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In Jeffery Archer’s new mystery, “False Impression,” there was the following conversation between senior FBI agent, Jack Delaney and his subordinate, Tom Crasanti, both of whom are pursuing after the heroine, Anne Petrescu who took a priceless "self-portrait of Van Gogh without an ear" out of the Art Location of the custom house of Heathrow Air Port, and ran away:

“Where’s Petrescu?” was Jack’s first question.
“She landed in Bucharest.”
“And the painting?”
“She wheeled it out of customs on a baggage trolley,” said Tom.
That woman’s got style.”
“Agreed,” said Tom, “but then perhaps she has no idea what’s she’s up against.”

I searched “get (got) style” to get the meaning of “that woman’s got style” in dictionaries including online dictionaries, but I wasn’t able to find out.

Can you tell me what “get style “means? Is “She’s (he’s) got style” a popular idiom?

3 Answers 3

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It is a popular idiom though it has a wide range of meaning depending on the context. In your example I would venture to say, though not having read the book, that it's a compliment implying the woman is brazen or brave. "She has style" is a complementary idiom that usually means the woman did something "in her own unique way" or "in an unexpected way."

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  • So, is it different from "She is in character," or "It's in her character," replacing "style" with "character"? Oct 9, 2011 at 22:19
  • @YoichiOishi: Yes. "In character" means "acting her part well" (literally or in the figurative sense "doing as expected"). This suggests fashion, especially unexpected/unusual style.
    – Charles
    Oct 9, 2011 at 23:31
  • @Charles. I’m still sticking to “character” vis-a-vis “style,” knowing “character” is different from “style.” I think I heard an expression, “He (she) is a quite character.” Is this phrase somewhere near, or totally irrelevant to “He (she)’s got style.”? Oct 10, 2011 at 8:00
  • @YoichiOishi: Totally different. That suggests that he is, or tries to be, humorous.
    – Charles
    Oct 10, 2011 at 13:08
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"Someone's got style" is a relatively popular idiom (at least in American English) and can mean two things. This person either:

  1. is stylish and well dressed or
  2. has a stylish air about his actions.

In the case of your book, I think the second meaning applies.

When Tom reports that Anne casually rolled a priceless painting out of the airport, Jack is surprised at Anne's audacity. Not many people would have the courage to calmly walk out with stolen goods in plain sight, for fear of getting caught in the act.

Impressed, Jack says, (translated) "She really stole that painting in a stylish way."

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Of the many definitions of style in the Oxford English Dictionary, this is the one that applies here:

Fashionable air, appearance, deportment, etc. Also, more generally, attractive or impressive quality; originality.

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  • England. Can I replace it with "She's cool,"? Oct 9, 2011 at 11:46
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    "Cool" is not synonymous with "style." Rather, it's a subset of style, one of several possibilities. More importantly, when you say, "she's got style," it usually means that the woman in question has her own, signature taste and personality that is noteworthy and pleasing. "Cool," on the other hand, is often "trendy," conforming with common sensibilities.
    – The Raven
    Oct 9, 2011 at 12:10
  • I agree with that. Oct 9, 2011 at 14:28
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    In other contexts, to be cool and have style might well be equivalent. But here I think the sense is that the woman has panache, savoir faire, self-assurance, boldness, etc. She does display impressive originality, but I don't think attractive is particularly relevant here. Oct 9, 2011 at 15:23
  • @FumbleFingers +1 for panache. Aug 31, 2012 at 18:34

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