I was watching with a slight tinge of envy all the people shopping in Harrods the other day (Harrods is not a usual hang out for me seeing as they sell fur etc but I had been dragged in there by a friend who wanted to show me something specific). There was a lot of money being spent – Asian girls buying Chanel handbags with the same ease I buy a coffee, Russian women buying Cartier rings and earrings like they were trinkets, Arabs buying perfumes and oils to splash around. The items being sold were often beautiful luxury items and the people buying them were already wearing the very best. Lora Piana, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Chanel, and so on. But then through the crowd swept one girl and she was wearing a pair of blue faded jeans, classic ballet pumps, a good battered tasseled leather jacket and a vintage Chanel bag. She was by the far the best dressed person there and whilst she did have some designer items, it was not about money. It was about being cool. Everyone else suddenly looked try hard and fake.

The definition of coolness is an admired aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance and style. She had that because she was not focussed on buying all the approved items required to try to be cool or admired. She was simply there as herself and the things she wore, she really wore. They were quality but old, they were loved and broken in. Her look stated that she did not need to buy relentlessly because she was too busy living life and wearing the things she loved to wear. She was self possessed and not owned by any material item. Her coolness was in her quiet confidence. The other people around her announced their arrival with labels which in truth had nothing to do with them – Chanel, D&G, Dior, Prada whatever it was had become more of an identity than their real selves.

Many of us have become obsessed with labels and brands thinking that our status is proven by them, particularly in this new money world. If we cannot get our hands on the real thing we buy fakes or copies. We just have to buy in order to lift our mood, plant our position, display our status. But all of this is a facade which takes us away from cool, the real that does not need to prove itself in any way.

Not long ago when I was in Laos for work, I saw this girl pictured below and I thought she was pretty cool. She had a real attitude and was wearing secondhand U.S army clothes. Moments before a new money woman had got out a car next to her wearing a Chanel suit which was much too big for her and looked ridiculous. The cool girl didn’t even bat an eyelid because she was too busy flirting with the mechanic fixing her bike. She didn’t need to covet or wish she had a Chanel suit because her style was her own. We need to try and retain that ourselves because all of these luxury designers can make some beautiful items but they can never create style and coolness.