What is cool?

posted in: Style advice | 4


“Obama is cool”

“Oh no! Not with Dad jeans and trainers!”

“Individuality with confidence”.

Yes I think that is it. Individuality with confidence. Cool implies trend-setting, creating a style or view or product that others want to copy. But actually being cool involves not copying or taking something manufactured by others. So for me, making your own clothes, choosing what really suits you emotionally as well as physically, is the epitomey of cool. Just making up the latest pattern from an “Indie” (ie independent, but Indie sounds cooler) brand doesn’t strike me as a cool thing to do. Wearing vintage jewellry, or a your Granny’s coat, or making your own handbag strike me as cool. Customisation, being a bit different, chosing something because it has a story – that is cool.

Complete originality, stunningly novel, artistic groundbreaking like that demonstrated by Picasso or Chanel will not strike all of us, on a day to day basis. But slavishly copying a style or a fashion is not cool. I find it sad to see people trying to buy a “look”. Even if, in a million years, you would never think of making a shoe hat, or a bull’s head from bicycle handles, all of us can can find our  own personality and style.

Women’s magazines and websites often do these “Get the Look” features, where a desirable style is analysed and suggestions are made how it can be aquired on the high street, so you too can dress exactly like a “celebrity”. Now I don’t know who Olivia Palermo is, but if I saw someone walking along with a brown jacket, red hat and a fluffy dog I would not think Wow! And even if I did it would not occur to me to  go out and buy a pair of thigh boots, jeggings and maroon trilby and accessorise with a mobile phone, stuffed pockets and sunglasses (is it snowing?) No. It’s not a look that I would desire. And I wouldn’t call it cool either.

Get the Look!
Get the Look!

Good dancers are cool. Being a good cook without making too much fuss. Little kids. People who are self-deprecating, and funny with it. And while Mr Obama is physically attractive he is somehow uncool. Mrs O, on the other hand,  is not as beautiful. But she combines confidence with originality. And she can dance! And finally here is someone else I think is very cool indeed.

Cool bearded model


4 Responses

  1. Stephanie

    Lovely ending to the post! Gus looks very cool!

    You are definitely preaching to the choir with me. I was thinking the other day in a work context about someone, and as I was telling someone about this person and how much I liked working with them and admired their work I was asking myself what it was that that I found so special about that person. I realized that the people who are “cool” to me are people who follow intrinsic motivation – they focus on being interested in what they do and making it a worthwhile thing to do. This can be difficult at work as not all work is necessarily work that one would choose to do if one had all the choice in the world, but an intrinsically-motivated person will find the nugget in almost any work I think. People who let extrinsic motivations drive them – a promotion, money, how others will perceive them, fitting in with the crowd – rarely muster “cool.” This is at the root of all of the “how to wear this” or “copy this look.” The nice thing about humans though is that we are malleable and can grow and mature, so everyone can eventually find their own inner cool. 🙂

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