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That Little Something That Creates Our Style

By Leslie Ginnes January 22, 2024 Beauty

He had that ‘Little Something’, that ‘je ne sais quoi,’ commonly considered the essence of Parisian Style. My husband and I considered what it was, like a flick of static, that made us aware of him. We concurred his neck scarf wrapped for warmth was the singular sartorial item of note. I asked my husband to take a photo.

Style found in a small café in Saint Germain-des-Pres would not be all that note-worthy save for the very stylish gentleman who was a tourist, perhaps French from another part of the country but not Parisian.

The man in the Paris café has remained the quintessential example of Style. And Style that was not solely dependent upon the clothes he wore.

What Style Is, to Me

When I think about style now, I do not think only about seasonal fashion shifts, hairstyles, or makeup choices. I think about Style in an overarching sense. That ‘little something’ is not just style alone but in conjunction with lifestyle. I went to the dictionary first, then to Google to see what the sages offered.

The dictionary:

Style, noun

  1. A particular kind, sort, or type concerning form, appearance, or character.
  2. A particular, distinctive, or characteristic mode of action or manner of acting.

When I checked again for Lifestyle, it provided:

  1. The habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group.

When I searched Google for style and lifestyle, fashion and age, exercise and health were the predominant links that peppered the search.

Later Life Style

The opportunities to become a woman with style came later in life.

I confess my inevitable failures have occasionally vexed me as I journeyed toward being a particular kind, form, and character. Being distinctive through action and presence was, I felt deep inside, important regardless of how inept I felt at times.

My first steps were awkward. I had intelligence, but I needed to gain my own opinion. I was visual but had yet to learn what I liked versus what I liked for me. Having more things was more important than having the better something. I didn’t know who I was and wanted to have multiple choices from which to pick. Inevitably, frumpy and predictable were adjectives I was all too familiar with.

I remember when I was in the Portland Patagonia store looking with my husband for something he wanted. I was feeling beige and boring. A woman walked by me; I felt a jolt of envy for her ease and grace, simplicity of dress, adorned with a good dose of ‘je ne sais quoi’.

I noticed her shopping style, looking and considering, not rushing. She did not look at the price tag until she pulled the item off the rack and thought it was worth consideration. I noticed how she spoke with her friend, a ready smile she shared easily. She was open and contained at the same time.

Then, I Got It

I remember the moment when the penny dropped.

It was as if my eyes were opened for the first time. I saw she was neatly and easily put together quality over quantity, having one adornment, a unique, statement-making wrist cuff. She took the classics and gave them a hard twist: simple, quality, and one eye-catching accessory. She was calm and laughed easily.

I had a recipe!

It took a long while for me to break my habits of overdoing, overspeaking, and wearing other people’s choices badly, but finally, I did.

Inch by Inch, I Grew

As I age and better understand myself in the life given to me, my lifestyle and style have evolved, changed, or become a second skin. Being a person of conscience as well as a visual person, I perceive style as a way of being, not just looking.

I am not surprised by my desire to whittle down the props in my life, the concepts in my head, the attitudes in my behavior, and the clothing in my closet. Reframing my life, one decision at a time, brings me to the single suitcase concept.

I have this fantasy: if I were to have the White Shirt I have been looking for, my best-fitting pair of jeans, my favorite pants, the sweater that went from day to night, the jacket that aided that journey, along with the scarf that tied it all together along with the ankle boots I adore, I could travel on the spur of the moment with one suitcase. I would feel myself being myself at ease and with grace. I could be contained in my presentation and still be open of heart.

Further, my words would be less on a subject and more informative; my effort to sit up straight would pay off. I could make dinner from what I already have in the larder and be satisfied with what I am doing at this moment. The tapes in my head would be silent, and the silence would be soothing.



Let’s Have a Conversation:

What does style mean to you? Do you consider yourself stylish? How do you accomplish style? How do you tie fashion pieces together? Does it come to you naturally, or have you had to learn?

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I would love to find just the one shop that I could buy all the classic type clothes I love. So hard to find these days, especially the UK. I remember the fictional ‘Scruples Two” catalogue and wish I had it in real life so I could order those classics! Judith Krantz had it right, as does the author of the article above.


I know what you mean about clothes in the UK. I moved to Switzerland a few years ago and have found much nicer clothes here and in other European countries. Plus they still have C and A which is great for casual pieces, knitwear and lovely coats. I do quite often buy shoes in the UK though as I have a foot problem and shoes here have a tendency to be narrow fitting.

Leslie Ginnes

Oh, I wish I knew the Scruples Two catalog; quite curious.


Thank you for this piece, so beautifully written!

Leslie Ginnes

Thank you for your kindness.

Holly Schmitz

I do consider myself stylish! I’m 76 and have kept my weight (128 at 5’5″) which is what I weighed in my thirties and beyond. When I go out I dress for me — with class and appropriate for my age. That even includes Walmart! I also wear makeup — even walking the dogs! It makes me feel better. Many times strangers comment on how nice I look. This makes me feel great. I also compliment others who look nice — maybe their dress, some other piece of their clothing, or just how great they look. Here in central coast, CA the majority of people don’t seem to care how they look I could go in that direction but I won’t. Maybe I’ll set a new trend. .


Good for you, Holly. I am 5’8 and 145, but have had to forgo my gym workouts after the recent pandemic changed everything. I am 78, and convinced that style, makeup, and posture go a long way to make me feel good and to create a positive response in others. I noticed “COVID hair” has become the norm in the Pacific West among women of all ages. This is extremely long hair with no style on top or bangs, etc. One thing that people who live to 100 say when asked those trite questions about longevity: Keep Smiling!


What a great article, I think many women can relate to I know I sure can! Thank you for this enlightening article which seems to be all about me. It’s something I think in my mind and now I’m going to work on it.. it being me.!


Your style is the same as mine! Although, I have yet to find the perfect white blouse. I’m probably not shopping in the right places for that. If you find one please let us know 🙂

The Author

Leslie Ginnes’ goal is to freely share the expertise and care given to her, which nurtures her creativity. She is 65, looking back and looking forward and wondering how we can lift what is too heavy to carry. Finally, accepting everything will change, and it does in a split second.

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