is elegance determined by an implied fragility? ancient cultures held codes of long hair or fingernails implying preciousness, high status, non-working delicateness..
the fragility of a light sans-serif font generates elegance then; no longer attempting to ward against poor reproductions, bad photocopies, worn-out movable type as serif fonts do. serif fonts store safety in the bulk of their serifs, small little crannies for holding portions of emergency rations, storing legibility in the lee of joints and corners. when the rough-pored paper presses down, you can take it, endure it. come out on the other side a little rough for wear but you're still bembo, sabon, still caslon. it's okay. you were designed for this anyways.
but sans serif, there, typeface with 35, or even 25 frutiger weight -- delicate, poised, geometric, reed-thin. it waits for inkjets, toners, lines rendered with the perfection of stepper motors, rubber belts, superb thinness, fragility. elegance bolstered, also, by an asserted attention to geometry and ratio -- a claim curiously classical, but whatever. elegance takes what it needs and throws the rest away. it's a hodgepodge of necessity, beauty. it's sly, tries to seep into your skin without you realizing it, and, yes, succeeds.