Friday, March 8, 2013

Elegance & Luxury

via menswear dog @ tumblr

Are they the same?
Or, are they different?
What is elegance?  What is luxury?

“I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”   Oscar Wilde

I could have written this myself and, of course, it is because of our experiences, our upbringing, our training.


Clothes are such a small part of what makes a person beautiful, don’t you agree?

Here’s my incomplete and disorganized list of details that, to me, contributes to creating impalpable elegance.

- How you carry yourself. A sporty allure, head held high like a princess, a cat-like stroll, the swagger of a tomboy. A certain way of sitting, a poised neck, the way the hands move… There are a million ways to inhabit your own body.

Take Giovanna Battaglia for example. I would never know how to give a name to her stride that’s just so princess of cool. But what I do know, is that she could dress in a bag and she’d still be fantastic.

- A sincere smile. Not a perfect smile, no. A radiant smile. Is it too cheesy to say that? That said, it’s so rare that I can’t think of an example right off the top of my head. Oh yeah! Clémence Poésy. Pfff. One smile and poof! You fall right away.

- Ah! Having a great sense of humor, being able to laugh at yourself a little. It’s the thing that right away is so disarming to me, especially with men, or women, or kids, or my checkout clerk, or Woody Allen, or Scott, or Anna Dello Russo…

- Attention to others. Have you ever met those people who, when he or she looks into your eyes, you feel like the most interesting person in the world? Who, with all sincerity, are curious about you? You remember my post about Peter Lindbergh? Not so much about fashion but woooooooooah, all about true seduction.

- Politeness. It’s stupid, I know, and we never can learn it all, but knowing a few rules of politeness and being able to apply them naturally, without being obvious, goodness, it’s so chic. The British are so good at that. Jefferson Hack mixes punk and good manners with a virtuosity to fall for.

- Ah, and I gotta include this because I admire it so much… Well-manicured people. I don’t know how they find the time, but these girls with painted nails, perfectly hydrated skin, glossy hair… I know a whole bunch, and I admire them all, but my favorite is my sister. Well, yeah, except for last time she tried to do my nails she messed them up with a polishing machine that looks more like a Black & Decker drill, but that’s how these things go : On me, it never works, that’s all = pffffffff.

- Culture. Oh man, a sense of culture that isn’t flaunted, or in your face, but one that just shows that you are an open window to the world is soooo attractive! Like Caroline Issa, Sophie Fontanel, Salomé, my agent… I could spend entire days talking to them.

My god, this post is dripping with sentimentality, and even if it feels good, it’s not the most elegant thing to talk about myself at the end of every paragraph.

INTERVIEWER:  I’ve still got a ways to go, you know… But, what is elegance, for you?

"Elegance" and "luxury" are terms we throw around quite a bit when we talk about style, but I think there's a bit more to these terms than meets the eye. What do you think? Some food for thought:

What is elegance?

What is luxury?

Are the two related?

Are elegance and/or luxury related to style? If so, HOW are they related to style?

Can you be stylish without being elegant?

Is monetary wealth necessary for elegance and/or luxury?

Are elegance and luxury inherent and/or acquired?

Is luxury a "good" or "bad" thing?

Are you elegant? Do you wish you were? Are you glad you aren't?

Examples of luxury and elegance?

INTERVIEWER: I have some thoughts of my own, but want to hear what other people have to say first.

i think this is a good topic for discussion. here is what i think.

elegance and luxury may seemingly overlap with each other, but to me, they are quite the opposite. elegance to me is from the mind, it is an intangible source of countenance, manner, and class. luxury on the other hand is very secular.

elegance must be learned from experience and taught by those who possess this quality. characteristics such as manners, poise, posture, and the diction you use in your daily language can affect your elegance.

luxury can almost always be bought with money. there's a new group arising called the nouveau riche where they have made a lot of money in a short period of time and they like to enjoy what they never had when they were growing up. a good example of this are hiphop artists, many of these hiphop artists grew up in "the ghetto" and did not experience the luxuries of fine food, wine, and other services and products the more affluent could afford. when these nouveau riche suddenly make all this money, they go out and buy the most expensive of everything. But having all these luxury products does not mean you will have the class to carry them. not everyone is like this obviously. and i chose hiphop artists as an example because a lot of the themes in their music is having and owning luxury while blending in their old lifestyle of being ghetto. there is nothing wrong with this lifestyle but it serves as a good example to distinguish elegance and luxury.

we like to associate the two together and pretend that having the money to buy luxury will bring you class and elegance,  but it just doesn't happen that way in the real world. there is nothing wrong with owning better things in life and living the way you want whether it be a ghetto, flashy, low-profile etc.; but just know that elegance really cannot be bought like luxury can, it must be learned, taught, and experienced.
I think the words are completely different

but in terms of style,
they go together because usually when I think of elegance I think refinement, cleanliness and formal dressing. Luxurious things, like silks and jewels, can add to the look but they aren't always necessary.

but generally elegance has to come from behaviour because I have seen people dress like how I mentioned but they do not look elegant because of how they act (noisy, etc.).

To look elegant, I think you also sometimes need a certain face

I don't think I could do so even if I dressed like someone from the Secret Garden--I would just look silly or older than my real age.

Generally I find girls seem to pull off looking elegant and refined better than a guy--a guy can look elegant by behaviour (quiet, etc.)

Elegance is dignity, class, grace, confidence. Elegance is never loud, brash, tacky. It's not X-rated. It's mysterious, tantalizes, and invites people in for a closer look.

Elegance could be luxury, but luxury doesn't always mean elegance. I think dsq presented a very good case of when the two are different.

Monetary wealth is definitely required for luxury, and it's okay for elegance but elegance doesn't require it. Elegance isn't just style, but the personality of a person. A poor/middle class person can be much more elegant and than a wealthy person (Paris Hilton is rich but she sure ain't elegant)

Luxury is acquired because it's more superficial. Elegance is both inherent and acquired.
okay, so i have finally put my thoughts together into something i hope is coherent...

to me, there are two kinds of luxury. there is the luxury that most of us think of when we consider people with monetary wealth, such as hollywood celebrities. we talk about how they own luxury goods and how this or that person lives a life of luxury because she has an expensive house with expensive furniture and an expensive car, etc.

the second kind of luxury that i am more interested in is not necessarily one that requires money to purchase; rather, this kind of luxury requires a person's capacity to acknowledge, value and fully experience something. the person who savors a slice of gourmet chocolate cake, feeling the tingle of deliciousness from the tip of her tongue to the tip of her toes--this is real luxury to me. the woman who delights in the rustle of a skirt around her legs, who delights in her awareness of her body and in her ability to feels such physical sensations--this is real luxury to me. the person who basks in the sunlight as he lays on the lawn in a city park, who soaks up the sun and the tickle of the grass with every cell of his body--this is real luxury to me. the essential difference between these two kinds of luxury is that the former type is defined by the expensiveness of the good or service, while the latter requires a person's ability to recognize and really appreciate an exquisite object or experience. it's the discerning and perceptive person that makes an object or experience luxurious--not the other way around. real luxury requires constant awareness, and constant and complete appreciation; at a certain point, the intensity of one's experience becomes so great that the experience can even dissolve into one of potentially spiritual proportions: a complete joy in life and in one's capacity to fully relish it.

i'm still thinking about elegance in itself and the intertwining of elegance & luxury....but for now i'd welcome more insight and discussion from everyone!

I know this is a very lengthy post, however, it is interesting to find someone who
can explain this as well as she did.

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Have a really lovely weekend, my friends.


D. A. Wolf said...

What an interesting question... Both of my grandmothers have always epitomized elegance for me, ironically, the "poorer" one more than the other. Both came from money, during an era when a woman's education was about socializing and creating a domestic environment, but one - marrying a musician rather than a wealthy professional or merchant, lived "small" during her 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s - yet always retained the elegance that was part of her.

It's likely easier to be elegant when you have money (surely my "rich" grandmother's life was an easier one, in a large home, with an extended family, with help, with vacations - those days being a very different time, as well).

As for my grandmother who went from being something of a socialite when she was young, but whose life was very different by the time she was in her 40s, it was in her manner, her gestures, her knowing when to be silent and listen, rather than filling the air with chatter. It was in her graciousness and her gracefulness. She commanded a certain "je ne sais quoi" which stayed with her throughout her life.

Whatever she wore, she held herself impeccably. She was a strong Southern woman, and the ultimate - to me - in femininity. And, yes, elegance.

Splenderosa said... Mom-Mom was much like you poorer grandmother. She had wit, charm, impeccible manners, a vast knowledge of very interesting things, a good education from Randolph-Macon as a foundation. She married a dashing man who made tons of money back then, but hard times hit, he returned to Italy, she stayed here with their 3 children. She took me to the ballet when I was 5-6 for the 1st time, to NYC, etc. And, she was so much fun. She was definitely elegant, and inside her home it was pure luxury even though most of the money was gone. Yes, a very interesting conversation we could have on this...

Mumbai said...

You described elegance and luxury so extensive therefore I have nothing left to be added and I agee totally.
But look at the face of this cute dog..even dressed casual he is so elegant.

Mumbai said...

You described elegance and luxury so extensive therefore I have nothing left to be added and I agee totally.
But look at the face of this cute dog..even dressed casual he is so elegant.

VM Creation Atelier said...

That's SOooooo great item!
Thank you,Marsha you bring that in a discussion:-)))*

You woords are ''Elegance could be luxury, but luxury doesn't always mean elegance'' menas realy much to me....
Everything you said is absolutely true,so I feel the same.

Elegance is in your education by your mother or grandmother,that's also a very big true,Marsha!

And know,
I'am from Russia and I knew many peoples tehre from - peoples who grab what you can with their money( so called:''new russia peoples'').
I must to say: that's NOT realy good experience,especially very rich womans totaly without a sense of humor and any sense of style....and NOT elegant!!!

Everything you said is so good and so precise in details!

I know that beautiful silk and lace fabrics and ready to wear designers fashion or gorgeous shose and jeweleries you coudn't buy without much money.....
But it dosn't mean you can not to be elegant:-)))*

Mainly I think creativity played here also huge rool or maybe it's in your gene( and that mean you takes it over from your Mom or may be from your wonderful teacher...:-)))

I'am so glad I made ​​part of this discussion,Marsha,thank you,you brought my again to inspiration in my creative mind!:-)))*

Wish you beautiful weekend,my dear friend,