26 May 2014 by

The Formula to Coolness Has Been Found! Here's How To Nail It

The concept of cool has long eluded elucidation, with various explanations never quite satisfying. We can all recognize cool when we see it – whether it is James Dean or Kate Moss you can just tell when someone has ‘it’. Now a new paper entitled What Makes Things Cool by Caleb Warren and Margaret C. Campbell (one a business, one a psychology professor) published in the Journal of Consumer Research has attempted to scientifically analyse and articulate the essence of coolness.

Icons of Cool Left: James Dean, Right: Kate Moss

The paper suggests that coolness can be defined thus: "A subjective, positive trait perceived in people, brands, products, and trends that are autonomous in an appropriate way."

It follows then that cool is predicated not on one specific look (although clearly ripped jeans and biker jackets symbolize the vibe) but on having the balls to defy convention and go your own way – although only to a certain extent. Punt too far away from the norm (or 'appropriate') and you lose the cool and come off slightly unhinged (think mis-matched shoes, nipple tassels, anything purple). If you instead play it safe in chinos and polo shirts, you’re never going to nail autonomy or ‘cool’.

Cool Girls: L-R French Model Caroline de Maigret, Patti Smith & French Singer Francoise Hardy

So how do you make a departure from the mainstream – particularly the perceived repressive or unnecessary aspects of conformity – without coming off too eccentric?

The first step is to find a personal style that is both original but not ‘too’ out there. Examine the women that have been cool throughout the ages – their defiant look is often very similar. From Patti Smith to Francoise Hardy to Caroline de Maigret to Alexa Chung, there’s a shifting scale of disheveled-ness, a twist on wardrobe staples from the rock tee to a Breton top, great jeans and a signature hairdo.

Leather, Plaid & Denim, a Rebellious Wardrobe which is Still Socially Acceptable - Alexa Chung Nails Cool

Simplicity is always key to achieving coolness. Never, ever go over the top, and keep in mind Coco Chanel’s aphorism: ‘Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.' Et Voila, you too can go to the Ball of Cool.

For more examples of coolness, click through Alexa Chung's look book below...

Alexa Chung attends the 'Charles James Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala in May 2014

Alexa Chung attends the 2014 Future Of Fashion Runway Show at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York

Alexa Chung is seen strolling on the 'Rue de Rivoli' in March

Alexa Chung in Valentino at International Woolmark Prize on 21st February 2014

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Alexa Chung at the Marc Jacobs show on February 13, 2014

© Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Alexa Chung at the Marc By Marc Jacobs show on February 11, 2014

© Paul Zimmerman/WireImage

Alexa Chung at Peter Pilotto For Target Launch on February 6, 2014

© Karwai Tang/WireImage

Alexa Chung at the British Fashion Awards 2013 on December 2, 2013

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Alexa Chung launches her Eyeko make-up collection at Selfridges on November 14, 2013

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Alexa Chung in Chanel at MoMA's 6th Annual Film Benefit, New York - November 2013

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Alexa Chung in Marc Jacobs at 'It' book signing, New York - 30 October 2013

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Alexa Chung in Valentino at Alexa Chung 'It' Book Launch, New York - 29 October 2013

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Alexa Chung at 2013 Whitney Gala And Studio Party - 25 October 2013

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Alexa Chung in Christopher Kane at 30th Annual Fashion Group International Night of Stars - 21 October 2013

Alexa Chung at Christopher Kane at London Fashion Week - September 2013

Alexa and Cara Delevingne at Mulberry at London Fashion Week - September 2013

Alexa Chung at Burberry at London Fashion Week - September 2013

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Alexa Chung in Jonathan Saunders at the Longchamp Regent Street Grand Opening Party - September 2013

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Alexa Chung out and about in London - 4 September 2013

Daisy Lowe and Alexa Chung at 'It' By Alexa Chung Book Launch Party - 4 September 2013

Alexa Chung in Carven at GQ Awards - 4 September 2013

Alexa Chung in Kenzo out and about in New York - 25 August 2013

Alexa Chung out and about, New York - 04 Aug 2013

Alexa Chung in Valentino shoes available at mytheresa at Bvlgari evening party - July 2013

Alexa Chung at Chanel show, Haute Couture Fall Winter 2013, Paris Fashion Week - 2 July 2013

Alexa Chung at House of Holland Resort Collection dinner, New York - 19 June 2013

Alexa Chung at Tate Americas Foundation artists dinner and after party, New York - 08 May 2013

Alexa Chung at Met Gala - May 2013

Alexa Chung out and about in New York - 3 May 2013

Alexa Chung at Catherine Martin and Miuccia Prada Dress Gatsby Opening Cocktail Party, New York, - 30 April 2013

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Alexa Chung At Heathrow - 23rd May 2013

Alexa Chung at Heathrow Airport, London - 26 April 2013

Alexa Chung at Chanel Tribeca Film Festival Artists Dinner, New York - 24 Apr 2013

Alexa Chung at Coachella - April 2013

Alexa Chung in Carven at British Airways & Visitbritain celebrate the opening of The Big British Invite, New York - 21 March 2013

Alexa Chung at amfAR Benefit Gala - February 2013

Alexa Chung at the British Fashion Awards - 27 November 2012

Alexa Chung at Chanel event - 12 October 2012

Alexa Chung in J W Anderson for Topshop at J W Anderson - February 2013

Alexa Chung at Mulberry - February 2013

Alexa Chung at Valentino Master of Couture opening - November 2012

Alexa Chung at Moschino Cheap And Chic at London Fashion Week - 15 September 2012

Alexa Chung at House of Holland, London Fashion Week - 15 September 2012

Alexa Chung at Margaret Howell, London Fashion Week - 16 September 2012

Alexa Chung at Mulberry, London Fashion Week - September 2012

Alexa Chung out and about, New York - 15 July 2012

Alexa Chung at Field Day Festival - 2012

Alexa Chung at Louis Vuitton fashion show, Shanghai- 19 July 2012

Alexa Chung New York Fashion Week - 10 February 2012

Alexa Chung at Chanel, Haute Couture Fashion Week - 03 July 2012

Alexa Chung in Christopher Kane at Scottish Fashion Awards - 11 June 2012

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Alexa Chung at the Launch Of The Alexa Chung For Madewell Fall 2011 Collection - 21 September 2011

Alexa Chung at Louis Vuitton show, Paris Fashion Week - 05 October 2011

Alexa Chung at Marc Jacobs show, New York Fashion Week - 13 September 2010

Alexa Chung at Yves Saint Laurent's New Fragrance 'Belle D'Opium', New York - 17 June 2010

Alexa Chung in Marc Jacobs at Costume Institute Gala Benefit - 7 May 2012

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Alexa Chung at Chanel, Paris Fashion Week - 9 March 2010

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Alexa Chung in Chanel at British Fashion Awards, London - 07 December 2010

Alexa Chung in Erdem skirt at London Fashion Week - February 2012

Alexa Chung at Burberry show, London Fashion Week - 21 September 2010


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