A good friend of mine recently shared this Buzzfeed article with me. In it, Buzzfeed staff member Chelsea Marshall goes to six different clothing stores and asks each of them to make her look "cool".
My first thought: why cool? Cool is a word inherently based on what is trendy at the time. If you ask a store to dress you "cool", you're just going to get an outfit consisting of the latest trends or whatever the store's brand image is. There is no concrete definition of what cool is, so this article essentially sets out to prove what is already known.
However, despite my initial skepticism with the premise of this experiment, I do like the final message Marshall leaves us with: "If you’re uncomfortable, even the 'coolest' outfit will look terribly uncool." Because you know what's cool? Confidence. It's the backbone of all good outfits. It's the reason why we say designers like Alexander Wang design for "cool" girls. Wang's designs are not intrinsically cool - it's the type of girls he designs for who are. Being cool is more about an attitude than what you wear.
One thing I did notice from the Buzzfeed article is how varied womenswear can be in terms of what is considered cool or trendy. What about menswear? Well, this is where my friend from earlier comes in. He actually decided to carry out the same experiment for his YouTube channel, More Merrick.
As you can see, in all cases, Merrick was given a pair of pants, a shirt, and a jacket. Of course, to the fashion-minded, there are many differences between these three looks, but generally speaking, the formula was consistent across all stores. Variety in menswear is definitely more about the subtle differences. Overall similarity between the looks could also be attributed to the fact these stores are based heavily on following trends (though you could argue Urban Outfitters is the exception, as it does have its own distinctive image). Also, notice how Merrick has to make rules for expanding on and clarifying what "cool" means to potentially confused sales associates, which just goes to show the ineffectiveness of using the word in the first place. I understand "cool" makes for a catchier editorial title, but again, it's a strange way of going about an experiment.
Nonetheless, whether cool, or elegant, or edgy, we have probably all tried to embody a certain descriptor at some point in life. Eventually, we come to realize the most important thing is staying true to ourselves. Who we are may evolve through time (hence the cringing when we look back at our younger selves), but achieving harmony between your inner self and your outer self will leave you with a confidence that carries more weight than any single word ever could.
Image Source: Buzzfeed