Notes on Cool

Elusive and ineffable, style itself cannot be sold, except perhaps at Buffalo Exchange

13. Cool people may sweat, but they do not show it. Cool may involve high levels of artifice -- heavy makeup, hard-to-find clothing, carefully planned hair -- but it's unseemly to be seen pursuing coolness too vigorously. Desperation is never the hip new emotion.

Confidence is always cool -- confidence in your clothes, in yourself, in your taste, in your friends. A few weeks ago, after work, a pack of Buffalo Exchangers went to hear rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson. Shawn wore his favorite H Bar C shirt, a vintage marvel of rhinestones and embroidery, and in a Polaroid taken that night, you can see Leslie snarling at him because he was running late. She looks terrifying -- dressed all in black, hair lacquered back, dark makeup ringing her eyes, a raccoon turned predator -- but it's a play snarl, a winking snarl, a snarl between friends.

In the picture, Shawn is smiling. Everything is cool.

Arbiters of cool: Melissa Cantu (seated on floor) and (from left) Treasure Hance, Shawn Stevenson, Leslie LeCroy and Rain Ferguson.
Deron Neblett
Arbiters of cool: Melissa Cantu (seated on floor) and (from left) Treasure Hance, Shawn Stevenson, Leslie LeCroy and Rain Ferguson.
Today's fashion: Shawn and Leslie don't worry about what hip people will want six months from now.
Deron Neblett
Today's fashion: Shawn and Leslie don't worry about what hip people will want six months from now.

E-mail Lisa Gray at lisagray@alumni.rice.edu.

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