Some might say that elegance is a rather frivolous pursuit for a modern woman. Are there not more worthy aspirations to chase, such as excelling in business or achieving world peace? Well, yes there are many laudable dreams to follow and some are perhaps more selfless than achieving elegance, but I, like many fellow members of the fair sex, am a multi-tasker!
I believe it is within my capabilities to excel at work, make the world a better place and find the ultimate Little Black Dress all within the same life-span. And here are the two reasons why I have decided to make achieving elegance a goal in my life.
It is Pleasurable
I enjoy feeling elegant. If my reflection presents a pleasing appearance I feel a small but nonetheless tangible rush of confidence and happiness. If I conduct myself in a way that is polite and considerate to others my relationships deepen and are more fruitful. The journey of elegance is enjoyable.
It is a wonderful pleasure to sink into a bed made with freshly washed sheets, the same feeling appears when we put on an outfit that has timeless style and is neatly presented.
An even greater pleasure is felt when we ‘put on’ elegant words and actions. The Bible, (a much overlooked book for general wisdom due to a warped reputation caused by people with sandwich boards and loud speakers) says in Colossians:
So you should always clothe yourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. Even more than all this, clothe yourself in love. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity.
Elegance is not a simple matter of a classy appearance but it also a matter of the heart and mind. An elegant manner can be chosen in the same way as we can choose to assemble an elegant wardrobe. We can choose which virtues we want to have and then behave in a way that is consistent with those virtues. You may want to select your own virtues to aspire to but I believe the quotation above provides a comprehensive list of the features of an elegant character.
You may think such virtues require a lot of self sacrifice but the experience of being merciful, kind, humble, gentle, patient and loving can be surprisingly pleasurable both for the people you relate to and for yourself.
There is a temptation to hold back from behaving in an elegant manner out of a dreaded fear that we might be branded as a ‘fake’. I think this is a risk that we have to take. Florence Hartley, the author of “The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness” said
“Avoid affection; it is the sure test of a deceitful vulgar mind. The best cure is to try to have those virtues which you would affect, and then they will appear naturally.”
As long as we treat people with simple kindness, consideration and sincerity without an elaborate display of airs and graces then we can be assured our elegance, however unpolished, is genuine.
It’s about control
An elegant woman is in control of her life. From her wardrobe to her daily planner she is organised and prepared. Her finances and time are neither wasted on extravagant frivolities nor stretched too thinly over lots of projects. In everything she finds a workable balance.
An elegant woman is not hurried or harassed looking; she is a sea of calm in a stormy world. She has thought through the day ahead and is ready to receive whatever comes her way. If a challenge arises she will face it coolly and if a plan falls apart she will remain standing.
An elegant woman is in control of her feelings. She does not burst into tears at work or respond to an insult with a vicious attack of the same kind. She may feel at times scared or overwhelmed but such negative feelings do not completely master her. On the other hand she is not a cold ice queen, she is warm and friendly.
An elegant woman is gracious and considerate. She is secure enough to freely build other people up. She does not see other women as a threat or competition. She is generous with her kindness but is no man’s doormat.
An elegant woman has a loving heart and a sensible head.
If my pursuit of elegance can take me just one step closer to being a woman of this calibre then I will consider the effort worthwhile.