20 October 2010

"no," not Chic.


while we are on the Topic of overworked words (yes- we are),
How overworked is that one?
what defines, who defines? is there really that much CHIC in the world?

here is my example of CHIC. anyone Not meeting the visual standards of this particular woman is not CHIC, likely many other lovely things
No,  Not CHIC.

 Amy Fine Collins painted by Ike Ude

 C H I C -

1856, from Fr., originally "subtlety," perhaps related to Ger. schick  "tact, skill," from M.L.G. schikken  "arrange appropriately;" or from Fr. chicane,  from chicanerie.

"elimination is the secret of chic." Harper's Bazaar

in other words less More.

photograph by Nick Hunt/PatrickMcMullan.com
your definition of CHIC if you please?

see more Collins Chic here



  1. The word 'chic' is overused nowadays, I agree. Just as 'supermodel' or 'style icon' are, to use but two examples from contemporary lexicon.

    True chic is intangible. It's innate and therefore, it can neither be bought, sold, nor bartered or borrowed. One either has it or one doesn't. True chicness stems from complete originality, uneliant upon what is considered 'a la mode': Frida Kahlo jumps to mind. In our own day, Vivienne Westwood & John Galliano, I think, have great personal style. More often than not, people tend to confuse fashion with style, both of which are completely distinct one from the other; or rather, people associate the wearing of designer brand names with 'style.' Couldn't be further than the truth. I also think that chicness comes from intelligence and the ability to think for oneself.

  2. Great Spot! Chic, would be classy, elegant and smart but at the same looking like you made no effort at all! The simplest is the hardest to achieve!

  3. Subtlety, yes. Reserve, yes. To answer your question whether there is much chic in the world, I think of chic as a very narrow niche, it almost has a note of nerve, an edge to it, like Tilda Swinton, that woman is chic. DV was chic in her dress and her bearing; but her flat was a gypsy caravan, wonderful and expressive, not chic. Chic is always spare, with very few elements working simultaneously. The attitude of the wearer and the particular assemblage of non-competing elements will define chic. Balenciaga, Eskandar, McFadden, early Calvin Klein, early Zoran. Little Augury, you are definitely chic.

  4. You evidently inquire from the point of view of sustaining the term with some credibility, while for me it is inextricably tainted now by derivative ("mass") production, by tautology (as in the concept, "visual standards"), and social climbing per se. Originally I quite agree that the term not only connoted virtue, it could inspire where now it oppresses. At that inception of its use, I would definitely correlate it with the Japanese virtue, shibui, as well as with a rejection of indulgence or indecency in every aspect of conduct and display. A Silver Cloud can never be chic, an XK 140 immortally is. But there, you see, I entrap myself; I grope for rules, where in "chic" there is a fine balance between consciousness and transcendence. Or was.

    You're quite good at provocation, and standing aside with benign serenity. One must learn to master the latter, which is doubly difficult in a comments column.

  5. CN, you have put into words something I vaguely sensed as I was struggling to define: "I entrap myself; I grope for rules....balance...transcendence." EXACTLY. In the effort of defining, we end up with media exhibitionists as our options. I looked around for rules, for a prototype, I could hear my mother in the distance dictating for me what chic entailed. The exhibitionists Victoria Beckham and Carla Bruni, for all their concentration and spareness in dress, can never be chic as they are too self conscious, there is no insouciance and their striving eliminates them as academic studies. IOW, "I entrap myself."

  6. beautiful manners and deportment also play a role

  7. Wise words.

    And--I know it when I see it.

  8. In answer to your question, I shall quote here the late, great Yves Saint Laurent:

    "Without elegance of the heart, there is no elegance."

    I can't think of a better statement; it speaks volumes.

    Chic-ness encompasses more than just clothing; it encompasses every aspect of one's life, including one's heart.

  9. I think "chic" is something you most often experience. But when I see it or feel it, the words confident, effortless and elegant come to mind.

  10. this little know not Chic or NO! not Chic post was conceived from overuse- therefore misuse. I do define it with fashion and appearance-yes, you can add to chic with personality- but look at AFC-I have no idea what she is like-but I know it when I see it, as Bruce says. Chic is for me a paring down- a sparsity of frippery, at its best. There is the elegant, beautiful, graceful, stylish, good looking, classic- and then there is chic. Few women keep the fripperies at bay, and we are worse for wear.

    What will the next word be? thanks for the comments. pgt

  11. "Keep the fripperies at bay" is going in my journal!!!" It is the perfect phrase that encompasses so much..........

    without question..in my humble opinion....amy fine collins is the personification of chic in New York and our world , today. And has been for years. Many years.

    Chic is never self-conscious, it comes from within, and the people who have it.....are born with it.
    I know it when I see it. And it is becoming very rare.

    Just my opinion. Amy Fine Collins wrote the best book I have ever read about how to dress with her friend......."Simple isn't Easy"

    Want to know how to dress for the rest of your life?

    Buy it.....and read it.....and do it. It is probably 25 cents on Amazon.

    It is a Brilliant book. Her co-author was Olivia Goldsmith....who tragically died......very young. Olivia wrote "the first wive's club"

    This book is funny..and it is also my bible. she is an original.....she knows her style.....and she sticks to it.......amazing.

    she is the walking, talking definition of chic! (I am rereading the book)! I suggest every six months.....maximum! so you do not lose your way!


  12. I forgot to tell you I adore...........beyond.......your new preview photo or whatchicallit. The sphixes are way beyond divine! Is one Madame du Pompadour? and is one Madame Du Barry?

    where did you find the pictures......and have I sent you mine?

    I have sent them all over to people on the internet.......no one has been even one bit nice.


  13. Penelope, I am so interested in the book, I will be tracking it down. All the best books are the old ones for the most part in my book! And Yes we did make a connection on the sphinx. I am glad you like mine-though nothing to yours! I loved yours and about the wonderful story attached to your acquiring them and told you so. I have been lucky in my work,Like You- in meeting people that have left me with wonderful friendships and some of the special things they loved. It keeps them a little nearer to them and we are their keepers til they go on to someone else. pgt



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