5.25.2014

How to be Charming :: Formal Living

Like so many young women, I am infatuated with Paris. To be clear, it's a justified infatuation - I spent a summer in college discovering this beautiful city, studying art history and generally getting lost in the incredible streets of Paris. 

It was only recently, however, that I found Jennifer Scott's first book, Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris. She brings up a lot of really good points about French living, and while I can't get behind everything I've read so far, there is one point that really intrigues me. 

Chapter eleven of the book is titled Live Life as a Formal Affair. Just the name of the chapter piqued my interest, and reading her arguments supporting living a more formal life really got me thinking about how casual I tend to live my life. 

This isn't to say that living a casual life is bad; I think it just goes back to living a life with intention - for me, at least. It's so easy for me to just throw on a pair of jeans without thinking about it in the morning, or ordering a pizza because I have nothing in the fridge for dinner. These things don't require a lot of premeditation, which essentially means that I do them without thinking, really. I guess that's part of the reason why I decided to go for my #byebyebluejeans challenge - to live intentionally, even if just in this little way. 

While the points made in the book for formal living may be slightly too formal for my Southern California upbringing (she is talking about France, of course), I think there are a few ways I'd personally like to incorporate this idea into my daily life, if possible. 
I DREAM of having a beautiful living room, like the one above, with no television or clutter.

1 // IN MY HOME. Thought I live in a little apartment now, I do have an American dream of buying a house for myself and my family. It doesn't need to be a big house, necessarily, but I've always loved the idea of having a designated space for entertaining. I grew up in my grandmother's house, and the first room you came upon when entering through the front door was a formal living room. I don't see this much anymore, but there's something appealing, to me, about having a space in my home that's for more formal purposes, such as entertaining guests. There's no television in this room, just some nicer lounge furniture and maybe a way to play music (we had a record player in my grandmother's living room - which was so fun and novel for younger me). 

2 // SUNDAY DINNER. For the past few years, we've enjoyed a slightly more formal Sunday family dinner. It usually involves a more complicated meal than normal, like roasted chicken or pot roast. I almost always spend at least a few hours in the kitchen on Sunday evenings, and will likely make a dessert to go with it. While Madame Chic served three course meals to her family (which included legitimate courses), I think I might be alright with just keeping this tradition up in my own home. We often use cloth napkins and our nicer china as well, so it feels like I'm throwing an elegant and intimate dinner party, although it's almost always just my husband and myself. 

3 // USE YOUR BEST. Jennifer has an entire chapter in her book dedicated to this, but I do think it applies to this idea of living a more formal life as well. I touched upon it above, the idea of using my best china and napkins for Sunday dinners, but I think it can, and should, apply to every day as well. It means bringing out my best crystal vase for the flowers I just picked up at Trader Joe's, or wearing my best lace underthings with a pair of jeans to run errands. I love this idea of using my best, always, because it just makes life feel more luxurious, even if it is just another Monday. 

Though I'm sure there are so many other ways I can incorporate formal living into my less-than-formal existence, I think these are a good start! It's all about just being more intentional, and creating a charming life that I love.

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