The concept of what is being “cool” and having status was, is and always will be a subjective topic that is abstract and hard to nail down. Qualities and traits that are popular on the East Coast can be considered lame on the West Coast. Thankfully, Colorado sits in its own culture of cool that doesn’t conform to the status quo. The state oozes style out of every mountaintop and blade of grass. People travel from every part of the world just to get a glimpse of what this state has to offer.
The sheer fact that we get to call this place our home makes each Coloradan happier than most of the world. But everyone still wants to seem like they have it all, but few do. To learn more about how to “level up,” 303 Magazine sat down with Denver-based model, content creator and photographer Liz Zorn.
“I think the reason Colorado is so unique is that Denver especially has this community aspect to it where people support each other, bounce ideas off each other and work together to make things happen,” Zorn said. “People here are happy to be here and happy to be involved in such an active community.”
The rich and powerful have long sat at the popular kids’ table, deciding what makes someone worthy of praise and the “proper” way to act to fit in. The Europeans used to wear ridiculous powdered wigs and cake on enough mercury-based makeup to kill an elephant, and yet they were the most popular aristocrats of their time. The French population used to be separated into three estates that established their class. These same principles still exist in America today but have shifted rapidly with the times. The world can seem superficial at times with materialism being so rampant.
Even in the laid-back state of Colorado, the everlasting quest for clout dominates the zeitgeist. Think of the coolest person you can. What makes them seem so much trendier than everyone else? Is it the way they present themselves in public or online, the things they talk about, the places they have gone, or is it just the fact that they have more money than you? Don’t worry about it — what matters today is only the perception of being cool. You could take steps to be a more confident and interesting person, but that takes time and effort. You just have to fake it ‘till you make it to reach the upper echelons of your community and beyond.
With how savvy the average person is today, there are ways to level up your status in the world and seem like a more interesting person than you are without having to do much at all. Whether you want to impress a date, prove to your mom that your liberal arts degree was worth the debt or just want to feel like a classier person, below is a list to get you started on your quest to “level up” in the world by being the same person you already are.
Keep Books on Hand And Stay In The Know
Books have long been a gauge of someone’s intellect. Before the printing press, not many people were literate. Books had to be handwritten and thus were very expensive and only for the upper class. Now that has changed with a 2017 study by the National Center For Education Statistics that found that 81% of Americans have a mid to high literacy rate. More books are readily available than anyone could ever read, and bookstores are practically begging for you to come in and buy a book. But with the ability to scroll endlessly on your phone or computer and the overwhelming amount of content offered by streaming services, people are reading less than in the past. However, a 2015 survey of 1,700 single men and women by Elite Singles showed that 85% of those surveyed say that being well-read makes you more appealing to a prospective partner.
“In my opinion, I would say having knowledge does [make you more attractive],” Zorn said. “This doesn’t mean you have to be a literal genius but know a lot about your craft. Know a lot about your hobbies. Know your passions inside and out, and I think people will be much more attracted to who you are and what you do.”
While being well-read is important to stay up to date with the world and to keep your mind sharp, you don’t even need to read. The simple act of having books is enough. Moreover, just having one book sitting on your coffee table is enough for people to comment on it, allowing you to come in as an expert on the subject. All but gone are the days of people having massive home libraries to let you know they can afford to waste an entire room in their house.
Owning books is nice, but they can get really expensive over time, especially if you only have a vague interest in the subject. Remedy this by getting a library card. Armed with a library card, the amount of class and sophistication you can materialize out of thin air is astonishing. Have an adventurous friend coming over later? Borrow a book about travel or nature. Have a date with someone who prides themselves on their intellect? Rent a book about philosophy or science and watch the shock they experience when they think you are just as well-read as them, if not more. The Denver Public Library has 27 locations throughout the Denver Metro Area packed full of books waiting for you to rent.
Step Up Your Fashion
Depending on if you’re wearing the latest trends and top brands, or the same Kirkland jeans you’ve been wearing weekly for seven years, clothing can give people a wildly different impression of who you are. So how do you go from basketball shorts and a t-shirt to high fashion without absolutely draining your bank account or sacrificing individuality? What fashion niche do you even want to strive for? Here you must be cunning. Fashion is a subjective and ever-changing landscape that makes it hard to stay up to date with the latest trends. Thankfully for those that aren’t obsessed with Ralph Lauren’s new summer line that you can wear to the country club to show off to the other miserable wealth managers, fashion has shifted from what you wear to how you wear it. It’s more important to make a statement with your outfit than to try to look the part in high-end designer labels. Figure out what your style is and then the task is on to spruce up your closet.
Zorn seems to agree. “I think fashion, in its own way, is a type of art,” she said. “You can tell a lot about someone based on the way they dress, in my opinion. Fashion is a way to express who you are to people you may come into contact with. I think wearing things that you really like and things that make you feel confident is the best thing you can do with fashion. Be you!” As long as it expresses yourself and you wear it with confidence, you can make it work. Serving looks everywhere you go will become second nature.
Staying local, there are many designers, brands and stores in Colorado that specialize in style and affordability. Thrift stores are huge in Colorado and are a fantastic option for finding unique pieces for your wardrobe, though it can be very hit-or-miss. 303 Magazine also has a trove of articles covering everything you could need to know about Denver fashion, and Denver Fashion Week’s Fall 2022 show promises to deliver. Otherwise, countless websites and apps exist to sell you fashionable clothing at a lower cost than any standard department store.
Immerse Yourself In Colorado’s Museums
You will never be invited to the Met Gala and you have to live with that for the rest of your life. But who cares? The museum is way more interesting and educational than whatever Kim Kardashian is doing on the red carpet. Museums are packed with information that you can pull out the next time you are getting drinks with friends or colleagues to make them think, “Wow, they know so much, they must be really smart and cultured” when in reality all you did was memorize some tidbits while gawking at a giant dinosaur fossil for 40 minutes. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Denver Art Museum can teach you a little bit about a lot of things. You don’t have to sit at home studying ancient cultures and rocket science when you can stroll down to the museum to learn about it all in a fun and interactive way.
While the above are classics, and each new exhibit that pops up is a must-see for anyone trying to stay in the know of the local scene, Colorado has myriad museums for you to explore to broaden your horizons. All of them are fascinating for different reasons. Meow Wolf has a new interactive tour called “Highlights of the Convergence” which is bringing accessibility to its psychedelic art. You can learn and go on the hunt for fossils at Dinosaur Ridge, or dive deep inside the Rocky Mountains at Cave of the Winds where you can finally learn the difference between stalactites and stalagmites. The History Colorado Center takes you on a journey through time across the history of Colorado. The Colorado Railroad Museum is a 15-acre railyard with enough information on trains to make even the most locomotive-oriented person drop their jaw. The museum even has various trains for you to take a ride through the scenic Rockies. Who doesn’t love a good train? Getting to the more obscure and absurd side of things, the Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum in Weld County is a 20,000-square-foot Guinness World Record-holding museum that houses more than 1,400 antique washing machines.
Will going to some of these museums make you more cultured? Probably, there’s a lot to learn. Will all of them? Probably not, though it is said that a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one. The more topics you know something about, the more well-rounded you can seem, especially when it comes to our world and how it all works.
Build Your Social Media Presence
Social media is the epitome of vanity. People have been using it to their advantage to look like they have a picture-perfect life, even if the reality is vastly different. It doesn’t matter if you spend 95% of your time doom-scrolling on your phone or are the kindest and most traveled person in the world who spends their off-hours helping the homeless and elderly, what’s important is the image of seeming interesting online with a sexy Instagram post or a snarky Tweet.
Colorado is internationally known for its beautiful landscape and can be a perfect starting point. Do your civic duty as a Coloradan and go climb one of the state’s many 14ers. And make sure to document it for the internet, but be mindful of locations you’re tagging to help mitigate overcrowding of outdoor hotspots. People living in Clevland won’t be able to stay calm when they see the most beautiful mountains in the world are located in your backyard.
There are countless other ways to grow your audience online. One of the biggest is having a clean and professional-looking profile to captivate a viewer. The Original Selfie Museum in Denver is self-described as “the most Instagram-able place in the nation” and is a fantastic place to go for some bold and exciting picture-perfect content for your page.
We also talked with Ashley Cushman, a Denver-based fashion, fitness, health and lifestyle influencer whose marketing background and social media presence has helped her build great relationships with numerous brands. She also designed her own bikini line in 2022. Cushman has been active with social media which has in turn helped her gain a following online.
“I started posting three to four times a day on TikTok, one time a day on Instagram, reaching out to brands and local photographers. After about half a year I had over 400,000 followers between all of my accounts. I was able to drive traffic from my TikToks to my Instagram which helped me gain a lot of followers on Instagram which in turn helped me get in contact with large brands such as Boutine LA, Bang Energy and modeling agencies who wanted to work with me,” she said. The key takeaway from this is consistency. The algorithms that rule social media are much kinder to those with a steady stream of content to upload.
Beyond the endeavor of promoting yourself online, creating a website and social media page for your business or side hustle is a great way to grow your presence. A 2013 study by Verisign and Merrill Research concluded that 56% of consumers won’t even consider a business without a website.
It can be easy to come off as show-offy and arrogant instead of accomplished, so caution must always be applied. Growing your online reputation can seem daunting at first but with a little bit of poise and concentrated effort, you can find yourself with a dedicated and authentic following.
Showcase Your Hobbies With Pride
Having a hobby allows the exploration into new sides of yourself that you may never have thought of. It might even allow for your true most authentic self to shine. If you can bridge the gap between the niche of the hobby and the greater world beyond, you are bound to turn some heads and gain recognition for your efforts.
When asked how people can appear more well-rounded and interesting, Zorn said, “Think about the things you’re good at, cool talents you have, etc. Everyone has something unique to offer people. Being, or at least acting, confident is big when it comes to ‘leveling up.’ Humans are drawn to confidence, and it makes us look up to other people. So even if you mess something up, move forward and carry on with confidence and people are much less likely to remember.”
Colorado is a state for the outdoors and lends itself to adventure. Every season provides a different set of thrills. Being able to rock climb or ski and snowboard automatically makes you a more provocative figure. Most of what people do in an “IRL” social setting is sit around bragging about the things they have done recently to seek praise and admiration. Why should you be any different? Pick up a hobby that has any sense of a “Wow!” factor to it and you are well on your way to new heights of prestige and respect from your peers.