The art of sophistication seems to have diminished within modern society. There was a time when strict rules of social propriety and etiquette were firmly in place; a man could not approach a woman in the street without her nod of consent, even if he knew her. People always sat at a table to eat and fast food and TV dinners were unheard of; the idea of strolling down the street munching on a burger was unthinkable, and simply not done. Strict sartorial rules were also in place; everyone wore hats; ladies wore gloves. Strangers must wait to be formally introduced and everyone knew exactly where they stood.
Compare that with today's society where people swear and spit in the street; where evidence of fast food litters the pavements; where men regularly feel entitled to approach women they do not know in an attempt to strike up a flirtatious and possibly inappropriate conversation. Take a look around any town or city center and you will see people who have not showered in days, who walk around in public wearing dirty clothes and unwashed hair; who offend society with the stench of their presence. This type of person is so prevalent in society that it is almost considered normal - one knows to expect it when using public transport, or in a crowded city center. What woman with a shred of dignity would want to blend in with such a crowd?
You will also see women who dress themselves as shop windows, with all their goods on display for all to see and any to sample. Teenage pregnancy, once so shocking, is now mundane. Gangs of children and teenagers run around in wild packs like dogs, snarling at those who pass by, intimidating their elderly neighbours. Schooling and education seems to be optional and as the parental discipline diminishes from generation to generation, we are left with a society in crisis, where rules are an illusion and propriety is a thing of the past. We need only think back to the London riots last summer to recognize the truth of this crisis. Anyone who lives in a large town or city will be fully aware that there are certain areas one does not visit after dark.
This type of dreary existence is optional; even if you live on a difficult housing estate, you can choose to opt out of the social disintegration going on around you. Creating a sense of community has traditionally been a woman's role, but if your local community is not up to scratch you can always distance yourself mentally and emotionally, even if you are in no position to move house. This is not about developing a superiority complex or being snobbish, though such accusations might be thrown at you as a woman who maintains her dignity is unusual in modern society; it is simply about creating the kind of life you want to live, choosing to associate only with those people who enhance your life in some way, and to educate yourself on the topics that you find interesting.
I love to spend my time doing things that develop my sense of accomplishment and sophistication. I have mentioned in previous posts and Tweets that I adore the etiquette and sophistication of ballet and equestrianism. Both these activities make me stronger, more graceful and fearless. I have always been an avid reader and a bibliophile, collecting books from a young age. Style is more important to me than fashion. I refuse to follow trends. I find pleasure in art and music and I am enjoying learning more about these fascinating subjects. For me, sophistication has nothing to do with money and titles; it is not about the salary you make or the work you do. Sophistication is not dependent on material possessions.
The art of becoming a sophisticate is an intellectual pursuit. It lies deep within a woman's sense of self as she refines herself intellectually, sartorially, physically and emotionally. Developing one's sophistication can be a great solace when circumstance refuses to comply with one's personal dreams; so much can be self taught from books, in the evenings. To be well read in literature, poetry, history, philosophy, psychology; to have a wide vocabulary; to develop greater knowledge of culture by attending art galleries, ballets, theater plays, talks and discussions; to hone one's wit and social skills - all these things will help you to develop your sense of personal sophistication. This in turn will give you a much needed sense of separation from the masses; you are no longer content to follow the crowd because you are too busy forging your own path. You will walk taller, rather than slouching around; you will carry a book to read or visit a park or museum in your lunch break, rather than gossiping at the water cooler; you will be happy to be seen as different, an individual, rather than blending in. Your time is precious so you are less likely to agree to do something from a sense of 'falling in line' with everyone else; you will learn to say no, graciously but firmly, and as you glean more time to yourself you can work more on developing your sophistication even further - its a win win situation. Leave the masses far behind and become a sophisticate.