About

Laurie Allee
Creator of Chic Contraire
Writer, Street Photographer, Style Contrairista

chic
adjective
  1. 1.
    elegantly and stylishly fashionable.
    synonyms: stylish, elegant, sophisticated
noun
  1. 1.
    stylishness and elegance, typically of a specified kind.
    "French chic"

contraire
French for contrary
adjective
  1. 1.
    inclined to disagree or to do the opposite of what is expected
    synonyms:defiant, contradictory

Women have been sold a lot of stupid fashion and beauty ideas over the years (corsets, mullets, parachute pants...) but the stupidest of all is the idea that fashion and beauty items must be expensive in order to be legitimate.  Don't get me wrong, great design is valuable.  A Chanel flap bag is timeless, gorgeous and it goes with everything.  But is it worth $5500?  I mean really, now -- $5500!?  It's is a beautiful purse, to be sure...

But so is this one.  

And while we're at it, this one is really cute.

In fact, if I had a spare $5500 lying around, I'd book a vacation to Paris where I would walk right past the actual Chanel headquarters, head over to a cafe to drink champagne and toast all the poor girls back home with original Chanel flap bags but no money to travel.  Then, I'd wander through all the other great shops in Paris with money to spend. J'aime une bonne affaire! 

Just to make myself clear, I'm not dissing a high dollar splurge, especially if it's something you really love.  I am also a firm believer in sustainable fashion and a dismissal of the industry's disposable culture of overconsumption.  We should definitely buy well-made items that last.

What I reject and outright repudiate is the notion that the only beautiful, stylish, quality fashion picks are the ones with status labels that cost more than most of us can comfortably afford.  You've seen the stories every season, the ones where experts try to convince you that last year's hem length is way too long (or short) and the absolute must have item of this season is going to set you back a month's salary. Don't be fooled.  $1000 linen overalls are not the new jeans, and nobody is going to wear chain mail to the office.  The emperor has no clothes, people!  And if he did, they'd cost way too much money.

Which brings me to the flipside of expensive designers: fast fashion.  With an abundance of cheap clothing choices, women are prompted to buy more, more, more.  I reject the fairly recent philosophy of buying wardrobe items inexpensively in bulk every season, only to discard and replace those things when they are no longer "in style."  I love a good bargain, but I'm building a wardrobe, not playing a fashion version of Simon Says.

The thing is: while I truly dislike the fashion industry, I absolutely adore fashion itself.  One of the joys of being human is playing dress up.  I love to change my clothes with my mood.  I love adornment and all manner of daily costumery.  I look at vintage photos and swoon over all those suits and hats.  I think it's great on Downton Abbey when everyone puts on gowns and tuxedoes just to have dinner.  Clothes can decorate, comfort, protect, boost, liberate from doldrums and serve as armor against a cruel world.  The right clothes make you feel fantastic.  In fact, I actually believe new shoes are more effective than any antidepressant in the physician's desk reference.  I love, love, LOVE fabulous clothes and shoes and bags and jewelry.

I just refuse to get ripped off either financially or emotionally by fashion ... and I certainly don't want to contribute to a throwaway culture in the name of keeping up with trends.  It's fun to find a treasure at a high-end shop.  It's also fun to find a great bargain.  Best? When whatever I find becomes part of my forever closet: a piece that reflects my signature style.

I'm not just talking about sales ... I'm talking about selves.  Fashion should not be expensive uniformity, but rather an expression of individuality.

I would like to see the day when trend reports are not treated as marching orders.  It's great when an interesting design debuts, and a whole lot of people love it so much it becomes a trend.  Sure, I like to play along. (I went crazy for those late 90s floral dresses, and recently I bought a dead ringer knock-off pair of Rockstud heels...)  But I also enjoy bucking tradition and wearing something that I truly love, regardless of whether the magazines tell me it's in or out.  I'm proud to say I wear both boot cut and skinny jeans, and I intend to do so for as long as I can manage to put them on.  (Oh, and for the record: I never stopped wearing my favorite 1990s floral dress.)

 For too long we've been told what to wear.  I absolutely hate seasonal rules, "must haves," and any list of dos and don'ts -- especially the ones claiming to be "age appropriate."  I gleefully rebel against all those uptight fashion police. 

With these things in mind, I created Chic Contraire -- my spot to chat about style and share great finds.  I love unique designs, quality skin care and beauty products as well as affordable alternatives to overpriced trends.

I also proudly support ethical, sustainable and green companies.  If I can purchase from those who are dedicated to transforming the often wasteful, exploitative and toxic industries of fashion and beauty, I feel like I have hit the jackpot.

I also love talking about fashion history, and all the contrary people who've broken (and continue to break) the fashion and beauty rules.

Join me as I share style ideas, and connect you to things that I love.

Be sure to follow Chic Contraire on Instagram!  Look out for monthly style challenges, as well as giveaways.  You can also follow on Twitter.

  
Laurie in a favorite sweater by Ralph Lauren
(found on sale for $39 at TJMaxx)