Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Off to the Beach

(Hmmm, need to repaint that capital….)

Mrs. E., my mother, the children and I are off to the Outer Banks of North Carolina (the “OBX”) this week. I’m not sure of the connectivity there. If I can post, I will. I hope to catch up on my blog reading and will try and finish a copy of “I Married Adventure” that my mom has brought along. I wish there were space to bring along “Chez Jacques” and “Albert Hadley” as I am finding them both to be very entertaining and instructional. I am forming some new thoughts about elegance and they really are about a certain ease. In particular, I find that those whose (auto)biographies I read seem to be absolutely sure of themselves. Or I should say, are capable of seeing absolutes in their lives. Where I, for example, will not compromise my honour, I am rather malleable aesthetically. I’ve always thought it to be changing tastes. Now I think that there are a few things that need to be set in stone.

What about you? Are you, like Van Day Truex, sure that you have exquisite taste? And is it a product of your having educated your “palette”, or is it instinctual? I think taste is a habit to be developed, practiced and refined. At least I hope so, if there is to be any hope for me at all. What are your favourite places to learn? (For a few of mine, see my blogroll!)

9 thoughts on “Off to the Beach

  1. I don’t think being “malleable aesthetically” is so bad. Now “trendy” is another thing. It seems the more things that are set in stone, the more brittle one becomes. Openess to learning should lead to openness to change and growth. As you learn more about yourself, your taste should change.

  2. I have fits of insecurity in nearly everything. Believe in both the instinctual and the educated and I have learned a ton from both blog writers and blog readers. Aesthete’s Lament is one of my favorite tutors as was House of Beauty and Culture before he pulled the plug.

    Have so much fun with your family – I’ve heard Outer Banks is just terrific.

  3. I always feel like I’m in the process of finding my sense of style, and never feel that I am quite “there.” “Aesthetically malleable” is a really great term that I think definitely applies to me at my current stage! I’ve been trying to learn everything I can about style and aesthetics lately, and it has been so fun. I look forward to reading more about your new thoughts about elegance.

  4. Military brats always second guess themselves. I guess because we see so many different sides. We never second guess our honor…because it never changes.

  5. E&E,

    It is sometimes difficult to sort the truth from the publicized. If there is one thing I have come to understand, it is the historical account versus the real story. And how does one judge it? For example, when you consider someone like Cecil Beaton, a man of style, flourish, talent, manners and incomparable taste who was also an unforgiving gossip, with little integrity and even less honor, who disdained the very people he cavorted with. Does that reduce him as mean spirited or enlarge him as a critic ahead of the times?

    To add to what Mrs. Blandings said, I think you have to trust the countenances of your own heart, education, experience. And as for the loss of the House of Beauty and Culture, it will never be replaced.

    The outer banks is one of my most favored places in the world. Happiness is practically guaranteed.

  6. You are so right that ‘a certain ease’ is a common trait of elegant people and elegant places. My own feeling is that taste is mostly acquired over time, and can definitely be nurtured, but certainly some people are born with more sensitivity to aesthetics and what I call ‘a good eye.’ That would be my mother! Life experiences and exposure trains the eye. An appreciation for beauty in its simplest state is the foundation. Less is more. Honor and integrity trump everything else in my world. It would be interesting to hear about the places or experiences that your readers felt were most impressionable to them (and at what age) in nurturing and refining their taste. On a different subject–just completed the graduation cycle, both high school and college, and I was appalled at the behavior of the guests (mostly parents). When did it become necessary to hoot and shreik when a student’s name is called for diploma? As my husband said, “They must have been surprised.”

  7. Aesthetics, elegance, taste, born, bred, learned, acquired? It may not be relevant, but I am thinking of a quote from the french actor, Louis Jouvet who said, ‘If you chase after the public’s taste and approval, all you really get is the public’s rear end!” And Gabrielle Chanel had a lot to say about taste and elegance having nothing to do with the cost of things. As I say, maybe not relevant, but I can’t help but think of these as being tangential to the subject. Interesting to contemplate……

  8. Also, Chanel said that if you are right “in fashion”, you are immediately out of fashion and I think one might say that if you are always TRYING to be “elegant”, you are not. Elegance should be, I think, that quality of being fastidiously at ease with one’s self and taste would seem to relate to the appropriateness and suitability of the form to the function. I guess you could also say that an appropriateness to the zeitgeist would also play a part – although it’s probably redundant to add that last.

  9. I like the points that Bevglen makes here and agree wholeheartedly. Taste and elegance are two different things–I know many very lovely people with very good taste but who are not particularly elegant. On the other hand, I don’t know many elegant people who don’t also have good taste. My own observations were mainly related to taste and how it comes about.

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