This article previously appeared on June 10, 2015.
These days it’s so easy to feel inspired by good style everywhere, especially on blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram. I know people who have ridiculously beautiful set-ups, and though this is very strange for me to think about, I do too. But while appreciative of the picturesque environment I’m now in, I have a fairly ambivalent attitude toward living stylishly.
The other night, for instance, I was watching a documentary on Netflix about Massimo Bottura, who is widely considered to be one of the best chefs in the world. He was so debonair even as he shopped for groceries, and made dishes that look more like art objects than food. Everything was ‘just so.’ I thought that was a very Italian attitude to style (Italians, feel free to disagree with me in comments). It stood out to me more because my father is a restaurateur and when he goes shopping for his restaurants, he doesn’t look like he popped out of a catalog. But even though he doesn’t wear impeccable suits, I still learned a great deal about living stylishly from him.
Living stylishly, for me, doesn’t have to do with exquisite taste, attention to detail, knowledge of art history or design theory, traveling, dinners at nice restaurants, or cooking at home with organic ingredients–although all those things help and make some part of it. To me, living stylishly means living with love. I relate back to the Van Gogh quote: “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”
If you fill your life with what and whom you love, you are living in style whether or not it looks like a catalog. (Here I should note that as a kid growing up in the suburbs in the early 2000s, I was so starved for good style that I was shocked by the urban sophistication of an Ikea catalog. Which I kept hungrily. Anyone else?) After a while, you realize that style is not an image you’re trying to live up to, but a certain ideal that you embody. This is something you can do at any budget, wherever you live. On the other hand, even if you are trendy and fashionable and have great-looking stuff, if none of that is related to your ideals and substance, it doesn’t come across as stylish.
On more practical terms, here are some tips to live stylishly–feel free to add your own at the end!
1. Take more photos.
I totally understand the unwillingness to take photos and disturb the moment, especially in this age of social media. And I’m not saying you should use those selfie-sticks or post dozens of photos on IG every day. But truth be told, photos help you remember the good moments. Take pictures with friends, of beautiful flowers you saw on the way to work, your pet, a nice sunset from the office. You can share them–or not.
2. Keep it simple and put the focus on where it matters.
Less is more, and the most stylish person in the room is always the one who makes impact while being utterly simple. One of the reasons Mary’s wedding was so stylish was that it was so focused, instead of being an extravaganza that weddings can be nowadays. Buy less, fill your house with less, and you’ll be able to see more clearly what you love.
3. Make more friend time.
Living in style means nothing if you don’t have good friends (think about it), and even a humble dwelling can turn into a stylish haven when you have friends, good music, candles, and some food and drink that cost hardly anything.
4. Always care more about people than things.
You know what’s always in style? Being someone who cares more about people than things or money, and having good manners. Making people feel warm and welcome is always stylish. Being cold isn’t.
5. But have things that mean a lot to you and take good care of them.
Having a house full of things that you just don’t care about is so un-stylish. Only buy what you really love, use it well and often and keep it in good condition. This way you’ll eventually fill your life with things you adore, actual belongings as opposed to just ‘stuff.’ And of course, when it’s time to retire them, lovingly retire them.
6. Have ‘your’ drink. Just like James Bond.
…and your color, your signature jewelry, your lipstick, your fragrance (the one you wear and one for home), your cafe, your flowers, your vacation spot, your authors…etc. (By the way, what’s your drink?)
7. Care about aesthetics, but be able to have a good time without it.
It’s nice if you can manage your life like a coffee table book (mmm, coffee table books) but that’s not all there is to life. You can care about the details and perfection, until it’s time to just let go and have fun.
For instance, when I go home to Portland, I don’t expect to do the same exciting things I do in New York, but I’m still happy just the same in hiking boots and no makeup as I am in heels and my best dress, going to the ballet. And sometimes I accompany my dad on his Costco runs, which I actually am able to enjoy (despite hating Costco and all that it stands for) only because it’s spending time with him, in his own daily environment.
What’s your philosophy on living in style? And what helps you live stylishly, beautifully?
Related: How to Find Your Signature Style
Get more like this—sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling; Mary Luttrell; Matt Hintsa via Flickr