Sexy Simplicity

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sexy simplicityI was watching the BBC news in early 2017 when it mentioned a novel idea by Dutch engineer Henk Hesselink. He had designed a circular runway. Initially I raised a brow as I thought of all the reasons why this was a crazy idea but, as the story continued, my cynicism vanished. By the end I was thinking: “Wow, why hasn’t someone thought of this before?”

Henk said that with current aeronautic technology landing on a slightly angled and banked runway is no longer a challenge. And, as we look to make aeroplanes larger and more economical, a circular runway allows for all the length that would ever be required.

I was mesmerised by the idea and looked for a phrase that captured that feeling. Up popped ‘sexy simplicity’. It’s for ideas that are almost too basic and simple. Henk’s circular runway definitely fit the bill. Now I started turning the phrase over in my mind. I could see how ‘simplicity’ fitted in, but what about ‘sexy’? Could sexy simply mean ‘less gives more’?

So off I went, intrigued. I asked lots of people what sexiness meant for them. And I took a little look at the dictionary definitions for both sexy and simplicity:


  1. Provoking or intended to provoke sexual interest: a sexy dress, a sexy book
  2. Feeling sexual interest; aroused
  3. Interesting, exciting, or trendy: a sexy project, a sexy new car


  1. The state, quality, or an instance of being simple
  2. Freedom from complexity, intricacy, or division into parts: an organism of great simplicity
  3. Absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament, etc.; plainness: a life of simplicity
  4. Freedom from deceit or guile; sincerity; artlessness; naturalness: a simplicity of manner
  5. Lack of mental acuteness or shrewdness: Politics is not a field for simplicity about human nature.

I would like to tie together items 3 for sexy and 2 for simplicity so we have overall:

Sexy + simplicity = Exciting + freedom from complexity

Of course, you could take other combinations so please feel free to play with your own.

What does sexiness mean to you?

Ironically, most people talked about sexual chemistry rather than sex. Here are some of the discussions on ‘sexy simplicity’; I share them here because they could help us see this dynamic in our own lives. Maybe you can find a way to use sexy simplicity to benefit you directly or perhaps just being aware of it will help you feel more present and alive, and that on its own is an excellent reason to think about this little phrase in more detail.

Safety pins first

Pam HoggPam Hogg, a fashion designer based in Glasgow, Scotland shared a story from TEDx 2016 Glasgow. You might enjoy watch Pam’s talk which is about 15 minutes long. Here’s the link: watch now

Of Pam’s stories, the one that stood out the most for me was the one about safety pins. They had to be used in an emergency and ended up stealing the show. When the model walked down the catwalk in her gown (plus safety pins) it was the hit of the designer’s collection. I wish I had been there to see it! It’s satisfying when circumstance outperforms analytic over-thinking and necessity becomes the mother of invention.

Do you recall the day when a little-known actress, Liz Hurley, hit the headlines all around the globe? The then girlfriend of English actor Hugh Grant also had a lot to thank safety pins for!

She said: “That dress was a favour from Versace because I couldn’t afford to buy one. His [Grant’s] people told me they didn’t have any evening wear, but there was one item left in their press office. So I tried it on and that was it.” The dress launched her career.

Diana’s brush with danger

DianaPrincess Diana was one of the most photographed women of all time. Just a small change in her fashion or looks would be eagerly shared with the waiting world. On one occasion, she surprised, even shocked, awaiting press with a short and gelled hairdo. The change was so great that at first the photographers weren’t even sure it was her. A top London stylist took the credit for this change of style which of course was quickly taken up by the fashion world.

What was less advertised was what happened to lead her to have to make such a dramatic change.

Diana and Charles were considered to be a high risk for kidnapping and underwent an intensive training with the British SAS, the team who would be tasked with their retrieval should such an unfortunate event occur.

During the training Diana got so close to the live ammunition simulations that a faulty stun grenade used to create disorientation badly burned her hair in places. It was a quick thinking officer who prevented more serious damage. She didn’t complain as she understood that the training was preparation for a real life scenario.

And she turned disadvantage to advantage by going for a dramatic change in hair style.

At the movies

Let’s take a break from the world of fashion and look at the movies, specifically Raiders of the Lost Ark.

When I asked my friend about sexy simplicity she recalled an interview with Harrison Ford, her favourite actor. He had shared a story about a famous scene in the first of the Indiana Jones film. It was the one where Indiana has a showdown with a native who skilfully and expertly wields two sizeable swords. The script said Indiana would use his whip skills to disarm the swordsman but, after countless shots trying to get it right, Ford jokingly signalled giving up by just pulling out a revolver, shooting the guy and walking away as if an everyday occurrence. Spielberg noticed this and realised it was the perfect response for the highly intelligent yet cheeky character and so it went on to become one of the most iconic shots of the movie.

Could it be that a stroke of luck that initially presents as a ‘problem’ can be transformed into the sort of ‘solution’ that makes you smile with satisfaction? As if you’d just got out of your own way and allowed the universe to offer a solution so simple that it was counter intuitive?
Why not hold these examples in mind and open up a space for sexy simplicity to become a source of serendipity in your own life…

Attraction formulas…

When I discussed the meaning of ‘sexiness’ and ‘sexy simplicity’ with people lots of different ideas came up, but sexual chemistry was one of the most common ones. We spent a lot of time talking about chemistry!

It seems that a combination of factors attracts a person to something or someone. This might seem obvious, but let me continue. At one level those factors could make up a sort of internal checklist. People even tell you that they have a type when it comes to being attracted to a person. But your attraction checklist isn’t just about potential romantic partners; it applies to everything you are interested in.

For example, one of my friends practices Argentinean Tango. She told me what it was about this particular dance that drew her more than any other dance style. As I grew more curious and asked more questions, I noticed how her persona changed as she started to more fuly imagine her favourite dance activity.

I have her full permission to share what came up for her checklist, including:

  1. The whole spectrum of dance movements, at times so exact and precise that they were almost militaristic and at other times so smooth and flowing that she could express her full femininity.
  2. The way the movements were sometimes very slow and other times very fast. It’s at times like not knowing what to expect from the male lead but knowing it was going to be really exciting with lots of tension.
  3. The tension itself reminded her of a recent rerun she had seen of the movie Basic Instinct where the two lead characters had such a strong attraction that it almost verged on being physically aggressive.

Asking more questions allowed me to understand her formula; i.e. what had to be present for Argentinean Tango to be so attractive for her.

While we were talking she realised something she had not noticed before. She noted how the man had to have a powerful look in his eyes that signalled he could ‘pounce on her’ her at any time but was being fully respectful of her feminine boundaries. As you can imagine, the temperature in the coffee shop we were sitting in rose quite a bit! A couple at the next table couldn’t help but let their croissants go cold as they listened to my friend’s descriptions and watched her physiology change as she became more engaged with the subject.

So while you may be aware of some of your attraction formula in certain situations, you might be unaware of all of it. The subconscious mind holds a lot of secrets and we often realise them only by chance.

Summing things up:

  • When we experience ‘less gives more’ we create the potential for the infusion of simplicity. This can help raise the quality of our lives and even allow us to feel more alive.
  • ‘Sexy simplicity’ frequently happens when things don’t go to plan and necessity drives our ingenuity, often exceeding our expectations.
  • Attraction Formulas are a way for you to take a measure of control over your own awareness of what you are attracted to in your own life.
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