The Cool Girl's Effortless Uniform: An Analysis
She's been around since Clara Bow — maybe even since Cleopatra — and Jennifer Lawrence is just her latest iteration. We call her the Cool Girl: capitals necessary, ponytail optional. She's an archetype that pops up time and again throughout history, every time society craves an image of femininity that's low-key and chill and ravenous and spontaneous and totally beautiful.
In a fantastic and ridiculously illuminating BuzzFeed article, Anne Helen Peterson sums up this so-called Cool Girl; a down-for-anything guy's girl whose modus operandi is "Be chill and don’t be a downer, act like a dude but look like a supermodel":
Cool Girls don’t have the hang-ups of normal girls: They don’t get bogged down by the patriarchy, or worrying about their weight. They’re basically dudes masquerading in beautiful women’s bodies, reaping the privileges of both.
And as the anti-Cool Girl herself, Carrie Bradshaw, once said, I couldn't help but wonder…what does this chili fry-scarfing, football-watching, GQ's-hottest-women-in-the-world cover star wear?
1. She wears the pants.
Oh, how she wears the pants. But hold up: she doesn't wear The Pants, as in The Pants in the Relationship. She just looks good in pants, even baggy pants with holes in the knees, and she'll show up in pants when all the other girls at the party are squeezed into miniskirts, looking oh-so-I woke up like this.
2. She wears clothes that hide her figure.
Nothing is farther from the Cool Girl persona than a "sexy" dress. You know what I'm talking about: skintight, low-cut, short, cutouts everywhere, showing as much skin as humanly possible. The Cool Girl doesn't try to be sexy; she's mastered the sexy not-sexy look. You're far more likely to find her in a baggy vintage t-shirt that rides up to show her stomach, or an oversized dress that presses against her body during long walks on the beach. Oops?
3. But when she has to dress up, she looks pretty darn good.
Allow me a moment of personal anecdote: in junior high, I had this hilariously specific image for my future. I would be the girl who always wore her hair in a ponytail, so that ONE DAY, when I FINALLY took my hair down (preferably on prom night, in one quick-wristed gesture), it would cascade down to my shoulders in perfect shimmering waves, and all the boys would stare.
My childhood fantasy epitomizes a very specific head-turning, show-stopping moment: When Cool Girls Have to Get Dressed Up. It's not quite the same as the moment after the makeover montage when the formerly dorky girl shows up at the top of the stairs looking like a prom queen, but it's close. The Cool Girl would rather chill with her guy friends in "boyfriend" jeans and cool kicks, but when she has to look nice, she looks better than anyone else.
4. If she shows skin, it's "unintentional."
If you happen to catch a glimpse of the Cool Girl's lacey black bra, it's accidentally peeking out from her oversized button-down, nothing more. If she shows a lot of skin, it's probably "unintentional" (you catch a glimpse of her changing through a half-open bedroom door) or totally "spontaneous" (let's all go skinny dipping!).
5. Not that she's by any means embarrassed by her own body.
6. Messy hair and no-makeup makeup, ALWAYS.
This may very well be the most important weapon in the Cool Girl's arsenal: a face that just happens to be gorgeous. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, the magic of contouring.) She's so low-key she doesn't even realize she's being low-key…because trying to be low-key would mean that she's just as stressed about how she looks as every other girl. No red lipstick here, please, girlfriend. But go ahead, fill in your brows — the guys can't tell.