I haven’t yet tackled the subject of chic, though I have shared my thoughts on cool here and here. I think the two concepts are related: It’s tough to be chic without being cool and vice versa. More on that in a moment, but for now let’s focus on chic.
To me, chic implies knowledge of style and fashion. Many chic women may eschew magazines, blogs, and TV shows pertaining to matters of personal style, but those women are likely to have absorbed their fashion knowledge elsewhere: Through design degrees, readings on the history of clothing, or other sources that inform the style-hungry mind. Most chic people understand what looks good on a human form and why. They apply that knowledge to themselves daily.
Chic encompasses a desire to look current. Chic is not necessarily trendy, though it certainly can be. A chic woman may stick to clean, classic pieces exclusively but it’s important to her that they be updated classics – a fitted, modern blazer as opposed to a boxy 80s silhouette. Or, on the flip side, a chic woman may explore hot trends or even set trends herself. But she does so singularly, adding her own twist to popular looks instead of following expert-dictated applications to the letter.
Chic appears effortless. Since nothing in the world is effortless, this is a mirage but it is an appealing one. Chic women are able to craft their looks with meticulous care, yet appear as if their outfits simply fell onto their bodies.
As I mentioned above, I think that chic and cool are entwined concepts. In fact, when I think of chic, I imagine an actual, physical coolness in addition to social coolness. My perception of chic women is that they keep their enthusiasms fairly quiet and prefer to appear a wee bit aloof. Being chic can certainly go hand in hand with being friendly and effusive, but to add the requisite level of coolness it helps to remain somewhat detached. (Or detached-seeming.)
I don’t think of myself as even remotely chic. My sartorial priorities include flattering my figure, expressing my personality, and having fun with my personal style. Since I’m a geeky goofbag by nature, what comes through in my outfits is seldom a deep-seated knowledge of design principles, and virtually never a fresh twist on a hot trend. And although I sometimes long to be chic, the longing is inevitably replaced by a desire to wear cobalt blue slouchy boots or a brown-and-green printed vintage polyester tunic. Possibly together.
What do YOU think of when you hear the word “chic”? Do you consider yourself to be chic? Why or why not?
Images courtesy The Glamourai.