Elegance…

I really have to thank another blogger for the inspiration behind this post. I’m talking about Eloise who writes the lovely ‘thisissixty.blog’

It was Eloise who drew my attention to this book.

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I must admit I had never come across this book before. I was intrigued.

Before I started reading this ‘Guide to Elegance’, I wanted to delve into the whole concept of elegance. What does elegance mean? Who is perceived as being elegant?

I started with a definition: ‘Elegance is the quality of being graceful and stylish in appearance or manner’, according to one dictionary. Interesting. This suggests to me that elegance involves more than just how a person looks. But then we have that recurrent theme ‘stylish’.

My most popular blog post has been about French style and the whole notion of being ‘chic’.
https://fancyingfrance.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/cest-chic

If you haven’t read it yet, you may want to take a look. It provoked some interesting comments.

But back to the book! It was orinally published in 1964 by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux. She was interested in design and fashion from a very young age and became the directrice of Nina Ricci. The book was republished in 2003 and although the author’s views may come across as old fashioned, in the context of today, they still have a certain charm.

The contents are are arranged alphabetically with everything you need to know about elegance from A to Z; Accessories to Zoology.

The topics that have interested me the most, so far, are Age, Chic and Perfume. To be honest, I haven’t read the whole book – yet – but I am enjoying dipping into the different sections as they take my fancy!

With this mind, I have selected a few of my favourite quotes to share with you.
There is a short section entitled ‘Comfort’. Ms Dariaux (!) states:
“If women continue to seek comfort above all twenty-four hours a day, twelve months a year, they may eventually find that they have allowed themselves to become slaves to the trainer, Lycra from head to toe, ready meals, organised travel….When comfort becomes an end to itself it is Public Enemy Number One of Elegance.

Oops! I must admit I have a friend who has banned me from looking for anything practical when we go shopping! Does that equate with comfort?

From the section on ‘Chic’.

The essence of casual refinement, Chic is a little less studied than elegance and a little more intellectual. It is an inborn quality of certain individuals, who are sometimes unaware that they possess it… if you are aware of your lack of chic, the battle is already half won, because the only really hopeless case is the woman who hasn’t the faintest idea of what is chic and what is not.

I do hope I haven’t dismayed you with these quotes because it really is a charming book, even though I (obviously) don’t agree with everything that has been written. It is very much a reflection of its time but you can still find some gems of information within its pages.

A final thought from Audrey Hepburn ‘ Elegance is the only beauty that never fades’.

I’d be very interested to know your thoughts on elegance. Who do you find elegant? What is elegance? Is the whole concept of elegance outmoded?  I can’t wait to read your comments!

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8 thoughts on “Elegance…

  1. Comfort–yes and no. Elegant people wear clothes that fit well. No pulling or tugging or riding up. Those who wear high heels are able to walk in them–a gait that resembles a newborn deer is not elegant; however, high heels aren’t necessary–look at Audrey Hepburn, who usually wore tiny kitten heels.
    I see elegant people all the time, even in little Carcassonne. The capitals of elegance, though, are Paris and Rome (OK, and Milan). Elegance involves good posture, confidence, flattering clothes and personal touches, like a scarf or piece of jewelry. On a trip to Rome years ago, a friend and I played a game of picking out the best-looking ugly people. By that I mean, people who weren’t physically perfect (far from it) but who looked fantastic anyway. You look at them and say, wow, they look amazing, then you realize they would never, ever qualify as models or movie stars (like most of us!). They have sprezzatura. It isn’t about money or beauty or age or weight. It’s about giving a darn. The kind of comfort warned against is the kind where one just doesn’t care.

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    • Thank you for your insightful comment. I also think that elegance transcends age, money, shape, fashion. It is more about confidence, attitude and what the French call being ‘bien dans sa peau’.

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  2. I’m so glad that you are enjoying the book, June. It’s a real dip-in book and one which I go back to over and over. Apart from anything else I love the elegance of the writing (which only goes to prove that elegance is far from being only about appearance). Until I finished full time work in 2011, I rarely chose comfort as a requirement when shopping for clothes. I was the one who never subscribed to ‘dress down Friday’ at work; I thought it a horrible concept. Then I became a student and almost overnight changed my appearance quite dramatically…not scruffy but definitely casual, and I grew my hair long. Now I sit somewhere between the two. To me, it is a largely unquantifiable quality that says ‘elegance’. Some people just have it.

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    • Yes, thank you so much for the recommendation. I’m looking forward to reading the novel that was inspired by the original book. When I was working I like to think that I dressed smartly but was I elegant??!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with Eloise. Some people do just have it. However, in New Zealand, it was more to do with a bygone age. We are a far more casual nation these days. I do have a friend who is not only arrestingly beautiful, but elegant. And under forty. I think that it’s just her personality.

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    • Yes, I think Eloise was right too. It’s interesting that you say that in NZ it was more to do with a bygone age. I think elegance is quite often associated with the past and perhaps people were more elegant, for example, in the forties and the fifties but not exclusively.

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  4. Hello – coming a bit late to this debate. That must be an interesting book. But I’m not sure that elegance is something we can all achieve – it sounds too tidy for me! Now style, yes, I do believe in either having or working towards a style, which of course, might not be elegant!!! Be true to yourself, I think, is the best maxim – and also, like another commenter, do give a darn!!! And go for it! Which doesn’t quite equate with elegance, I think. I love to look at people who have achieved elegance but could I? I don’t think so!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you’re right Penny. The very word elegance does equate with being ‘tidy’. A hippy or boho look has a definite appeal for me but I’m not sure it could be described as elegant! However, I’m sure I’ve seen some photos on your blog where do you elegant, even if that wasn’t your intention!

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