By Lynsey Eaton | Photography by Mary Summers
Over the past few months I have made it my mission to define my own personal brand of elegance. To discover what it means to be content, confident and simultaneously humble, all while making it “look good.”
For those who know me, I’ve never been described as elegant. Loud, yes. Outgoing and gregarious, most definitely. But elegant? Some women float into a room, I come barreling in like a bull in a china shop. So finding my own breed of elegance was an undertaking for me that has become a bit of a mind bender. Here’s the rub:
I first considered the idea while reading Garance Dore’s book Love, Style, Life. There is a chapter on elegance and what it is not – head-to-toe statement dressing, dancing half-naked, gossip, etc. On these things, Garance and I have a tendency to agree, but mostly because, for me, they aren’t just the antithesis of elegant, they are more a symptom of a much greater problem.
But when it came time for Garance’s list of what elegance is – giving back, compassion, offering yourself and others a little grace – that got me to thinking I might have a shot in hell of adopting the adjective for my own one day.
You see, her list was nothing short of what I consider qualities that are important to just be a good human. I agree whole-heartedly that an elegant woman would possess these qualities, but does possessing them thereby make you elegant? That’s where I got tripped up. Because I agree that we should hold doors for others, strive for eloquence and be kind, but do harboring those characteristics cement elegance?
Here’s my issue: I would venture to say that, as a human being who celebrates the differences in others and tries to be diplomatic and kind (albeit human, and thereby failing at times), I would fit most of Garance’s list. I am more than capable of laughing at myself, I only smile sincerely, am overbearingly honest and believe in apologizing and taking ownership when you are wrong. And yet, I stuff my face with french fries, unknowingly speak loud enough for the table across the room to participate in my conversation and very rarely put on makeup. I constantly make self-deprecating jokes and often have no barrier when it comes to inappropriate topics.
How does that reconcile with Garance’s (an undoubtedly elegant woman) definition of elegance? What is my (someone who has never been described as elegant) definition of the characteristic? Is it truly something that is more about personal compassion and love for others than this systematic gracefulness I have always attributed to the term? Or have I been putting too much superficial weight on it?
Weigh in. I’m questioning everything.
I agree that we should hold doors for others, strive for eloquence and be kind, but do harboring those characteristics cement elegance?