What is Elegance?


Have you ever been going about your business and suddenly question why it is you do what you do? Do you ever contemplate your why? As a subscriber to this blog, something tells me you are no stranger to self-reflection. You understand the need to occasionally refocus and remind yourself of your mission, your goal, your raison d’etre.

Every week, I enthusiastically pound out two reflections on elegance for this blog and my newspaper column, Everyday Elegance. It is this word elegance that really has me thinking lately. Okay, over-thinking. What is elegance? 

I recently heard someone say with a feigned fancy accent, “Oh, she’s sooo elegant.” When you think of the word elegance, do you picture a woman dripping in diamonds and fur sipping from a bone china teacup with her pinky and nose in the air? I earnestly hope not. Because if that’s what you’re here for, I’m probably not your girl. 

The Oxford Dictionary defines elegance like this:

elegance /’elegens/ noun
1. the quality of being graceful in appearance and manner
2. the quality of being pleasingly ingenious and simple

Thank you, Oxford, for bringing a blurry word back into focus. If I’m interpreting correctly, elegance is synonymous with grace, wisdom, and simplicity. For me, there’s no question these are noble qualities that could do much to improve our personal lives and even our world.

To a large extent, I believe elegance, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Elegance can be found in a business suit or a plain white tee, an afro or a bob, leather pumps or bare feet, a rustic cabin or a contemporary condo, a chocolate chip cookie or chocolate mousse, a delicate harp or a wailing electric guitar, a wildflower or a hybrid rose, a Monet or a child’s drawing on the refrigerator. 

Although aesthetics can be important, I’m more interested in elegance in attitude and behavior. Going back to Oxford’s definition of elegance, let’s look at some synonyms for grace, wisdom, and simplicity to further clarify its meaning. I can’t imagine anyone arguing against the need for these qualities in today’s world.

Grace ~ decency, courtesy, and kindness
Wisdom ~ truth, prudence, and discernment
Simplicity ~ integrity, ease, and unity

Thank you for subscribing to The Simple Swan and allowing me to refine my purpose. There are endless ways to infuse elegance into our everyday activities, surroundings, presentation, health, relationships, and mindset.  Together, let’s continue to live more elegantly, seek wisdom from elegant sources such as nature, literature, and the arts, and inspire more elegance in our homes, workplaces, communities, and the world. §

“The only real elegance is in the mind; if you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it.”
~Diana Vreeland


2 thoughts on “What is Elegance?

  1. Excellent, enjoyed the semantic break-down. Have a good day.

    Director of Visual Arts
    Cedarhurst Center for the Arts
    POB 923 / 2600 Richview Road
    Mount Vernon, IL 62864
    618-242-1236 x231
    Hours: Tues-Sat 10-5; Sun 1-5;

    Liked by 1 person

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