I don't think I've ever been more inspired by a style icon as I have at this very moment when I sat down to read and reflect on Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues.
But wait, you might say, how is Ben Franklin a style icon?! When he was alive, Proenza Schouler wasn't around!!! Here, my friend, is precisely where the thesis of this very blog comes into play. Like I've written about so many times before is this idea that personal style is composed of a set of elements that make a girl (or Founding Father...) unique. Ben Franklin's most enviable element of style is not a shiny Balenciaga bag or a pair of sparkly Miu Miu pumps (though I personally think B.F. could have rocked those Revolutionary buckle shoes if they were covered in glitter - know what I'm sayin?), rather it is his determination at self-improvement.
You probably know most of Ben's story from 5th grade history class, so I'll leave you to peruse Wikipedia (or perhaps rewatch National Treasure? Your choice.) What you might not know is Franklin's dedication and belief in self-improvement. He wrote 13 virtues and used a simple chart each day of the week to mark the areas he needed to improve on. He gave himself a harsh going-over each night, which was probably extremely painful. If you think this is intense, just remember that Ben Franklin was self-educated, one of 15 siblings, and the son of a soap and candle maker who went on to become "one of the most respected intellects of the Western world."
His 13 virtues are as follows: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, chastity, tranquility, and humility. I get a little uncomfortable reading about these because I can definitely see the areas of my own life that I need to improve. If you're like me and think this task is too difficult to take on, just think how ahead of the game you'll be by improving on these picky areas. My dad always says "winners do what losers don't like to do." Let's commence this style journey together and be the winners in this situation, like Ben Franklin himself.
Finally (and randomly), this essay just helped me answer that classic interview question of who would you have dinner with if you could invite anyone, alive or dead? Easy, Ben Franklin and Taylor Swift. duh.
Image from The Metropolitan Museum of Art