Chic: How is it defined today?

Chic: How is it defined today?

Happy Thursday, friends!  Welcome to a discussion about the word CHIC: How it is defined today?

It seems as though lately all types of words are being tweaked and revised with traditional definitions.

Since, I am a connoisseur of words, I am a little concerned about changing meanings.

The word chic has traditionally been associated with style and elegance. 

But, have we reached a point where we even see elegance differently from the younger generation.

Or is the definition of the word chic eternal…classic.

Do you see chic when you look at the mannequin in the checked jacket?

Would love to hear your thoughts!


Chic: How is it defined today?

Now, this outfit above is not so bad, however, it was the lead outfit in an email from H & M under the subject line: LET’S BRING BACK WORKWEAR CHIC.

Does this outfit say workwear chic to you? How do you think they define CHIC?

Under that picture were several looks the brand was promoting…none that said workwear chic to me…here are two of them….

Chic: how is it defined today?

Chic: How is it defined today?

Now, I completely understand that H & M’s target audience is composed of younger women, but still do these outfits say workwear chic?

Better yet…how do you think they define chic today?  By these styles,  I believe they see something different from past definitions.

When I was younger, I wish someone…anyone…had asked me to think about the messages my choice of clothing sent to others.

Since I began focusing on what my clothing says about me…everything changed.

Women have come so far in the workplace and earned a new respect.  I fear wearing looks like these last two send messages far from that.

That clothing can be fun in certain places outside of work…but the email promoted workwear chic!

I personally think the clothing in the work place should say…I am confident…I am strong…I am intelligent….at least at its core.

However, I should tell you the the new definition of the word DEFINITION IS:

“a fluid statement of the meaning of a word, phrase or other set of symbols. Definitions cannot easily be set into categories as meanings evolve to meet needs of societal change.”

So, I ask you, my friends…..

Has the definition changed that much? How do you define CHIC?  Do you think society demands a new definition?

Or are looks like these better for workwear chic for younger women…how should we counsel them If they ask….

Chic: how is it defined today

And, here is one more thought…have we overused the word, chic, in so much advertising and fashion magazines that it has lost its original power to say elegant, classy, style.

By the way….Parisian Chic is one of my favorite books…taught me so much years ago. 

Ok, ladies…the floor is yours…I am open to hearing what you have to say….Chic: How is it defined today?  or how do you believe it should be defined?



By Pamela Lutrell

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Chic: How is it defined today?



  1. To my eye, the mannequins are neither chic nor elegant. I’ll be sticking with the old version of these words. Our culture is sadly going in a careless direction, just my opinion. Recently, I have seen blazers in ads with nothing on underneath them, not even a bra. Nothing. This is not elegant or chic. The H &M outfit is casual, period. Admittedly, I worked in an environment that required professional dress and that’s what I got used to (and enjoyed). I could not have shown up in such casual attire. Too much in our culture is “fluid” these days. I’m sure I sound uptight to many, but I’m not 25 years old and have no desire to pretend that I am. As an older, hopefully wiser, woman, I feel I have much to offer my children and grandchildren and would feel like I’m trying way too hard to be something I’m not if I insisted on dressing like I’m decades younger than I am. My personal definition of elegant and even chic has not changed and is not fluid. This is an interesting topic.

    1. Thanks for starting this conversation this morning, Karen. I am interested to hear what everyone thinks. Have a great day!

  2. No, the mannequins & pictures do not say “chic” to me. The black blazer/white T/slouchy khakis are too sloppy to be chic to me. With some tweaks it could be a Katherine Hepburn outfit, but I don’t consider American sportswear to be chic. Casual & outdoorsy just aren’t what comes to mind when I think of chic. And don’t get me started on the pants with the openings on the side. I double checked the definition, & to me “elegance” is a necessary element. I also think good fit, finish & tailoring are elements. Some of the clothes in the carousel are consistent with this – i think the ecru jacket, blouse with tie & black pants could be chic, especially with a great bag & pair of shoes.

  3. Good morning! First, I can’t believe how old I was when I learned how to pronounce “chic”……it was well into adulthood,lol.
    I’m laughing at those lattice work pants, and surprised I never saw anybody try to wear them to our office. When I was working, it was in south Florida, and it was with usually way younger people. We had to counsel a couple times on micro minis and tops that looked more like camisoles.
    I think the new wave of body positivity influences the younger generation, and sometimes I feel it goes a bit too far….as I just don’t want to see butt in public, no matter what size.
    I wish I could teach the young ones that it is possible to be sexy and still be covered.
    Chic to me is that seemingly effortless air that some women have. It’s in your grace, your attitude, your confidence. I think it can be achieved anywhere from Walmart to Versace.
    Well, how to word this, but I share your opinion of the changing English language……over the past say ten years must be half dozen words I used all my life with no malice intended, that I now know are offensive to some. And they are adding words and acronym’s seems on a daily basis….and honestly I am trying with the new pronouns, but I’m stumbling……I don’t want to insult or hurt intentionally, there’s too much of that in todays world.

  4. I too was struck by the use of the word “fluid” in the definition. However, to me that should mean styles that are appropriate can change but are still modest and fit the needs of the workplace. I’m thinking of how long pants on women were not considered appropriate outside of the home. When I was in college in the 60’s, females were only allowed to wear pants on the weekends but had to wear dresses or skirts during the week. And now I have not worn a dress in several years. This example shows to me that “fluid” terminology. However, clothing that exposes skin such as the top in the first picture is not chic and definitely not workplace chic. I realize that I am old, and would never think of wearing such a top anywhere. The first few outfits in your slideshow are to me definitely chic and similar to what I wore while still teaching. We teachers were expected to dress in a certain manner, and exposed skin was not acceptable. I guess I’ve rambled enough and probably made little sense but still consider chic in very different terms than what younger women apparently do.

  5. This is absolutely not what I consider chic. I like the Merriam Webster definition: smart elegance and sophistication especially of dress or manner. I don’t think it’s a generational thing. I get it that life is more casual now, and while these outfits may be “In Vogue”, they are not chic.

  6. While we are redefining so many words to suit the needs of a group I’m thinking Daniel Webster is rolling in his grave. In the offices of H&M where extreme fashion is the norm these outfits may say chic but if you wore them in my old workplace of the school and public libraries you would be asked to go home and change. In a culture that is screaming individuality, you still must be a team player to succeed in the corporate world of law, finance and, hopefully, education these days. To be a nonconformist lets those in charge know you are not going to get along with others or play by the rules. Let’s not lower the standard to redefine words just to accommodate brands that, in my opinion, will probably not survive the next few years. I was counseled to buy a blue suit after earning my first Masters degree and embarked on the interview process. I bought my successful daughter a blue suit after she earned her Masters and I envision buying my granddaughters theirs as well. Let’s be role models as the adults in this crazy world and continue to advise, counsel and support young women to be the best they can be and not a mouthpiece for a movement of sloppy fashion.

    1. I echo the previous comments. The emphasis seems to be on the clothing to make the statement of how individual you choose to be and the clothes take the place of character, strength, comparability with others and a job well done. It say LOOK AT ME!

  7. I so agree with Karen and Leu (the only responses that I have thus far read) about their comments on carelessness and casualness. I would add that not only the fit , styling, and fabrics, but the entire demeanor of the person wearing them is important: etiquette, language , tone, personality, carriage, and attitude. I can’t believe that two young women were showing bra straps and chewing gum during an outside wedding last weekend. It was embarrassing, especially since half of the crowd were impeccably dressed Brits.
    I am now thinking that “place” can play a part. I hadn’t thought of that before. The model in the carousel with the black and white roll sleeved blouse and black trousers is definitely ’chic’ in my mind if she has showed up to work in a room full of casually dressed co-workers. That is perhaps a chic woman’s idea of dressing down. I still love looking at what women wear; my fashion friends and I send descriptions of what we see that stands out to us when we spot women on the go, either traveling or just about town. We call it our ‘fashion sightings’. I will never tire of photos of Audrey, Grace, Jackie, the Duchess Catherine, Sofia Coppola, Ines. My husband loves watching Red Carpet events with me and has interesting opinions. We miss “What Not to Wear”. He knew Clinton’s rules!
    Another favorite book is Madame Chic by Jennifer Scott who writes about what she learned during her junior year in Paris when she lived with a French family. Trés chic!

  8. Oh, my goodness!! If women of ANY age are wearing this clothing to work, it’s a big mistake. I know fashions evolve and different age groups wear different types of clothing , but this is OVER THE TOP. I agree with your comments, Pam, and those of the other ladies.

  9. Your comments are so true, Pam. Love to read your posts, and appreciate your thoughtful suggestions. Chic to me is Talbot’s style—modest, professional, comfortable, sometimes with a nice scarf or piece of jewelry. Just ordered through your link “Parisian Chic,” which I got earlier as a gift for my teenage granddaughter—never too early to provide a bit of encouragement…

  10. I agree 100% with the opinions so-far expressed. The wonderful ladies who read your blog obviously have great style! The outfit with the checked blazer is just a mess, and I can’t imagine in what workplace one could wear the peek-a-boo lattice pants. None of these outfits are chic! And what happened to dressing (up) for the job you want, not the one you have? I will always prefer to be the best-dressed person in the room to looking like I don’t care, which is what these outfits communicate.

  11. The only chic outfit I see on the blog is the Blush jacket, black slacks and geometric blouse. I would change the color of the jacket to khaki or black. The blush doesn’t work with my gray hair too washed out. For me chic is not a costume but a classic style with a little something special added.

  12. First “workwear”- I think my husband got it when he said “what kind of work exactly?” My first thought was that they had forgotten to put on a proper garment below the waist . I mean it is now ok to wear trousers (US pants) to work and as a Eurasian Muslim I am glad of that – so why wear stuff with holes in ? I think it is more important at work to be appropriate than to be ‘chic’ – by which they seem to mean following a current extreme look .
    And yes I’m old so chic to me is still epitomised by Audrey Hepburn in ‘Funny Face’ and when ‘Sabrina’ returns from Paris . Surely ‘chic’ does not mean the latest style ?

  13. Like Linda L, I also was advised to purchase a nicely tailored navy blue suit (skirt and jacket) for those important post-college interviews. It was conservative, appropriate and flattering. Not particularly chic to my mind, but a pretty blouse, a single strand of pearls, and medium heeled pumps said exactly what they needed about the young woman I was: she will be an asset to your business and represent you well. Dating attire for me followed similar thinking, though the clothes were more casual. I knew to dress for the position I ultimately, if one knows her objective, was applying to possibly have: wife (daughter-in-law, mother, soccer mom, etc). It didn’t mean there was no room for fun or sexy in the right place or time, but it was certainly a way of communicating that I could be a keeper, the girl you marry, as opposed to one who is relegated to dangling about. Sloppy or revealing clothing seems to say “never mind about me.” BTW, your carousel is fantastic!

  14. For me, chic is timeless. Like elegance, it is about more than clothing, although that plays a large part in it. It is about posture, confidence & grace. I don’t consider the outfit with the crop top & cropped leggings with the jacket to be workplace chic. The crop top & leggings are perhaps chic for exercising, & the jacket might be chic with trousers or a skirt. I know of no workplace where pants with side laces are appropriate. The outfit with the long shirt & super short skirt looks as if it were thrown on by a person running late. Many of the items in the slide show are workplace chic.
    My granddaughter is a recent college graduate. She will be starting her master’s program this month. She has done two internships & is starting to build her workplace wardrobe. Most of the items are things that will serve her well for many years. Her internships have given her a good idea of what is appropriate for business, even business casual.

  15. Pants that open completely down the sides are office-appropriate now? I guess if your “office” is a bar, and you’re a server looking for tips from all the young bucks…

  16. I think ‘chic’ is one of those words that is hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. And in my opinion, none of the photos above illustrate chic. The pandemic certainly changed the way we dress at work, at outings, in public, etc. and again, in my opinion, not always for the better. I’m the first to embrace a relaxed style, but that doesn’t mean sloppy or anything goes. I’ve seen my share of too-tight leggings paired with cropped tops — ugh! I’m hoping for a return to fashion that is a bit more refined and restrained.

  17. Yep, I;m lined up with everyone else. here. Times and workwear certainly have changed, but the outfit with the bike shorts is neither workwear nor chic. It does depend on your job / profession though. By the time I retired, the only women I knew who still wore dresses and skirt suits were colleagues at the Federal Reserve. My hopefully-soon-to-be DIL is an engineer with architectural and environmental consultants: when clients aren’t there she wears leggings and longer tops to work, which freaked me out when I first met her. My generation : had to fight for equality: we dressed to fit in and for the position into which we wanted to be promoted: chic was not encouraged. Also this is just half the picture: women still need to look at what the men — not their girlfriends — are wearing. If you want to be taken seriously, H&Ms’ type of chic is not a successful look.

  18. Agree with Karen Anderson! I worked in a suit and tie business which I also loved! I am finding preppy casual is the new me for what I do now but most of what is “elegant” seems trendy, should be, but probably ever changing.
    I have granddaughters who are in scollege that I look at and say omg but know their style will change, granddaughters who wear scrubs most of the time as icu docs who are rather blasé about fashion in general & one who is always knock out appropriately gorgeous working in the corporate world. Who can say what’s right? Just know as a 70+ tall women I’m not going for those mannequins outfits 😊

  19. Hello: I am new to the blog. I dislike the idea of fluid definitions of actual words as that makes learning a language very challenging. (I mentor a number who are English as second language learners). However, language is fluid and I guess so is fashion. Chic to me has the idea of elegant but also modest, well-groomed and a touch of creativity and individuality added in. Just as we don’t want to look like we are wearing a costume, we also don’t want to look like those in a uniform if we are trying to be creative in our dress. I think it’s time to stop looking just to the Entertainment industry as the beacons of chic. They don’t seem to be “into chic”. The trouble is, I don’t know where else to look. BTW, what is the carousel? Love the blog.

    1. Hi Mary! Welcome to the blog! So happy to have you join in. When I do slideshows (carousels) You can click on a picture and it takes you to the place where the look is sold. Often I do different stores in the same slideshow but I believe this one is all Ann Taylor. Thank you for asking!

  20. Ok, thanks, Pam. I saw the open side pants and spit my coffee!
    I worked as a writer in NYC in television. Depending on your position, it could be very casual ( the artists) or very buttoned up. I had to be in meetings a lot so I was with the latter group. When I stopped working I sold 17 black suits. Pants or skirts . Always black. No navy suits ( must be from out of town). Things have loosened up but everyone is still stylish and covered.
    The word chic can been stylish, but I think a better definition is polished. One of the artists told me you never want to do everything perfectly. She would wear full makeup ( she was a pro) but just twist up her hair. And her jeans. But she was in front of a computer all day.For those of us who were meeting lawyers, agent and the talent, we had to be impeccable .some reason If serious jewelry, simple, solid color clothes. No extras. The clothes should be of a quality that they 1. Fit! 2. Don’t bag out with wear.
    But with a bit of something offhand so you don’t t look like a mannequin. Of course I shopped in the city…. Lots and lots of choices.

  21. I got a needed Friday evening laugh imagining cargo pants, bike shorts, pants that lace up on the sides over bare skin, or a skirt shorter than the shirt as “workwear,” chic or not!

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