# Reader Questions Answered

Chic in College? Reader Q&A

This is a special week on The Daily Connoisseur. There will be three blogposts and videos answering your questions, starting with today's question, which comes from Caroline, who asks about how to be chic in college.

What a perfect time to address this question as everyone heads back to school. I have a lot to say about college life. It's not exactly conducive to living elegantly! In addition to my advice on avoiding the pajamas-in-class trap, I give important advice on how not to succumb to peer pressure in college. I hope you check out my video and share this with anyone you care about who is entering college.

If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel at www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur. Be sure to "like" this video and subscribe to my YouTube channel (it's free!). I appreciate your support!

Shamikia from Beauty Fold writes about her favorite parts of At Home With Madame Chic in her article called, Fashion and home life the French way.

Comments of the Week
Lillian writes:
Hi Jennifer, I just finished "Polish your Poise" this month. I have to say that some of your advice has really helped me lately. Recently I got into a political discussion with a family member I don't always agree with. I've really been taking your advice to heart, especially about not letting others affect your inner peace. Instead of getting defensive about my position, I maintained my cool and listened. Then when there was an opportunity for me to respond, I thoughtfully suggested my stance as an alternative way to look at the issue. The person still didn't agree with me, but I realized that was ok. Just because they didn't agree with me didn't mean my opinion was wrong. We both listened to each other, and the conversation and the rest of the evening was very pleasant.

This weekend my friend and I went shopping for some fall updates. When he found a shirt he liked, he went back to buy it in every color. I stopped him. After a little discussion, it was clear that the color he had instinctively grabbed to try on was the only one he actually liked. His strategy is usually to buy a lot of one thing he knows works for him (a useful strategy for someone who doesn't particularly like shopping). I suggested instead "What if you just wear this one a lot? This one will be your favorite anyway, you'll probably chose it over the others whenever you can, so just don't buy the others to begin with." He saw my reasoning. We'll see, but you might have another 10-item wardrobe convert soon!

Hi Lillian, I am so happy to hear that Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic helped you to keep your cool with your family member. During this heated political season we are inevitably going to come across people with strong and differing opinions to us. Keeping your poise will not only deliver your point more effectively, it will also help to keep the situation pleasant. I was also glad to hear of your friends' a-ha moment with the ten-item wardrobe concept. Well done!

Sissy826 writes:

Jennifer, just wanted you to know that you have really inspired me to focus on owning quality items and fewer of them. I am almost finished with my fall/winter capsule wardrobe (I live in Idaho, so it's a little more urgent for me. LOL!) for this year and I could not be happier with it. I feel I have upgraded my look and everything just goes together so nicely. I even took some time and found a pre-owned, but excellent condition, Coach bag for my wardrobe. Its not just clothes, either. For Mothers Day last spring I asked my family for a new, super awesome, gourmet pizza stone. My husband and adult kids all happily pitched in so it didn't strain anyone and I got something useful I really wanted. Tomorrow I am going to the doctor and running a few errands and will wear one of my new skirts, even though I know everyone will wonder what I am dressed up for. It feels so good not to just shlep around in jeans every day. Buy quality! Use our best! Keep spreading the word!

Hi Sissy, when you start to truly implement the look presentable always/ ten-item wardrobe/ high-quality clothing concepts from Lessons from Madame Chic, exciting changes happen in your life. I was so pleased to read about your experience. It truly is the small things!

Tawny C. writes:

I've been reading lessons from madame chic and I haven't been able to put it down! I love it so much, and I'm very glad I found your channel💖💖

Thank you, Tawny! And welcome to The Daily Connoisseur!

This week, I would love to know... what was your college experience like? What did you observe? Do you have any advice to give or stories to tell regarding peer pressure? Let us know in the comment section, and your comment could be chosen as comment of the week!

See you on Wednesday, when I answer a ten-item wardrobe question from Caleb.

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The Wool Fairy said...

Hi Jennifer, great post! I've often thought that your first book in particular would make the perfect graduation gift for a young woman heading off to university in the fall. I wish it had been around back in my day as it might have made me think a bit more about these topics during that time of my life. I was definitely guilty of rolling out of bed and straight to class in those days. In fact, I remember rejoicing that my apartment was so close to the lecture hall, I could set my alarm for 8:25 and still arrive on time for the 8:30 class! I attended a small town university in Canada in the late nineties when "grunge" was the rage (: It's great you are an accessible role model to young women today and I enjoy spreading the word about you.

rosary said...

Do look at some lovely Southern colleges -- University of Mississippi, Hampden Sydney (All the gentlemen wear blazers to football games), College of Charleston, etc. They have some lovely traditions of dressing up even today. Drop by "The Grove" at Ole Miss on game day. You will see some ladies dressed very nicely!

Lillian said...

Hi Jennifer

Thank you so much for including my comment this week in your "comments of the week". I love the community you cultivate with these posts, and love reading others' comments.
And I'm so happy you answered a question for younger readers! I myself am a doctoral student, but because I went right from my undergraduate degree to a graduate program, I feel that the madame chic lifestyle advice for college students it a good fit for those of us pursuing higher education as well.
College can be full of peer pressure, that is true. But it is also the only time of your life where you have the highest likelihood of meeting people who might share your passion of cultivating your mind, because there is a club, class, student organization, or team for nearly everything! If there were ever a time to cultivate your mind and seek out the arts, college is it. So take it for the amazing opportunity it is.
And you would be surprised with just how much your desire to cultivate your mind can rub off on other people - or encourage people who may have wanted to, but would never have joined unless a friend did it with them. One of my fondest memories from college was learning how to swing dance. It wasn't considered the "coolest" activity (after all, it wasn't partying), but I loved it. One day I extended the invite to a guy I had a big crush on. He laughed it off. So imagine my surprise when during the next swing meeting, he came through the door! I thought my heart was going to stop. We danced all night, and 7 years later he and I are still tearing up the floor at wedding receptions and one another's family events. You never know who you'll meet doing the things you genuinely love <3

Susan Bybee said...

When I was in college, we wore pajamas to early morning classes, but wore raincoats or all weather coats over them to conceal. Now, no one bothers with subterfuge!

Susan Bybee said...

When I was in college, we wore pajamas to early morning classes, but wore raincoats or all weather coats over them to conceal. Now, no one bothers with subterfuge!

Emilia Barreto said...

Lol! Subterfuge is key, yes?! Love it!

madeofmydreams said...

Such an important topic! I graduated with my bachelor's degree in 2012, my best advice for incoming freshman or anyone in college is to establish yourself; live you would like to be and people will get used to it eventually. Define what you want to wear, how you want to act, how you would like to sound, and don't deviate from it! I do remember feeling like a fish out of water in college, and I also read the book of Daniel on an almost weekly basis for encouragement. ( He was surrounded by young people and receiving a higher education, when he decided to live as he knew was right regardless of what was easiest. ) a perk of behaving with poise and dressing in a Chic fashion is that you get chosen to lead groups, people open the door for you when you're entering the building, people stop for you so you can cross the street even if it's not a crosswalk... You will stand out, but it is an advantage more than a disadvantage. And after the first week or two of classes, people stop asking you why you're dressed up... (Beware of the day you do show up in yoga pants! Your friends will think you're dying.)


Glee Whitsett said...

Yes, love this topic! Echoing rosary, my southern college sorority has a 2/3 rule. You don't leave the house without two of these three "done": hair, makeup, or clothes. It gives girls some options for class, like shorts and a t-shirt, but they are still cute from the neck up. Not quite Daily Connoisseurs, but it's a nice start!

Debs said...

Had to giggle at pjs in class :)

April said...

Jennifer, I went to college when you did, and I can tell you that not once, ever did I go to class (or anywhere) without being dressed with hair and makeup done. Never. I even dressed up quite often just for fun. Skirts, nice blouses. I worked in the campus mail room, which is a grimy job with touching all that mail and ink, but I simply wore an apron when I felt like it would affect my clothes. At first my roommates tried to shame me for it and make me feel bad about it, but I knew for sure and for certain I didn't want to look like they did when they were on campus. After they realized they couldn't pull me down, they stepped up their game. They started dressing nicer, doing their hair and makeup to go to class. Me looking my best made them uncomfortable, so they tried to get me to quit. I didn't cave to their low standards, so they ended up following my lead. The truth is, even as a mother of 6 young kids, even when I had infant triplets, I got up and got dressed and did my hair and makeup every single day. It makes my day better. I'm often stopped, like I was today, by strangers admiring my outfit and that I "dress up" to run errands. Most days it's a nice tee (I love J. Crew for tees) with my favorite dark wash jeans from Express (super comfortable AND flattering) or nice shorts, a necklace and some sandals. Today it was a casual red pencil skirt, a white tee with black stripes, a necklace and silver sandals. I was perfectly comfortable. It's just as easy as yoga pants, and when you find great jeans, just as comfortable. I can still tell that the way I dress makes people uncomfortable bc it shines a bright light on their sweat pants and Uggs, but the truth is, I don't care what they are wearing in Costco. They do. And I don't let them make it my problem. I hope the young woman who wrote the question decides to take the lead and do what makes her feel great.

Stephanie said...

I went to college around the same time as Jennifer, and for me it seemed like most girls alternated between extreme casual and overdressed. By overdressed, I mean underdressed in a flimsy summer dress and sandals in January, or occasionally spending hours on their hair.
While it's important to avoid underdressing, it's also important to be comfortable in your own skin. Having a daily 2-5 minute make-up routine, several quick, yet elegant, hairstyle techniques, and clothing that is appropriate for the season and occasion (cocktail dresses would be as inappropriate in class as pjs) all support the everyday elegance that is so chic.

Unknown said...

Like many of the other commenters, it is my practice to look presentable in my daily life and that is how I am comfortable; however, I think it is important to avoid a self-congratulatory tone in the discussion as it can be off-putting to others as well as serving to undermine the message. Frankly, it is unbecoming. The sartorial choices of others are not my concern and neither approach is inherently "right" or "wrong".

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with your comment, Unknown. I also think some comments are going in a 'dangerous direction'. Looking presentable is not about being better than other people, but about being comfortable in your own skin. There is no merit in dressing well and not being poised...

Arlene said...

I'm in college and when I see girls in a cute put together kind of outfit I become inspired to wear my best clothes. Just because others wear pajamas doesn't mean you will stand out just because you dressed up, you should dress up because you don't know who you might be inspiring in your class or on campus.