Anti-Effortless: My Way to “Survive” Winter

Feeling like crap? Join the club but then let’s quit it immediately.


It hit me 5 years ago when I started working in fashion that spray tans and liquid-lined cat eyes wouldn’t cut it. In this industry, no one around me so much as wore a swipe of mascara. It seemed that trying to look good wasn’t a good look. So I adapted — a sort of attempt to “fake it til I make it” where the faking part implied pretending that I was  comfortable publicly presently myself as a thin-lipped goldfish without eyelashes and at least three too many freckles.

It was weird at first, but not reaching for a security blanket of bronzer soon became empowering. Not covering up pimples felt bold. This, I thought to myself, must be precisely what the magazines called “effortless.” Each morning I rode the subway, thankful for the extra minutes of sleep that came with the elimination of maintenance, happy that no one cared if my cheeks were rouge or not. Because, guess what? They don’t.

On weekend nights, away from those high-profile editors and fashion-job-friends, I’d gussy-up. It felt like a secret to get a blow out, like a betrayal to line my lids. I once forgot to take my cherry polish off before Monday and spent the day with closed fists. Thank god I’d forgotten to take a shower that morning.

But that wasn’t me — that isn’t me. I like having my nails done and feel better with aggressively-volumed hair. Somewhere along the way, I think I’d confused fashion’s “effortless” with my own lack of effort. So I’m taking it back and putting in the work.

It’s not fake to want to look more awake, to add more a touch of pink to my lips and to spend time highlighting my face. Do I lose my fashion credibility if what I’m after is feeling my best? If feeling my best means looking put together?

Effortless should feel easy. Sunny. Bright. Not make you want to give up.

So this winter, I won’t. I’ll get dressed without the “ugh, do I have to?” I’ll do the lotion routine before bed. I’ll raise the ten minutes I won back years ago and offer up an hour and a half: that’s for the gym, a little zen, and something pretty.

They say that effort goes a long way. Good thing winter lasts forever.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis; Sunglasses by Garrett Leight and Prada, earrings by Alessandra Rich, Annelise MichelsonAurélie Bidermann, and Céline, barrette by Edie Parker, necklaces by CVC Stones.


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  • Whenever I hear people talk about how in fashion people don’t care about how you look, I internally think “b.s.”. I’m sure they care. And when they say effortless, they actually meant “be born looking amazing, or try to pretend you did”. But maybe I’m wrong about that? People are always trying. And like they say, even French women spend a lot of effort trying to look “effortless”.

    I say you do you Amelia, and if you love blow outs and painted nails (I love painting my nails, and don’t care who it bothers!!) then do it! Just remember your Bowie tribute and how cool he was for not caring about what others thought of him.

    • Amelia Diamond


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  • Natty

    i’m enjoying a newfound love affair with makeup and the extra 10 mins i spend on my girly routine each morning. starting my day with luxe brushes and pretty palettes makes me feel so good! if “trying too hard” is uncool, so be it… my contoured cheekbones and i don’t give a damn.

    • Stephanie

      I think there’s a self-care element to routines like that. Taking the time to pamper yourself makes you feel better, so why not?

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      Me too! I ENJOY spending those 10 minutes contouring my face (no joke, with the Estee Lauder palate we used in this post: It’s fun, and gives you extra oomph.

    • MT

      One of the things I can’t seem to get my makeupless friends to understand is that my routine is very zen for me. It’s like 10 minutes of morning yoga, it makes me feel centered and confident and like myself. Yes, it involves light foundation and eyeliner instead of downward dog, but like… who cares?

  • Also been thinking about ‘effortlessness’ – it’s so exhausting to achieve! And there’s something sad about the demise of the ‘gussying up’ days:

  • Alexia Marcelle

    Have also been thinking about this in regards to Instagram posts – where posting a pretty picture of yourself isn’t as cool as one where you’re actively trying to look bad (but you’re still pretty so it shows through the goopy face mask, silly face you’re making, bloody nose, whatever!) while still artfully maintaining your funny cool girl vibes. Is it not coveted to look good and put together any more?

    • Krista Anna Lewis

      This is kind of my instagram pet peeve even though it could just be because I haven’t mastered the ugly pretty selfie.

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      Also, not to mention those “ugly” Instagrams are intentional and take effort so….

      • Alexia Marcelle

        @krista_anna_lewis:disqus @elizabethtamkin:disqus I think they take even more effort than taking a “pretty” Instagram. At some point though these “ugly” Instagrams might have felt more authentic than “pretty” ones – when did they lose their edge? And have they only lost their edge on us? I still have a ton of friends (more than half) who would be shocked at an ugly pretty selfie and think it was weird.

  • kevynryan

    I can totally relate! UGH the relationship I’ve gone through with makeup and what it SAYS about me that I feel like people are nicer to me when I try a little harder, but doesn’t that make me like, a bad feminist or something? Bottom line, I have a better day when I frigging try, and to beat the winter blues, trying is imperative.

    • deffffinitely doesn’t make you a bad feminist. maybe the only thing that’d make you a “bad” feminist is having that attitude 😉

    • M Rae

      “I have a better day when I frigging try”…life motto

      • kevynryan


  • Word. I love the effortless look of those like Kate Moss or Marine Vacth (or any French girl, for that matter), but if I try going for that look I frankly just look ill and like I’m running on 20%.

    And really, for every time I think “man I wish I could just pull off no make up and wearing a garbage bag on top of me and look as chic as Alexa Chung” there’s likely someone in real life that sees me and thinks “damn I wish I could do cat-eyed eyeliner and pull off platform heels like her.” shrug – just gotta own your angle

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      But the thing about KM or MV (maybe not Alexa Chung) is that a lot of those effortless images include makeup … the effortless look isn’t about lack of effort, it’s just looking that way (I think?).

      • Amy Mills

        Naww but I don’t think it does, that’s their thing – it’s like all those young, glowy-skinned models featured constantly on ITG’s Top Shelf. They’re all like “oh I really am a tomboy, I was actually raised on a farm in Holland…” and they just pull off some I-woke-up-like-this look in a way that I’ll never be able to. But you are right in that some in the industry do the whole “effortless” look, which actually is a LOOK and requires effort to be that way.

  • wait, fashion people are effortless? I guess so, in that Garance Dore sort of way where your skin care routine is 12 steps long and you get lash extensions and teeth whitening and facials and blow outs–so long as a single drop of legit foundation doesn’t touch your face…

  • Courtney Chilton

    This is so dang accurate. This past winter I limited my makeup regimen to brows, under eye, and mascara. I was talking to my mom the other day and she told me how much healthier I look these days, cause last year I looked “sallow”. And I was like “ma, I’m not healthier, I just wear more makeup.” It makes a difference. This week my dry skin and awful cuticles finally wore me down and I painted my nails. (which i really never ever do). Winter is about survival. Even if I enjoy the turtlenecks and boots.

  • BK

    Somehow – I don’t know how so please don’t ask – my skin is behaving itself to the point where I haven’t felt the need to wear makeup since September. Nonetheless I still have a routine of sorts (monthly lash/brow tint, daily sunscreen) which I’ve been dogging out on lately so thanks for remotivating me to pick it up again, Diamond.