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The Art of Being Cool

Cool adverb (1951): in a casual and nonchalant manner Cool adjective 2a: marked by steady dispassionate calmness and self-control 2d: free from tensions or violence 7 slang: very good, excellent, nice, of superior quality; fresh.

You can’t really describe cool even when you try, mainly because it is a demeanor and demeanors, like love or music, go beyond words. One simply cannot convey the rationale and pleasures of the heart which are phenomenal in all respects … and there is something especially refreshing about love, music and truly cool people.

OK, so some haters may sound out that being ‘cool’ ain’t so fresh today, but somehow we can’t seem to escape the lure and hold of the term. It simply regenerates itself, because it’s so … ‘cool’.

So, what’s the G.O with “cool” – ness?

Being cool is not about your ability to convince others that you’re cool, or your propensity to purchase ‘cool’ by ordering the 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4, or slapping the latest Revolve Watch Bracelet by Podvaal on your wrist.

There’s more to being cool that that and here’s our 411 on what it’s all about:

While cool people have existed for ages, they weren’t called ‘cool’ until the 1950s… previously no English word had ever existed which could grasp this demeanor in its entirety.

Aside from the fact the term ‘cool’ was first popularized in the 1950s, more importantly it was the era which first recognized coolness as a legitimate demeanor which wasn’t yet acknowledged by the sciences. Moreover, the 1950s determined this demeanor should have fundamentals (tenets)… what was necessary in order to be ‘cool’. In short, rather than apply ‘cool’ (very good, excellent) to just objects and actions, it could be applied to deserving people who always did cool things. After all, the world needs at least one demeanor which exemplifies ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.

Of course, as one ages their coolness begin to evaporate in varying degrees due to the environment within most workplaces and the sobering realities of life. This can largely be attributed to peer pressure but that, in turn, is affected by one’s circle of friends, habits and hangouts. It is a matter of which has the greater influence. However, because environments evolve as time passes and friends grow older; it becomes increasingly more difficult to find people of the same age group who still subscribe to this lighthearted, aloof, fair-minded and debonair-like lifestyle.

It should also be noted that within each version of coolness, specific to a generation, there are countless ways it can be expressed. Everybody does it differently. Personalities vary and so does the emphasis placed on the various aspects. Many have gotten the wrong idea however… believing cool is just about slang and dress. They are mistaken and if overdone… it becomes un-cool. A fool of today is not unlike the fools of yesteryear.

Yet, some people are cool and don’t know it… like perhaps cowboys.

Coolness isn’t so much about being current. When the time comes when people no longer try to stay current… that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re no longer cool. Perhaps it’s just that they don’t subscribe to the latest version of coolness where the ingredients of ‘hip’ are ever-changing. Most remain loyal to their generation’s version. Almost invariably though, the desire to be cool gradually fades away. Older folks might choose to be cool only part of the time while others may quit trying altogether.

On the other hand, cool people know they cannot fall victim to these bad habits to be considered ‘cool’. To the best of their ability they try to remain faithful. After all, there is nothing cool about exercising these human failings. Further, in order to be cool one must be ethical… they walk hand-in-hand. It is impossible to be cool and unethical at the same time. For example, there is nothing cool about a personable con man… it’s all a charade. A cool appearance and the latest slang do not automatically make someone cool. It goes much deeper.

Qualities of Cool

1.     You don’t know if you’re cool. You just are.

2.     Quick wit – great comebacks are a must. Lightheartedness, aloofness, coyness and bluntness are also fitting for someone cool. A smile might be broad, quick, tempered or nonexistent depending on one’s style. While the ability to keep your ‘cool’ (never get rattled) is necessary for great comebacks, it is also good training for awkward, tense or dangerous situations. A quick presence-of-mind often pays off.

3.     The most important aspect of coolness however is fair-mindedness. One must be honest and ethical… although something you don’t broadcast otherwise you wouldn’t be cool (part of ‘the game’). Besides, being humble is cool. Yet, while honesty and ethics are the underpinning of coolness, its twin pillars and foundation, it needs little elaboration.

4.     What cool isn’t is adhering to political correctness… nor is it cool to bring up the topics of weather, your mom’s apple pie or last night’s dream in a conversion. While the list is much longer, the idea is… avoid plain vanilla (boring) subjects and don’t get personal. The greater idea is to maintain an air of mystique to avoid appearing dull and lackluster. It makes life more fun and interesting. To avoid appearing humdrum (un-cool), teenagers will go so far as to steer clear of any topic adults talk about.

5.     ‘Cool’ is not ageist – Even though trendiness rarely transcends the generation gaps, outsiders can still appear to be somewhat cool by their attitude. While it’s rarely equal to the pronounced coolness of a teenager, cool is still cool. The right attitude has a way of canceling out one’s ignorance of the latest sayings and trends.

A case against cool? No way? Way …

Yes, a case can be made against cool… but only against acting cool, not for being cool. In some circumstances, acting cool is often taken as a sign of indifference or ignorance. Dignity and acting cool don’t mix either… that is, without finesse. Once someone has mastered the technique however, they become super-cool.

While one might be tempted to lambaste the dignified for being pretentious, it is no more pretentious than any other demeanor… which would include coolness. Yet, in order to express ourselves beyond words, demeanors are necessary. While a demeanor is how we wish our inner self to be reflected, accurate or not, it is also the manner in how we wish to experience life. For most everyone, that means enjoying it… but since enjoyment is a commodity otherwise elusive it must be manufactured. The fun part of coolness serves that purpose.

Cool people not only create pleasures out of the simplest things in life, they appreciate coolness. For example, when someone rich or famous who treats everyone as their equal has reached one of the heights of coolness. Leveling the playing field is seen as one of the coolest things ever. While we may not know the sincerity of such a person, it is nonetheless refreshing to see this aspect of coolness in action.

Moral of the story. Be yourself, forget trying to be cool and you might just end up being just that. Cool?

Try as we may (after we’ve stressed that being cool isn’t about what you wear!!), we couldn’t resist letting you know about this cool, new watch – The Horological Machine No. 2.

Maximilian Büsser and the team at MB&F have completed work on the final release of the Horological Machine No. 2, the MB&F HM2 SV Watch.  This limited edition timepiece will be available for 18 lucky (and wealthy) customers in either black, shown above, or red, below.  The “SV” in this watch’s name stands for “Sapphire Vision”, used to describe the unparalleled view of the machine’s inner workings below a clear sapphire case. Below that sapphire block is a collection of 349 pieces that drive this watch’s slow, steady movement. Usually, the design of MB&F’s timepieces focuses on a combination of internal and external components, but the HM2 SV watch makes the interior mechanics the central point of this design.  As is common with MB&F, the result is striking, a never-before-seen take on luxury watch-making that has us absolutely spellbound.  The HM2 SV will be produced at a pace of 3-4 a month until 18 are completed, thereby ending the line of watches produced from Büsser’s Horological Machine No. 2.

Cool or what??

FYI: The oh so cool looking threads on this page are from the Spring 2011 lookbook from menswear brand Van Laack.



The definition of cool people and their crucial role in society – (1st edition – April 2007) by A.O. Kime – The Matrix Bookstore


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