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What is elegance? And is it really dead?

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

Elegance, dignity, grace, restrained beauty, attention to detail, and a little

polish. I missed it this Summer. And I worry if it will ever come back in style.

I had a lot of time this summer and was struck by the many characters, and individual

expressions of ‘style’ that I saw. People dressed in the weirdest stuff. Bathrobes,

barefoot, fruit salads of colours and textures! Winter boots and shorts! Where has

elegance gone?


What is elegance?

Born in the fashion capital of the world, Italy, I was inspired from girlhood by the

simple elegance of fashion houses like Prada and the classic beauties of the 1950s

and ‘60s like Sophia Lauren, Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly.

Elegance isn’t busy or eye-catching. It isn’t boastful, and it need not be expensive.

Elegance is clean and straightforward. An elegant outfit is neat, polished and well-

fitted. Elegance is a little discipline when dressing with attention to the details and

pieces that flow together.

It represents dignity and taste. An elegant outfit shows you respect yourself, know the

styles that best flatter your shape and have made an effort in your appearance.

What replaced elegance?

Ok, I know, it’s not entirely gone. And not everything about it is fabulous. Elegance

can be restrictive in many ways in a world that values self-expression (and so we

should). It can feel elitist, though I assure you it’s not – elegance can come from

Kmart just as easily. Or even wasteful (again, it’s not – charity shops and eBay are

full of discarded classics awaiting new owners).

I guess I am missing the Hollywood Glamour years of the 1930s – ‘50s. Even some

of the 60’s and 70’s. In the years since, we have replaced elegance with Rock ‘n’ Roll

styles, Flower Power, Disco, Power Dressing (think shoulder pads), Grunge and a

million different concurrent forms of self-expression leading up to the 2020s.

We live in an era where anything goes. Even high-end fashion in Paris and Milan

swings towards shock and awe to grab the world’s attention. An era where elegance

slips under the radar, sadly unappreciated.

Is elegance really dead?

But I don’t believe it is really dead. And I believe it will be popular again.

Elegance remains alive in some older role models like Richard Gere (elegance knows

no gender) and many royals like Catherine, Princess of Wales and Mary, Crown Princess of

Denmark. Watching the celebrity red carpets and awards, I see it occasionally too.

Megastars like Kate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway still know when and how to dress

with elegance (if and when they choose).

I see classic cuts and quality pieces in stores like Cue, Carla Zampatti, Veronica Maine or Perri Cutten and even occasionally as the expression of choice by people I meet or

see in magazines. I know elegance is still there, in the background of passing fashion

trends and modern self-expression through personal style.

I remember that fashion goes in circles, and much of what was old appears again. I

expect elegance and classic cuts to return to the height of fashion again one day.

And I hope with all my heart that I am around to see the day!

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