There comes a point every summer in New York when I’m still fully and completely drunk on the euphoria of sunny skies, abbreviated Fridays, iced coffee and frozen yogurt and I just really want to enjoy all of it sans clothing. It’s too hot for outfits, too muggy for artfully curated accessories, too sweaty for statement-making. I’m not complaining! I’m just saying: Maybe it would be more fun if we were naked?
For legality reasons, though, I understand the necessity of finding an alternative. A happy medium, if you will, between wearing an outfit and wearing nothing. The word “effortless” comes to mind, but fashion has done this weird thing with that particular term wherein it’s been attached to a certain type of person and therefore seems difficult to achieve, which is ridiculous. I say let’s take effortlessness back to its roots and deploy it in the way it was always intended: as a synonym not for the appearance of “not trying too hard,” but for actually not trying too hard.
After all, just like fashion doesn’t have to be overly serious to be incredibly compelling (one of Man Repeller’s founding tenets), it also doesn’t have to be overly complicated. A simple outfit, as it has been proven time and time again by Céline under Phoebe Philo, can speak volumes. So when it’s 95 degrees outside and I’m not allowed to wear my birthday suit, I’ll wear the next best thing: ease.
To demonstrate this concept in the form of examples for your (and my) copying pleasure, I enlisted the help of MR Market Assistant Elizabeth Tamkin. Elizabeth happens to be one of those rare people whose style can veer from kooky maximalism to not-at-all-boring simplicity in the span of a week, so I was curious to see how she would channel her thoughtful personal style into outfits that don’t take any thought whatsoever.
“I have a formula for that,” she explained to me. “If you don’t want to put too much effort into getting dressed in the summer, you need to have the right building blocks — pieces that are neutral, cool and comfortable.” This philosophy was reflected in the hero items she called in for the shoot: a white button-down, khakis, denim cut-offs, a white T-shirt, a white sundress, two pairs of simple sandals and one pair of ballet flats. The moment these pieces were hung together on a rack, I had an “aha” moment. It was clear all of them could be easily mixed and matched together — “easily” being the operative word.
“Most people associate ‘ease’ with athleisure, but there are only so many places where you can’t get away with wearing leggings and sneakers,” Elizabeth said. “By sticking with classics, you can still achieve effortlessness without sacrificing versatility.”
And just like that, nudity doesn’t seem all that necessary anymore.