After seeing the outfits at the Oscars not long ago, it’s easy to see what Hollywood chic looks like; fabulous designer dresses, killer heels, breath-taking jewelry, tuxedos, handmade boots and bespoke suits. On the other side of the country, there is New York City business chic; clothing tends to be black or gray, tan or taupe, with designer shoes and boots. Then there is also New York City street chic: plaid coats, cashmere scarves, skinny jeans at $200-$300 a pair, knee-high leather boots, wild tunics over black leggings, armloads of bangles and bracelets, and so on. California chic can be denim shorts (expensively distressed, of course), vintage-y lacy tops, peasant dresses, leather thongs, etc.
And then there is New England chic. Bear in mind that we in New England can never truly count on the weather. We’ve had hot days in March, snow in June, hurricanes in summer, and the list goes on. So we women have to be prepared for anything. We know to “layer up” in cold weather; start with long underwear, flannel-lined jeans, thick wool socks, L.L. Bean boots that can handle anything from deep cold to spring mud; turtlenecks followed by flannel shirts, a sweater, a down coat or jacket, wool scarves, earmuffs or wool hats, and wool mittens or gloves.
In summer, we stick to shorts, sandals, light t-shirts or linen tops, capri slacks, and some summer-y jewelry. More jewelry is up to the person–not all New England ladies stick with dainty post earrings, a tiny necklace and a ring or two. (Some of us believe that MORE is more!) Most all of us carry jumper cables and emergency kits in our cars or SUVs or trucks, and we all know how to change a tire. Most New England warm weather “dress up” is casual; a nice dress or skirt and top, or linen slacks and a cotton sweater, espadrilles or good sandals, and no stockings.
You see, chic is really in the eye of the beholder, and it also depends on the weather. We New England women understand that weather can turn in an instant, and we don’t like to be caught in an icy downpour with only our flip-flops on our feet. It’s not unusual to find a change of clothes for every season in our trunks, as well as emergency granola bars, water, aspirin, duct tape, a First Aid kit, soap, paper towels, Kleenex, mints, extra underpants, and a long and heavy flashlight which can also be used as a weapon.
Part of what we call “chic” means that we can change in a very few minutes if we need to. Our kind of chic also means that our daddies have taught us how to maintain our vehicles, fire a gun, make a campfire and put it out correctly, and our moms have taught us all the “lady” things.
All this is what we in this part of the country call “chic.” And chic is as chic does!