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When did ‘basic’ become the ultimate insult?


There’s a new b-word in town that no one wants to be called.

Basic. Yes, a feminized curse word for the modern age. Although Allure didn’t originate the term, the mag got a lot of criticism over the summer when it called Lauren Conrad the quintessential basic b**** in a story about the typecasting of women into one of four roles. The basic lady sports nude Essie polish, sausage curls and “swears her Louboutins are cutting edge.” (Did you sense the uppity-ness in that description, too?)

Suddenly, it seemed like describing your style as “basic” was one of the worst insults you could get. I keep hearing the word, and always with a negative connotation. No woman wants her style to be called “basic.” Because basic is so… boring, bland, blah. Or worse yet: attainable. Anyone could pull it off. It could be anyone’s style. And no one wants her style to fit in the “everygirl” box, right?

Well I’d like to turn in a few synonyms for the term. “Basic” style is polished, pretty, sophisticated and classic. It’s riding boots and a cozy sweater on a fall day. It’s an LBD and a pair of sleek heels for a cocktail party. It’s a light pink lip and chic gold accessories for running errands. It’s simply gorgeous.

To name a few men and women who would fit the “basic” style mold? Michael Kors and Karl Lagerfeld, two design greats who sport the exact same look Some of our current style heroines like Kate Middleton, Olivia Palermo, Emma Watson or Victoria Beckham have “classic” tastes. And pretty much every major model’s off-duty style right now is “basic.” Think Karlie Kloss, Behati Prinsloo, Kendall Jenner or the fabulous Kate Moss.

Even an all-time fashion icon, Audrey Hepburn, was “basic.” She said as much. “My look is attainable,” Audrey once uttered. “Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flipping out their hair, buying the large sunglasses and the little sleeveless dresses.” There was nothing particularly remarkable about her look, but when you put it all together? Breathtaking. Boy, did she have style in spades — no one could say her taste wasn’t spot on. Today, decades later, people still try to emulate her.

On most days, I’m probably a “basic” girl. I often sport the hallmarks of classic dressing, and I’m not insulted by the term “basic” in the least. I’m not edgy like Cara Delevingne, or glam like Rihanna but I don’t see “basic” as a lack of personality, or proof that I haven’t created an original style that works for my sensibilities. If you’re confident rocking it, it doesn’t matter what you wear, whether you’re decked out or simply… basic.

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