy going. So when I put fresh flowers everywhere, suggest a new restaurant or theatre trip or just even a "date night" he never complains.He is very open to trying new things. I guess it's the small changes that can have a compound effect over time.

  9. After reading this, I realize the most interesting people I know are like this. They are fabulous in their own way no matter what is around them. It's really good news you can still make the changes you want in your life without having to bring everyone else along.

  10. Love this post Fiona. It certainly starts with yourself. Hugs, Pingxo

  11. Petal, thank you, and you can do it - keep your chic well filled up.

    Alison, I think your particular situation is beyond the scope of a chic blog, sadly. Best to you.

    Tracy and Jenny, thank you!

    Kristien, what a cool comment, it sounds like you are loving life. Your husband sounds like a keeper too :)

    D, what a lovely way to speak about your husband, he is as lucky as you are.

    Carla, I think we're twins :) I'm learning to do not say more and more though.

    Nancy, Merci!

    Vanessa, hola! 'Grow' is such a great word to use in relation to the information you consume. I like that too. True, it's the small changes that compound, whether they are good or 'bad'.

    Stephanie, I agree. Those people are really compelling and you want to be around them; they're friendly enough but blase at the same time - like cats!

    Ping, hello! Lovely to hear from you.

  12. Your last point resonates with me. I am also fortunate to have an easygoing husband. The moody one btwn us is me (thankfully it's more occasional rather than frequent) & this has been a gentle reminder for me not to take it out on him, especially when he's come home after a long day at work & wants to relax, not be subject to my bad mood!

  13. I love this post, Fiona! Would you mind sharing some of the podcasts you listen to? I'm always looking for more ways to bring elegance and tranquility to my life.

  14. Hi Cherie, I have tons of different audio I love listening to - in no particular order they are Tonya Leigh, Gina DeVee, Brian Tracy, Marisa Peer, Peter Walsh, The Millionaire Next Door/Stop Acting Rich audio books, Rhonda Byrnes, Denise Duffield-Thomas, Marie Kondo and Tony Robbins.

    1. Thank you. I was also wondering this too. What are some of your favorite 'positive' books?

    2. Hi Sandra, I love relaxing with a 'Victoria' magazine. I like old-fashioned books from authors such as Grace Livingston Hill. I love feel-good chick list from Jane Green, Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes among others. Non-fiction authors: Alexandra Stoddard writes about living a beautiful life, Jennifer L. Scott, Shannon Ables, Anne Barone. Hope this helps!

  15. Thank you, Fiona! I'm familiar with some of those speakers/audio books
    but not all. I'll have to check them out.

  16. My husband, who grew up in a very large family on a farm, is so used to guzzling down food as quickly as possible and then finishing off everyone else's leftovers (because food was short, and those who finished first got first go at any leftovers), that mealtimes are a huge problem...he often can't tell me what he just ate, and I've stopped serving any kind of meat or poultry on the bone, because The related noisy sucking on bones with grease dripping off his chin in an attempt to get every scrap of meat off just makes me feel physically sick and unable to continue eating my own meal (and horrifyingly he has done this in front of dinner guests before too!). If we have a roast chicken, I have to carve it (because he will pull pieces off to eat and suck on bones WHILE he is carving for everyone), and then pop the carcass quickly into my stock pot and cover it with water to prevent him attacking it like a starving caveman immediately after dinner. Salads are another problem...I'm European, so use both knife & fork to neatly eat a salad...he is American and will only use a fork, therefore shoving huge uncut mountains of salad that are too big for his mouth and again assaulting my eyes with a mess of dressing or mayo around his mouth and chin. Not to mention hauling a gallon plastic jug of milk onto the table in order to drink 2-3 huge glasses of it with each meal. He is a perfect gentleman in every other way except for eating at home. He opens doors, holds my coat for me to put on, and can manage eating nicely when at a restaurant...just not at home.
    To tackle the problem I am trying the following:
    No meat served on the bone,
    Only chopped salads served,
    Tablecloth and fabric napkins at every meal,
    Candle lit at the table
    3-course meals for dinner...smaller portions so that the quicker he eats them the longer he has to wait for me to catch up before he gets the next course. He can't just wolf down one course and get back to the TV anymore,
    Automatically pouring him a small glass of wine and having it on the table before he sits down, along with a large glass of ice water. (healthier for his heart and weight than those multiple huge glasses of milk)
    Taking a lane aka look at some 'conversation cards' before dinner so that I have new subjects for conversation...keeping him talking prevents him from just snorting his food.
    Reminding him to TURN OFF the TV while we eat dinner and NO cell phones at the table.
    Cooking much smaller amounts OR Immediately packing leftovers for another day before we even sit down to eat, so that there are no seconds for him to use as an excuse for eating too quickly.
    I am making small but steady steps forward!

  17. * taking a quick look at some conversation cards*. Sorry, spell check incorrectly corrected that line lol!

  18. Anonymous, your small tweaks to mealtimes sound like a 'humane' and respectful way of you enjoying your dinnertime as much as your husband does.

    My husband eats quickly too as his dad spent time at sea in the merchant navy and so he picked up fast eating from him. I'm not saying this for you, but something that helps me better deal with other peoples dining habits is to remember that I am not perfect myself and that I'm sure there are plenty of habits that I have that drive my husband nuts while I'm blissfully unaware of them. It actually makes someone else's habit less annoying when I intentionally turn the spotlight back to me and ask if I am being as perfect as I expect others to be. Please don't take this as jab at you, it is entirely just for me and I find it a helpful coping mechanism.

    I love your conversation cards idea and I think your husband is lucky to have someone that cares for him so much that she is intentionally finding ways to make dinnertime nicer without hurting his feelings or causing an argument. Bravo to you :)


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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