7.06.2014

Why Do We Dress Well? + The Summer House Giveaway



This week we continue our conversation about dressing well. So many people chimed in about last week's topic on how to make an inexpensive outfit look expensive. Through facebook, email and the blog I received hundreds of comments on this topic.

Here were some of my favorites:

Diana H.S. writes: It's "about presenting the best version of you possible regardless of your circumstances".

Cristina S. writes: "Good taste comes at different price points and the art of curating your pieces in a wardrobe to end up with great style is the goal".

Tiffany W. writes: "Life should be a great mix of things. A dress you feel beautiful in is a great piece, no matter the price tag and adding your collection of finer things helps make it unique to you. That is true style".

Carmen writes: "I think as long as you are perfectly groomed and have great posture, you can easily turn an inexpensive outfit into looking expensive. I believe the key is how you conduct yourself. I've seem many, who swear by expensive clothes and yet look extremely cheap because of the way they behave and act."

Bree writes: "I like to wear a mix of high and lower end clothing and what I've found is that neatness counts! No amount of expensive clothes or accessories can make you look put together if you're sloppy, while a less expensive look applied with care and an eye for detail looks very nice."

Can Do Mom writes: "I agree that quality shoes and nice accessories can elevate any outfit. Also important is proper fit, care and ironing! No wrinkles, please!"

These were just a sampling of the wise comments I received. Thank you for your contributions! As always you inspire me greatly.


This week's video analyzes that je ne sais quoi that is captured when you wear quality clothes and how you can get it no matter what you are wearing. (I also address some haters!) Don't miss this week's video. If you can't see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this post, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

The Summer House Giveaway

Our summer of book giveaways continues on the Daily Connoisseur with Santa Montefiore's The Summer House. If you ask me, this sounds like the perfect beach read. Here's the description:

When Lord Frampton dies in a skiing accident, a beautiful young woman named Phaedra appears at his funeral—claiming to be the Lord’s illegitimate daughter. In his will, Lord Frampton has left the priceless Frampton suite of sapphires to this interloper, confirming her claim and outraging his three adult sons and widow. Eventually, however, Phaedra’s sweet nature thaws the frosty relationships. She becomes the daughter that Antoinette Frampton never had and a wise and compassionate granddaughter to the formidable Dowager Lady Frampton. But an attraction grows between Phaedra and the eldest son, David. It seems an impossible love—blocked by their blood connection and by the fury of one family member who is determined to expose Phaedra as a fraud.

Filled with the luscious scenery and enchanting characters her fans adore, Santa Montefiore’s Summer House is an unforgettable story about family, forgiveness, and the power of love.


Simon & Schuster are offering to give away 5 copies of The Summer House to readers of the Daily Connoisseur! This giveaway is open to US residents only (terms set by Simon & Schuster). Please enter via the rafflecopter widget below. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Madame Chic Inspiring Thought
Dressing well is not about "keeping up with the Joneses". Dressing well is a form of artistic expression. It is a celebration of life. It is a statement about who you are. Dressing well is not just for the wealthy. Anyone can do it on any budget. Don't let our casual society make you feel uncomfortable about dressing well. The fact that other people are in sweatpants, pajamas or exercise clothes all day long has nothing to do with you. You go on shining like the star that you are.

A final thing to ponder: Tom Ford said, "Dressing well is a form of good manners". (Thank you to viewer, Glenda, for reminding me of this gem!).

This week I would love to know: How do you feel about dressing your best? Putting thought into what you are wearing? Do you feel this is about "Keeping up with the Joneses" or something more profound? What are your thoughts on ladylike dressing in our society? Let me know! On social media use the hashtag #MADAMECHIC


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49 comments:

Callie said...

This looks like such a fun summer read. Thanks for the chance to win!

Callie said...

I too believe that dressing well changes the way I feel. I love your simple tips to create outfits that are comfortable, beautiful, simple, and fun!

Stacy K said...

There is a difference between being a woman and being a lady. Being a woman means I am a female, but being a lady means I dress and I behave in such a way that shows that I have respect for myself and pride in myself. I don't dress to keep up with the Joneses and most times I know I'm not wearing the latest fashions, but I dress nicely to be recognized as a lady and when I'm out I get treated as such.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I have read The Summer House and consider Santa Montifiore to be among my favorite authors.
Dressing up makes me feel more feminine but lately I have been in the garden and cooking in the kitchen and so I have been in my uniform of skinny jeans a white tee and my linen apron.

The Bron said...

Thank you so much for this!

I have a limited budget so $35 H&M dresses are at often top of my budget, but I am always careful to buy quality, lined, well cut dresses. I often get discounted, rather than just "cheap" items (so I'm getting $50 value for $30).

I recently shifted to the 10 item closet concept, converting from an opportunistic bargain shopper, and I really love it. I assessed my wardrobe, picked a theme for summer/spring, did up a concept on Polyvore and hunted for the items I was "missing". It was much easier and more rewarding than general browsing. I was very scrupulous and happy to pay a little more for the "perfect" item. And now dressing is easier and actually cheaper. Everything has a purpose.

I don't think you're pretentious at all, and I'm hoping this movement catches on! Really looking forward to the next book!!

Victoria Woeste said...

Please answer any of the following questions:

Why do you dress well? Is it for yourself? Your family? For society? I dress well for my self first and foremost. I feel my best when I am put together. I am a working mom. I put my clothing together the evening before. I also purchase items than be worn while running errands, carpool and attend meetings at school. Sort of a capsule wardrobe if you will.

Are there any changes you'd like to make to the way you dress? I have a very classic style with a current twist. It works for me. My hair has been in a classic blonde bob and this is part of my signature look.

What are you currently reading? Grace Coddington's book, Thrive by Arianne Huffington and the China Doll.

Victoria Woeste said...

I adore shoping resale shops. I have purchased many quality pieces for a fraction of the cost. Most recently I have purchases Tory Burch, Nanette Lepore and J Crew

Madeleine Lawrence said...

I truly believe that having excellent grooming and dressing well is a sign of respect for ourselves and others. Believe it or not, I learned this lesson from the nuns at school! They were sticklers for grooming, manners,service to others and academic achievement. Our school had a well-deserved reputation for producing girls you would want to hire or give an academic opportunity to.

As I've grown older I've also observed how much I enjoy seeing other people who are well-dressed/well-groomed. It's uplifting, in a way that seeing a person in pyjamas or with their G-string showing simply is not.

I think good grooming, like good manners, is a sign of a civilised society and stops us from degenerating into an 'anything goes' attitude.

Jennifer, I felt uplifted just by seeing how beautifully put together you were on the video today, from your lovely blouse to your beautifully groomed hair. Keep getting your message out there, it's never been more needed!

Madeleine.x

Meredith said...

I just had a birthday and I notice that when I dress better I feel better! currently reading the scriptures with my kids

Suad Addarrat said...

I'm currently reading Stella Bain which, if I'm not mistaken, was a recommendation from you!

Rayna St. Pierre said...

You are absolutely not pretentious. You are the only fashion blog I read regularly for a reason! Clearly, you like fashion and have a standard and that standard is tied to an attitude of gentleness, non-competitiveness, and an acknowledgement that ladylike is more than skin-deep. Don't mind those negative Nellies, Jennifer!

Evaline said...

Hi Jennifer, I agree with your points in last week's post and understood it. I find inspiration in every one of your posts & enjoy them immensely. May I respectfully suggest that word choice is extremely important, though, and that if you had chosen words to more closely convey the true meaning of your message, you might not have needed to explain yourself in a second video on the topic and it would have helped people more. I work in a professional communications environment in which we are currently changing all our digital and print to what is known as 'clear language.' We do user tests and surveys of our writing and it is often surprising to discover how what we thought was clear is not clear to our readers. The dictionary definition of expensive has a meaning that does not really capture the essence of what you seem to be expressing. Looking forward to the next post.

Sally Bainbridge said...

Dressing well is a bit like making your bed in the morning. A bedroom is just messy if the bed is unmade. I am now retired and pretty much follow my same morning routine as I had while working. After morning coffee I do my hair, apply makeup and I am ready for the day. I really feel that when I am well put together I feel better, can accomplish more and am better prepared for anything or anybody unexpected. My husband notices, too, and often comments that HE appreciates that I always look nice, even if I am gardening!
I am currently reading "The Paris Architect" by Charles Belfoure. I am about half way and am enjoying it very much.
Have a lovely day!

Rose said...

Dear Jennifer, you are not in the least pretentious! You are an elegant classy and inspiring French-influenced woman. I am so glad you share with us.

Triton said...

Hey!! Just love your videos, thank you for giving us precious tips always! I need to know, when "At home with Madame Chic" willcome to Brazil??

Janis Scobee said...

What a classy response! I'm not quite sure why people get so upset at blogs that encourage us to be our best. Your videos/posts are a great reminder that just because we're busy, doesn't mean we can't look fabulous at the same time!

J said...

Dressing well to me is a reflection of my inner self, of my values, and my personal style. If I like myself, respect myself, why wouldn't I dress to reflect that? I think that dressing well takes thought and self-examination and often people will choose to take the easier route of wearing whatever everyone else does or what's currently trendy as a kind of fashion shortcut. But I believe when you dress well, you dress with your own opinion.

snappyjaye said...

I'm currently reading "A Place at the Table" after seeing your summer reading list. I love it!

Simply Me said...

It's all about choice. When I get up in the morning I have a choice, either I can decide not to have a shower, not comb my hair, not brush my teeth and choose to wear a pair of stinky old pyjamas or raggedy old clothes all day.
Or, I can make a bit of effort, have a shower, enjoying the lovely smell of the shower gel, wash my hair and rub through a lovely creamy conditioner, dry myself with a lovely fresh fluffy towel, clean my teeth, brush and dry my hair into its simple, easy care bob style, put on a fresh and clean outfit, spray on some deodorant, a slick of lip gloss or lipstick and a swish of mascara. None of this costs much, and it really doesn't take much effort, but boy do I feel so much better. I do it for me.
For those people who choose to make no effort, not only are they denying themselves the chance to feel well / good etc, they also unfortunately have an impact on others. For example, yesterday, whilst at the supermarket, I walked towards one of the items that I wanted to buy, but quickly turned around as standing in the middle of the aisle was a man who had obviously decided not to shower, shave or wear clean clothes that day, probably not even that week... The smell was awful and other customers were also avoiding that aisle.

rachel said...

I'm reading "Red Rising" -- intense!

Simply Me said...

I live in Bristol, England, and in October the city is hosting a Cary Grant Festival as Cary Grant was born and grew up in Bristol. For readers who don't know who Cary Grant is, he was a famous Hollywood actor / leading man in the 1930's to 1960's. He often tops the poll for the best dressed man ever. He is like the male equivalent of Audrey Hepburn. His style was classic, he wore suits, raincoats, grey flannel trousers, crisp cotton shirt and cashmere sweaters. He focused on good quality clothing and was known for his attention to detail. His clothes were either made for him or altered to fit perfectly. His image is one of being well dressed, sophisticated and debonaire; an image that many men, both then and now, aspire to. He was also a major inspiration for the fictional character James Bond.
His philosophy was that by dressing your best, in simple, well fitted, good quality clothes in neutral colours, people notice the person rather than the clothes. The clothes almost become invisible.

Margi said...

I am so grateful for all of your wonderful perspective and wisdom with regard to living a graceful and fulfilling life. To me, being pretentious is trying to appear something you are not--which is the opposite of your message. I wonder if the person who called you pretentious has read your book or truly experienced your blog as a WHOLE. I can't help but think if she had, she would realize that you are all about authenticity. Your message goes well beyond appearance. You have inspired me to connect with who I am--and to develop myself in ways that bring me joy. Thank you for that!

Ann said...

Jennifer....don't let the comments get you down. I agree with you...people are way too casual these days. I see it in church...not that it matters what you wear, but it is SO casual, and I think to myself if you do not dress "up" for church ( or a wedding, or open house at school, etc.) WHAT occasion will you dress up for. I agree it is not about keeping up with the Jones...it is about respecting yourself and others. You are helping me to STOP shopping, clean out my closet, and wear my best ! Thank you !

Unknown said...

That was one of the nicest responses to negative comments I've ever heard. Very QED. I came to your blog looking for a capsule wardrobe because I now can't afford the kind of designer clothes I used to have when I worked. I know how those made me feel - not just womanly, but myself. Confident about going out into the (hard) world of work. They were a background thing, nothing I flaunted, just a strength. Now, having suffered really bad depression for several years after the birth of my second child, I find many days difficult and I find that making the effort really helps with that. Often, I do it on autopilot. But trying to stay elegant (in a way that's a million miles from Madame Chic probably) lifts me up. It's that in-the-background thing again. In fact, I'd forgotten much of it until I found your blog. So thank you, for being a (very unpretentious) beacon.

Rita said...

I second everything Medeleine Lawrence said! Dressing well is a way to show respect for your self and others.

Speaking of the difference between quality and cheap garments, I went to a sewing seminar where they encouraged us to go try on expensive designer clothing to see the difference. They said to keep a small notepad & tape measure in our purses, and to make notes about width of full skirts, how much more fabric is used in constructing a designer garment, etc. It was an education.

Sarah Extance Garcia said...

As others have said, dressing well is about respect. Respect for yourself and respect for the people you come in contact with on a daily basis. Also, dressing in a ladylike and modest manner is a sign of charity and kindness for the weaknesses in others. We have to admit that people aren't perfect. We humans can be drawn to /unkind/uncharitable/immodest thoughts by the dress of other people. Dressing with modesty and class is a way to assist other people in retaining their virtue.

Elena said...

You presented your response in such a gracious way. I understood what you were trying to say last week.
I LOVE to dress in a ladylike fashion, which I used to do every day when I was a single young woman living in the city. Now, as a mom of three, in a rural community I don't have the opportunity to "dress up" very often. I do, however, always put myself together nicely, wear make-up and style my hair before going out of the house (actually, also in the house!). Nothing pretentious, just feminine and "put together." It makes me feel good and also presents a nice image in public. Of course this same philosophy extends to my home I love your posts/videos, and yours is the only one of its type that I subscribe to. Thank you

Elizabeth Lukes said...

We dress well because it is the only thing we can control - how we treat ourselves and others. Keep up the positivity!

Christina Durborow said...

I love wearing ladylike clothes, but I often feel overdressed and out of place when I do.

I've been working on a capsule summer wardrobe for the past few months and, other than another pair or two of flat shoes, it's finalized! I love looking in my closet and seeing my clothes hung neatly rather than crammed together. I also have found that I am less distracted by online shopping and browsing and more inspired to use my creative and intellectual energy towards other pursuits. Thank you for all of the encouragement, Jennifer! I loved your book and I'm quickly becoming a fan of the blog

Emily Finan Carroll said...

Love this message! Just one warning that expensive doesn't always translate to high quality - there are plenty of brands that are expensive because of marketing and not because they actually are high quality (Juicy Couture sweat suits come to mind!) Overall this message - and your example- are on point.

Cari said...

I am a housewife so although I dress more casual around the home, I really enjoy taking time and paying attention to my clothing, makeup and hair when going into town. I find that upping my physical appearance encourages me to up my attitude as well.

susan s said...

Jennifer, you are absolutely correct in your post about looking better (not always expensive). I flew to Chicago this past weekend and was stopped by a lady in the airport who wanted to know how I looked so put together at 6:30 am. I was so flattered. Especially when everyone around me was dressed in grubby gym clothes. Keep up the message!

Maureen said...

Go Jennifer! What a perfect response to those who were confused by your desire to look like a million bucks. Well said.

Shlawna Sikochi said...

I try to dress well because I think our dress affects society as a whole. Casual dress leads to casual manners, casual conscience, and casual morals.

mars said...

I have read "The Husband's Secret" and "The good House" and would recommend both.

Jeneric Generation said...

I love the Tom Ford quote. I do think dressing well is a form of politeness--it is not just for ourselves, but a form of respect to others. If you think total strangers (like, in a grocery store), are worth presenting yourself well for, I think it says a lot about you. But, as others have said, how you treat others and how you carry yourself, go a long way in presenting yourself well. In my opinion, that is half of being stylish in the first place!

Ashley Diaz said...

Thank you for your video, Jennifer!

Dressing my best right now is a daily challenge as I am still working on loosing my Baby No. 2 weight :) I find that the key is to pick items that fit well and loosely cover problem areas. I try to avoid wearing anything tight around the midriff section. When I find a perfect outfit that fits well, my days seem so much more pleasant as I don't even think about what I am wearing and can focus on the needs of that day.

Holly said...

Currently reading The Secret History, which is great!

c18ffdfa-06b5-11e4-b13f-af9f6c037d42 said...

It's refreshing just to hear someone use the word ladylike these days!

Diana said...

"Are there any changes you'd like to make to the way you dress?" Yes, I wish I wasn't so lazy and I used my iron/steamer to keep my silks and linen clothes wrinkle-free, but alas they often sit unworn because I'm too tired to do those chores when so much else beckons my attention!

Tracey Smith said...

I dress well first and foremost for myself. I just feel better when I do and tend to have a much better attitude and outlook which usually translates into a better day. I especially think it's important to do so on days when you wake up and don't feel like it! I also like and agree with the quote that it's a form of politeness in society as well. I live in FL and it's hot and humid most days (especially in summer), I'm still amazed at what people wear despite the weather. BTW - What I'm reading now is "French Women Don't Get Facelifts" by Mireille Guiliano - it's great!

Summer Smith said...

Love all the topics you bring up and of course the giveaway!! :) Thank you.

I have only recently been making an effort to dress well everyday. I listen to Dennis Prager on radio and he has mentioned this many times, I respect him and had been making slow progress in this direction. However, I felt like I needed to "save" my good clothes for a special occasion. Then I was encouraged even more reading your book! I found it hard at first, but now I like it and I find I get more done in my day, and I feel good and sexy for my husband when he comes in. I'm not just wearing whatever but something special, like I am to him. So I do it for all~ society, my family and most importantly for myself! Which effects all of the above.

I have been making a major overhaul to my whole wardrobe but I struggle with that because I am in the child bearing years and we are not finished and my size went up and down during and after pregnancy. So REALLY clearing out my wardrobe is difficult at this time. However, I have done a lot and continue to do little parts at a time. I find the emotional connection the hardest to break through.

I am currently reading Written in My Own Heart's Blood (#8) by Diana Gabaldon and I can't put it down! Also, Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson, which if you haven't read, I'm sure you would enjoy! Big, but lots of useful info. in it. And The Lost Art of Dress by Linda Przybyszewski which you have recommended. Thanks again!

Kari said...

I saw a terrible example of exactly what I don't want to look like just last night. In a restaurant, no less. Flip flops. Short shorts. Tiny strappy tank top riding waaaay up her back and not the age or figure to pull any of it off. Not that anyone could. Horrible. Dressing like a lady makes me feel like one. It makes my spouse feel proud to be out with me. Wearing jammys makes me feel like I'm ill all day. Who wants to feel like that? I want to feel good. And that person who called you pretentious most likely just came back from Walmart in her slippers and pajamas.

Claire said...

On my careful budget, I still find beautiful, well-made things at thrift stores. I wait till I find what I want. For $12, I found a taupe suede jacket by J. Jill-one I'd seen in the catalog for about $200 dollars more. It's not keeping up with the Joneses. I sew some myself, and don't like the shortcuts taken on poorly-made, usually cheaper garments. Some other teachers called me Mary Poppins for wearing dresses and skirts to work. Many wear gym shorts, jeans, and even sweats to work. I just liked looking professional. I'm not beautiful, but a student commented that I look pretty. : ) Better Mary Poppins a scary, unkempt troll? Also, it's a pleasure to get ready in the morning-more creative and fun.

Amy B said...

I dress for myself - when I feel beautiful I feel more confident, more energetic and just a bit happier! It gives me confidence and a desire to go out and be!

Janki said...

One added comment on the quality of "expensive" clothes. I sew a little bit and have noticed that for those mass market (fast fashion) clothes, they really cut corners. There may be no lining, seams are unfinished and the materials tend to be synthetic blends. Additionally, they may only do one fitting with a specific fit model.

A higher end version TENDS to use natural fibers, are lined, have special details (working pockets, nice buttons) and are adjusted with the fit model often, so the fabric lies correctly. Also, the clothes are meant to last more than one season so the fabric doesn't pill or fall apart as easily.

Now, some designers do cut corners and a smart shopper can see that. Also, I bought a fabulous dress at H&M that is well made and often is mistaken for an Anthropologie dress.

I finally have started to dress for me. I don't care if it looks expensive. Honestly, I shop sales and thrift stores most of the time. But, when I wear clothes that fit well and flatter, I feel better.

Inevitably it's when my hair is frizzed out, no makeup, and clothes are gross is when I run into someone.

Breann Dietrich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cathy carron said...

BRAVO - re: pulling yourself together to look your best - very well spoken - those same thoughts reel through my head as I walk through an airport or down the street. So many people look like they just rolled out of bed. So many could look better if they just dragged a comb through their hair.

And i couldn't agree more - if you endeavor to look well it can often change how you feel and approach the day as well.

cathy carron said...

re: looking well - GUYS should take a note on this a well...we were just at a very new and fabulous (& expensive) restaurant in New York. For the most part the women looked great or at least acceptable. BUT the guy were so 'schlubby' - most did not wear a jacket and had wrinkled shirts covering their beer guts. If they could afford to eat at this restaurant - they could just as well honor the staff and others by putting on a clean, unwrinkled shirt.

 
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