Sitting at the Alcove Café this morning enjoying my coffee and conversation with my BFF the subject of what is the definition of elegance vs. sexiness came up when we saw an elegantly dressed young woman in a long but casual summer dress stroll in and pause, addressing her surroundings as if looking for someone. At long last she turned and walked out slowly, still with great elegance, perhaps not finding what she was looking for.
We looked at each other and at the same time said "wow!" It's not that the woman was tall or even that beautiful. It was how she carried herself and how she came across.
Elegant people were rare before, and they're still rare now.
It is even more rare today to find someone who is both elegant and sexy, two qualities that in my opinion largely describe every attractive person out there, man or woman.
Women. We are pretty, cute, curvy, skinny, sexy, sultry, voluptuous... we have been described in many ways. However, when was the last time you heard a man describe a woman by something that compliments her soul and her inherent elegance? Or even as beautiful for that matter? Alternately when was the last time you did not hear a man describe a woman with an adjective that wasn't dripping in sexual innuendos? Men tend to judge women solely on sex appeal, failing to understand the concept of natural beauty and uniqueness in flaws.
Our society has been programmed to believe that sexuality in a woman comes in the form of a sculpted body and bronzed skin. That is the woman who is considered attractive. They don't recognize the difference between "hot" and beautiful. That "hotness" doesn't last past midnight when the make-up has smudged off and the hair extensions removed, or ultimately when the spray tan has washed away.
The admiration has shifted towards describing women as objects rather than people to be appreciated for our individuality, beauty and our intelligence. This is the illusion that women have struggled to conform to and keep up with for way too long. How sad.
We discount the woman who doesn't care to impress the opposite sex, but would rather dress comfortably just to feel good in her own skin. Is there not an attractiveness and appeal to that sense of self-confidence?
If you watch old American films, the way the actresses dressed and moved, slowly and with great confidence you would see that elegance was what every woman aspired to be back in those days. Gone are the days when women would dress up their entire family just to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon at the park.
Sexiness on the other hand is a conformist trait - it's not a coincidence that most of the blatantly sexy people either work in industries where they need to mingle and interact with those of the opposite sex they must impress. Here being sexy is rewarded- both in terms of more career success and more plaudits from their admiring peers.
Sexiness is sexual suggestiveness rather than attractiveness. But when you are comfortable in your own skin, and keep yourself from conforming to how others want you to be, to dress, to behave and to find yourself boxed in by subconscious conformist impulses, then you come across as naturally beautiful and elegant.
It takes sexy and elegant people to recognize people who are sexy and elegant. The way you dress, the way you behave, and the way you move impacts your overall placement on this rudimentary scale.
Is it possible then to be both elegant and sexy, you may ask? My feeling is yes, it's just more challenging that's all. Especially given the atmosphere we live in. The modern era includes very few emblems of elegance. "Style" today is reminiscent of spikes, faux leather, sheer fabric and minimum coverings, all with an overtly suggestive and aggressive, and utterly un-feminine, aesthetic.
So, how to dial up your own sexiness or elegance?
I would say first master the art of elegance and then add a subtle suggestion of sexiness. Too much blatant sexuality and you would have lost that elegance that is the hallmark of classiness. Style is cultivated over time and involves lessons and choices as one matures. It is never too late to develop or refine one's unique style.
Your overall appearance and mannerisms make a nonverbal, emotional appeal, a branding statement and often form the first impression of you. And as we all know first impressions count in business and in life. Besides, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Know that true elegance is ageless, wholesome and more than skin deep. It is unique and enchanting. It's time for women to start showcasing their individuality and stop giving in to the illusion of sexy created by man. It's time that men are reminded of the difference between sexy and elegant and to realize that women have more to offer than just a body.
For those who want to embrace elegance they must look to women with power and stop following the pop stars and reality show personalities. It's unfortunate that we live in an era of exhibitionist fashion paraded in the crafted couture runway and street styles.
Rather than looking to the cult of celebrity for advice we need a modern muse to bring back the sense of style and elegance. To inspire this generation towards what true elegance is we need a parallel force of fabulous and class to stir young people's imaginations and re-direct their preferences from trashy and scandalous to true style and elegance .
Elegance is like modesty and class all done up in a really feminine and inviting way. Certainly it has to do with the way we dress: our clothing and makeup. However, it has equally as much, if not more, to do with our attitude and behavior, being polished, mannerly and gracious. Pride of self is a big part of elegance. And when confidence, poise and grace are combined with elegance that can come across as very sexy.
Trashy is not sexy.
People often confuse vulgarity and nakedness with sexiness. They do not realize that there is sexiness in the mystery of leaving some things to the imagination. A rare balance between elegance and sexiness can be achieved without looking provocative, nude, offensive or any variety of adjectives that accurately describe many celebrity fashion icons of today.
I'm nostalgic for the time when women took pride in their appearance, and the level of skill and attention to detail that went into dressmaking. There has been a radical shift in style literacy and it is apparent in the collections being shown on the runway, on the streets, and by the mainstream media today.
Most young adults have no clue what personifies 'elegance'. Most don't even own formal clothing and have no idea what it looks like. Their everyday lives are spent living in jeans, leggings and T-shirts, so that they find it out of character and extremely challenging to dress formally except when they go out on big dates, or the day they get married.
Who can blame them? The only time they see women fully clothed is in magazines that feature women in technology, business or finance, which only goes to prove that curating one's signature style is crucial for success in any professional field.
For those young women who aspire for aesthetic excellence and wish to achieve grace and elegance with ease and naturalness it would serve them to study such notable elegant icons of the past as Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn and Princess Grace of Monaco.
Elegance is a statement, an attitude, a way of being. It is timeless.
"Elegance is the only beauty that never fades."
© Rani St. Pucchi, 2016
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