Elegance…it’s not a word we say too often these days, is it? When you hear this word, what images come to your mind? Is it an impeccably dressed woman, an expensive restaurant with white tablecloths and crystal chandeliers or maybe even a shiny, new European luxury sedan? Perhaps you think of a graceful ballet dancer or a tastefully decorated home.
I’m going to start by giving you the actual definition of elegance, what it is NOT and why I feel we should all look for more ways to cultivate elegance in our lives. Let’s get started!
The Definition of Elegance
a. refined grace or dignified propriety
b. dignified gracefulness or restrained beauty of style
c. scientific precision, neatness and simplicity
What Elegance is NOT
I want to say up front that my definition of elegance has nothing to do with shopping at Neiman Marcus or driving a Mercedes. Just because someone has wealth doesn’t automatically mean they are an elegant person. No where in the technical definition does it mention money. Money may be able to buy you some happiness but it doesn’t equal elegance! We all know wealthy celebrities who are anything but elegant. Kardashians, anyone?
Here are a few things I think elegance is not:
- Showing off your wealth – sorry, tacky and not dignified
- Bragging or boasting
- Talking too much or too loudly
- Hyper-consuming anything: food, alcohol, media, shopping, etc.
- Fighting people for Black Friday deals..Lol!
- Out of control emotions
- Revealing too many intimate details to strangers
- Being too busy and refusing to stop the chaos
- Being self-absorbed
- Losing your cool with a cashier, flight attendant, waitress, etc.
- Not saying “thank you”
- Being on your phone at the dinner table
What Elegance Means to Me
To me, elegance is a gracefulness and simplicity in style. A dignified, restrained beauty. I see this in genteel, old southern homes, a simple bouquet of Nikko blue hydrangeas or a pie lovingly made with fresh berries straight from the garden. None of these things are trying too hard. They aren’t screaming to get noticed and yet they most certainly do.
I also believe exuding elegance is a way of carrying yourself. It is a quiet, dignity. Elegance doesn’t demand attention and it certainly has no need to show off. I was lucky to have been surrounded by many elegant, southern women.
My most elegant influence growing up was my paternal Grandmother. She was the epitome of southern elegance to me for many reasons.
First, she was very dignified in how she carried herself. She was beautiful, tall and slender. My Nan was always polite, never raised her voice and was very restrained with her emotions. She had a reserved strength that came from growing up in tough economic times and having to work hard as a young girl.
Despite not coming from a wealthy family, she always took pride in her appearance and now in her mid-80s she still likes to dress well!
My grandmother loved to cook and entertain, was an avid gardener, accomplished artist, raised 4 children and has now been married for 69 years! Her strength of character is something I’ve always aspired to. She has always been my role model of grace, poise and beauty.
Why Elegance will Make you Stand Out
I believe carrying yourself in an elegant manner will cause you to stand out for a few reasons. First, in our “look at me” world, it seems many have bought into the notion that we must be constantly selling ourselves to people. We must always be showing and telling everyone how great we are. That if we’re not coming in “guns a blazing”, no one will notice us. Why do we need all this external validation? Are we really all that insecure?
When you truly ARE something (wealthy, beautiful, smart, gifted, kind etc.) there’s no need to go around telling people. We all already know, right? The late, Margaret Thatcher says it best…..
Secondly, I believe in our hyper-sensitive culture it takes a lot of maturity to contain your emotions. It’s so easy and trendy to get offended. With all the glorified drama on reality TV, it’s no wonder people think it’s cool to be out of control. Why is it cool to cuss somebody out or to be a biaatch to your waiter?
I’m sorry, but to me, these people just look sad and insecure. If you’re genuinely secure, you have no need to act that way. You have a higher standard for your behavior. Having emotional mastery is the new super power. You WILL stand out with elegant behavior, without even trying.
30 Ways to Add More Elegance to Your Life
I think being classy and elegant will never go out of style. I’ve come up with a few ideas to develop more elegance in our daily lives:
- Have impeccable manners
- Ignore fads, or use them sparingly
- Send thank you notes, always and to everyone
- Practice good posture
- Speak more softly
- Listen without interrupting
- Wear solid colors
- Learn how to wear a scarf
- Don’t yell or scream
- Show restraint in showing anger
- Simplify your life, your home, your calendar
- Don’t complain
- Arrive exactly on time
- Remember birthdays
- Think quality over quantity
- Take pride in having an orderly home
- Wait your turn patiently
- Don’t point out the mistakes of others
- Be quietly self-confident
- Be well-groomed
- Hold yourself to higher standards
- Apologize quickly and sincerely
- Be positive
- Wear less make-up
- Maintain good health
- Learn to cook
- Develop a creative outlet (sewing, painting, music, dancing, etc.)
- Freely give genuine compliments
- Say no, graciously
- Practice random acts of kindness
I hope you found these ideas inspiring and useful. I think they’ll help cultivate more elegance, beauty and grace into YOUR life!
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