Hair extensions, contour, highlight, fake tan and clothes. No, these are not a list of 5 things a member of the TOWIE cast could not live without. They are in fact a list of 5 things I don’t think that I could live without (okay, I could forgo them all come the zombie apocalypse, but only if I really had to). Unfortunately, however, the inner circle of fashion isn’t reserved for people like me as such (heaven’s forbid, we might smudge our contour onto someone else’s perfectly porcelain makeup-free skin during the air-kiss) It seems like it’s reserved only for the natural, just-got-out-bed, effortless girls.
It’s a little hard to pinpoint what effortless really means (I mean, let’s face it, if I really knew what I meant would I be writing this? No, I’d be off doing something effortlessly cool without knowing it, smoking a cigarette in my dirty T-shirt) but I think it’s somewhere between not trying too hard with your aesthetics. So basically, not putting much effort into your hair and your makeup.
Just Google effortless style and you’re bombarded with thousands of image galleries and how-to articles dripping in the coolest most laid-back looks. Joggers – effortless! Baseball caps – effortless! Utilitarian jumpsuits – effortless! Your dad’s trousers from the 90s – effortless! There’s thousands of hits on how to look ‘naturally effortless!’ – but hold the god damn door. Is this all not just a little counter-intuitive to the effortless cause? I’ve just wasted 30 damn minutes of my time caring about how to not look like I care. Ugh.
Trying to be effortless is a total paradox. And when I’ve tried to look effortless, I’ve ended up spending way longer than I would do had I tried to make an actual effort.
Next thing you know I’m turning up to work half an hour late looking like I’ve made half as much effort as I usually would and my boss is looking at me like u ok hun?
Now some women look utterly flawlessly, drop-dead, stop-you-in-your-tracks stunning with minimal effort. Put them in jeans and a T-shirt and the whole world will still stop and stare. Put them in a bin bag and the whole world will stop and stare – and in a good way. This obsession with possessing effortlessness makes it feel like it’s a juicy piece of social capital: not looking like you’ve made an effort shows that you’re somehow a little bit better – a bit more, naturally good looking – than those who do make the effort. You still shine bright like a diamond in your #nomakeupselfie without any damn highlighter at all. Congrats.
But some of us need a bit more than a bin bag and some micellar water to look, and most importantly, feel good. And I’m a firm believer that there’s no harm in perfected makeup and a put-together outfit if it makes you feel like you can conquer the world. Fashion is fun. Fashion let’s you dress up and be whoever you want to be. And it’s the same for makeup too.
I’ve been told before that I should tone it down. I studied my masters at Central Saint Martins, an art school that’s notoriously teeming with the most naturally effortlessly cool humans in the world. And they terrified the shit out of me because I felt the polar opposite, being this commercial-looking girl with big bouncy (fake) hair, a glow that came from a bottle, and my Mulberry bag toted in the crook of my arm. In fact, I felt a bit like Elle Woods turning up at Harvard Law in her pink dress, rose glasses, and Chihuahua in tow. Upon reflection, I think perhaps I had overdone it with my makeup and general aesthetic (note to self: burn pink bunny outfit), because it really doesn’t hurt to loosen up sometimes. But at the time I was insecure – surrounded by such incredible talent and trying to work out how I fit into it all – and making the effort with my outfits and makeup made me feel brave enough to go out into that world despite feeling so out of place.
So if you want to wear the most put-together, Blair Waldorf-meets-Cher Horowitz, Miu Miu-inspired coat with a sassy pink fur collar and matching red boots (like me!) then do it – and enjoy it. If that’s not for you, and you’d rather just wear a hoody and your scrappy old jeans then do it. I do both, frequently – but I know which one makes me feel my best. And that’s the most important thing of all.
YOU DO YOU, honey.