Monday, February 6, 2017

In defense of "effortful" style

One of the things I read about a lot in fashion publications is the idolization of "effortless" style. Frequently found in the same sentence as the phrase "French girl," it seems to indicate a way of lazy dressing that just sort of magically looks gorgeous. Effortless style seems to encompass a lot of wavy hair, wardrobe essentials like jeans and boxy tops, black boots, and maybe an uninspired handbag. It's all about drenching yourself in the boring basics, but looking darn good doing it.

When I was new to fashion and impressionable, I naturally felt that, because I'd read about it, I had to aspire to it. I thought to myself, maybe I should find a nice loose white T-shirt so I can sandwich it between my skinny jeans and my moto jacket and look like a model off duty ("model off duty" is another one of those phrases that gets tossed around in the fashion world even more than "French girl"—again with the connotation that you just threw something together from whatever was lying on the floor of your closet, but it looks flawless because it's all designer-label, and plus, you have the kind of natural appearance that makes people pay you for the privilege of using your picture in advertisements).

Two-plus years later, and I still don't have a plain white T-shirt, mainly because I recoil from the thought of paying more than 5 dollars for, well, a plain white T-shirt! Also because, if I'm going to buy a shirt that's going to be the foundation of an entire style of dress, it better be the best-fitting, best-made T-shirt I've ever encountered, and so far, I haven't found it. But also because, I simply don't have any desire to build an outfit around a plain white T-shirt.

And therein lies the real rub. "Effortless" is not part of my signature look. I take pride in putting a lot of thought into every single outfit that marches out my door. If anyone ever said to me, "Oh, you look like you just rolled out of bed and slid into a pile of your clothes, and it's amazing!", I would clock them one. Well, probably not, because I'm a pacifist, but I would definitely take it as an insult. Every outfit that I put on is a work of art. To have someone call it "effortless" would be to dismiss my finely honed craft and downplay all the time that went into its creation.

I don't do effortless dressing. And I've come to realize that's OK. Because what I have instead is "really intentional and creative" dressing, which to me is far more fun.

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