Clearly I have no idea what chic “it girls” are wearing on the slopes these days. Based on the post I saw on Instagram recently, which actually made me chuckle… just a little… and compared to what I wore skiing on our recent trip to the Laurentians, I am way out of the loop. Not glam enough, with not enough fur trim or shine in my skiing ensemble. But, you know, I’m too old to care about that.
I’m not saying I’m too old to care about how I look. Perish the thought. Just that I’ve decided that I’m too old to worry about it all the time. Like when I’m skiing. Or doing anything when my appearance is the least of my concerns. Enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, getting fit, taking a break from wearing makeup or worrying about my hair, just having fun… these are my priorities when I’m skiing. Or cycling or camping.
|All layered up and make-up free
Let me clarify. When I say I’m “too old,” I mean I’ve reached a time in my life where I’ve given myself permission to do, or not do, stuff. Like how I’ve decided I’m too old to worry about finishing books I’m not enjoying, so I don’t. I had an epiphany about this whole “caring too much what others think” thing when I turned sixty, inspired by this article by Dominique Browning.
So, you see, I don’t care what I look like when I’m doing things where it doesn’t matter to me how I look. Like skiing. But the rest of the time, I do care how I look, and I care about what I wear. I want to look polished and pulled together, fashionable, but still feel comfortable, like “me.”
And after chuckling about the “it girl” skiing post on IG the other day, I started thinking about what the whole “it girl” label actually means. Which lead me to think of women who would qualify as “it” in my books. Women whose style I admire, who, to me, epitomize chic. And who don’t make a big to do about what they’re wearing. They are the essence of what the fashion media might call “effortless chic.”
Women like Aerin Lauder, for instance. I love her easy style. I guess this is her version of après-ski chic.
Or women like the late Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, who had such classic, and seemingly effortless style. I’ve always loved her look.
And Alexa Chung, the perennial “it girl” of the last few years. But who I think is adorable and has a real flair for fashion. I’ve listened to her British Vogue podcasts
on the business of fashion, and find her really engaging as a broadcaster.
And then there are the “it” women I know personally. Like Erika Houle, who I met through my friend Liz. Erika has great personal style. She lives in Montreal now, but I follow her fashion escapades on Instagram
. She reminds me of Alexa Chung. Same great smile. Same style insouciance, kind of casually tossed together, yet totally crafted. I like that.
|Photo courtesy of Erika Houle
And my friend Krista who I’ve written about
before on the blog. She’s a principal now, but we taught together for years. We still laugh about her job interview when her ability and enthusiasm blew us away, and I refrained from commenting on her fabulous shoes until after the decision to hire her had been made. Ha. Didn’t stop the rumours that one had to have great shoes to work in our English department. Krista has an innate sense of style, and she’s a consummate wardrobe planner and list maker. Sigh. I love that about her.
I’d also add my friend Frances, who writes the blog Materfamilas Writes
, to my personal list of “it” women. Frances has her own sense of style: classic, kind of cool academic or what she calls “bluestocking,” which is fitting since she’s a retired university prof. Her look is trendy, and quirky all at the same time. She recently posted an outfit on Instagram (pleated wool skirt, sweater, tweed stockings, brogues) which I called “Bloomsbury chic.” Hope she doesn’t mind my repeating that.
I could go on and on, but I won’t, about all the other “it women” I know. Some are older than me, some much younger, but let’s not call them “girls” okay?
Of course the whole concept of the “it girl” began with Clara Bow in the 1927 silent film It
based on the book by Elinor Glyn. According to some “it” started even earlier than that with Rudyard Kipling’s short story “Mrs. Bathurst.” You can read a history of the phenomena in this Guardian article
if you’re interested. Nevertheless, the term “it girl” came to mean having a certain indefinable attractiveness, not simply beauty, but something “of the mind” as Glyn defined it. Still, I’m not sure that’s what people mean these days when they call someone an “it girl.” Do they mean sexy, well-dressed, rich and famous, just famous, or infamous, or what?
To me, “it” means women who have a style that isn’t just about fashion or beauty, who dress to please themselves, who favour unselfconscious, seemingly effortless looks. These are the women whose personal style I admire.
So where am I going with all of this? Maybe just to say that in the past few years, I’ve realized that I don’t really care about what others think about how I look. But I do care about how I feel about how I look. Most of the time. And I feel very comfortable deciding which situations require care and attention to hair and make-up and outfits, and which situations make no demands on me at all, except maybe to throw on a toque and have a good time. I couldn’t do that when I was much younger. I didn’t have the confidence. I’d frequently feel that somehow I had got it all wrong, and was too dressed up or not dressed up enough, or whatever. I’m too old for all that palaver now.
And these “it” women whose style I admire, well, most of these women look as if they think they’re too old to worry about all of that palaver too. Or maybe not too old, but too confident, too secure in their own sense of who they are and how they want to look.
|Chic on the slopes back in the day. source
So you see, even if I haven’t figured out what “it girl” chic means, I think I know an “it woman” when I see her.
But as usual, I’m just thinking out loud. About fashion. Yeah, I know, it was ever thus.
Now, my lovely bloggy friends, it’s your turn. What do you think about what I’ve been thinking about?