Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Age-Defying Beauty

Common sense, good taste and general consensus tells us the that the real secret to looking great at any age is to look good for your age. If you are 25, you should look like 25 in a good way, not 15 and not 40. If you are 45, you should look great at 45, not 21 and not 55 either. The people who are masters at this have been known to employ a regimen of clean and healthy living, a flourishing social and spiritual life, and a timeless, as opposed to a trendy personal style. I saw model Paulina Porizkova on TV yesterday and she looked amazing of course, but that's not the lesson here. She's 45, and no one will mistake her for 25, but that's good because she looks as good as she can be at 45. She says she's never had any work done, and there's nothing on her face that she 'wasn't born with.' If all of that were really true, then at face value, that's real age-defying beauty for you. Beauty that changes, evolves, becomes richer and more substantial over the passing of time.

It's like this: Something made entirely out of plastic, like a Crocs shoe, can be classified as 'ageless' for the sake of words. I own a three-year old pair and it looks exactly the same as it did when it was brand new. The color never fades, it keeps it's shape and it's virtually indestructible. It's plastic of course! In contrast, a great leather shoe, while incurring a few scratches, creases and minor scuffs along the road to life, never looks the same with each passing day. Like our faces, it bears the marks of time. If it's well made and taken cared of, the ever-growing creases and variations in tone only make it more beautiful. It ages, but it ages well.

The same is true for furnishings. There are things that are meant to be 'aged,' like wine and cheese. Buy them new and in good quality, and it will last with you forever, ever-changing and bearing the marks that tell the story of their lives with you.

Unlike people, teak gets its beauty from being out in the sun and the elements. The more aged and weathered it gets, the more attractive it becomes. Give it a couple of years outside, and it loses its brand-new Costco sheen and instead looks like something from an centuries old garden. Teak wood, when left outdoors, will turn a handsome silver-gray. It will even have a few cracks, which is perfectly natural, as wood expands and contracts slightly when left outdoors. What's even better is that all this weathering has no effect on the stability of the furniture in any way, which makes it great for outdoor furniture. Teak requires little to no care, and maintains its incredible strength and timeless elegance for decades. Green Note: Be certain that the teak wood you are purchasing are from sustainably harvested forests. Always check your sources!

Above: Spirit Song Teak Collection, www.reforestteak.com,
Below: Cassara Dining Collection, www.frontgate.com

Leather sofas as probably one of the very few that actually looks better after having been sat on for about five years. Like a great jacket or bag, it gains a patina over time. If you are okay with that kind of look, all the little scratches and creases add to its beauty and allure. It is for the reason that stores carry leather sofas that are already 'pre-patina-d' for you. Note that not all leathers are created equal and 'genuine leather' does not always mean top quality. A sofa that says 'genuine leather' can still have vinyl panels on the back and sides. Top grain is the highest quality and most expensive grade. It's the topmost layer of the hide, and retains all the original scarring and markings. It's also the most durable and supple. Green Note: Eco-conscious citizens, animal lovers and vegans shun leather, but if you're just overall environmentally concerned, leather from ecologically responsible and reputable sources can be better than man-made materials that don't last.

Above: Maxwell Leather Sofa, www.restorationhardware.com

No comments: