Coco Chanel stated that simplicity is the key to any kind of true elegance.
But I dare to differ. Very often simplicity is not elegant at all. If we over-simplify our world, it becomes mono-dimensional, monochrome, lifeless and boring. If we simplify our world-view to an extent where the good cowboys wear white hats, and the bad cowboys black hats, we miss the multi-colour richness of experience the real world has to offer. Instead of trying to manage the complexities we face through black-and-white reductionism, we need to learn to manage our complex reality not by cutting through it and simplifying it. In order to achieve truly satisfying, elegant results, we need to embrace our complex reality by merging with it, gaining a deep, complete and essential understanding of it. Once we have achieved a state of total immersion in a topic, we may find that elegant solutions suddenly present themselves in the most unexpected moments, like a flash of lightning, when inspiration strikes. The resulting solutions may seem simple at first sight – but don’t be deceived! This type of simplicity is rich, complex and deeply satisfying. It provides a profound sense of significance. It addresses the real root causes of a situation, and it usually has a broad-ranging effect. In the fields of information technology, mathematics and engineering, elegant solutions provide a surprisingly simple method, which is normally not obvious at first sight, to produce a highly effective result, often solving multiple problems at once - even problems which may not be inter-related! Although these solutions may seem simple, their quality has nothing to do with reductionism, austerity, and blinkered ways of thinking.
Maybe Coco Chanel’s little black dress can teach us a lesson about true elegance.
This little black piece of magic is designed to reveal just enough, and hide just enough of the lady wearing it, in order to highlight her beauty, whilst at the same time concealing possible challenges in the most complimentary way. Ideally, the little black dress should not be noticed at all by the beholder. If it does its job well, it should simply act as a platform on which the lady can shine!
True elegance combines simplicity with complexity to create beauty!
Elegant solutions are often gentlemanly, unassuming, polite, working their miracles in the background. They don’t have to promote themselves. Their results speak for themselves. So – what might all of this mean for you? Elegance invites you to replace your accumulative drive for quantity with a selective quest for quality.
Elegance challenges you to upgrade and downsize at the same time!
Elegance encourages you not to follow marketing fantasies, fads or fashions, but to develop a strong sense of your own personal style instead. Use your refined sense of style as a filter when making decisions about what to do, what to buy, which people to associate with, and which circumstances you choose to quietly walk away from.