Thursday, March 27, 2014

What is elegance?

My favorite billboard ever was perched high on top of a vintage building in downtown Sydney, Australia. Fortunately I was perched high also....on the top deck of the Hop On Hop Off double-decker sightseeing bus so was able to see it!

Elegance is an attitude

These may not actually be Kate's own words but how true they are.
What really is elegance?
It seems to come easy to some women, with hard work
for others, and never to many.
Do you need money to be elegant?
If you're dressed and accessorized in the latest
styles, is that elegance?
Is being 'trendy' akin to being elegant?

The word elegance comes from the Latin
elegantia "taste, propriety, or refinement".
I like fashion designer and icon Coco Chanel's words -
"Elegance is refusal", which means leave off all
the flashy jewelry and garish styles,
instead dress in simple styles created
in luxurious fabrics that one could wear forever.

To me elegance definitely means maintaining a quality
of style and grace in one's personal self. Expensive
designer or 'trendy' clothes are not required.
Yes, a genuine Chanel bag would be nice, but any good
leather bag costing substantially less would, to me,
be even nicer.
Good classic shoes, and I love them, do not add to
elegance if they are not cared for - polish is inexpensive.

The importance of fabrics? I could write a dozen or more 
posts on that subject alone. To me, fabric IS the answer for 
making a garment elegant, beautiful, wearable for many years. 
I grew up around fabric - my mother being a dressmaker,
my brother being a textile executive who started his career
in the mills, then searched for the best fabrics
internationally for British clothing manufacturers.
When I sewed my own wardrobe, I spent more time locating
the perfect fabric than actually making the garment. 
At this point in my life I no longer sew my clothing. 
When shopping for new pieces I have specific ideas in mind.
They must be good quality and well made - this is getting
harder to find in my price range I admit. For instance,
I always turn a garment inside out and check stitching.
Fit is very personal - I like easy, comfy clothes, nothing
tight fitting - elegance does not come with skintight clothing.

So why am I talking about clothing today?
Because the sun is shining, it's a little warmer, and I
feel like I need to go through my wardrobe over the coming
days, searching out some elegant items to mingle together
and get ready for Spring. Surely the coats and boots can soon
be stored. I love them - I felt elegant in them for several months,
but it's time for a change any day now.

 To storage…………

Did you see 'proper' skirts are back…………fuller, often
with flattering soft pleats, and the length between
knee and ankle, think Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly.
Nice, and about time!


  1. Wonderful post Mary! I have always admired your sense of style. I feel like I am floundering since I turned 60 this past year. I have held off buying clothes for several reasons. One being I wanted to loose a few pounds, two because I can't seem to find anything that I like. My taste is changing. Hopefully in a few weeks I will go out and find something marvelous.

  2. Oh, this is a lovely post, Mary. I love the look of elegance and wish I could afford 'good' quality elegant clothes. Knock offs will do but are difficult to find in our city. And the longer skirts will be welcome but we are usually 6 months to a year behind in the latest fashion so maybe in the fall we'll see longer softer skirts. I don't wear skirts or dresses as I never find them to fit my petite frame with a thicker midriff and for other reasons too. :) Love the coat and skirt you show in the photos - classic style that never goes out of style. We're still wearing parkas, boots, hats and gloves here and it will be so nice to get them put away until next winter and into something lighter.

  3. So very well put, Mary. I still sew for myself, partly because of having a very asymmetrical figure and partly because I have a hard time finding what I want in the stores. That said, my wardrobe is in dire straits and I find myself pulling on the same black cords or jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt and a sweater of some sort. My figure has changed in the past few years and I don't like it. But, I must come to some sort of arrangement with myself. Elegance comes not from the outside, but the inside. The question is how to make the outside reflect the inside. I love fabric and find that sewing something in cheap fabric not worth the effort. Natural fibres are so wonderful, and hard to find in our little corner of the world. Mail order is a wonderful thing.
    Skirts and dresses I wear in the summer more than the winter. I've noticed the softer, fuller lines and am looking forward to having something like that in my wardrobe. So feminine.

  4. I have known only one truly elegant woman in my entire life. She could have been wearing a bathrobe and she would still have been elegant. Interesting topic with many good points.

  5. To me elegance is about posture. You can be in a wheelchair or on the dance floor, but posture indicates how you feel inside, how you are looking at the world. A person can be elegant wearing just a sarong or a swimsuit if their posture is good. I agree with you completely about the union of elegance and care of clothing. Scruffy, dusty accessories tell more than glittering diamonds.

  6. I love this post on elegance! Well said! Oh and truly are skirt mid calf, I like that. I would love some new skirts that are elegant, but my problem is finding ones that fit over my tummy and don't make me look heavier than I am. I am needing to go look one of these days. Love fashion, but sometimes avoid because what I have in mind I can't find. Just found a special new handbag that I am loving. That is my happy thing right now. Have fun search and please report back, would love an update.

  7. Mary...this is a lovely and very inspirational post... Of course I have known since the time we met that you are one very elegant lady with exceptional style. I would absolutely love to go shopping with you...I'm floundering at my age with what is "in" and what is "age appropriate" And I am adamant that we present our best selves, and continue to work with with what we's just sad that any of us would give that up because we are getting up in the years. I also find it fascinating that you grew up knowing fabric and clothing design so never cease to amaze me!

    One last thing...check your email.


  8. I can remember my Grandma and her sister who were always so elegant. Their secret was 'simplicity' or 'less is more'. In the photos of them in the 1940's and 50's they remind me of Audrey Hepburn. Always smart, hair beautifully styled and make up perfect. That's all they needed, along with a beautiful smile.

  9. There are some people who can put anything on and they look fresh and pretty and elegant. I find that I still struggle with finding my own style. It's the same with my decorating, all over the place. I can't seem to decide on any one thing that I like whether it is to wear or to decorate with. :) Have a great day. Tammy

  10. Interesting topic for sure. I remember when we purchased clothing that was meant to last for years and be accessorized, mixed and matched etc.
    When the Taylor had room to let a skirt out or take one in. Well made things passed down from sisters, cousins and moms.
    I've never been much of a fashion bug but I do appreciate quality.

  11. Dear Mary -
    To me, elegance is all about how you carry you you speak....and how you treat others. Oh, gorgeous clothes help :)

  12. Really nice post, Mary! I think elegance is truly about attitude and it helps to have a regal bearing and a gliding stride, head held high with eyes often demurely downcast. I think of Grace Kelly. I too love fabric but not so much in a fashion sense. I love the history of fabric, love the art of weaving, and of course since I quilt, love that artful endeavor and all the fabrics that make it possible! :-)

  13. I have been wishing for my old Talbots camel's hair coat lately, so I believe that someday soon I am going to have to invest in another (the Talbots one would never go around me now!), maybe car coat length. With a black turtleneck and jeans and loafers - how classic is that? And truly elegant, in my opinion.


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