Don’t laugh. I’ve created a sartorial alter ego for myself. Her name is Jesse, a name that embodies everything I strive for when I get dressed: spontaneous ease meets rebellious bad boy. She has Erin Wasson’s self-assured, laid-back attitude and Lou Doillon’s effortless style. She has that American charm mixed with that French je ne sei quoi, and she’s the best looking enigma in the room – appearing flawless while convincing everyone she got dressed in under three minutes. Whereas I, (Laura, not Jesse) a fashion blogger infamously known for her angled, Lo-Fi filtered, deadpan selfies, tend to appear more accessorized, matchy and premeditated in my sartorial endeavors – more like an over-thirty-minute dresser. Yikes.
The formula for looking so effortlessly cool (and the reason I decided to pull a Beyonce and conjure my own version of Sasha Fierce) came to me one day while speed walking down 7th Avenue, on a mission to restock my favorite probiotic filled kombucha from my local Whole Foods. Walking towards me was a young woman just oozing coolification. The strange thing was that she wore nothing but a pair of ripped boyfriend jeans, a white t-shirt and ordinary sneakers. I forgot all about my kombucha. I turned around mid-block to follow her like a total creep and began to analyze how such a simple outfit can have such a mesmerizing effect.
It’s about the nuances. That white t-shirt was perfectly worn in, with just the right amount of drape. She managed to master the half-tuck like she went to school for it. Her unevenly rolled up short sleeves emulated the King of Cool himself, Danny Zuko. There was an old pink stain on her right sleeve, telling a story of a night out she never wants to forget. Those run-of-the-mill boyfriend jeans slung effortlessly on her hips, neither hugging too tightly nor hanging too loosely. They were the exact shade of washed denim that made me nostalgic for my dad’s Levi’s he used to wear every Sunday in the 90’s. They had those unevenly placed rips in the knees; the type that makes you ponder the beauty of imperfection. She pulled off that magical scrunch at the ankle that tells you she didn’t bother getting them tailored; she likes them better that way. The laces on her chunky Nike high tops were left undone and the tongue flopped out like my boyfriend on the couch during Monday night football. They had just the right amount of character; not too beat up and not too clean either…kind of like baby bear’s porridge: juuuust right. Her hair made me believe she rolled out of bed looking that good, her lashes wore yesterday’s leftover mascara, and her fingers were adorned with mismatched and haphazardly placed rings.
Today’s fashion centers around trying really hard to look like you didn’t try at all, intentionally putting yourself together so that it all looks, well, totally unintentional. The more sloppy, slouchy, laidback and effortless it seems, the better. But ironically enough, to achieve that level of blasé faire requires some serious effort.
I admit that I have become completely consumed by this movement I like to call ‘deliberate carelessness’. Before I leave my apartment, I usually summon my inner Jesse and ask her: Does this ratty plaid shirt over silk pajamas scream homeless-person-meets-Dries-van-Noten? Do I look like I care more about global warming than fashion? Will the Empire State Building tourist recruiters skip over me because they can tell I’m a local? Only if I can answer yes to all of these questions will I pull a John Legend and give myself the green light.
This trend of ‘deliberate carelessness’ has gained so much momentum lately (see the pajamas/smoking slippers/coat-draped-over-shoulders trend), that I couldn’t resist following that innocent woman down 7th Avenue in hopes of unveiling her secret. But now that I’ve done that, I wonder about the motivation. Why this tireless effort to look so effortless? We are living in a time when the word “selfie” has been added to the dictionary, when every other person you meet (myself included, clearly) seems to have a fashion blog, when street style has become artificial and overdone. Our social media feeds are overloaded with these style influencers sharing their #OOTDs (outfit of the day), telling us what to wear and how to wear it, sucking the soul out of spontaneous fashion. Maybe it’s subconscious but I believe we are tired of contrived fashion and yearning for contrast. We want to go in the complete opposite direction and appear as though we didn’t try at all. To look cool while looking like you didn’t put any thought into looking cool has become the ultimate aesthetic. I may be a walking hypocrite – a fashion blogger who wants to look nothing like one, but that’s the essence of fashion: deciding who we want to be today and expressing that through our choice of clothing. And today, you can call me Jesse.