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Etiquette March 4th, 2024

10 Ways To Live More Elegantly In 2024

Etiquette March 4th, 2024
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The idea of elegance as a virtue is a foundational principle of good living.

In the timeless pursuit of elegance, this year offers us the most opportune moment to reassess our approach to refinement. Amidst the bustling rhythm of modernity, dating apps, Zoom, and whatnot, cultivating elegance transcends our mere appearance, though it does include it. As designer Carolina Hererra said:

Elegance isn’t solely defined by what you wear. It’s how you carry yourself, how you speak, what you read.

Carolina Hererra

Elegance is a philosophy guiding our interactions, environments, and self-perception. As we delve into the 10 essential practices for living more elegantly this year, I hope each point serves as a way of illuminating the path toward the life you want for yourself. From the nuances of language to the subtleties of deportment, let us look at some of the things you should stop doing, keep doing, and start doing.

01

Watch Your Language (Stop Swearing Casually)

It is kind of beyond belief that one has to prescribe this in an era when most of us have agreed to respect people’s sensitivities in conversation. Yet, we are not short of hearing the language of the gutter, and too commonly so. Whether it’s over dinner, at work with colleagues, with family, or anywhere in public, swearing so casually has got to stop. I will often meet new people and within two minutes they’ve dropped a four-letter word, usually with a capital F.

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Elegance is as much about responsibility as it is about dignity. If you can’t express your thoughts and ideas articulately, then there’s a problem. And no, authenticity is not a valid excuse. Here, I can blame one culprit in particular — Gary Vee. When pressed about his expletive-laden reels, he excused himself by saying that he was being “true to himself.” First, if you cannot be authentic without swearing, that’s concerning. Second, you already can be authentic without swearing. You talk to your boss or your toddler in completely different but authentic, polite ways, so talk to everyone else with equal courtesy.

Photo by Alex Teuscher

I’m not a Puritan either. We can look to the late writer Christopher Hitchens as an example. His command of the English language exceeded the highest of standards that when on the rare occasions he did swear, it somehow felt permissible. Until you have an equal grasp of English, reduce your swearing this year, and see what a difference it makes to your perceived elegance. The reason we instinctively recoil at swearing is not because these words are inherently wicked, but because they often — not always — represent the lowest in our language and demonstrate an inability to speak well.

02

Learn The Ways Of The Conversationalist

Naturally, conversation is a huge part of being elegant. After a mini-renaissance of etiquette and manners coaching taking social media by storm, it’s brought to our attention how important it is to be a good conversationalist.

You can participate in and be privy to many conversations, but true elegance is the ability to start, hold, steer, and end conversations well. Particularly, to carry them forward. This means being able to read social cues, actively listen, and prompt others with interesting open-ended questions. Do that, and you will forge more meaningful connections than you realize.

03

Invest In Your Daily Surroundings

Your home surroundings and interior design choices impact your whole mindset. I truly believe that the values you live by — elegance in this case — must manifest in all possible ways. Elegance is not just a way to be or to seem, but also a way to live.

Recently, I did a mini-overhaul of my own bedroom because the old look didn’t feel like it was truly mine. There I was, manifesting an elegant life but saw no elegance when I looked around my living quarters — I had to create it, which made such a difference to my attitude. In short, go on Pinterest and discover what your ideal home would look like, and explore the plethora of tastes and moods to help develop your own. Specifically, don’t neglect bedroom layout (e.g. command positioning of the bed), layered lighting, high-thread bedding, unique artwork, table books (not Tom Ford), and living greenery.

Photo by Alex Teuscher

04

Learn More From Culture & History

An understanding of culture and history are unavoidable and extremely important for the discerning gentleman. Scratching your head and wondering how to “be” elegant almost misses the point. Elegance is never a thing that finally gets acquired, it is like other traits such as confidence and charisma, it accrues from all that you have experienced and developed from which all knowledge comes. Do you want to know a fast way to obtain that knowledge? Learning from others.

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All knowledge comes from the past. Nothing is more enriching and mind-broadening than exploring the many cultures of the world, seeing them first-hand, and digging deep into the history of what interests you. Everything that you are is the result of centuries of particular things happening in a particular place by particular people. Find your Roman Empire.

05

Nail Your Personal Introductions

People remember how you say something, not what you say. This platitude is true, but first impressions are so crucial because you won’t have a second chance to make them. Being able to introduce yourself is like pitching your character — this is your 10-second window to plant yourself positively in their minds in the hope of sparking rapport. Not all scenarios are the same, but a dependable and universal formula would be the following: greeting, name, pleasantry, and handshake. For example:

Hello, I’m John-Paul, so good to finally meet you!

This is just the beginning. When it comes to introducing yourself to clients or industry fellows at networking events, some form of elevator pitch might immediately follow. This is when you state what you do, who you help, how you help them.

Photo by Marcel Floruss

06

Invest In One Major Quality Clothing Item Per Year

Buy less, buy better. Who could disagree with that? The problem is that buying better is expensive, and we like to buy a lot of better things. Consequently, this leads to splitting up our yearly budget into as many “better” things as we can afford. Made-to-order shoes here, two new suits there. It tallies up quickly, cutting a hole in our pockets deeper still. I’m having this problem myself, but I’ve realized that an elegant wardrobe is not just for this year, it’s for life. Elegant clothing should be a life-long venture, and thus buying better (or indeed the best) just once for the whole year can pay off tremendously.

An elegant wardrobe is not just for this year, it’s for life.

This year, I’ve decided that a bespoke overcoat is really what my next big item is going to be. I originally planned to get a bespoke blazer too, but why the hurry? Because I might like to make content with it? Is that an elegant answer or approach? I don’t think so. We could always stretch our budgets or wish they were more generous, but I like the idea of dedicating one year to buying one really beautiful thing. These items should last me a lifetime anyway, so what’s the rush? Elegance is about things all in good time.

07

Have Constant Sources Of Inspiration

What quenches one’s thirst for an elegant life? I think one of the most revealing activities for my professional and personal life as the calendar turned over this year was that a good life needs to be inspired constantly from all necessary avenues. Elegant people hold themselves to a standard and know what it looks like. They know what it looks like because they have seen or heard it done before by somebody else. This is especially true in your creative endeavors: designing a product, building a website, choosing an outfit, or looking for holiday ideas. It all starts with inspiration, and you need to be constantly on the lookout for it, or having it fed to you.

Photo by Alex Teuscher

08

Learn To Listen To Others Actively

Listening isn’t listening if it’s passive, that’s just hearing. One trait of the elegant conversationalist is how they make other people feel valued. In conversation, that means actively listening to people, not looking over their shoulder, at your phone, or waiting to say what you want to say anyway. Rather, listen to their words carefully and show them your attention. To do this, pick out one of the main words they used in the sentence and repeat it back to the form of a statement or question.

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09

Check Your Deportment

A gentleman carries himself with the grace of a king. Sometimes, mere physical presence and carriage can make a huge impression on people. This is your deportment. Such words conjure up images of old-fashioned English finishing schools, of debutantes balancing books on their heads. Men don’t need to go quite that far, but mastering the basic movements such as graceful walking and taking your seat can add imperceptible improvements to your overall demeanor.

Photo by Rob McIver

10

Think Positively & Act Intentionally

One indisputable quality all elegant people possess is that of positivity. When was the last time you met someone who embodied elegance so well but was a bit lackluster and miserable? Rarely, I’d wager. The wonderful thing is that inputting positivity into your life can so easily come from you, for free. People pick up on positivity when it’s genuine and often can’t help but absorb it and reflect it back at you.

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For example, don’t say you’re going to a job interview, say you’re going to a meeting. A small change in vocabulary takes away any negative connotations or pressure usually concomitant with an interview. At this point, you can say to yourself, “I’m going to a meeting and I’m going to have a good conversation and learn from this whatever happens.” This huge shift in intentionality has a real influence on how you actually behave in these conversations, affecting your well-being and potential outcomes. The same method applies in many scenarios. Elegant people are those who can employ that as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

Elegance emerges not as a thing in itself, but as a family of lots of little qualities and skills well-practiced. Hopefully, highlighting these ten points helps make something quite elusive feel more tangible and achievable in getting started. Remember that elegance is not a destination but a voyage—an ongoing refinement of character and conduct. By integrating these practices into our daily business, we can sculpt a better life for ourselves and others.

Stylishly Yours,

John-Paul Stuthridge

John-Paul Stuthridge is an etiquette and style coach and writer from England whose insatiable passion for style and good living has led to various social media projects in video and writing. He helps aspiring gentleman to become as learned and elegant as they can. After teaching in Russia for several years, John-Paul returned to England to take up the mantel of manners and menswear through his consultancy Man For Today. It is currently the only consultancy in United Kingdom to combine etiquette and style training. Reviving modern elegance with a classic touch, John-Paul’s work sees him advising clients in London and globally online. He contributes regular articles to newsletter subscribers to join in the resurgence of classic tailoring and gentlemanly living.

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Edited by Rachel Butler

Featured Image by Rob McIver

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Few brands embody the essence of timeless elegance as completely as Ralph Lauren.

Rugged, classic, preppy, American – these may be a few of the words you associate with the Ralph Lauren brand. Renowned for his impeccable taste and commitment to quality, Ralph Lauren’s personal ethos of the refined style follows the brand into fragrances.