On Status & Reality

by Belinda
(New York, NY, USA)

Dear Eunice,

I love reading Elegant Woman. The articles have stimulated such a positive change in me. I am a college student and for the first time, I am confronting the differences between myself and people from wealthier families.

As an elegant woman, there is a focus on quality and simplicity. However, whenever I am near one of the many girls with their designer this or that I feel so insecure.

My family has always made sure that I have quality clothes, but never at the expense of going into debt. On one hand I struggle with feeling less than and on the other hand I sometimes feel like a status "faker". I have nice clothes, nice shoes, perfumes etc. but I have horrendous spending habits so I rarely keep enough money for important necessities. I feel so ashamed. It is really affecting my self esteem.

I feel that I am a walking cliché, the girl who is pretending to be rich with externals. I need advice about how to feel like what I have is enough and also not feel ashamed about owning and wanting to have "nice" things.

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Sep 09, 2011
Elegance on a Budget?
by: Rachel

Thanks for posting Belinda, and for your great response, Eunice. I am a law student, and I frequently find myself in situations with people of much higher income levels. This site is a great reminder that elegance is first and foremost in my attitude and conduct- not in my possessions.

That said, Eunice, would you consider doing a page or two directed at younger women and those with limited incomes with advice on how to be elegant on a budget?

Thanks again.

Nov 10, 2010
Qualities of an Elegant Woman - How To Stop Shopping and Overspending
by: Eunice replies

Dear Belinda,

Thank you for sharing that heartfelt letter with me.

It is normal to 'aspire' and to want nice things. In fact, elegantwoman.org is all about that. It is about aspiring to become the woman you want to be.

When I read your email, I can completely understand because I went through these things myself! And even now, on occasion.

Keeping up with the designer-clad girls, is akin to what everyone is doing these days, as the term is coined "keeping up with the Joneses."

Luxury, designer things can give us confidence...but only for a while. If we base our 'image' and 'confidence' in these fine things, we will never be truly secure.

And we won't get satisfaction with good quality things because we don't really appreciate or value them for what they really are. Nice things!

As cliche as it sounds, you are what you think about.

If you spend lots of time at the mall, browsing fashion magazines, keeping up with sales and designer events ... you can't help but think about shopping, buying things. You'll always be 'wanting' and trying to control your spending.

While spending time at the mall is fine, but if you are struggling with having enough for basic necessities, you have find a new hobby to occupy your thoughts! You need to establish a new identity, of an elegant, intelligent lady. One who is a quality-type of person (and that does not refer to just things!)

Pursue your education (of elegance maybe?). Pick up a book about something you're interested in. It could be about the Jazz age, or Greek history, or how about fashion history like Coco Chanel and Valentino etc.

In my article, I talk about establishing your own brand of elegance, about being authentic.


When you find your strengths and talents, you pursue a stronger identity. With that self knowledge, you'll be proud of who you are, what you can do and what you know. This will lead to an immense self confidence these intimidating people in your life will come to respect.

I've noticed this pattern in elegant women. They use designer things but they are just not that important in their lives. They then are ranked far below education, knowledge, experience and feelings. And strangely, the elegant ones are quite frugal and sensible with their finances.

As my very elegant japanese friend quotes,

"I don't buy brands. I appreciate fine things but that's all they are: things. "

God bless you in your future endeavors.

Kindest regards,

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