Every year, its customary to ponder upon this question and make a blog post with my findings. It is not necessary to be chic to be well dressed or to have a great personal style. But I want it to be an element in the way I approach clothing. I am still on the learning side of the curve and am looking to learn from the masters with more life experience than me. The first essay that spoke to me is this one. It has shaped my current sensibilities and I refer to it when I find myself straying from the goal I set for myself. Its biased towards minimalism and treating purchases as long term investments. This year, I found a few more articles that are in line with my school of life. I have reproduced them here with the sources paired with some of my favorite images.
Chic is halfway between elegant and cool. Its an effortless-looking pulled togetherness, with a touch of awareness
Chic is one of the few things which, refusing to bow down and worship fashion, is not crushed under the wheels of that Juggernaut. Chic is to fashion what poetry is to prose, cold veal to roast partridge, a gad-fly to a bull. What is chic may, in a sense, be fashionable, but what is fashionable cannot be chic.
Anybody can wear and do what is fashionable. It is not fashionable unless a lot of people do it, and have it on — until, in three words which grate rather hard upon the ear in this connection, it is common. Chic cannot be common. You cannot put on another person’s chic, as you may her boots or her hats. You cannot copy it. You never know where to look for it.
“Fashion is incessantly trying to catch chic, but chic won’t be caught. If fashion is the monarchy, chic is the revolution. It is the revolution whose watchwords are Liberty, Fancy, and Diversity. And remember, expensive stuff is shoddy. Not Chic.”
— Quoted and modified from The New York Times Article Archives 1977.
1. Chic is about personality.
To express chic is about liberty, fancy, and diversity — about personality and uniqueness. You can always find a Parisian lady with layers of clothes and looking comfortable, or a lady effortlessly chic in a simple camisole, wrapped with layers of dramatic scarf. It has always been about the taste and the style.
2. Chic is about culture.
Most people agree that chic usually refers to Parisian and some European country. It is said that Europeans are rich in culture and have a higher understanding of their own skin. This is reflected best in their appearance. You will never find a middle aged lady in a fitted dress and mini skirt, in Paris. You will never find a young lady in a grown up dress and make up. What you will find, mostly are people who use their own style and look graceful in their own age. Kids act like kids. Middle age women look elegant and graceful. And the young women look chic and not shoddy. We know what we buy, what suits us well, and what will look good on us. What celebrities wear is not an issue, no impulse buying, and trendy is not even a word here.
3. Be Chic effortlessly.
We always look natural and effortlessly chic. You will find our hair drops naturally, goes well with the wind blowing, and curly or straight it always looks and feels natural. The makeup will always be natural and plain. We use make up not to change our face to look like a celeb and or a model, but to enhance our own natural beauty. Simply said, it is much better to look natural and effortlessly casual and chic, rather than too much effort for something that looks too much.
4. Be comfortable in your own skin.
This means understand more about yourself. Don’t be a fashion victim. Parisians are never too ashamed to show their cellulite. We understand and are proud of our aging signs. We are never too ashamed to let others know how old we are. You will find a Parisian lady in her white hair – loose skin, and still look as elegant and graceful as a younger woman
5. Pay attention to details.
The clothes are mostly in a basic cut and plain, if not then focus on the motive and or the color which usually is not more than 3 colors. Pay more attention to details, such as the hat, the scarf, the bag, the boots, the shoes, the coat, the belt, and the jewelry.
6. Wear Gold and Pearl instead of Silver.
Paris is always about romance and elegance. Too much silver will make you looks like a rock star or even a hippie, but too much gold and pearl will only make you much more elegant and richer. Nowadays, rose gold is quite popular among Parisians and Europeans. And the most important thing here is the quality of the materials. The better the quality, the simpler the style, the greater its value, and the higher the price will be.
7. Combine Vintage Stuff.?
We value our lives and our memories through some of our stuff. Combine vintage piece with your modern pieces, and create a romantic touch on your appearance. Though vintage not always means romantic, it does have memorable value and more personal touch.
8. Create Something Romantic.
The drape of the dress, the layering of tops, flowing scarves, just create the dramatic and romantic effect. Choose fabrics that are smooth and light for the flowy effect, or are heavy and drop perfectly. Choose a knitted cardigan and long coat over a jacket and blazer.
9. Play Up a Little Bit.
Lines blue-white polo shirt, Scotland square pants, red scarf with flower motives, wool coat, and flat pink boot. Oh don’t bother about the mix and match, just use your senses and play up a little bit.
– Source : Tasi Zuriack
Article 3 : Is chic is passé ?
First, let me get this out of the way: if I see one more image on Pinterest of rhinestone encrusted nail art or cut-off shorts with pockets hanging below the hem, captioned “OMG So Chic!!!” I may lose it and cannot be held responsible. 😉 If there’s any word that’s so overused as to be rendered almost meaningless, “chic” has to be near the top of the list. (And the use of “effortless chic” is particularly egregious.) Chic has become a catchall word for cute or trendy or what-my-favorite-celebrity-is-wearing.
And in these days of casual dress, “athleisure” wear, “normcore” and You Do You™ anything-goes style, does the concept of chic still have any relevance? Is it still something to aspire to, and does anyone still care?
My answers would be yes, yes and sometimes. So if there IS still such a thing as Chic, what is it? “I know it when I see it” is the easy answer but when I spot an image that evokes the word “chic,” there are certain specific qualities. And as someone who loves to define and quantify (with an eye toward being able to duplicate good results), I wanted to try to capture the parameters of Modern Chic, at least as I see it.
Chic is: (relatively) timeless. While silhouettes and details may change, the basic design elements translate across decades.
Chic isn’t: trendy, extreme.
Chic is: wearable. By real people.
Chic isn’t: something that only works on a red carpet or runway.
Chic is: cohesive. The overall effect is that of a pleasing whole; the various bits don’t fight or compete with each other.
Chic isn’t: random. Not usually.
Chic is: elegant. Though not necessarily expensive. (While quality helps, I’ve seen women who look absolutely chic in men’s Hanes tee shirts. It’s all about how you wear it.)
Chic isn’t: designer logos head to toe. Flashy.
Chic is: light-handed, even witty at times.
Chic isn’t: too serious, ponderous.
Chic is: simple, polished.
Chic isn’t: fussy, over-styled.
Chic is: leaving something to the imagination.
Chic isn’t: visible underwear. Skin-tight head-to-toe. (Some will disagree, but I stand by these.)
Chic is: authentic. Appropriate to the situation and person wearing it. Bien dans sa peau.
Chic isn’t: forcing oneself into someone else’s clothing or style.
Chic is: knowing what works for one’s body and shape.
Chic isn’t: a size.
Chic is: well-fitting, but with room for movement.
Chic isn’t: sloppy.
Chic is: comfortable, both physically and emotionally.
Chic isn’t: constricting. If you’re hobbling or teetering, pas chic.
Chic is: a touch of individuality, something personal or unexpected.
Chic isn’t: too matchy, generic.
Chic can be: tailored, casual, bohemian, minimalist, vintage, or hand-crafted.
Chic isn’t: everyone’s style priority and certainly doesn’t need to be. People can have wonderful and enviable style without being particularly chic (as I’ve described here). Some people would find it boring or restrictive or outmoded and I say chacun à son goût; that’s what makes the world a more interesting place.
To answer this post’s title question, no I don’t think chic is passé or irrelevant. I still believe that chic is something to aspire to, and that true chic is something that elevates everyday style.
– Source : Susan, unefemme.net
Article 4 : What is Chic, What is Fashion ?
It is fun and useful to go back to see just what happened to chic and to fashion in the past decade. Chic very nearly died of loneliness and neglect. Fashion, on the contrary, never had it so good. Its switches were, to say the least, violent. There we were, matured and intelligent one day, childish and insecure the next. Where until then our only counselors in matter of fashion in clothes, manner, and behavior had been either our parents of Paris, or perhaps even the rare, beautiful and exciting movie star or society personality, in the nineteen sixties almost anyone from any part of the world made it his business (in every sense of the word) to tell us what to do, what to say, what to wear.
It was of course not by word of mouth as such that we were told what to do. It was all that glamorizing in newspapers, magazines and on television that did it. Everything looked so cute, so exciting, so very very dangerous. So, how were we to resist all that provocation and temptation for the young and easy life of no clothes, no work, no discipline? And how could we last for months without reading Portnoy’s Complaint? or become Curious Yellow and go see Oh! Calcutta!? And how, how could we, after all that fuss, not have a little go at marijuana, or walk our feet to the corns to join the protest on Vietnam or the Rock Festival in Woodstock? No. It was impossible. We just had to do all of these things. They were the fashion. And who ever wanted to be out of fashion? So, like sheep we went, following no matter whom, no matter what.
But our fashion indigestion didn’t stop with the happenings. For some obscure reason we thought we had to have clothes, and clothes we bought. Right and left, we did. From trousers and see-through shirts, to mini-skirts and maxi-coats. From jeans and bikinis, to false furs and wigs. From the cowboy look, to the gypsy look. From the false eyelashes to the discarded bras and all the way down to our hideous square-toed shoes, we went on trying and buying, unable to resist. Just like children let loose at a soda fountain.
But we enjoyed it. We were neither chic nor elegant but we were free of our hats and our girdles and happy spending fortunes on hair spray and pantyhose, both of which lasted the time it took us to put them on. But that didn’t matter. We were fashionable.
We became the with-its, or tried to be. We were super at doing our thing and digging our pleasure. We socked it to them and became oh, so groovy. We worshipped the young and forgot God. We really had a ball. But it wasn’t a very chic ball.
That a chic ball can be a terrible bore is quite true, but that can be equally said of a loud and vulgar one, and the ball that we had in the sixties was as loud and as vulgar as it could get. But we didn’t mind. It was the fashion.
But following fashion just for the sake of fashion can be the most expensive, unbecoming and dangerous undertaking that anyone can think of. It can also be, given a certain amount of thought, the prettiest and the cheapest and the safest thing to do. It all depends on chic. If one has chic, one adapts, combines and invents.
One can, for instance, make old clothes look new and fashionable by adding a new amusing belt or necklace. After all, we don’t change our faces every day although we do try with a certain amount of makeup. Having chic, or being chic is the art of knowing how to make the best out of the little we know or the little we have. Such as having an old motorcar looking better than a new one by having it washed. Or by admitting to prefer reading a thriller to The Naked Eye or by being proud of being a square or just happy to be alive.
Chic really is an understatement. There is nothing chic in a nude body, or in a pornographic book or play, and not, for that matter, in bad manners and bad language. Chic is what Mrs. Gilbert Miller of New York has and used when faced by two armed robbers in her London house. She greeted them as gentlemen, and although they did rob her of some jewelry, they left her house thanking her for having been so chic.
The best thing to be is fashionable and chic. But unfortunately not all that is fashionable (famous unmarried pregnant women) is chic, and not all that is chic (to say “please”) is fashionable, but some fashionable people (Sir Noel Coward, Jacqueline Onassis) have chic, and some people (Mayor Lindsay, Marisa Berenson) are fashionable. Neither fashionable nor chic are the middle-aged men in their skin-tight trousers, or the matured old girls in their see-through blouses.
But right now the seventies are here (they must be brave to follow the sixties) and fashion in its various manifestations, whether as manufacturer of beauty or indicator of things to come, will have to emerge with a softer, kinder and more romantic attitude than it displayed in the sixties. We think it will be so.
– Source : Gloria Guinness, Harpers Bazaar, 1970.
Chic derives from the German Schick meaning proper and appropriate and, in Alemannic dialect (German and Alsatian Swiss), skill and know-how.
Originally, chic was a military term, and being chic referred to proper military dress, back when the German officers, long before the sad events of yesteryears, were viewed as a model of proper behaviour to follow.
It is indeed the underlying ideas of skill and ability that have led to those of elegance, ease and heightened presence.
Fashion addicts are always looking to shine, while those of us who prefer a classic style are simply looking to be dressed discreetly and harmoniously.
This difference shows when one compares the way in which ones “deals” with a new garment. The fashion victim, who wishes to show off his new t-shirt or jacket, will do everything to put it to the forefront of his outfit; a classic style lover typically does exactly the opposite – he will look for harmony between his new tie or his new shirt, for example, and the existing garments in his wardrobe. Shiny versus harmony, that’s the heart of the matter; they go for the moment (an evening, a season, a collection), and we go for the long term (several years).
Fashion is a collective thing, mass-marketed even, whereas style is something much more personal?
Fashion followers go for a look, style lovers look for natural elegance.
– Hugo, ParisianGentleman.
Source : Jessie, The Franco Fly.
A lady is only as chic as the contents of her trash can.