Effortless elegance is a quality found in elegant women. I explored this principle of elegance and this is my interpretation.
I started thinking about beautiful elegant women and how they make it all seem effortless.
As in my previous posts/articles, I had written about the ‘principle of editing’. A large part of attaining elegance is to edit, edit, edit.
This means you prune your wardrobe, get rid of clutter, say no to unnecessary events or activities that may take a toil on your health or finances, minimise contact with people who get you down etc.
Elegance is also about being authentic, where you analyse your thoughts, your choices etc, to see if you’re truly being yourself. You’ll also take time to figure out what you enjoy, your strengths and talents and gifts etc. The more authentic you are as a person, the more you’ll grow in elegance.
Okay, that’s just a recap.
The Effortlessly Elegant Woman
Another type of elegance is also to make it all seem effortless.
I’ve thought about this long and hard on how do I exactly describe this effortlessness that makes elegance so attractive.
Maybe you can think and ponder now together with me on someone whom you find extremely elegant. Think about her for a second and explore the following questions in your mind:
Does she give you the impression that she has spent hours on curling her hair and putting on make up? Did she spend a long time in front of her wardrobe styling herself to look fashionable? Did she appear rushed from work, flustered and stressed? Does she have lots of her mind that she’s unable to park her car properly or talk to you without checking work emails on her phone? Is she telling you how hard her life is? Or how hard she has worked?
For the few elegant women that has come to mind, the answers are no to these questions on all fronts.
The elegant person on my mind does not give me the impression that she has spent hours curling her hair and making her make up absolutely perfect (though her make up is natural and neat). Her clothes and hair helps me focus on her as a beautiful person both on the inside and out, but not in a showy way.
She does not appear rushed at all, but calm. (I admire this quality most because it does not come naturally for me. I have a slightly nervous and anxious streak in me – and that was how elegant woman.org was born – I needed to cope.)
Now I’m not saying that she’s neither flustered nor stressed. It is just that she doesn’t need to show or tell the whole world.
I believe the elegant person on my mind is fairly organised and structured, and does things one at a time and keeps her mind in control. So no, she doesn’t look like there’s lots on her mind in a flustered way. When she’s with you, she’s present.
Whatever it may be, no matter what she’s going through, she is self-contained. Perhaps, unintentionally she makes it all seems so effortless.
How to be Self-Contained
While I’m not encouraging pretentiousness, there is a certain wisdom with knowing what to hold back and not reveal.
Not everyone needs to know how hard you work, or how stressed you are. There are certain things about yourself that you need to hold back, for the appropriate time and for the right people.
This is an act of kindness and, believe it or not, is directly opposite of being self-indulgent.
I’m not saying that she pretends that she isn’t busy, isn’t stressed, or doesn’t make effort to look good. She only reveals what is necessary. She also refuses to indulge in attempts to get sympathy for the amount of hard work she’s put in, or stress, or some major life problems she is facing. She holds her head with dignity and deals with them face on as much as she can.
I mean, I’m sure some of you can relate to this. You have coffee with some friends and they seem to go on and on telling you how busy and stressed they are. They then proceed to whine or complain about how hard their job/life is etc. Sometimes these are efforts to get sympathy. They want people to acknowledge their hard work, to feel important. Some hope people will admire them. Others do this as a way to boast subtly so that they may feel accomplished.
I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with telling people about your stressful work life, or situation etc. There’s a time and place for everything. It also matters who you are talking to or relaying this information. It is possible to reflect on yourself. Ask yourself ‘why do I say this?’ ‘why do I think it is important to tell everyone how busy I am?’ Explore the possible motivations.
I know this because I used to do this. I wanted people to acknowledge my efforts. I wanted admiration. Maybe I just needed to feel accomplished. However, I’ve since decided that’s not the way. I read a quote by Juliet Doherty (a ballet prodigy – and I’m not sure if the quote is by her) and I decide to live by that:
I’ve decided not to tell people how busy I am. (I hereby apologise for using the word busy in my previous elegant woman letters!) I try to refrain from the word ‘busy’. Why? I don’t want people to think that I’m not approachable. “Oh, don’t bother with her, she’s always busy.” “She’s too busy to listen to my problems.” Of course, when close and beloved friends share about their lives, I will tell them what’s been going on.
Usually it will go something like this: “I’ve been working on a new project and I’m also doing a part-time study course in ballet. Of course, I’m dancing everyday and I still have my small business to look after.”
When asked about my project/course/business, and I genuinely sense an interest, I would be more than happy to share the details.
When asked about not-so-pleasant details or ‘stressful situations’, I would share according to situation but keep it light and happy. Unless I’m in crisis mode, when I need to let my tears flow. I find that this is habit of many admirable people. They tend to downplay their problems unless there is reason not to.
This happened to me the other day when I had breakfast with one of my best friends. She was in such a happy mood and it was the week after her wedding. So I let her talk and we laughed about all the details and stories about the wedding. As I dropped her off for her facial appointment, she asked me about some on-going family issues that had escalated recently but I told her the crux of it and said we’ll talk more about it next time. I think that was the right thing to do. It made me so happy to see her happy. My issues will always be there. There can be another time to talk about it.
Regarding elegance with hair, clothes and make up. Let people see how beautiful you are, not how fashionable you are, unless, of course, that’s what you do for work. Don’t give people the impression that you are a very vain woman. There is a difference between taking pride in your appearance and being very vain.
I mean, I understand fashion is how to express yourself but it’s more appropriate to be more understated. Wear the dress, don’t let the dress wear you. (Now, it is important still to be along with the times i.e. don’t wear something completely out of fashion that makes you look irrelevant to society. Why is this important? You want people to be able to relate to you, not look at you in shock or feel awkward around you.)
I think the conclusion is that there is a certain amount of withholding and control of yourself to appear effortlessly elegant. There is a sort of appropriateness about being effortless.
It’s not that you want to show people how you didn’t put any effort for your appearance or for your job. It is also not that you want to show people that you have no problems or hardships at all.
A Quiet Confidence
It is like you don’t have to prove that you are smart. People can tell you’re smart. They can tell how hard you’ve worked on the project. They can see the bravery in how you have handled stressful situations and admire you for that. They just want to be the one to conclude that, and not hearing it from you.
There is a quiet confidence and in your appearance of effortlessness that puts people at ease. Instead of telling people how busy you are, you have more time to listen to them and learn and be a better friend. That is how people like you and how you become an interesting person.
If you tell everyone how terrible your life is, how big your problems are, how busy and stressed you are, after sympathising with you….soon they will have nothing to say to you. They might avoid you. They could possibly think you’re boring. Or annoying. Or feel like they can’t relate to you at all.
I know that sometimes when people compliment you, it is easy to indulge your own ego to say, “Yeah, I worked very hard for it. I did this…and that…. and went all the way…” I know, because I’ve done that!
At first, I thought they were interested to find out how I’ve achieved the success and wanted to generously share with them. I’ve soon realised that I shouldn’t, because that means I would assume that they think ‘my way is the best way’ which of course, is not true. A compliment is just a compliment. I’ve learnt to say “Thank you” and move on. I’ve probably scared those people away with my earlier words and they probably think I’m obnoxious and arrogant. I don’t blame them! Those who are seriously interested would probably ask me many many questions.
So thus, I hope to be more effortlessly elegant. This principle of effortlessness is simply my interpretation of elegance.
It is a combination of all principles of elegance, of understanding yourself, being true to yourself, beholding beauty, editing, being kind and downplaying yourself so you can focus on others that makes you effortlessly elegant.
It is not that elegance requires no effort, but it is the result of previous hard work of making good decisions, making hard decisions, thinking, and continuous effort to grow.
I’d like to think that it gets easier once the good habits are in place .
Hope you enjoyed my article on ‘Effortless elegance’!