Saturday, June 2, 2018

Everyday elegance on a budget

Do you save elegance for special occasions?  I used to, but the shame is that there’s not that many special occasions to go around.  Instead of waiting for those one or two times a year when I was invited to a wedding or special dinner, I decided to make elegance  an everyday indugence.

At first it felt decadent and yes a little bit wasteful, but most of the new things I was doing weren’t even costing me a lot of money.  Mostly they were free, so just why was I resisting it so much?  Did I feel like I needed a reason to be fancy?

I’m very pleased to report that I no longer hold back.  Daily life at Chez Fiona is an elegant extravaganza.  Here are some of my favourite ways to bring elegance into your everyday.  I hope you enjoy them!

An alluring derriere

Buy lacy panties instead of solid fabric – in black, cream and pretty colours.  I love shopping at Victoria’s Secret when they have a special offer and their lacy undies are very soft.  Scratchy lace is not good!  My underwear drawer looks so lovely now with my bright/dark/pastel/pale selection of lacy knickers.  Cleaning out underwear that is past its best or nearing past its best make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself.

Your own life soundtrack

Play background music softly when at home.  Classical strings such as Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto is simply beautiful and uplifting, even if you’re ‘not a classical person’.  And Carla Bruni music always makes me feel good.  Have you heard her sing?  Her music is like you’re being sung to by a very chic angel.

Bombshell eyes

Try new makeup techniques – I have been learning how to apply bombshell eyeshadow lately by doing it every day, even if I’m not going anywhere.  Not only have I been getting better at it with practice, but it’s fun to rock the smokey-eyed look even if I’m only going to walk the dogs in our paddock.  I look at it as bringing a little bit of the fashion world to the country.

A beautiful mind

Think elegant thoughts.  Even using the word ‘elegance’ as a mantra helps me move in a lovelier way.  When I channel someone elegant such as Coco Chanel, I more effortlessly make good decisions when it comes to what I’m going to have for lunch, whether I’m going to read a book or watch television, and what I’m going to wear that way.

Mona Lisa

Employ the mysterious half-smile technique until it becomes second nature.  You will look beguiling.  You might have heard me mention before that as we age, our mouths naturally turn down.  To not look like you’ve sucked a lemon, have a tiny smile on your face at all times.  I know it sounds a bit Stepford Wives, but it becomes second nature before too long, and it really does change your face.  You will look softer, more relaxed and overall have a pleasant expression on your face.  An added bonus is that when you smile, you will feel happier.  It’s psychosomatic.

Floral love

Have cut flowers in your home.  I know a lot of you do this already and for some reason I resisted buying cut flowers forever.  I thought they were a waste of money because they died after a week or so, but I knew that I was spending money on other things such as snack foods which were not good for me and were gone within a few days.

I found that one of our supermarkets had mixed bunches for $12.95 which lasted for a few weeks (and did not cause weight gain as snack foods did).  Every couple of days I change the water, trim and rinse the stems and remove spent flowers.  I then practice my floral arrangement skills by putting everything back together.  The bouquet in this image is one of my $12.95 specials.  I think it’s so pretty.

Formal dinner

I've used cloth dinner napkins for over a decade now.  No more paper towels for me.  Whether it's at the dining table or in front of the television, pizza or a roast, I always use cloth dinner napkins.  I've collected a good-sized collection both from sales and making them myself from pretty cotton fabrics in my stash, so that I'll never run out.  They are washed with towels or by themselves, and I don't iron them anymore either.

If the casual rumpled look is good enough for Ralph Lauren, it's good enough for me.  I simply flick the wrinkles out when I hang them on the line and fold straight away once I've brought them in.  The secret trick is to put those napkins at the bottom of the stack and when it comes around to their turn again, et voila, they are pressed!


I hope you enjoyed my favourite tips, and I'd be so grateful if you could share you favourite ways of bringing everyday elegance on a budget into your home.

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

If you need a bit of a boost, I invite you to peruse my 30 Chic Days Series.  There are four in total, so you won't be short on inspiration.  I had such fun writing these; who knows, maybe there is a fifth around the corner...?

The original series in 2010 sparked off my book of the same name.  It started off as a spur of the moment thing where I wanted to re-remember my chic principles for a whole month.  It's amazing the kind of momentum you can gather when you stick at something for thirty days in a row, and obviously being chic is a worthy goal :)

I hope you enjoy them!



  1. I enjoy reading & rereading all of your 30 chic series, Fiona, plus your 30 chic days book.

  2. I don't have two sets of dishes, one for everyday, one for company. I have one set that I love and use everyday that is attractive enough for company. I never even buy paper napkins. Even if we are eating take-out, I set the table with plates, silverware, cloth napkins, and we eat at the table -- not hunkered down in front of the TV. I also wear makeup every day, and have gotten rid of anything that I might be tempted to keep for "grubby wear". That way, I dress in something nice on a daily basis. And if I do need grubbies, say, to paint the house, I go to Goodwill and get something cheap and expendable, and throw it away when I am finished with the painting project. If you simply don't own lesser quality things, then you can't use them!


    1. I'd love to know your secret to staying clean! Today I rearranged & watered the flower pots on the deck & patio & then cleaned the bbq. I took my neighbour's big dog to the beach (involving sand, sticks for throwing & dog slobber), washed & cleaned out my car & my guy's big pickup truck, helped him move a bunch of stuff from the garage to his new work shop (& got engine oil all over me somehow) & thoroughly cleaned the bathroom. I'm 60 & technically retired but am in no way able to get rid of my "grubbies" yet. Some of you ladies obviously live much more pristine & elegant lives than I do. LOL!

    2. No. Believe me, I don't live a pristine life in my quotidian life. I do a lot of grubby stuff. BUT! It's all stuff that literally comes out in the wash. I have nice jeans and t-shirts, and any dirt I get on them washes out. Only rarely do I require Goodwill clothes for painting projects. Thank goodness, because I hate painting! I just make sure that I have enough pants and t-shirts that I am not constantly doing laundry. And! For particularly grubby jobs, there are always aprons!

  3. Fiona - What a great post! You are so right. It does not take much effort to make like elegant and special. I am with you on all counts, especially the cloth napkins. Such a difference in how you enjoy the simplest of meals. Thank you for all your great ideas!

  4. I can be frugal to a fault, especially when it comes to buying fresh flowers! Thanks for reminding me that I will buy junky snack food but not a bouquet...
    Looking forward to the next 30 day series!

  5. My favorite topic! I love this post so much :)

  6. Candles! Everything looks better by candlelight. I just bought a whole bunch of votives at a rummage sale and they're currently decorating my apartment.

    Keeping clutter to a minimum. That's not just junk, either. I was recently at someone else's house and they had a lot of objets d'art scattered around. Some of them were very lovely and others not to my taste, but there was just so much there that it was hard to look at individual pieces. Also, there was no room to put anything down on the tables, the window ledges were overloaded, etc.

    Scents. A couple drops of essential oil in my dishwater or a bowl of hot water or my essential oil burner makes the place smell lovely, and the bottles go on forever.

    Definitely agree about the panties- mine come from Uniqlo and are about $6 a pair, but they're lacy and pretty and comfortable.

  7. I used to keep things "for special" ... not anymore! I am in my 60's and hell .... I could get run over by a bus tomorrow! LOL
    You know ..... that idea that "your children will want them when I go".... no they will not! They will put them on eBay !!! Use the darn things !!! LOL

    1. So funny but so true!! My son couldn’t care less about my china and silver, much less the Walking Ware!!

    2. My father is looking at moving out of the house he's lived in for the past 45 years, and he's offered me whatever I want to keep. While there are some things I want for sentimental reasons, a lot of that stuff isn't to my taste or I don't have room for it or I'll never use it. If it comes to me down the line, I will rehome stuff or sell it rather than keeping it.

  8. Fiona, I just loved this! I've been buying fresh flowers for years & have learned that if I buy a big bunch every week, keep them trimmed & the water changed (as you do) that after a while I'll wind up with 3 or 4 smaller bouquets. I've learned which last best & which don't (I never buy roses, for instance; they have no scent & are done in a day or two) & in summer supplement them with blooms & leaves from the garden.

    We've never gotten into fabric napkins for some reason, even though I try now & again, but you've encouraged me to try again (who knows, maybe they'll "take" this time!). The lacy panties are always a big hit here :-) & I'm definitely going to work on that smokey eye thing (I always wear makeup, even when I'm not going out, but some days it's a little hit & miss). One thing I NEVER miss, though, is a spritz of good perfume. My mother always wore it & I remember how nice she (& the entire house) smelled! And earrings! She was never without earrings, and neither am I. I go for flamboyant ones & they & the perfume are sort of my signature.

    Love the pup updates, btw. I'm so glad you all found each other (I'm such a sucker for stories like this).

  9. Carol in QueenslandJune 3, 2018 at 7:06 PM

    Hi Fiona, I have the exact same mirror and beautiful horse as you, we purchased ours when we were in Hong Kong, I adore beautiful mirrors and have 2 large ones and several smaller versions, they always make a home look elegant I think.
    I am also writing to you to let your readers know that they don't have to comment as Anonymous anymore if they don't have any of the required accounts. I learnt this from another blogger and I like being able to put my name at the top, It always used to make me feel uncomfortable using Anonymous as if I was trying to hide something. Anyway here is how to do it for your information and anyone who feels as I did.
    Write your comment
    Go to google account, scroll down to Name URL, put in your name, ignore the next line, do any editing and press publish, lo and behold your name appears at the top of your comment...just so easy. Hope this is of use. Warm regards Carol

    1. Thank you, Carol! I will try that here and now. I don't like commenting as "Anonymous"... it feels like I'm up to something sordid somehow. But I hate being forced into an account I do not need or want, or -- heaven forbid -- not commenting.

  10. Love this post, Fiona!
    Donkey's years ago, in the days before electrical gadgets, or before they became the norm (a fridge was a luxury when we married in 1964, believe it or not!) my late mother in law (born 1890) used to wear what she called a "house frock" in the mornings when she did her chores, and then after she had cooked the lunch and done the washing up (no dishwasher in those days) she would change into what she called her "afternoon frock" so that she would look smart if anyone called. We can just put on an apron as most of our housework is fairly clean work, isn't it? We don't get really grubby making the beds of washing up or vacuuming, so we can wear good clothes for these jobs, but I can see how years ago women when women had to clean out the grate from a coal fire, and manually do all the washing, it was necessary to have working clothes. I just try my best to look clean and tidy all the time, and always wear make-up and have my nails painted and wear perfume regardless of whether I'm staying at home or going out. It's not for anyone else's benefit, but my own; I just feel better in myself if I have made the best I can of myself.
    One word though about candles. I was reading today that candles in the home add 30% air pollution to our homes. Something we should be aware of.
    I use pretty china all the time - a friend said once to me that he thought we must be the last people in the world to use cups and saucers, the cheeky so-and-so! A good job he's a very good friend, only he would get away with saying such a thing to me!
    Margaret P
    Margaret P

  11. I love the photo in your heading.

    I wish I could get my husband to agree with me on using cloth napkins vs. paper napkins!

    Lately, my way of bringing in everyday elegance may not at first glance appear that way. I've been making an extra effort taking care of my skin, so if you came to my home you might catch me wearing a moisturizing sheet masque on my face, jojoba oil in my hair for deep conditioning, and all the while wearing a full apron doing housework - haha, not very elegant but one has to put in the work to get there!

    I try to remember to bring in greenery branches from the backyard and put them in vases throughout the house. I find they last a bit longer than flowers.


    1. I hope Fiona won't mind when I add a little message here to D, and say that greenery from shrubs in the garden looks very elegant.
      Margaret P

  12. I made a rule to always have fresh cut flowers in the house or at least in one spot where I see them every day. I also try to use cloth napkins at all times.So much nicer than paper napkins and they wash up just fine. Love your blog!!

  13. Right before my dad died, mom realized her “pretties” had been in storage for 30+ years. She finally dug out years of collections from years of traveling, my gram’s beauty’s, china, silver, crystal glassware, and began using them. When she moved to heaven, I learned her lesson and began using her things, gram’s and my own Haviland vintage china, crystal, and what used to be called “company” dishes.

    Of course the best lesson I ever learned was the day my husband asked me, “Why do you dress up and put makeup on to go to town but you don’t do it for me?” I’d gotten sloppy. He wasn’t being ugly, just making a point that I’d do that for strangers but not the most important person in my life?

    I Zen-ned the house so it’s always peaceful, only kept irreplaceable items (i.e., big box store stuff is gone now), no clutter and only things we think are beautiful. Beauty and elegance is our mandate now.

    I study the houses of the rich and wealthy to glean ideas for decor. I see some really messy, too much stuff around homes. But occasionally I will see something that resonates within me.

  14. I love this topic Fiona. I need to up my game in the panties department. I was waiting to lose some weight, but I would feel so much better without the, ahem, granny panties! I have done so much decluttering this year, and it makes me and the house feel so much more elegant. Someone commented on the air pollutants in candles. I use the battery-operated ones sometimes, and burn beeswax candles which are very clean and smell lovely. An orchid blooms for months and they are quite reasonable at the grocery store. And get rid of plastic stuff. So tacky and un-chic! I was thrilled when my husband finally agreed not to buy water in plastic bottles, so bad for the environment and ugly to look at on a coffee table. xo Deborah

  15. Wonderful blog! One of my faves and I love them all. Great job. I know it takes a lot of work to inspire me and the rest of the ladies, but you are doing so well! Thank you! XOXO

  16. Beautiful flowers! You just inspired me to do my nightly tidy that I usually don't get to for another hour or so...just so I can sit and relax in a beautiful room. Thank you for your inspiring ideas!

  17. Hi Fiona,

    I love the idea about putting the newly washed napkins at the bottom of the stack! I don't iron either and this is such a sensible easy way to get them looking pressed (enough for me) Thanks for sharing! Also, would love to see more videos, you do such great ones:)



Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...