Deportment and Manners
Elegance through Expressions, Poise and Carriage
How to be Graceful- A study of deportment and manners of graceful women. The poise that knowledge gives.
While we can achieve elegance in our character and dressing, we may not achieve elegance in the way we move and carry ourselves. Why? We lose the art of being graceful
in our modern day of convenience and time management, of rushing around, of being too busy ... coupled with the fact we have no training in this area and very few examples of graceful women for us to emulate.
I believe that in our journey of refinement, we should place value on learning how to be graceful. It is important to learn how to move with beauty, style and elegance.
Our dictionaries loosely define deportment as "a manner of personal conduct; behavior."
I prefer to describe what it is over a few terms such as ... poise, bearing, walk and carriage. Of course deportment is not limited to that as we will soon see.
Deportment is the way you express yourself through your features and by the way you move or hold your body.
A woman who has beautiful deportment is said to be poised, graceful and elegant. She does everything in the most finished manner.
I like to think of deportment as the art of moving gracefully.
How To Be Graceful
Though beautiful deportment may come more natural to others, it is obtained by training, whether conscious or unconscious.
If you are a dancer, schooled in ballet and ballroom perhaps, chances that you will be better at the art of deportment, because you are more conscious of the way your body moves. If your parents are graceful in their movements, most likely, you will be walking and moving in the same way. To some extent, education influences a person's deportment - as it relates back to thoughts and how one thinks which prompts the body's response.
About 100 or so years ago, children were trained in deportment, but now deportment training is mainly reserved for the acting profession. I'm not sure why it was dropped off the education curriculum, but yes, I believe in its importance and thus I hope to archive the training of deportment here on Elegantwoman.org!
So after researching acting and its methods, I've found a way for us to train ourselves in the art of deportment. An overview of this is outlined below. This took me many years to find and develop, as I
was one of those girls who struggled with an ugly walk. I've corrected it over the years though it is far from perfect. Anyway here goes!
Deportment simplified into areas of study
- Manners and Etiquette
- How to Walk
- How to Sit
- Social Conduct
To learn to be graceful, we must first study expression. Expression is the result of thought 'materializing' on her face. It is a form of action. This takes the form of facial expression, gestures, walking, moving your arms, etc.
So to ensure that we only give beautiful expressions, we have to control how we think, and control the impressions we make in our head. That means to obtain beautiful and elegant expressions, we have to obtain mental poise.
We also need the power of analysis and self-correction. Mastering this will give you command of yourself and an appearance of ease.
See also how to be gentle.
Manners and Etiquette
To learn how to be graceful, you must have an understanding of basic manners and etiquette, because they will govern your behavior. They consist of a general study of how to socialize, be introduced, be a perfect guest, when to and when NOT to apologize, etc. The study of this will give you a measure of confidence of knowing what to do in every situation, contributing to your appearance of ease and removing every trace of self-consciousness.
You can read more into this in your own time on my basic etiquette pages.
However, do not get caught up in etiquette rules and judge other people by it, otherwise, you would have missed the whole point. If I can only leave with one suggestion in your approach to manners is that "You should always consider the feelings of others".
How much does the clothing affect you? More than we think. I've privately interviewed several women who admit that they feel better about themselves when they know that they look their best.
Dress as though you might bump into that highly esteemed someone on the street. Nothing imparts quite the same glow of satisfaction as knowing that we are properly dressed. This will affect your deportment. When you look your best, you will feel your best.
Poise is balance, and to obtain it, you have to understand balance in the way you hold yourself and the way you speak.
To obtain poise, a good understanding of posture and the way the body is designed 'to move or be still' is needed. This, therefore is part of mental poise. By freeing yourself from inefficient styles of movement and bad habits of gestures, your graceful personality will show.
Thus, the powers of awareness and observation come into play, opening your eyes to what you are right now and how you should be.
To be balanced, you would need to know the right posture, to have a strong core and a strong base. A strong core is established only by exercise and a strong base is determined by the distance of your feet.
The right posture is a delicate balance of a straight back which is properly aligned with the head, with your chin neither too low or high. Your feet are somewhat apart, your stomach in and held, shoulders back and down, arms to the side. This posture is formed by training, exercise and maintained by habit.
How To Walk
Unfortunately for us, most of us learn how to walk by copying faulty and ungraceful models. As children who copy their parents, it is no doubt that we have been marred by examples of bad walking from generation to generation.
How we should walk - we should walk in a manner that is characterized by grace and freedom. It should not be hasty or hurried, legato, not staccato, not aimless but a deliberate rhythmical movement of your legs and feet in sync with gentle compensating movements of head and arms in a slow graceful swing.
When we walk, our upper torso should remain as strong as possible, it should not be swaying back and forth. We should not be over-arching our back. Our heads, while relaxed, should not distract others by bobbing, but should be slightly lifted, as though you have a confident expectation of life. I suppose that is where the training by 'placing a book on your head' comes in. If we have not employed ergonomics in our work-life, we may develop rounded shoulders and a forward head, like a turtle. Correct this right away!
We should not waddle, as that suggests obesity, nor strut as fashion models do on the runway.
To learn to walk well, in style and grace is to attain self-possession and mastery.
How to Sit
You should not fall into a chair or throw yourself on it, nor sit cautiously as though you suspect that it is dirty or would break under your weight.
Do not sit squarely on both feet, as that is too manly. Sit with your legs closed but lean them at an angle to one side.
Do not jump up or arise suddenly from your seat in an abrupt motion, nor lift feet up to 'stomp' as you get up.
Do not ever rush or be in "time management" mode. Also, while the appearance of "laziness" is worn as a badge of pride in some circles, elegant deportment does not allow any form of laziness for instance, the act of lounging around.
If you are uncomfortable or self-conscious, you must do your best to mask it because to appear uncomfortable is to not only increase your own discomfort in yourself but in others.
Learning how to overcome self-consciousness is also part of elegant deportment.
I'm not an expert on overcoming self-consciousness but you can start by building a sort of elegant self-confidence.
There are many ways to overcome this, but mastering a beautiful deportment can help with this...by knowing that you are correctly postured and at ease (which prevents further questioning in other people's minds) and possessing the confidence of having a refined set of skills: good manners, correct diction, good grammar, elegance in your speech and the art of conversation and socializing.
Some Recommended Things I use
I use Deluxe Clavicle Posture Support to help me keep the right posture whenever I work at long hours on a desk.
I read Natural Posture Solutions to get an understanding of natural movement. Our modern lifestyle has hindered us from the way we were designed to move. Understanding ergonomics will also help ensure a pain-free body in the future.
I also have this Posture, Get It Straight! DVD which gives good advice on posture and a better carriage.
The other thing that helped me with establishing more beautiful movement patterns is to learn to dance, particularly ballet. You may read more about it on my Ballet for Elegance page.
Don't worry if you're an adult, inflexible and have two left feet. Adults can learn ballet too! There are so many benefits to learning to dance.
Dancing will increase the consciousness of how you move your body. It will also help develop a strong core, which is essential for good posture. It will also develop grace and beauty in the way you move, even when you're not dancing.