Cultivating Everyday Elegance: 4 Controversies of Elegant Women
It’s Friday, and time for me to discuss all that I am learning about becoming a woman of elegance later in life. This week reveals four controversies which arise when elegance is discussed!
You might think a way of life as lovely as elegance would be pursued by all, but it is not and there are some “hot points” which draw many different opinions. Feel free to express your own thoughts over these three areas.
#1 – WEALTH
There are those who believe you can only be considered elegant if you are wealthy and have access to luxurious items in your wardrobe, home and lifestyle.
One of my favorite stories happened the last time we purchased a new car…maybe four or five years ago. The dealership sales representative was a friendly, intelligent, well dressed African American male and he became so excited when he learned about my blog. He then began to speak of his mother who he loved and esteemed. They lived in a low- income side of Houston, but he said she faced each day as if she were a queen. She worked to make their house lovely and she dressed every day for the day, no matter what it held, in simple, elegant style.
He smiled so big while speaking of her, and he said, “Tell everyone you know how important it is to look special and make your life special for those around you.” He said she was the most elegant woman he has ever known and the reason why he cares about his own presentation.
I personally do not believe wealth has anything to do with elegance.
#2 – MODESTY
Almost every author of every book I have recommended for us as we learn about elegance has written elegant women are modest women. I realize that many hear the word modesty and scrunch up their noses as if a putrid smell was released into the room. However, after teaching high school and working in higher education, the younger generation is in desperate need of modest role models.
Modesty doesn’t mean wearing clothing up to your neck, where now a mask takes over, and it doesn’t mean head-to-toe cover. It just means dressing with a careful eye to ask what messages your outfit sends to the world.
I believe elegant women are confident women and have no need to display a little bit of this and a little bit of that in order to feel attractive. Something to think about.
#3 – MENTAL ELEGANCE
There is a belief to be considered elegant, “you have to be mentally elegant in order to release an aura of style and elegance.” In other words, believe it and it will happen. This is actually a goal for me…to be mentally elegant. I am not there yet. Hopefully, when I get there I can say, I DID IT and believe it!
I still have too many doubts in my head. Do you believe it has to happen in your mind as well as on the outside?
#4 – NO TRENDS ALLOWED
Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel once said, “Trendy is the last stage before tacky.” Of course, a statement like this upsets many who love to follow the trends. Some consider elegant women to be too boring because they tend not to follow trends. I believe there is a balance…as there is in all things.
I feel like adding an occasion touch of seasonal trends keeps us youthful, current, and true to our own personal style if we like a little stylish creativity. To me the key is to keep it under control and not overdo. No one likes a head to toe animal print!
Four important areas that I would love to hear what you think. These are the controversies of elegance…who knew they existed. I am learning, taking note and making a few changes. Despite controversies, this remains my goal…to become a woman of elegance and leave a legacy such as the one that was left for our car salesman.
Today’s outfit: Macy’s Alfani top, JJill black pants, Ellen Tracy clip on earrings (if you do not know the story of my ears, I will tell it again soon), metallic Clarks Ballet Flats from Macys.
ELEGANT HOME LIFE
This birthday flower arrangement was from one of my good friends, Leigh Ann, and she said she selected it for me because it looked “elegant!” I love that! Thank you so much, sweet friend.
Lots to talk about here ladies…tell us what you think! Make sure you check out the slideshow below, and always
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JUST A NOTE:
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By Pamela Lutrell
Hello there! I am really enjoying your posts about elegance and I am looking forward to teaching some of these Concepts to my granddaughters – a friend of mine always tells her granddaughters ‘modest is hottest’ lol
Thank you, Lyndsey! Your comment means so much because that is one of the reasons I am doing this. Happy Friday!
You “hit the nail on the head” today because when first wrote of going this direction of elegance I was going to stop following you. Elegance is so not me! I strive for casual, lovely and simple. But it’s your life story and the grace with which you live it that has kept me following. Thanks.
OH…please don’t leave Nancy….this is an individual journey and I hope we can all see how it fits in our lives over 50. I do not want anyone to be who they are not…just refine the edges a bit! That is how I look at it for me.
Nancy I’m with you! Elegance is so not me either. Trying to become elegant would not have served me well during my professional career. Now that I’ve retired I’m enjoying a more laid back casual pace , but 20 plus years of being in a competitive field has definitely molded my personality. I’m having a problem with this whole elegance concept quite frankly. I’m continuing to follow this blog because I’m interested in hearing what others have to say. Is this a somewhat confusing topic for others? It has definitely made me think which is a good thing!
Please…do not leave the blog…let’s discuss it. Tell me what it is you like here that you want to see more of. I am here to serve the audience and if you do not want to discuss this…then we can go a different direction or return to how it was without elegance. Or perhaps there is a way to serve all of you…but never leave without discussing with me what you are seeking and if I do make you think about other things, then sometimes that can be a good thing. I would love to hear more from Sonja, Nancy and any others who feel as they do. Let’s talk!
I’m just back from a week camping, and while I was there I thought about elegance with a smile, wondering “how can you be elegant living in a tent in the forest for a week??” Then I realized it’s also an attitude. I actually put on cute shirts with my jeans and put on makeup, and didn’t revert to slovenly just because I was living in a tent in the woods!! I LOVE the story about the car salesman!! That is a perfect description of elegance, isn’t it? It had zero to do with money and everything to do with how she chose to show up to life every day. Wonderful!! I’m going to remember that! And what an example to her family!! The modesty thing – that sure needs to be said. I like the comment Lindsey wrote about “modest is hottest!” Isn’t that the truth and young girls need to learn this. I also agree about trends. Of course, they can be incorporated into looks in small doses without going head-to-toe. I think most of us do that in understated ways. Mentally elegant – that’s a great goal, and one that we probably spend the rest of our lives developing. Tempering speech and facial expressions, being quiet and not spouting off every time we feel like it, it’s something we can continue to learn and develop. And a very worthy pursuit! I really like the outfit you are wearing. The artsy top is a statement piece all on its own and it’s beautiful! Those Ellen Tracy earrings are gorgeous too! Your photos remind me that I need to start bringing more flowers INSIDE my home. That says “elegance” to me too!
Hi Karen, I missed you… glad to have you back and setting an example for the rest of us to elegant while camping!! Great thoughts in your comments!
First off, you look so lovely in the top photo. I like the story of the car salesman and his mother. It is so nice to see sons proud of their moms like that. You don’t need to be rich to have elegance, just the right attitude, which leads me to the other point, mental elegance. It hss to be a mindset, and after all the reading I believe it can most certainly be learned. I have never been one to be a trend slave, and once I learned what works, perhapas a hint of a trend would work from time to time.The earings reminded me that I have gone to less flambouyant styles lately as well. The flowers from your friend are gorgeous and so thoughtful. More to learn again, thanksl
Thank you, Diane!
Like others I don’t think if myself as elegant, especially since retiring. I live in jeans or shorts and in cooler weather, leggings . But when I worked in higher education I did dress In classic, simple but polished style always with a pop of color or chunky necklace to give the outfit flair. I wore mostly neutrals, and was fairly confident. I wasn’t wealthy but wanted to be a meaningful role model for my students who might work in business.
I loved today’s blog! You look stunning, as always! Love your hair…..
Thank you, Paulette! I bet you are still stunning!
Love your post this morning Pam, and have enjoyed seeing all the gorgeous flowers you received for your birthday. Modesty of dress and presentation is terribly important. It garners respect at the very least, and I feel confident when respected. I have seen women inappropriately dressed in the courtroom, in the classroom, at the farmer’s market . . . and it is always cringeworthy. You kind of wish you could send a loving message, a hug, a sweater, SOMETHING! 😁 The more women who lead by example though, hopefully others will choose to follow.
It does take leading by example! Thanks so much Connie for bringing up the part about self respect!
Your journey toward elegance reminds me of my own. I have found that the more elegant pieces in my wardrobe are what I go back to most often. Related to the controversy; I agree and would add two additional thoughts: elegance and graciousness go hand-in-hand; elegance does not exclude having fun with what looks elegant on. Both Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn projected elegance and yet you can see from photos that they also had some fun with their wardrobe by adding a touch of a current trend when appropriate.
Thank you for helping to remind me of what I need to remove from my wardrobe so that I don’t pick it up to wear and later regret it. e.g. the summer cotton hat that was great to wear until I had to wash it…now it is no longer elegant. Enjoy the remainder of summer!
I want to keep my fun-style…and somehow refine the entire wardrobe…that is what I want to do for me. But, I think I am seeking elegance more inside than outside.
“Elegance and graciousness go hand in hand.” That’s a good thought and makes a lot of sense to me. Maybe the term “elegance” is off-putting to some because it conjures up a certain image of women who are dressed up, wealthy and wearing designer clothes. I’m seeing it more as the graciousness you mention…the approach to our days…the refining of our responses in a culture where anything seems to go. I’m not seeing it so much as what I put on as how I approach my days and interact with others. One of my favorite images of Jackie Kennedy was of her in white jeans and a black tee shirt with her sunglasses. Casual for sure, but she carried herself with a certain poise. What you wrote here really resonated with me!
Thanks for sharing that, Karen!
Thinking about women I would consider elegant, I don’t think it’s so much a certain style. It’s more about confidence and that their garments always fit properly and are well maintained.
Thank you for sharing, Susan.
Everyone seems to define elegance differently. I believe simple, unconstructed, and casual is also elegant. (Lauren Hutton and Diane Keaton come to mind) It appears so many think of “elegance” as being off-putting, snobbish, cool and remote–things we all want to avoid. Simple and elegant go hand-in-hand. It might be the word “elegance” is a turn off to many when it need not be so. It is a confidence in your own style that makes you elegant, not money or avoiding trends. As for modesty–we all need to understand when that is important it’s just common sense.
Great way to put this, Connie!
Today’s post is excellent. I think elegance is all the items you listed. What a loving story the young man about his Mom. Thank you for all the information that we can into our lives.
Pamela, you are looking very elegant in this outfit today. And, the story related to you about the car salesman and his is elegant mother is all encompassing. To me, she was the essence of elegance! I am seventy-two years old and have been shown what it means to be elegant in my life by many women in my life. These include many pioneer aunts and my mother who were rural women living in northern Alberta, Canada with few resources growing up and raising families but they always presented their homes and themselves in the best possible way. I cherish their memories and aspire to their strength, creativity, and sense of elegance every day within the means I am given.
Hello, ladies! Great article, Pamela! Perhaps another concern about elegance is that we tend to define it narrowly. I think Pamela’s journey is expanding the definition!
PS: Pamela – I love your outfit! Another time, try wearing a big white floral necklace that stays above the neckline. It’s the matchy part of me – ha! The sleeves are fabulous & I would want to reflect this even more. I love the earrings!
I like to dress very casually during hot weather — athleisure is the only way I can stay cool and sane. Can I still be elegant?
I believe elegance is a curious mind, respect for others and an appreciation of their journey through life, the willingness to offer a helping hand, the pursuit of beauty and simplicity in one’s daily life, and a love for the abundance and diversity of the wonderful world we share. It is the way we live, not the way we look. You can be as elegant in jeans and a tee shirt as in a Chanel suit.
Well said, Anita! Thank you!
Pamela, I struggle with hair. Perhaps you could do a post on what hair styles are elegant. Neat and tidy for sure, but is there more that could be done? Why is it that some women can pull their hair back into a neat bun or low ponytail and look super chic and elegant while some of us only look like we ran out of time to do anything else.
Let me see if I can get an expert to interview! It would be interesting to see what she says. Will put this on the list! Thanks Susan!
I loved your story about the car salesman & his mother. I’m sure she was just as proud of him as he was of her. It’s true that elegance has little to do with wealth & a lot to do with how you present yourself & treat others. As to modesty, I was teenager during the mini skirt/hot pants era. Looking at those pictures now, I see that there is nothing elegant about them. Of course at that time, elegance was the farthest thing from my mind. Perhaps, like wisdom, the desire to be elegant comes with age. I think trends are fine in small doses, but I certainly wouldn’t want to blow my budget on them. Mental elegance is certainly something to ponder, but I do believe that elegance, like so many other things, starts with how you think. Your birthday flowers have been beautiful. Flowers add a touch of elegance & joy to a home, even the little $5 bouquet I purchased today.
Thank you, Becky! I agree on the flowers. I bought some daisies earlier in the summer for $2.50 and loved them!! Also, I remember wearing hot pants…it’s not a good memory!
I agree with you on all 4 points, Pam!
Thanks for being here, Elaine!
At this point in my life, I dress to be seen. It’s too easy to become invisible. My clothes are similar to the ones in the slide show today. My “being seen” is being presentable, not flashy, trashy or wild. I embrace the colors I like. I will not fade away.
Sometimes standing out from the crowd means just dressing presentably. Many people don’t bother. Elegance in the Covid era may mean just getting dressed every day, instead of hanging out in PJs.
Good point, Binky. That may be exactly what elegance is right now!
What a great post! I’m going to re-read it & everyone’s replies again in a moment. You hit the nail on the head with all of these: I recognize one of my own triggers, in fact, with the word “modesty”. While I personally embrace modesty in behaviour & dress in myself & others, the word is often used to control women by shaming us: we’re told to “be modest”, which often means being quiet, not speaking up, not speaking out, not over-reaching, not stepping out of the designated roles some would have us live, not having strong opinions, not standing up & fighting for what needs changing, not being defiant or loud or often just not being free to be ourselves, to speak with our true voices or advocate for what we want & need. My wardrobe is modest; my politics most definitely are NOT.
Thanks for another terrific topic for discussion & thought, Pam!
Thanks for sharing, Janet!
My late mother in law was one of three girls. All the sisters were very elegant and had terrific style. Only one of them actually had money but she was very conscious of not flaunting it in front of her sisters fearing they would feel inferior or, worse, that they needed to compete with her. One thing all three had in common was ram rod posture with beautiful necks and heads held high. My daughter inherited that posture and flair and is teaching my granddaughters well about style and modesty. I don’t think modesty has a negative connotation at all. Flaunting your body as well as your opinion shows a lack of manners in my opinion.
Oh how I loved this post. I agree with others and wish that we could whisper to some of the younger women and older that modesty is hottest. What a wonderful way to word it. I often wonder what they see in the mirror. You are definitely giving us good things to think about. I grew up on a diary farm. We were definitely not wealthy but my mother always strived to look and wear classic clothing. I have always felt that she imparted that to me. Love your elegance post! Thank you!