I really have to thank another blogger for the inspiration behind this post. I’m talking about Eloise who writes the lovely ‘thisissixty.blog’
It was Eloise who drew my attention to this book.
I must admit I had never come across this book before. I was intrigued.
Before I started reading this ‘Guide to Elegance’, I wanted to delve into the whole concept of elegance. What does elegance mean? Who is perceived as being elegant?
I started with a definition: ‘Elegance is the quality of being graceful and stylish in appearance or manner’, according to one dictionary. Interesting. This suggests to me that elegance involves more than just how a person looks. But then we have that recurrent theme ‘stylish’.
My most popular blog post has been about French style and the whole notion of being ‘chic’.
If you haven’t read it yet, you may want to take a look. It provoked some interesting comments.
But back to the book! It was orinally published in 1964 by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux. She was interested in design and fashion from a very young age and became the directrice of Nina Ricci. The book was republished in 2003 and although the author’s views may come across as old fashioned, in the context of today, they still have a certain charm.
The contents are are arranged alphabetically with everything you need to know about elegance from A to Z; Accessories to Zoology.
The topics that have interested me the most, so far, are Age, Chic and Perfume. To be honest, I haven’t read the whole book – yet – but I am enjoying dipping into the different sections as they take my fancy!
With this mind, I have selected a few of my favourite quotes to share with you.
There is a short section entitled ‘Comfort’. Ms Dariaux (!) states:
“If women continue to seek comfort above all twenty-four hours a day, twelve months a year, they may eventually find that they have allowed themselves to become slaves to the trainer, Lycra from head to toe, ready meals, organised travel….When comfort becomes an end to itself it is Public Enemy Number One of Elegance.
Oops! I must admit I have a friend who has banned me from looking for anything practical when we go shopping! Does that equate with comfort?
From the section on ‘Chic’.
The essence of casual refinement, Chic is a little less studied than elegance and a little more intellectual. It is an inborn quality of certain individuals, who are sometimes unaware that they possess it… if you are aware of your lack of chic, the battle is already half won, because the only really hopeless case is the woman who hasn’t the faintest idea of what is chic and what is not.
I do hope I haven’t dismayed you with these quotes because it really is a charming book, even though I (obviously) don’t agree with everything that has been written. It is very much a reflection of its time but you can still find some gems of information within its pages.
A final thought from Audrey Hepburn ‘ Elegance is the only beauty that never fades’.
I’d be very interested to know your thoughts on elegance. Who do you find elegant? What is elegance? Is the whole concept of elegance outmoded? I can’t wait to read your comments!