As I sit here at my computer desk beginning the third entry for this week on personal presentation, I feel I must be honest with you. I do not have the greatest posture in the world. I walk with a relatively straight back, but I slouch when I sit - without fail.
So, since I need this lesson more than anyone reading this entry, I am going to use two of my favorite writers to teach us about the art of beautiful carriage!
A Guide to Elegance - Genevieve Antoine Dariaux
"Years ago, every well-bred young girl was given posture lessons, and even today when we send our young daughters to dancing school it is usually in the hope that they will grow up to be graceful young women rather than prima ballerinas.
The models who present a fashion collection adopt a curious kind of extremely unnatural walk and posture, with their shoulders slightly hunched, their tummies hollowed and their hips shoved forward to form a kind of figure S. They glide rather than walk and the entire effect is deliberately striking and artificial. But you can be sure that as soon as these beauties leave the spotlight, they assume a perfectly natural walk and posture.
In normal life, it is always to a woman's advantage to hold herself straight, as if she wished to stretch her height by several inches, even if she is already very tall. A rounded back, sagging shoulders and a drooping chin create an image of extreme lassitude, or discouragement with life... and of being ten years older than you really are.
When a woman is trying on clothes, she almost always holds herself beautifully erect in front of the dressing room mirrors. If afterward she hollows her chest and lets her whole body slump, she should not be surprised to find that her new dress does not look at all as chic as it did when she tried it in the shop."
Better than Beauty: A Guide to Charm - Helen Valentine and Alice Thompson
"When we think of women who stand and walk and sit with distinction, our minds visualize the late eighteen nineties and early nineteen hundreds. They certainly stood up and sat straight, those ironclad, corseted-to-the-chin mothers and grandmothers of ours. But rigid ramrods are out of date. Non of us is going back to that painfully restricted era. Neither have be hours to spend walking with books on our heads, nor the leisure to practice how to sit down gracefully.
Rigidity is not necessary when you are aiming at good posture. It isn't even a good goal. But most of us have at least one ugly and easily changed fault of our carriage.
Are you the toil worn type, the woman who walks with bent shoulders and a drooped middle? Get rid of the mental attitude, tuck in your stomach, and watch your body straighten! Are you the inquiring duck-neck carrying your head about three inches ahead of your body? Back up against a wall and make your head touch the wall, too. Get the feel of this proper position, and check yourself as you pass reflecting windows and mirrors.
Do you toe out in the genteel, outmoded fashion of 1912? make a conscious effort to get those toes straight ahead. Have you the arrogant bustle walk, your hips thrown out behind? Start today, learning to walk as though someone were about to spank you - and watch those hips go back where they came from.
Your walk should be distinguished by it's lack of outstanding qualities. You don't want people to notice your posture, good or bad. You want them to see you. So correct the faults that attract attention and forget the rest.
Much the same rule applies to sitting. No one will wait to watch how gracefully you lower yourself into a chair. No one cares. But if you drop in a manner to frighten the owner of the chair, you will get plenty of attention. And if you insist on sitting either like a disapproving maiden aunt or a licentious Roman diner, people will notice you, too. But it won't be your charm they notice. the most prevalent and the ugliest of all sitting faults is the frog-leg squat- and squat is the only word. You know it. The feet are either together or apart, but the legs are widespread at the knees.
Learn to walk and sit in an apparently effortless, graceful manner. Then you can be sure you will have learned to carry yourself well."
Posture Highlights (1950)
Homework: Practice walking, sitting, and standing as you go about your daily routines.