Women's Style

The Myth of Effortless Style

Happy day, dear reader!

Google “effortless style” and you will get more than 67 million hits. So it’s no wonder I get asked about effortless style… Last December, when I was interviewed for our local paper, the (male) reporter asked me about it. I was a little surprised. It’s not a question we associate with men. We women incorrectly assume that dressing is effortless for men because they have fewer choices. (You don’t often see men in skirts or dresses, or deciding between heels and flats.) I gave him the short answer, but wanted to take time to debunk the effortless style myth.

What is Effortless Style?

It’s an oxymoron with multiple definitions. Ask ten people and you’ll get ten different answers! For one it may mean finding properly fitting clothes more easily. For another it’s being able to get dressed in the dark and look great. For a third looking polished and casual at the same time is the goal. Another thinks it means not having to think about what to put on in the morning. A common response centers around feeling authentic and appropriate in what you are wearing, not fussy, or overdone. Effortless Style is frequently associated with Simple Style.

The Effort

If you want Effortless Style, you have to put in effort. (There’s the oxymoron part.) You need to do your research, and some soul searching–not always popular pastimes. One way to start is by creating a mood board of outfits that you feel exemplify your take on Effortless Style. Pinterest is a fabulous resource for this! You can search the phrase “effortless style” and add “blue jeans”, “white shirt”, or a favorite clothing item or color. You can also search for “outfit” + whatever clothing item you wish. Pin the looks you like onto one board. (Title it My Effortless Style! Because yours isn’t going to be exactly like anyone else’s.)

After you have 50 to 100 pictures, sit back and look at the whole. Take some time to find common themes, color palettes, and clothing items. This can help you define your effortless (Very funny, right?) style. What do you have in your closet that can create something similar? If nothing, it may be that your vision of effortless style and your personality or lifestyle may be butting heads.

This takes a dose of honest assessment. Do many of your chosen looks include a hat, and you wouldn’t be caught dead in one? Cover up the hat. Does the outfit still look stylish? Are you pinning the outfit or the perceived lifestyle? (Experience speaking here…) Are you exhausted from work and your pins are relaxed cafe pictures? Are your pins of tall lithe blondes, and you are 5’3” on a good day, and distinctly soft in the middle? (That would be me!) That doesn’t mean you can’t rock the look! It just means it needs to be adapted for you and your coloring and shape.

Outfit Recipes

Please do not run out and buy a stack of new clothes just yet!

Work with what you already own and shop your own closet to try and recreate your favorite looks. (If your closet needs some help, take a peek here.) As you try these looks and wear them, pay attention to what feels like you, makes you feel great, or garners compliments. Is it a particular silhouette? Or a combination of items? Those winning combinations are outfit recipes! You want an outfit recipe to be flexible. For me Dress + Boots + Denim Jacket is always effortless and still feels put together. So does Jeans + Tee + Jacket. Yours might be Skinny Pants + Matching Tee + Kimono Type Jacket/Sweater. You want an outfit recipe to be flexible. If it’s too specific, you end up in trouble if something is in the laundry! My Dress + Boots + Denim Jacket recipe doesn’t specify sheath or fit and flare, flats or heels, or even the color of the jean jacket. Keep your options open!

Once you’ve defined your effortless, and have three to five go-to recipes, you’ve got a great start on your journey to your effortless style. Learning more about those elements that comprise your style, things like line and design, color, and composition, will help you broaden your options while still remaining true to your personality, lifestyle, values, and shape.

PS: There is nothing wrong with writing down your style recipes on a sheet of paper and tacking it inside your closet door for those challenging mornings!

More or Less?

More or Less Stuff

Another aspect of Effortless is “easy,” which is associated with being able to get dressed quickly, or throw together a look in short order. Your recipes help simplify this. If Jeans + Blouse + Sandals is one of your favorite recipes, and you have 10 pair of jeans and 17 blouses to choose from, you have 170 choices, without even changing shoes! Which jeans go with which blouse? Do those sandals work with these jeans? There are likely combos you would never wear. If that is still too much choice, two words. Less clothes. (Last fall, when I had a particularly challenging month coming, I selected a Baker’s Dozen (13 piece) capsule that made my mornings a breeze!

More or Less Often

LESS: Some people, yours truly included, prefer to concentrate effort less often. I want daily dressing to be simple. I spend time planning and carefully choosing what I want to add to my wardrobe, and limit my colors to just a few in my palette. Because of this, everything (for the most part) mixes and matches with ease. Most everything goes together, and I can basically dress in the dark. I turn the planning process into a creative exercise, and the daily dressing sorts itself out.

MORE: For others, shopping causes more stress than deciding what to wear. They prefer to make the buying easy. They buy multiples of things they like, and anything that strikes their fancy. That’s effortless on the shopping side, but not necessarily on the dressing side. (Or on the wallet side!) The more you buy and keep in your closet, the more choices there are to make in the morning. That doesn’t feel effortless to me, but it may to you!

Your effortless style is up to you! Some people find that freedom exhilarating, others find it paralyzing. You decide how much choice and how often you want to make those choices. Once you know who you are and what works well for you, style does become effortless. Style is like any other skill, practice makes it easier to do without thinking too hard. Is that another meaning for Effortless Style? Looking great without looking like you tried too hard?

If all this seems frustrating and more work than you bargained for, you can always call me… I love to help my clients find their effortless!

I’d love to hear from you… Please share how you define Effortless Style in the comments below!

Stylishly yours,

A hug and squeeze to Shelbee of Shelbee on the Edge for hosting her Link-Up, and a thank you happy dance for the feature!

 

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2 thoughts on “The Myth of Effortless Style”

  1. What a great question to raise, Liz!
    I’m popping over from Shelbee’s blog and I love these kinds of questions. Of course there’s no right and wrong but truly I think the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Putting some time and effort into our style seems so worthwhile—of course maybe that’s just because I love clothes so much…ha ha!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    1. Thank you for coming for a visit, Jodie! It’s more natural for those who love clothes to pay attention to style; a fish swims in water! But it may be even more important for those who don’t; everyone can learn to swim. (And it’s a handy skill, since leaving the house usually requires clothing…)

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