Ten-Item Wardrobe Help! Reader Q&A

9:00 AM 24 Comments

Hello readers,

Life with baby is really blissful and I am enjoying my time off. Thank you for all of your messages!

The pre-recorded reader Q&A's continue this week as I address a commonly asked question about the ten-item wardrobe.

Valerie C writes:

Hi Jennifer,
This is my first year truly implementing the principles you teach in your books which I love. I am curious to know if you or any other daily connoisseur fans ever found it almost overwhelming at times. I have found there is a lot to purchase to look presentable always. From my ideal 10 item wardrobe, pajamas, shoes, and make up. How did you do it? one purchase at a time? Do you have any tips or strategies on pulling it all together? Even mentally, some days I feel great while others I feel I am not chic after all. Thanks for all the hard work I'm learning so much from you and other sharers.

Valerie, thank you for your question! Many people feel overwhelmed when the decide to truly start the ten-item wardrobe. Sometimes during this process they come to a realization about their true style and decide to start going in that direction. Other times they commit to wearing presentable pajamas and realize they only have one or two pairs. There are many more possibilities but through all this the urge to go shopping and buy everything you "need" can be intense.

In this week's video, I urge you to take it slow and enjoy the journey. I do not advocate going on a shopping spree to fill all of the holes in your wardrobe. I do recommend keeping a running list of everything you'd like to purchase, but only make a purchase when you can: a.) afford to do so (never put something on a credit card you can't pay off or go into debt over an item) and b.) have found just the right item to match your need (remember, we aren't just buying something because it's on sale anymore).

There are so many more ideas in this video, I do hope you watch. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur


Blogger Lizzbert shares her summer ten-item wardrobe here.

Happy Meets Home shares the top ten lessons she learned from the ten-item wardrobe.

Comments of the week

Pam writes:

This was a really great comment to discuss today. While my husband doesn't follow a Madame Chic lifestyle intentionally, I have an illustration regarding my husband about how just doing your own thing can influence others. My husband works as a supervisor in a factory. When he first starting working there he noticed that everyone, including the other supervisors, all wore their 'trashy' clothes because, well they work in a messy factory. My husband broke the mold and always came into work wearing dress pants and a button-down shirt. Other supervisors wanted to know why he dressed up. His reply was that as someone in a position of authority he needed to distinguish himself from his employees. The others soon realized that the simple act of dressing the part garnered much respect from my husbands employees towards him. They came back to him wanting to know how he could afford to dress so nice in a factory where it is commonplace for clothing to get marred. He told them that we buy all of his work clothes at Goodwill in a wealthy town nearby and spent MUCH less than they probably did on their work clothes. Soon after, other supervisors began showing up in dress pants and button-down shirts boasting that they had made a trip to Goodwill. We spend less money on a much higher quality of clothing for him to wear in the factory than we could afford if we shopped at regular stores. It doesn't always cost a lot of money to make an impact, and as you say, you may just inspire others to follow suit as we saw in my husband's factory.

Dear Pam, this could be my favorite comment ever! I love this story about your husband. I love that he did not care that his co-workers never dressed up. I love that it wasn't required of him. I love that he did it anyway in a way that fit in his budget and I love that he inspired others to do the same. You are married to one great guy! Thank you for sharing this story.

Lacy writes:

I am a private piano teacher, and I work from a studio in my home. I have fond memories of my own childhood teacher wearing her silk blouses, dresses, and kitten heels. She was well into her 70's when I began studying with her, and many of her clothes were older than I was! Yet, she always looked so elegant and credible--even though she was tiny, elderly, and a bit round--because her clothing choices stated clearly how seriously she took her profession. When I started to rebuild my studio after years off with children, I made a decision to emulate her. My "uniform" is typically a sheath dress and low heels (elegant, and EASY). New students and parents usually comment for weeks on how nicely I'm dressed before they seem to get used to seeing me like that. I smile, thank them, and tell them their lessons are very important to me. I do think it has helped them take lessons more seriously. I also suspect it cuts down on some of the more troublesome aspects of running a tiny business from your home in terms of helping clients understand that this is a REAL business, and therefore they must pay and do so on time. And it makes my life easier--a limited number of choices that always look great! Thank you for your thoughtful approach--your work certainly influenced my thinking just as I was beginning the arduous process of rebuilding my career. Congratulations and best wishes to you! ~Lacy

Dear Lacy, I love your story too. It's clear your own piano teacher influenced you in a way that has stayed with you into adulthood. This is exactly what I mean in Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic when I say that we all have viewers. You never know who you will inspire.

This week I would love to know... how is your ten-item wardrobe coming along? Have you struggled with the urge to go on a shopping spree after adopting the look presentable always philosophy? Do you have any struggles or tips you'd like to share with us? Let me know in the comment section and your comment could be chosen as comment of the week.

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Family Not On Board with Madame Chic? Reader Q&A

7:42 AM 7 Comments

Thank you for all of your wonderful comments. Life with baby Connoisseur is just wonderful. He is such a joy!

As promised, here are the Q&A videos I shot before having the baby. Today's video answers a reader's question about how to deal with family members who live contrary to the Madame Chic lifestyle. I receive this question so often, I am really happy to address it today.

When we decide to embark on the lifestyle of living a beautiful, elegant and poised life, we sometimes expect everyone else in our life to follow suit! But the reality, more often than not, is that others who are close to us don't even have these issues on their radar. So how to cope?

Check out this week's video to hear my response. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

Question of the week

Sara writes:

Hi Jennifer! My name is Sara and I am a big fan of your videos and books and I was hoping to ask you a question on the topic of quality friendships. I love the suggestions you have on how to make quality, like-minded friends. Although those are important friendships, I wonder what I can do about my oldest friendships. The more I have practiced poise the more I realize that some of my best friends are not poised at all. I know that being an example to them is great, but do you have any other suggestions on how to inspire others to lead a poised life? I do not want to make them feel as though I am trying to change them, but I am excited to share the wonderful side-effects that come from looking presentable always and maintaining an air of mystery! Thank you!

Hi Sara, this is such a great question, and I feel it relates nicely to this week's topic as well. It is very important to realize that we cannot change other people, only ourselves. I have mentioned before (as well as in this week's video) that if we maintain our poise and integrity, we may inspire others to do the same. If these are some of your oldest and dearest friends, it is perfectly fine to share the exciting changes in your life with them. You could lend them one of your Madame Chic books, or tell them about how the ten-item wardrobe has changed your life. Or you could email them a blogpost or video from The Daily Connoisseur that inspires you. They might find it interesting and they might not, but either way, you tried! Just remember there is a reason why you became friends with them so many years ago. Remember those reasons if you ever feel frustrated with their behavior. Not everyone has the same lifestyle goals and that is OK!

Comment of the week

Starr writes:

Congratulations on the arrival of your sweet baby. You are a hero! Welcome to the world, baby boy.

During the time I lived in England I haunted the charity shops, gathering a beautifully mismatched collection of Staffordshire transferware. The truly old pieces (some of them over a century) a significantly smaller than the more contemporary pieces. But, sticking with traditional patterns (ie. Willow ware, English Scene), the newer pieces still feel puny compared to a set of "standard" white plates I picked up during a subsequent U.S. relocation. Those white plates almost are never used -- except as serving platters.

Incidentally, when I first returned to the U.S., my sister came to visit. The shipping container had just arrived from England and my sister was so interested in my plate collection. After a happy 30 minutes of looking at the different patterns, my sister (who is universally recognized as the most elegant amongst my siblings) turned to me and said, "Now you need to go to [big box store] and buy some plastic plates." When I asked *why* I would do that, she explained that I needed to save my plates for "special occasions. You can't easily replace these as they break. You aren't in England anymore." I simply told that I use the best I have and if they break, it would be fine...and it is.

Hi Starr, thank you for your comment. I loved the story about your elegant sister. I'm glad you explained that you like to use your best everyday. I bet she got a kick out of that!

This week I would love to know, have you dealt with similar frustrations? Are you struggling with how to deal with a co-worker, family member or friend who is not on board with the Madame Chic/ Daily Connoisseur lifestyle? Let me know in the comment section below, and your comment could be chosen as comment of the week on the blog.

See you next time as we discuss your ten-item wardrobe questions...

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Antique Dishes vs. New Dishes (Portion Size)

9:57 AM 33 Comments
Before we begin today, I'd like to express my heartfelt condolences to everyone affected by the horrible terrorist attack this past weekend. We are holding the victims and their families in our prayers.

Thank you for all of your wonderful notes and well-wishes for our family! Baby connoisseur is such a joy. We are all really enjoying spending time with him and just delighting in his presence.

Before I delivered my baby, I was able to shoot 5 videos for you that I have scheduled to go up in the next few weeks. I wanted to stay in touch with you on the blog, yet give myself a break to spend time with the baby without working. Today's video shows you some observations about antique dishes vs. modern dishes. In the weeks to come, I have three reader Q&As, as well as a fun and easy chicken dinner recipe.

Let's get started with today's post...

We recently picked up a set of 1960s antique dishes from a local estate sale. The set has a French blue and white scroll design with a gold edge. It is an ironstone set called Capri Crown Essex, made in Staffordshire, England. In today's video, I compare the antique set with our modern Pottery Barn dishes. As you will see, the modern dishes are much larger. I have compared antique dishes before in a previous post. It's fun to do this because you really do see how trends change. As time goes on, we tend to eat more and our modern dish sizes really reflect this.

If you have a set of antique dishes, I encourage you to use them on a regular basis. Not only is it fun to eat off of unique and beautiful plates, but we can all benefit from the smaller portion sizes as well. If you do not own antique dishes or china, keep an eye out for local estate sales or visit consignment or thrift shops. You can find wonderful bargains at mere fractions of the price of modern china, which can be so pricey. Don't worry if you cannot find a complete set, it can be fun to collect and mix and match.

Check out today's video to see the difference between the new and old plates. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur


Thank you to LandOMoms for recommending Lessons from Madame Chic in their article on eating well.

Comments of the Week
Lo C writes:

I'm a public school band director and we have two major concerts every school year. While our number one priority is to have families support their children (there is nothing more devastating than watching an elementary school student look for their parent only to have them not there), I have noticed a couple families attending our events without dressing up. Of course we understand as teachers when parents are running from one event to another. The children do seem to notice a difference in the presentation of adults. I, personally, love seeing parents dress up and make the event even more special to the kiddos! It's all about those babies!!

Hi Lo C, I took part in band from 5th to 12th grade and I remember each band concert feeling like such a major event. Back then, all of the parents took pride in their appearance and I think it helped make the events more special. What a fun job you have!

Me writes:

Congratulations for the birth of your son!

I grew up in Italy and brought up with the habit that you always give the best of yourself, it doesn't matter the circumstances. There's no grand, medium or small occasion in which you shouldn't show respect for the others and keep up your own dignity by dressing appropriate. "Comb your hair, wash your hands, polish your shoes" was what we still remember our grand-father's motto, "because you never know".

Dressing with decor at the children's function aligns with that idea, maybe very Italian, of pull yourself together without trying hard, without having to impress anyone. It's where good manners meet style and elegance. It doesn't take much and makes everyone in a good mood.

Hi Me, thank you for sharing the Italian perspective on the subject of dressing well. I love hearing from different cultures around the world. When I visited Italy, I had so much fun people-watching. I found the presentation of dress in Italy to be lovely.

This week I would love to know... do you use your good dishes on a regular basis? Have you noticed any differences in plate size from one era of dishes to the next? Let me know in the comment section below and your comment could be chosen as comment of the week.

Please share photos of your dishes on social media using the hashtag #MADAMECHIC

See you soon!

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Parents, Dress Up For Your Children

9:00 AM 31 Comments
Hi everyone... wonderful news! We had our baby this past weekend and ... it's a boy! He is wonderful and healthy. I will speak about him in a future post, but I wanted to publish this for you first... Monday's original post. It's very timely! Thanks for all of your wonderful comments on social media. We are all enjoying this very special time! See you soon, Jennifer xx

We have come to the end of the school year. This time of year can be so busy for parents, with graduations, concerts, recitals, award ceremonies, open houses and parent teacher conferences. In this week's video, I encourage parents to dress up for their children to mark the specialness of these occasions and rites of passage.

Children do notice how we dress, whether they tell us or not. You will notice them smile and compliment you when you dress up for a certain occasion. Dressing up for them will send non-verbal communication that the event is special. It also conveys respect, because you are showing that you thought about, and have prepared for the function.

Now, this is not supposed to be stressful. If you have a ten-item wardrobe, you will most likely have many presentable options already to choose from. You don't need to go overboard in expensive clothes, or even go shopping for anything. Just looking presentable and appropriate for the occasion is enough. To deem whether you are appropriate for the occasion, just think of the event. One would dress differently for an outdoor daytime graduation, for example, than they would for an evening choir concert.

There are so many options, even casual ones, that still convey dressiness. Always avoid exercise clothes, pajamas and sweat pants (yes it seems obvious, but I have seen it all at these sorts of functions). You can absolutely wear jeans, it just depends on how you style them. Jeans with flip-flops and a tee shirt do not read as dressing up because this is the type of clothing that is worn on an average day.

Below are some outfit ideas. I am giving a wide range of options because I know not all people are comfortable in dressier clothing and prefer to wear jeans (whether or not you choose to wear jeans will depend on the formality of the event, it's up to you). I tend to veer on the dressier side for everything, but you don't have to if it makes you uncomfortable. The key is to look presentable and feel great too, so do what works for you.

Here are some suggestions:


Slacks in any color or white jeans, blouse, flat or wedge sandals and a cardigan or wrap.

Summer dress, cardigan, flat or wedge sandals and a special piece of jewelry.

Skirt, blouse, flat or wedge sandals, wrap or cardigan, sunglasses.

Concert or recital:

Dress, heels or flats, paired with a cardigan or wrap.

Skirt, blouse, heels or flats, cardigan or wrap.

Dark or white jeans, blouse, cardigan, heels or flats, special jewelry.

Slacks in any color with blouse and cardigan, heels or flats.

Award Ceremonies, Open House, Parent Teacher Conferences

Dark jeans, blouse, sweater, flat shoes and handbag.

Dress, wrap or sweater, flats or low heels.

Skirt or slacks with blouse and cardigan, paired with low heels or flats.

I wish I could model some of these looks for you, but being 37 weeks pregnant and on bed rest, that isn't happening right now... perhaps in the fall I can model some appropriate looks! Check out my video to hear me discuss this topic. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

Comments of the Week

Wenzday writes:
Hi Jennifer,

I love your books and blog, and putting together the 10-item wardrobe has been amazing for me.

I am in total agreement with you on the bad language issue. (So is my husband, who makes me turn the sound up whenever I watch your videos!) The thing is, I think it goes beyond the fact that they are "bad words." I think it is about disturbing the atmosphere and comfort of people around you. Swearing is accompanied by strong negative emotion, and it is just plain obnoxious to inflict that on other people. Especially somewhere like a restaurant, where other people have dressed up and are paying good money to have a lovely meal and time with friends or family, or a beauty salon where one expects to be able to relax.

Thanks so much for your post!

Hello to you and your husband, Wenzday. You touched upon a major truth in your comment. Foul language does carry a negative energy with it and does infect the atmosphere, which is why we can't quite put our finger on why it is so bothersome in public spaces. Thank you for wording this so eloquently.

R&R writes:
Thank you for this post. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of self-awareness (or lack of). Unfortunately, I find that it is now unique to observe behavior (language, cell-phone etiquette, driving etiquette) that IS respectful of others. I am the Human Resources Director of a large medical office and it is not uncommon for applicants to arrive for an interview in jeans and sneakers and to use profanity during the interview. By far, the worst offenders I have are the high school students that apply for a job shadow. They arrive (after having been dropped off by a parent) to observe a licensed medical professional wearing gym shorts or flip flops with their belly button exposed. After having to ask several of these students to leave, I now provide every job shadow applicant with a description of appropriate attire, since they are certainly not provided with this guidance at home or at school.

Dear R&R, thank you for sharing your experience as a human resources director. People can be oblivious to their bad habits. It sounds like all of the applicants you describe in your comment could benefit from working on their poise. One of my favorite letters was from a reader who just landed her dream job and was told her "poise" was what made her stand out in the interview process.

Edna P writes:
Every lady is a woman but every woman is not a lady.

Hi Edna, thank you for commenting on YouTube. I would like to add to your sentence that every woman has the potential to be a lady. And I truly believe that. Anyone who makes up her mind can have the grace, class and elegance described in Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic.

Congratulations to my blogging friend, Fiona Ferris, of How To Be Chic on the publication of her new book, Thirty Chic Days.

Fiona's blog is wonderful, and she infuses all of her inspiring tips and ideas into her comprehensive book. Congratulations, Fiona!

This week, I would love to know... What are your thoughts on dressing for children's school events? Do you feel that parents are becoming more lax in this regard? Do you think it is important for us to present ourselves well when we attend a child's extracurricular or school function? Let me know and your comment could be chosen as comment of the week!

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Amy Snow Book Giveaway

8:32 AM 4 Comments

I am excited to present you with a giveaway from Simon & Schuster, for an exciting new book by Tracy Rees, Amy Snow.

Winner of the UK’s Richard & Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition, this page-turning debut novel follows an orphan whose late, beloved best friend bequeaths her a treasure hunt that leads her all over Victorian England and finally to the one secret her friend never shared.

It is 1831 when eight-year-old Aurelia Vennaway finds a naked baby girl abandoned in the snow on the grounds of her aristocratic family’s magnificent mansion. Her parents are horrified that she has brought a bastard foundling into the house, but Aurelia convinces them to keep the baby, whom she names Amy Snow. Amy is brought up as a second-class citizen, despised by Vennaways, but she and Aurelia are as close as sisters. When Aurelia dies at the age of twenty-three, she leaves Amy ten pounds, and the Vennaways immediately banish Amy from their home.

But Aurelia left her much more. Amy soon receives a packet that contains a rich inheritance and a letter from Aurelia revealing she had kept secrets from Amy, secrets that she wants Amy to know. From the grave she sends Amy on a treasure hunt from one end of England to the other: a treasure hunt that only Amy can follow. Ultimately, a life-changing discovery awaits...if only Amy can unlock the secret. In the end, Amy escapes the Vennaways, finds true love, and learns her dearest friend’s secret, a secret that she will protect for the rest of her life.

An abandoned baby, a treasure hunt, a secret. As Amy sets forth on her quest, readers will be swept away by this engrossing gem of a novel—the wonderful debut by newcomer Tracy Rees.

I have already started reading Amy Snow and I love it. I can't put it down! I love the Victorian era, I love a good mystery, and I love an enthralling page-turner. This book has all of these elements. In short, this is my perfect summer read.

Simon & Schuster are generously offering to give away 5 copies of Amy Snow to lucky readers of The Daily Connoisseur. This giveaway is for US residents only (terms set by Simon & Schuster). Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below and the winners will be announced on the widget one week from today. Best of luck!

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Amy Snow will be released June 7th, 2016, and until then is available for pre-order. Check it out on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or stop in to your local bookstore to buy.

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