Style and the Elegant Person

GQ has just named Johnny Depp as one of the world’s most stylish men.

Because he is. There, I said it.


I imagine shock, indignation and outrage amongst my gentle readers as their sensibilities, finely tuned to detect elegance in all things, rebel.

And there dear readers, we have the crux of the matter. We are concerned with the search for an everyday elegance here at Easy and Elegant Life. Elegance and style are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Style can exist without elegance, whereas elegance is always stylish.

Then there is the mathematical principle of elegance: the simplest solution is the most elegant. Q.E.D. To become a more elegant dresser, do the math.

Cary Grant pared down his look from faultlessly matched patterns to the solid suit, white shirt and silk satin tie of his later years.

(Images of Cary Grant via: Dr. Macro. Click on each to go to the original. Used without permission to illustrate my point. Notice, too, how he hid his lack of front tooth later on by changing his smile. Elegance is restraint.)

It is, of course, entirely possible to be sophisticated, chic and stylish without being at all elegant. I’m not sure I would call Edward, the Duke of Windsor, elegant. I would call him a terribly sophisticated dresser.

The Duke of Windsor as pictured in "Vogue" magazine, via "A Suitable Wardrobe."

Here, in an interview with Jim Moore of GQ Magazine, Tom Ford gets right to the point in a couple of ways. Although he produces plaid suits, sportscoats and trousers, you won’t see him in them. His suits are dark, his shirts are white (and unbuttoned to the sixth button from what I can tell.) Like Grant, he wants nothing to detract from his face. Which, like Grant again, is always tanned. The most relevant parts of the video for this discussion begin around the fourth minute. (I ran across the video at Alastair 1958. A blog I plan to link to. Nicely done!)

So, to sum up, this weekend you may be very stylishly dressed and I hope you are. If you want to up the elegance quotient, the easiest way to do so is to start with a high contrast palette and play down pattern matching. To up the glamour factor, play with colour and pattern. Somewhere between the two extremes you’ll find yourself in glen plaid with a plain shirt and dark tie, or a houndstooth skirt and black turtle(roll)neck sweater.

How do you know which is the right look for you? This week try this experiment. Two days of the week (not consecutive) strive for high elegance — your best cut clothing, a simple palette, very put together. On the other two days, go for a more stylish look matching patterns, adding some colour and visual interest. Which days garnered more compliments and second glances? Go that route for Friday and carry the look into evening.

I’m interested to hear how it goes. Leave comments throughout the week if you take up the challenge.

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19 Responses to Style and the Elegant Person

  1. Pingback: Logos kai Apokalupsis » No Way Johnny Depp Most Stylish

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