She would always say “polish your shoes”. It would be raining outside and she would say “make sure your shoes are clean”. This is the first and foremost thing I remember I learned from my mom about clothing etiquette. Ever since then if I see a guy with dusty let alone dirty shoes he is automatic ‘no’.
At an early age I also knew it was not acceptable to go to the near mom and pop grocery looking less than your best. You never know whom you will run into. Dress as though you will bump into that highly-esteemed someone on the street. Lipstick, teasing of the hear and fixing a quick elegant outfit was something so normal if you run out of milk and you need to run to the nearest shop.
My grandmother (my mom’s mom) was the bookstore manager in town. In the Communist days she would get 'good books' (classics mostly by the almighty Russian literature titans) and she would save that preciousness for the bourgeoisies in town for their reading pleasures. We were also among the blessed with classic literature at the time. Among all the classics (I knew all the big names of books and authors of the classic literature from reading the titles all over our home as I was learning to read), there was a tiny book called' How to Behave in Society’ – a book written in a very proper manner about manners. Not only did I have to read it but I also had to be questioned on it on a daily basis to retain the knowledge and affirm those etiquette norms.
Two things had forever stuck in my mind - be graceful and learn foreign language.
Grace comes from within for the most part, but cultivating it and building on it is a lifetime effort. Graciousness is an element of a woman’s true beauty. Everybody knows someone graceful. To me it is my mom – her grace start from within.
Learn foreign language – take pride in learning another language. Yes it is so true that your life ends up changing completely for the better. Since first grade I had been told every possible occasion by my grandmother Adelina and my aunts that I should only pursue the English language school. I am glad I listened.
To sum it up I am stealing a quote by Genevieve Antoine Dariuax: “To be elegant is first of all to know yourself, and to know yourself well requires a certain amount of reflection and intelligence’