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In Defense Of Inelegance

By Megan Murray

You often hear people lamenting the lack of elegance our casual society.  We live in a world where it is all too acceptable to roll into a public place looking like we just got into a fight with an alley cat. Even I, the person who went to Walmart with a sports jersey, jeans and sparkly oversized hoop earrings, die inside a little when someone walks into my public sphere wearing pajamas with tortured pandas and fuzzy slippers ( yeah lady at the dollar store, I am talking to you.) Although I share the disdain for the public pajama bottom with the fashion set, I am in no imminent danger of ever being called elegant.  In fact, for women like me elegance is an albatross around my neck, a huge wearing a twin set and pearls tsking at my inability to figure out khakis. 

I am not her (blushandpearls.blogspot.com)

To be fair, I grew up in an area where elegance was trumped by utility. The idea of purchasing something that didn’t “do something” was, and still is, foreign to me. You will know people like me based on their Christmas decorations: We have the porch where stuff is moving and singing, heck if we could get a wreath to tap dance we would.  I do know people in this environment, who despite nurture, just have that elegant gene. These women can work a JCrew catalog and must have an internal weather service because they always have a stunningly matched umbrella on hand while I am running like a drowned rat through an unexpected rain storm.  Elegant women also seem to know exactly what to do with brooches. I am lucky if my socks match most days, brooches are like +10 level fashion lady.

This is me

Elegance demands a crazy level of appropriateness. You need to know exactly what to wear, what to do, what to say, how to sit, and even what to focus on at all times. I am delightfully inappropriate. I will tell you how much my shoes cost, I wear too much glitter, and I will say things that everyone else in the rooms is thinking. Sure, I KNOW all the rules of Chic. I KNOW that you are supposed to take one accessory off before you leave the house, as per Coco Chanel ; however,  my thought process gets in the way of any rational fashion decision. This is my internal monologue when faced with the conundrum, “ Do I wear these feathered earrings with this glittered shirt?” 

 “Yeah, maybe the feathers are too much. I wonder where these feathers are from? Do they get feathers from Parrots? Ya know, I haven’t seen the movie Aladdin in a while. I love David Bowie. Yeah, the Tesla coil was pretty cool..such a shame. (sung) IIIII know, do do do da do III know (/sung). I loved hair metal-the feathers stay” 

If you are the type of person who is what out society deems “ naturally elegant” or feels that elegance is something inside you that needs to be unlocked, by all means keep at it.  Elegance is admirable and the world needs women who can rock a little black dress and pearls.

If, however, the idea of prescribed elegance gives you panic attacks…there are benefits. While I will never be compared to Audrey Hepburn,  I will always be the first phone call when someone’s kid does something embarrassing in school or someone peed their pants in public.  I can decorate myself like a disco ball, and when some snot with a column in a fashion magazine proclaims that (fill in blank) is not for someone in my age/size/socioeconomic demographic I can  proclaim, “Oh, she doesn’t mean me.”

  • http://manycatsmanor.blogspot.com/ Laurie Brown

    I think for me it’s not so much the lack of elegance, but the lack of effort. I couldn’t do elegance to save my life (I have, quite literally, worn Christmas decorations as accessories), but I do try to put in an effort. I love to see people expressing themselves in their clothing and makeup, whether it’s understated elegance or over the top glitter ball. I do understand that for some people, plain and utilitarian *is* what makes them truly happy, but I just think there are a lot of folks out there who are hiding their true selves under baseball cap and beer t-shirt.

  • http://brightlycoloredperson.wordpress.com/ Daena

    “Elegance demands a crazy level of appropriateness.” So true. So, so true. And I think, that is also where I fail. I’m reminded of when the azaleas start blooming in the spring and everywhere you look there is a riot of neon magenta. Most people might think, “What a lovely color, I must buy a new azalea bush for the front yard!” whereas I think, “I must dye my hair neon magenta! I must have it on my head NOW!”

    I think of elegance as never seeming out of place. Being perfectly attired for the occasion, whatever it is and raising the bar for those occasions. I don’t raise the bar. In fact, I dropped the bar and will just jump over it.

  • Wendy

    Megan, I think you need to write a book.

  • Sheila – Painted Ladies

    Ditto. Just start writing.

  • Monika

    I think Elegance is in the eye of the beholder. Neon magenta hair is chic if it’s done right! Elegance to me doesn’t mean kahkis and pearls. It’s the way a person walks, talks and acts, not they way they look. Although PJ’s in public sure wouldn’t help!