cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by Helga Weber
From across the street, I watched her.
Her red pashmina had caught my attention the moment she had stepped out of the car.
I looked on as she expertly drew the pashmina around her shoulders, transforming it into a stole.
She looked so elegant.
Just then, almost as if the universe took delight in mocking me, another beautiful woman waited for a car to pass before swiftly crossing the street.
Dressed in a beautiful black knee-length coat, with a pearl-colored scarf delicately wrapped around her neck, she resembled a graceful gazelle.
I couldn’t help noticing how the ends of her scarf floated behind her like wings.
As I slowly made my way home, I wondered how some women have the ability of making elegance seem so effortless.
Convinced that they were born with a special gene, I sought comfort in the fact they were but a lucky few.
Nevertheless, I sighed as I thought how wonderful it would be to have that look.
That look of “je ne se quois.”
That look of sophistication that says, I am beautiful and I know it.
These thoughts put me at war with my belief that all women are beautiful.
Yet a part of me conceded that while it was true that we were all beautiful, this didn’t necessarily mean that we all had the ability to exude elegance.
Determined to put this theory to the test, I called out to the Significant Other to bring down the basket where I store my scarves.
Bewildered, he looked on as I hurriedly threw scarf after scarf on the sofa until I found the one I was looking for.
Holding it up, I noticed how it sparkled against the beam of light that emanated from the reading lamp.
I smiled as I remembered my mother’s words the day she gave it to me.
“Here you go, Bella. So you can feel pretty and warm.”
I carefully wrapped it around my shoulders, trying to mimic the movements of the woman I had seen on the street earlier.
My breath caught as I spied my reflection in the glass.
There, standing in front of the Significant Other and Roxy I stood– looking like a badly wrapped burrito.
“Dare I ask what you’re doing?” I heard the Significant Other ask.
My sharp look and pursed lips indicated that this was not a good time.
Convinced it was my lack of expertise in arranging the pashmina just so, I pulled out another scarf.
This time, a luxurious cashmere little number I had bought back in the day when I didn’t have to worry about college tuitions bleeding me dry.
Twice around the neck, and voila!
I turned once again to look at my reflection.
This time it looked like I was wearing a high end neck brace.
At that point, I jammed all the scarves in the basket and instructed the Significant Other to take them away, no questions asked.
As I poured myself a cup of coffee, I thought that perhaps the look of sophistication was learned and not innate.
Perhaps these women attended a special “elegance learning” school where they were instructed in the fine art of tying scarves, faking the look of a stole, and walking in a way that prompted their scarves to come to life.
Or perhaps they all looked like badly wrapped burritos and it was my ID who was romanticizing their appearance and making them appear like unstoppable goddesses.
Calling out to the Significant Other, I stopped him midway up the stairs.
Reaching into the basket, I pulled out the pashmina.
“Don’t ask,” I hissed as I walked back to my room.
Opening the small cabinet door, I carefully placed it on top of the clothes already stored there.
It was irresponsible of me to conclude that my theory was right or wrong.
I would have to put it to the test once more.
I would try again tomorrow.
Do you think elegance is learned or something a person is born with?