While it’s true that what one wears and how one constructs an outfit defines the truly chic set, I have to wonder if other factors play a large part in that je ne sais quoi effect. Those pictures of models you see when they show up back stage have always transfixed me; baggy jeans, slouchy bag, barely a lick of makeup, and ready to be transformed into a catwalk temptress. There is something so simple and appealing about how a model looks when she is spotted in her own clothes.
Never messy or sloppy, but with an air of uncontrived chic ... a look women have been trying to master for a very long time. Which reinforces the idea that stylish women are born, not made. As is proven by every tabloid on the newsstand, no amount of money can buy class. But I also wonder if style might reside somewhere else. As Coco Chanel has said, “Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.” In the case of the model and her “off-duty” clothes, perhaps the stylish woman we are seeing is so well groomed that everything she wears is just icing on the cake. It is quite interesting that during these recession times the beauty industry seems to be the only one staying afloat.
The topic of discussion among my twenty-something friends has been migrating away from the must-have pair of jeans and towards the fab hair product she just picked up at Sephora. Perhaps it is my closet challenged apartment, but as a self- described fashion junkie and shoe hoarder even I am starting to realize that the majority of my investments are piling up in the bathroom cabinet. Who doesn’t know the experience of trying on the most adorable dress in a store, only to see it upstaged by the tired looking face and greasy hair staring back at you from the fitting room mirror? The truly chic have the blowout and under eye concealer (Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage) to avoid such run-ins, which facilitates a more sober dressing room assessment. That doesn’t mean that wardrobe has to fall by the wayside. I am still a great believer in the perfect white tee shirt. If you invest in the right one (James Perse scoop neck, in my humble opinion) it does wonders for your figure, complexion and wardrobe. A day to night look is easily achieved with a spritz of perfume and some sparkly shadow.
Celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Gwyneth Paltrow are all products of knowing what works for their shape and, lets face it, impeccably good grooming. Even in today’s “worst beach bodies” flaw obsessed culture, few bad pictures of them exist. We hear plenty about Jen’s devotion to her bronze glow, Gwynnie’s detox obsession or Reese’s trusted colorist. Even Audrey Hepburn, a timeless style icon, relied on classic ballet flats but also logged a number of hours in the salon and was never without a pedicure. Maybe that’s why Lindsay Lohan will never be accepted as a style icon. Too many fashion missteps, poor upkeep, and a vulnerability to bad trends can leave anyone, no matter how label-packed her closet is, on the “wannabe” list.
The “it” factor will always be a very elusive thing, but as any girl worth her Louboutin’s knows, if there isn’t a perfectly polished foot peeking out of that peep toe, well, you just feel like an imposter.