‘Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me’

   No. 1: Where she hid the money. Because, having read the above-titled guide to the posh life, I’m going to be needing a lot of cash.
   The full title is "Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me: A Guide to Living With Impeccable Grace & Style" (October 2008, Da Capo Press). The author is Lucia Van Der Post, former style editor and currently a columnist for the Times of London.
   Joking aside, this chunky little book is chock-full of advice, suggestions and tips for modern women, for not just getting through life but actually enjoying, savoring and managing it, so that you have the life you want. Topics range from the sweet and shallow — how to develop style, choose a T-shirt, or shoes, or a handbag, or find someone to wax your eyebrows — to the heart’s core: getting through a divorce, or being a widow or happily married, or working and at the same time having a personal life.
  Van Der Post lives among and writes about the people who headline the society pages and gossip columns. She knows her way around New York and London’s exclusive spas and the pricey stylists and makeup artists who are on a first-name basis with Hollywood’s elite. However, not long into this book, one realizes that her life hasn’t been all swanky hair salons and designer fashion houses. Among other details, she says she didn’t grow up with trunkloads of money. In some kind words for plastic surgeons, she mentions in passing that a mugging left her with permanent facial injuries.
   And every time Van Der Post recommends a $200 face cream (such as Creme de la Mer), she also suggests a great product available in America’s drug and discount stores. For every Chloe handbag, she drops the names of other gorgeous bags available at the local department store.
   This book’s message, delivered with wit, charm and great understanding, is that living a good life is an attainable pleasure. If you don’t know how to dress well and act like a decent human being, you can learn. It doesn’t require a lot of money to do so. It’s good for your physical and mental health. It’s good for the mental health of people who have to look at you or be around you. It’s good for the greater society.
   Just a few of her tips (and there are hundreds):
   — Don’t be afraid of making an enemy — sometimes courage and honesty require it.
   — If it doesn’t fit in the shop, it’s not going to fit when you get it home.
   — You can’t have too many sexy shoes.
   — Sexiness has nothing to do with being size 2 or looking like Sienna Miller.
   — And my favorite: It’s better to clean and tidy less and read more.

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