Does Elegance Matter?
Anita Sharpe on Culture
This question came up at a dinner of professional women the other night. The fact that every well-known person who seems to illustrate elegance -- Jackie Onassis, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire -- is dead, probably speaks to the answer.
The closest we could get to a living example was Sean Connery as James Bond (which hardly counts as 'living') or, perhaps, Oprah.
Old-fashioned though it may be, I come down on the side that elegance does matter. It certainly matters in writing; an elegant sentence is a sentence that conveys a thought in a memorable, yet simple style; it doesn't draw attention to itself with unnecessary modifiers or overuse of slang. In other words, it shows respect for the reader by being stylish but not showy. There is also something genuine and timeless about an elegant sentence.
Elegant people are the same. (One dictionary defines elegance as 'a refined quality of gracefulness and good taste.') We are drawn to them -- some of us, at least -- because they exude timeless qualities of authenticity, dignity, artfulness and respect, for themselves and, by extension, others.
Surely there must be more living examples.