Why Not . . . Be Casually Elegant?

Jun 29, 2011

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When the phrase casual elegance is uttered, a handful of names come to mind – Jennifer Aniston, Audrey Hepburn, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ines de la Fressange. All of these women embody the combination of a carefree, relaxed attitude that allows them to appear just as pulled together and sophisticated in a pair of blue jeans as they do in a fresh off the runway designer gown. They don’t appear rushed or as if they are trying too hard.  They seem very comfortable in their own skin – almost a take-it-or-leave-it attitude without going overboard and still exuding a nearly indescribable quality that makes you just want to enjoy their company. A relaxed refinement or grace, I guess you could say.

So the question I’ve been trying to answer is how can we too carry off this casual elegant persona and welcome it into our lives creating a calmer, more relaxed environment that beckons a more playful, yet diligent and purposeful way of life? Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Having Manners & an Engaging Sense of Humor

Being elegant requires that you have manners and exhibit proper etiquette, but becoming too refined eliminates the ability to be relaxed because there is so much stress on behaving correctly that you are unable to just be. By finding the balance of being able to behave respectfully, but being comfortable enough to have a chuckle (for example, had the queen recently patted President Obama on the shoulder when he mistakenly began speaking through God Save the Queen as he tried to pay tribute to her, that would have lightened the mood ever so slightly), not only do you help put others at ease, but you also set the example of what is expected, as well as what is tolerated because people do make mistakes.


Comfortable in a Dress as Well as a Pair of Jeans

Now, I don’t have the endless opportunities to wear specially tailored designs down the red carpet like the talented Kate Winslet, but the idea here is to be able to be confident enough in your body to pull off a beautiful dress (as they are so much fun to wear and simpler too in my opinion), and turn around the next day and look smashing in a perfectly sized pair of jeans.


Able to Mix High & Low Fashions with Ease

Staying on the topic of fashion. Someone who is casually elegant isn’t about labels, but is instead aware of what looks best on their figure. Pairing Chloe flats with Levi denim jeans and a navy cashmere sweater reveals to onlookers that you clearly have taste, but are not bragging about how much money you have – in fact, the sweater may be a consignment find you discovered last week while perusing in the city but no one will ever know. In other words, you have style because you know what works well together and what looks best on you.


Neutral Decor with Cozy Elements

I always think of casual elegance as the blending of English traditional and French country decor. By understanding that a keep-it-simple approach is best for big ticket items – walls, sofas, floors, etc, a homeowner can then have fun with the accessories and create a home that is welcoming to everyone, but home sweet home to its inhabitants.


Able to Converse with a Prince & a Pauper

Casual elegance can quickly be displayed in a person’s behavior, but it also reveals itself in the words and conversations each person involves themselves in. Elegance is having a depth of knowledge to enable you to discuss concepts, ideas and be informed of history and current events, while being casual allows you to recognize when to take it down a notch and make sure whoever you are talking with is comfortable.


A Quiet Self-Confidence

A person possessing self-confidence isn’t arrogant, but calm, neither are they boisterous, but even-tempered. Having casual elegance in this case is not needing an audience, but attracting one more often than not because of a winsome, honest and non-threatening quality that piques others’ interest.


Ability to be Spontaneous without Losing Control

The term casual elegance is itself a balancing act of two somewhat opposing ideas, and so is this last point. Being elegant suggests that almost everything must be planned and adhered to, while casual reflects a more lackadaisical attitude. I believe that the two ideas when melded together create a healthy balance that if anyone stuck to they would find themselves taking chances that lead to great discovery and moments of unexpected delight. By being spontaneous for those moments that capture your attention and curiosity, but at the same time being able to notice the difference when the idea is just absurd, you are striking a balance that is the essence of being casually elegant.


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~Image: TSLL’s IG, Provence Trip 2018

11 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Be Casually Elegant?

  1. I think you hit the proverbial nail on the head here, especially in the chapter “Ability to be spontaneous…”

    So what I wonder is, is casual elegance something that one just has (or doesn’t) or is it something which people learn? Can one learn to meld these two ideas together? Or are they just innately so for some people.

    Hmmm…have to ponder that one!

    Great observations and a real food for thought piece.

  2. One of your best, Shannon! Love the ideas and you really have nailed it…especially the thought of being “winsome, honest and non-threatening..” These days, women are exorted to display the arrogance and fire of boxers–but what if there’s a more elegant way to influence, rather than bullying? I love this post! Well-played, my dear !

  3. Thank you for such a fantastic and thought-provoking piece.

    The ideas you blog about are the kind that I will constantly draw on when I need a refresh, and to regain some perspective.

    The images you accompany your posts with are absolutely delightful and so fitting for the content, too.

    Thank you!

    xo, Lisa.

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
    It always strucks my core.
    Everyday it gives me real pleasure too read your blog

  5. Great post! I love the term you used to describe iconic elegant women –‘relaxed refinement with grace.’ Definitely something to strive for! I also like your definition of casual elegance when referring to decor–‘blending of English traditional and French country decor.’ That’s my preferred style (although it’s a work in progress), so I couldn’t agree more. Well said!

    1. Thank you for comment Amy. 🙂 The element of comfort, cozy, relaxed adds a solid foundation whether it be our clothing, our decor or our way of engaging with the world that enables a steadiness. It took time to be able to describe this, as I knew it unconsciously, but now that I know, it has made a world of difference. Have a wonderful weekend!

      1. Thanks, Shannon. So, so true! While I was writing my comment above, I was thinking to myself how well you were able to describe what I have struggled for many years to put into words about elegance and grace. When I read your post, I was saying, “Yes, that’s it–perfectly expressed.” You nailed it! I’ve written down your words/phrases in my ‘inspiration’ notebook where they’ll be safe–and referred to often. Thanks again!

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