Monday, 28 June 2010

E is for Elegance

When I'm wandering around London or at a glamorous party, my eyes are never drawn to the suited and booted gents around me, but always to the female of the species. This is not me coming out to the blogosphere; for kissing, dating and arguing with, I like boys. That's just me. But for sheer aesthetic satisfaction, it has to be women who win every time. It's probably because of the range of fashion options and physiques, whereas boys just have short or not-so-short hair and dark or not-so-dark jeans to work with. I've been enamoured by a number of women who have passed my way lately due to an elusive elegance that wafts along with them. It could be a symptom of my working in a far more corporate environment than I'm used to, but mainly it's because I have become less than elegant, and I aspire to be a lot more so. I hesitate to use the term 'let myself go', but I've certainly become a bit relaxed and blase to the way I eat, (skip) exercise and dress day-to-day. Not necessarily a crash in self-esteem, but a lack of anything to make me up my sartorial game. I am not naturally elegant, but I seem to have stopped trying to be, and this is what peturbs me.

A number of factors foil my attempts to join the E-list, and these are as follows: I am incurably clumsy (known as 'the spiller' amongst friends), prefer keeping my heels under my desk than braving the commute in a sleekpair of 4-inchers, I do not drive, therefore acquiring a flustered rosy glow on the trek to various chic destinations, I do not have a limitless bank balance (I know money shouldn't matter but with style it definitely helps) and alas, I am not of the pale, slender, high cheekboned, ravenous Eastern-European persuasion which bombards our perception of beauty. Actually the latter does not quite fit my own idea of elegance; it can be anything from exceptionally radiant skin to beautifully coiffed hair, stopping by cinched waists and gloriously classic handbags on the way. Beautifully pedicured feet in sandals, light golden or porcelain skin, a glimse of slender wrist in a simple bracelet or a little Smythson leather diary are all part of a very London-specific elegance.

I keep seeing effortlessly shift-dressed ladies, their (usually glossy brunette) hair piled up in a chignon - seriously, who in real life can put together a chignon at 7am? - sleek waxed legs lengthened by simple black or nude pumps, a tres-chic hint of perfume completing their aura. It's true, many of these women will also have the misfortune of being a UBH (Unfriendly Brunette Hottie), casting doubtful glances at frizzy-haired, flat-shoed bag ladies like myself as they grab a soy latte. But often they are smiley, chatting ladies with a spring in their step who are just that lucky. It may take a few more hours at the gym, some high-maintenance grooming and months of saving for a better handbag, but I am determined to take a few more steps towards this kind of urban elegance. I was definitely more gazelle-like a couple of years ago (when I was also brunette, incidentally, although hopefully a friendly species) and I'm sure it can't take too much willpower to head back that way.

Thandie is Chanel-clad, Moet-sipping, chignon-rocking elegance personified

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