Elegance is refusal – Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel was not only a style icon; she was a woman who was not afraid to go against the status quo in either fashion or lifestyle. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that she had her own definition of elegance:

Elegance is refusal

As a part of the fashion industry, we were interested to see elegance from this angle and to understand what Coco Chanel may have meant by her definition. Here are our thoughts on this.

We believe elegance goes deeper than appearance. It is poise, an attitude and a way of life. We love how Coco Chanel added a powerful dimension to elegance. As a designer, she refused to conform to the constraints of the ‘corseted silhouette’ that was popular at the time. In doing so, she liberated women’s fashion and set herself apart as an influential style icon.

Elegance as refusal adds a perfect dimension to our ideas of what it means to be elegant. Following this idea, we can now understand that elegance is present in our refusal to buy into fast fashion and quickly changing trends with new wardrobe items for every season. Elegance allows us to ignore any restraints or guidelines set by trends, and to wear what we want, how we want to wear it; refusing to clothe ourselves in the approval of others. Elegance is a personal style that consciously chooses what we add to our wardrobes and what we wear on our bodies. It is about choosing something because we want it, not because we are told it is a ‘must-have’.

Beyond fashion, elegance is the refusal to settle for anything that does not align with our ideals. Refusal is a powerful stance to take, for it requires knowing what you stand for and choosing not to conform to the opinions of others. Elegance is the refusal to compromise our standards to make others feel better. It is exercising our right to be ourselves without conforming, settling, or accepting anything less than we deserve.

An elegant attitude engages the power of refusal when it comes to things that are vulgar, distasteful, harmful or mean.

Elegance is the refusal to follow the crowd and fall victim to the behaviours and ideas in this age of ‘look at me’. For elegance does not require a stage to make an impact.

We believe elegance is kind, compassionate and considerate of others—moreover, elegance refuses to look the other way when injustice occurs. It refuses to remain silent when we need to speak out.

While some may consider elegance an old-fashioned notion from another time, we are in love with this further definition of elegance. With this expanded understanding, we now see that elegance is knowing what we stand for. Elegance is knowing what we will not tolerate and what we must refuse. In viewing this classic notion through the lens of Coco Chanel’s quote we see that elegance is something we need a whole lot more of in this world today.

In a world where we can be anything, let’s be elegant and kind.