Friday, March 10, 2017

Elegance: A Lesson from 1962

"Elegance is refusal."
Coco Chanel

In April 1962 the White House was abuzz with preparations for the state dinner in honor of the Shah of Iran and his lovely young wife, Empress Farah.  Reports had reached Washington that the Empress would be wearing the most exquisite jewels from the royal vaults; and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, whose elegance in fashion and style had won global notoriety, involuntarily found herself set up to compete in what the world had turned into a two-woman beauty contest.

Although Tiffany and Company had made some of its most impressive pieces of jewelry at Mrs. Kennedy's disposal for the occasion, at the last moment she decided to forgo extravagance for a simple pair of diamond drop earrings and a small starburst clip for her hair.  It was a remarkable exercise in restraint; and the result was that, as the First Lady's personal secretary later recalled, "Jacqueline Kennedy's understated elegance upstaged even the dazzling, jewel-laden Empress."

Mrs. Kennedy's example is a valuable key to a lady's code:  understated simplicity is the essence of elegance.

Picture: Paris Match, April 1962.