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Style and Elegance - Elegance is refusal - Coco Chanel

Style and Elegance

street elegance
street elegance
Photo by Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images
Jacqueline Kennedy as First Lady
Jacqueline Kennedy as First Lady
Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Elegance seems like a worthy treasure. Easier to define than style, it implies sobriety, restraint and awareness of presentation. Coco Chanel once said “Elegance is refusal”, but that could mean so many things. Is what we say no to, more important than, what we say yes to? Is it refusing to follow trends? Is it deeply knowing who you are and what you love? Is it refusing to dress as to be the one and only most attractive, flashy, etc? Is it about refusing all but the best? En fin….

If anything flashes elegance is silhouette. To study the line, fluidity, texture, weight and composition of a given silhouette is to begin a study of art and beauty, or beauty in art and life. In its wearable forms, beauty begins with silhouette and line. Elegance's silhouette tends to be simple and stylized. It is not in price points but more in addressing the occasion appropriately, knowing your function and activity in it, and doing it beautifully comfortably.

It would not be true to say that all elegant people are very aware of the fiber content of much of their wardrobes, or why it would matter, but enough of them are - so fiber is a weighty consideration to many of them. Natural fibers do age better than man-made ones. In fact some age beautifully, and like a beautiful, well made anything, it develops a patina, adding another layer of beauty.

Daily encounters with elegance in any form should go on one’s gratitude list. A wave is elegant most of the time. An early spring leaf. Beauty, you know it when you see it. It gives pause, and it may be why we seek it so fervently.