in praise of effort


I confess: I don’t understand “effortless chic”. I don’t understand applying makeup to look bare-faced, I don’t understand moussing one’s hair to emulate bedhead, and I really don’t understand why expending effort on your appearance has ceased to be cool.

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You see it everywhere. Don’t look too “done”. Don’t look costumey. Spend hours caring, but only to achieve that perfect careless look, that purgatory of the average. You’re still supposed to care, but looking like you do? That’s just gauche.

We’ve cargo-culted casual, it seems. We’ve taken symbols of a laid-back look – Levi’s, bedhead, yesterday’s eyeliner – and proceeded to thoroughly miss the point of what makes them effortless in the first place: the actual, y’know, lack of effort. A $200 white t-shirt might be following the letter of the law, but it’s spectacularly neglecting the spirit.

greysuitX greysuitV greysuitI

And there’s something dishonest in that, I think. In working so hard to pretend you don’t care, in not even getting the satisfaction of articulating yes, this matters to me. Maybe my red lips and shapewear look too done, too fussy, too too, but at least I’m upfront with it. I don’t care if I look costumey. I don’t care if my outfit looks like I labored over choosing it, because you know what? I did, and it was labor well spent.


It’s not just fashion, either. I’m growing wearier and wearier of millennial disaffection. I want to like things unironically. I want to care too much and get too excited. I want to flap my hands and squeal when something amuses me. I want to spend more time unequivocally appreciating the world and less calling out what’s problematic about it. I want it to be cool to go all in, dammit.


After all, all fashion is artifice. No use pretending it isn’t. It’s okay to admit you want control over how you appear to the world. Natural is overrated. Preventable diseases are natural too. Doesn’t make ’em a net good.

Here’s to going all out. To turning your passion up to 11 on whatever it is you’re passionate about. Here’s to dressing like a 1950s caricature if you damn well want to, because life’s too short not to live your art.

Author: skye

I aspire to be a bright-eyed girl in a big city, even though I wear glasses and live in what amounts to a hole in the ground.

3 thoughts on “in praise of effort”

  1. I definitely feel the same way – but the thing is, it will never be cool to go all in. Because being “cool,” I think, implies a degree of disaffection, of NOT CARING (either studiously or otherwise). Which is why I accepted a long, long time ago that I will never, ever be cool. I care too much / get way too excited about things. So I’m with you on this. I’m not interested in looking like I’m not trying too hard. When I’m trying, you’re goddamn sure going to know it.

  2. Anyways, why care about the trends especially when they are uninspirational? You look awesome, eff what people in the fashion industry think of it! Be your wonderful self!

  3. I’ve always equated effortless chic to people who are so comfortable in what they’re wearing that their clothes seem to be an extension of them. People who exude grace and confidence gliding around in whatever. But, boy do I see your point about the “effortless chic trend.” It’s really just a bunch of people trying their butts off to copy a couple of people who are naturally cool rolling right out of bed. I’ll take an authentic person anyday.

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