Saturday, February 19, 2011

to seek elegance rather than luxury,

I have been pondering this phrase, wondering what pictures to put with it, what other great quotes I might find to express this same sentiment. I have come up with nothing that seems right to me.

I see luxury in red embroidered or paisley velvet with heavy beading and bullion fringe, and elegance in crisp white linen. But each person defines these two ideas, these two words differently.

To me it seems a luxury not to care that you have dropped the spare change out of your purse, to know and have a policy of never stooping to pick up loose change. It seems a luxury to not care that herbs you use every day cost less in bulk. It seems a luxury to swipe a card and pay for a meal you hadn't planned on eating at a restaurant I wouldn't normally afford. It seems a luxury to buy a new dress and new shoes for an event you aren't sure you'll attend.

But these luxuries are more than just things I can't afford, they are things I wouldn't afford even if I could afford them. Somehow my definition of luxuries has gotten tied up with an idea of poor stewardship, with an idea of a lack of respect for the value of a dollar in working-man terms, with carelessness and attitudes of entitlement. Luxuries are things one should do without, just on the sheer principle of it.

So how do I define elegance? In simple terms, in the classics, the enduring, the unchanging, honest, clean, refined by the passage of time and set apart by the quality of workmanship. Not necessarily inexpensive -- elegance might be affordable or it might require deep pockets -- but whatever the cost, elegance is solidly worth its price tag.

How do you define elegance?

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