When I think of chic, these flashes of places and people pop into my mind. There is the neighborhood shop owner from when I lived in Notting Hill who was captivating in jeans, white Converse low-tops, a t-shirt and colorful velvet tailored jackets, or the place in Italy where we once stayed on vacation that had little more than beige walls and white garden furniture, but their ability to surprise us each night at dinner with a simple touch of added beauty and elegant decor (like silver stars hanging over the table and twig bundles) was remarkable. There are others, but what strikes me about these touch-points is that Chic truly doesn’t mean expensive and to even make a point of being ‘cheap’ not only seems to undermine the notion, but it also fails to understand what ‘chic’ really means.
What is ‘chic’? — it is the ability to draw attention to best parts (of anything) and keep it there. It is courage, charm and class. It is the ability to edit and it takes patience. It has nearly nothing to do with money and everything to do with confidence. It isn’t some expensive and fake shabby thing. It isn’t instant, and it definitely isn’t as hard as you might think.
Here are a few my tips to get that look:
Know that Rome wasn’t built in a day (and that is one seriously chic place) and neither will your chic garden, home, wardrobe or what ever you aim to cultivate. Have the patience to scour e-bay, craigslist, and sales. Take time to discover what you love and what makes you and your garden unique and special, and give yourself permission to experiment, mess-up, learn and refine. Enjoy doing all those things and don’t apologize for it. Being chic takes a knowing….and knowing anything takes time.
The turquoise chairs in the garden above are quite chic (if you ask me) – but they aren’t new. They look like something I have seen on craigslist a hundred times for a hundred (or so) bucks — then were sprayed with Turquoise paint, given some bold cushions and placed in a garden that cleary isn’t overdone. The whole thing screams that the person who put this together knows what they like, isn’t afraid to be themselves and strives to be original….that is chic.
Less is More, More is Less
It is a cardinal rule of nearly all design professions – but a constant eye towards removing rather than adding will take you far closer to chic than any other effort. I think about this every time I travel. By being forced to make decisions about what fits into the suitcase, I think hard about how to make the most with the least….and it is always better than what I end up with when I rush through my overstuffed closet every morning. Pare down, simplify, and make sure you use what you love and only what really works.
It is details that will make the benign extraordinary. It will also save you a bundle. Simple things dressed thoughtfully often become very special. (like the white t-shirt with the velvet jacket). In the garden, perhaps it is a easy wooden picnic table….but dressed with lace and garden fresh flowers and illuminated by some pretty lanterns, it is the vision of casual chic. Just like a scarf, a good pair of shoes or hot jewelry can make jeans and a t-shirt the height of good taste.
Keep It Simple
A string of lights, a collection of Terracotta, an easy color scheme – these are simple. Grace comes with not trying to do something that is too hard; it is about being comfortable with your place and letting the simple things speak. Simplicity will always feel better than the angst that can come from something that is trying to be more than it is. Grace is Chic.
I’m collecting a board full of image that define my sense of chic — it is called Chic (and Cheap) Gardens and Ideas – you are welcome to follow it over on Pinterest. – rochelle
This is part of a Garden Designers Round Table collaboration — Please take the time to read what some of my colleagues have to say on this same subject.