What's elegance?

It’s easy to follow precise rules, but what about elegance?

The Oxford dictionary gives us two definitions:

  1. the quality of being attractive and showing a good sense of style
  2. the quality in a plan or an idea of being clever but simple

So how do we apply these definitions to our wardrobe?

Personally, being a minimalist myself, it’s something that comes quite natural. However, I know some of you find it more difficult to achieve.


First of all, why would you dress elegantly? 

If you like the concept, it’s obvious to you why you would choose to dress in a simplistic way, however, if you are of more extravagant nature, you may want to know how to dress elegantly for situations where it is important not to draw particular attention.

If we take for example events such as funerals, you can easily see that a simplistic outfit will pay more respect to the families.

With that being said, let’s see now how to achieve elegance.

The idea behind it is that everything non-essential (everything that doesn’t have a purpose) will be left out.


Photo: Stefania Calderara


Let's start with general rules and then dive in more details on each garment later.

The first thing that comes to mind is a neutral solid colours.

White, camel, brown, blue, grey and black are neutral colours that combined with a non-pattern design create the base of a clean and simplistic outfit.


The elegance base colours pallette


Also, to keep it simple, avoiding or reducing the amount of jewellery is a must.

A suit is not mandatory, however it will definitely help to keep a simplistic look as it is the garment that will cover the most of our body (check our previous article to see why).

In terms of details such as buttons and stitching, the less contrast there is, the better.

Although your shirt is hidden behind the jacket, it plays a very important role as the collar is the closest garment to your face. So following the general rules, with again, not contrasting button or stitching is the easiest way to bring simplicity in our look. A classic collar cut is preferable to a button-down. Skip pockets unless it is something that you use constantly.


We don't consider this elegant!


Another must in terms of purpose is the necktie or bow tie, as they help to focus attention right on our faces. General guidelines for simplicity are always applicable, but with them you can experiment with some micro pattern (in my opinion) and definitely with other colours

To conclude with the upper garments: pocket squares. Some use them, some not. A solid white pocket square in a presidential fold will be the best option if we want to include this item in our simplistic outfit.

Let’s pause for a moment before moving onto lower garments. It is true that we tend to use belts, but even here suspenders and trousers side adjusters will provide a cleaner look.


Wholecut shoes, The Purple Seal dress socks elegance article

Nail it with wholecut shoes!


Finally, let’s move to the bottom end and discuss shoes...

The fewer brogues the shoe has, the more elegant it is. Stitching also is important and we should favour a cap-toe Oxford over a wingtip Derby shoe.

On the other hand, to really nail it, all we need is a nice pair of wholecut!

Before I conclude I want to talk about watches as they might still be considered jewellery, but with a very important purpose. Once again, a minimal look would be preferred here.

To give you an example using the Rolex family: the Cellini is going to be more elegant than the Yacht Master.

 The Purple Seal article - Elegance_watch-minimalist

 A minimal watch, elegance. The sophistication of simplicity


To recap, simplicity is the key to obtain an elegant and smart outfit.

The most important thing you really need to understand though, is that elegance is not a science: it is really up to you to decide what is enough and the best way to do it is by experimentation. 

Use the guidance above to start and then introduce something that shows your personality.

Don’t hesitate to submit any questions (below or via email), I’ll be happy to answer you as best I can! You can also tag us on Instagram (@t_purpleseal) to show us your elegance.

Stay safe!

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