We’ve been studying the Greeks in my art history class. Which is fun for me, as I’m half Greek. (And yes, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was right on the mark. I laughed myself silly.)
In class we’ve been reminded of one of the key philosophies of the ancient Greeks: that of harmony or balance. Think of “a sound mind in a sound body” for instance. The idea of perfect proportion is rediscovered during the Renaissance and is probably most evident in Michelangelo’s David (See photo above. But I haven’t gotten to that chapter yet, so don’t quote me.)
There is also an emphasis on balancing the physical with the intellectual, a kind of self-restraint in action, that applies equally well (no pun intended) to the pursuit of elegance. While we seek to be in harmony with our environments, in today’s world the pursuit of excellence can make you stand out from the … er… harmonious “hole” left by our celebrity examples and pop-culture in general. I strive to build harmony into my world. Maybe because of my ancestry — it’s all Greek to me.
The perfect cocktail is one mixed with restraint and by paying attention to fairly strict proportions. A meal is both well-balanced nutritionally, colorfully and can be beautifully paired with the right wine to bring out the various flavors of the dish(es).
A home is decorated with some self-restraint in the pursuit of the harmonious effect when taken as a whole (with some artistic examples being the exception to the rule.)
In music, I’ve never been partial to dissonance, preferring a good melody and harmony. Even bagpipe music, which is pretty foreign sounding to anyone used to listening to modern Western music, has its grace notes.
In clothing, harmony in proportion, fit and pattern makes for an elegant appearance. Strive for overall harmony, if not in Pythagorian mathematical perfection, but to some degree, when dressing tomorrow. Pair stripes with patterns in complimentary (that is not matching) sizes and bind the two together with color. You might consider something like a Prince of Wales plaid suit with a blue overcheck, a blue and white pinstriped shirt and a blue and red wide-striped repp tie. Add in your pocket square with a touch of navy and red and some pindot grey, or grey with red clocks, socks. Substitute a navy chalk-stripe suit if the idea of plaid for the city makes you nervous.
If your clothing fits — if your jacket isn’t too long, your collar isn’t too low or high, your sleeves aren’t too long and your trouser cuffs brush the tops of your shoes — you will have crafted an elegant appearance. One that will have your colleagues and assorted others remarking that “you look great today.”
Next, give me a word. Any word. I will show you how that word is Greek.