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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

arts

COLUMN: Analyzing the “It Girl” effect

entitgirl-illo

The “it girl” can be defined as “a woman who is very famous, fashionable or successful at a particular time.” The term originated in 1927 with the film “It” featuring silent film actress Clara Bow. It quickly gained traction among the most stylish young women who exuded a certain "je ne sais quoi" drawing people in through their effortless appearance.  

Similar to trending styles, the identity of the “it girl” is in a constant cycle of change.  When my Holy Bible, “The Cut” published their New York ‘It Girl” spread in April 2023, I deep dived into the lesser-known holders of the title. I gravitated to Kimora Lee Simmons, the founder of Y2K staple Baby Phat, Julia Fox, a standout in the Safdie Brother’s “Uncut Gems” and Ali MacGraw, the ever-sophisticated former roommate of Gloria Steinem. Every woman on the list was different, yet all possessed the “it” factor.  

When I think about the quintessential “it girl,” my mind immediately goes to Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. Nearly 25 years after her tragic death, she continues to influence the fashion industry. As a proponent of the classic cool look, she adhered to strict fashion rules. That meant no logos, no harsh lines, no over shopping (but if it can be reworn, it’s worth the price). Dubbed a “ghost influencer” by the New York Times, the publicist at Calvin Klein embraced minimalism at a maximalist time.  

Bessette-Kennedy’s style was beautifully chic and understated, leaving a lasting impact. So much so that many enthusiasts visit her favorite spot, C.O Bigelow Pharmacy in Greenwich, to acquire her iconic black headband. SSENSE has also introduced their own brown headband, aptly named the "Brown Bessette Headband," paying homage to her enduring influence. 

Nightlife photographer Patrick McMullan described the phenomenon best, the “it girl” is someone “everyone is drawn to — someone people want to gossip about.”  

Modern day “it girls” include Sofia Richie Grainge, whose wedding in the South of France truly set the tone for summer 2023. Her metamorphosis from the teenage girlfriend of Scott Disick (yikes) to a figure of old money elegance is remarkable. It was just the right blend of quiet luxury and timelessness to cement her as 2023’s “it girl.”  

Hailey Bieber is another figure who can sway an entire generation of girls to get the same manicure. I was easily convinced to try the “glazed donut” look. Maybe it’s our shared name, but her impact on the trend landscape needs to be studied.  

A simple Pinterest search of “it girl” might guide you to a seemingly pristine lifestyle synonymous with the “clean girl” aesthetic. One that is ever healthy. A strawberry banana smoothie to kickstart the day. Early mornings. Pink and white outfits. Beautiful flowing hair or a crisp Olaplex slick back. 

To me, this is not what encapsulates the essence of an “it girl.” It is the impact of your presence. True “it girl” status is marked by charisma — the magnetic quality that captivates and leaves a lasting impression.  

The allure of the coveted “it girl” extends beyond the trappings of fame, fortune and fashion; it is a celebration of individuality and womanhood. Authentic self-confidence, a quality many often lack, is at the core of it all. And we can fixate on the famous it-girls, and we can fixate on what others tell us to be, but the essence lies in the magnetism you possess.  

There is no template into being an it-girl. If you believe that you are an it girl, then you are.

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