In Search Of The ‘It’ Girl

Is it time to broaden our definitions?

When I mention the term ‘It Girl’, what comes to mind?

Let me take a quick guess: someone blonde, thin, conventionally attractive, cool, humble, loaded, effortless and white. A tenner if at least three of them were right! Now, don’t turn away, this isn’t an attack on your average lady on the streets who has it all, or the current It Girls of the world. This is just me trying to find the answers to my personal long-held questions: what is an It Girl? Who is an It Girl? And why are they considered so?

The classic definition of this elusive phrase is actually pretty definitive: An It Girl is an attractive young woman, who is perceived to have both sex appeal and a personality that is especially engaging. Source: The Oxford Dictionary, girlies.

You may ask, like I did, sex appeal to who? For the male gaze or female? To which age group, who is this audience? Though I definitely do agree with the latter part of the explanation, she is engaging. In search of answers, I pick the minds of people near and dear to the world’s It Girls, who are also people I consider to have ‘it’.

Andrew Fitzsimons, tastemaker and hairstylist to the stars, tells me the term has roots in the 1927 film ‘It’. Lead star Clara Bow, an American actress of the silent film and talkies eras, was considered the It Girl of her time. He also clarifies how although it started in America, it’s a phrase more revered in Europe now.

Andrew explains there are two clear versions of It Girls. There are the socialites, wives and daughters of royalty, aristocrats and rich people of the world who can essentially afford to have it all, and on the other hand, are the women he truly considers It Girls: “They inform fashion, do not subscribe to trends, create, influence and become muses,” giving examples such as Amy Winehouse for Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel and Edie Sedgwick with Andy Warhol.

via Katja Mia

These women have a “signature, are a little avant-garde, confidently adorn themselves, are unapologetically themselves and therefore inspire change due to their own personality and style”. I think it’s safe to say that we all tie the phrase to style and beauty, with content creator and editor, Fae Nwoga saying it’s “a girl literally everybody wants to be, look like and dress like” and I’d add in some cases, also be with. It’s a girl with the whole package within a certain age range, size, race, and background.

As I’m getting responses from varied sources, I can see that there’s a general consensus, she’s stylish, beautiful, and most importantly, herself. Alison O’Hanlon, PR guru at the Publicity Loft says: “For me, an It Girl is someone whois unapologetically herself; comfortable in her own style and appearance. She doesn’t need to conform to trends but transcends boundaries to be a larger-than-life figure, without needing to be the loudest in the room, she stands out!”

I have a little issue with the idea of the It Girl. Not the definition, but who it brings to mind for so many people. It seems quite limiting. People who keep getting brought up all look the same in different fonts or uniforms… and this is no shade to them.

The It Girl™ starter pack includes a Dyson Airwrap, a blazer, Charlotte Tilbury makeup, Uggs, Starbucks, and an Instagram account with a bajillion followers. If I sound bitter, I promise I’m not, I’m just someone who works to colour up her timeline as often as I can on Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and even Bumble! I try to cast my net as open as I can, I want to see all shapes, sizes and colours.

My It Girl is someone who is a size 18, she’s trans, has tattoos and looks freaking cool. She is last but not least, never basic. Like Duda Oliveira, model and creative says, “It Girls are iconic, it doesn’t matter what they do, they’re setting trends and influencing without even trying.” You might think of people like Matilda Djerf, Alix Earle, Emma Chamberlain, Molly-Mae Hague, and Olivia Neill. All beautiful, cool women that deserve the title. The only minor issue is that they all sit under a snug umbrella of one type of girl.

via Dylan Mulvaney

So reader, all I ask is maybe funk up your following list a little bit, add in Precious Lee, Aliyah Core, Dylan Mulvaney, Monet McMichael, Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, Lisa of BlackPink and Katja Mia. I would love us all to try a little harder to see what else the world has to offer.

Sometimes, a little push for change happens with a click of a follow. Another tenner bets that the ladies I have suggested are closer to your identity than the purported It Girls. You can argue they’re supposed to be aspirational and not actually attainable, but as influencer Sophie McGuinness explains, it’s “a girl who’s confident, has main character energy, magnetic, embraces femininity, a trendsetter, fashionista, has a big presence.”

And in the words of Verona Farrell, street style photographer,“The It Girl is extremely secure in herself, she naturally just has her own style, is nice to people, she can be basic, super trendy, doesn’t care what people think, just doing her own thing. It’s not about how you look or what kind of life you have, and more about a no Fs given attitude”.

I say if these are the requirements then ALL these ladies apply. So let’s throw out the rule book and try to embrace a little positive pushback. After all my research, I can safely say for me, it’s all about the je ne sais quoi! I don’t know why I like this person, they just have IT!

And for that, I’ll follow them to the end of the world… or at least to the end of their wardrobe and beauty shelf.