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In fact, style is possibly more important when life presents challenges, because ultimately it’s an appreciation of life in the simplest sense. Style is an expression of beauty in the everyday—whether we’re talking about clothes, silverware, or computers, style heightens the mundane. Style makes life more enjoyable. What would the world look like if style didn’t matter? Like something out the worst nightmares of the Soviet era, or perhaps North Korea today—concrete block housing and dun-colored uniforms.
People often mistakenly associate style with money. The designer Yves Saint Laurent famously said, “Fashions fade. Style is eternal.” Anyone can be fashionable—all it takes is a credit card. Style is not showiness for its own sake. It takes thought. It requires choices. It takes effort.
Style is a personal experience as well as a public one. It is both an expression of individual taste and a gesture of respect toward others in the community. Other cultures recognize this. Think of the ineffable style that suffuses the simplest things in France or Italy—the beautifully designed shop windows, the charm of the carefully arranged baskets of vegetables and flowers at the outdoor markets. Or consider the serene beauty of a Japanese teapot and cups. These things communicate the sentiment, “Yes, I care about how things look for my own enjoyment, but I also recognize that you must look at these things as well, so please enjoy them too.”
Ultimately, it’s nicer to go about the business of life by adding a little beauty to it. Taking a little time to make things look attractive provides more than just a frisson of momentary pleasure—it forces us to stop, however briefly, and appreciate the potential for beauty that is all around us.