Nov 14th, 2022, 04:10 PM

Being Effortless Has Never Been So Exhausting

By Kayla Jochimsen
Image Credit: Kaitlyn Lim
The effortless look is easy to do — or at least appears that way.

She walks gracefully on Passerelle Debilly after her delicious dinner at Monsieur Bleu. She poses in front of the sparkling Eiffel Tower in her black blazer dress and heels at 11pm on the dot in a perfectly semi-blurry aesthetic way. 

What's not shown in the photo? The hour it took to pick out my outfit, additional 20 minutes for makeup, the blisters on my feet (because nobody wears heels in Paris), the goosebumps on my body from the 13 degree air (as my friend holds my non-aesthetic jacket), the extra 25 minutes we waited to make sure the Eiffel tower was sparkling, and the 150 photos now in my camera roll to hopefully catch the perfect shot.

The casual-chic effortless Parisian look is anything but that. Although many French fashion and lifestyle influencers post their casual life in their easy-breezy minimal looks, can it really be considered effortless when almost two hours (or more) of effort are put into it? From my personal experience, it’s a lot more work than I expected.

The effortlessly chic style is specific to the “Parisian-girl” aesthetic, implying that if you aren’t Parisian, you don’t have it. It's all about minimalism, or at least minimalism to the eye. Leia Sfez, a Paris-based business owner, is well-known for her minimal chic French style. She was listed by as #4 out of 15 “French style Influencers Who Nail the Effortless Parisian look.” Many of her looks are quite simple, featuring a straight leg jean, in blue, white or black and the occasional statement piece like a pair of shoes or handbags. She often casually poses in the middle of a street in her beautiful Parisian neighborhood. 


A post shared by Leia Sfez (@leiasfez)

Sfez is the perfect example of effortlessness, someone who others use as inspiration for their own Instagram accounts. The staple effortless Parisian outfit according to includes perfectly tailored black blazers, well-cut denim, and button down shirts paired with booties and heels.

Make-up, ironically, is a key factor in being effortless. Palomita_Perfume, a TikTok creator with 177.6K likes, is known for her perfume, beauty, and skincare reviews. In her Tik Tok video below, she illustrates the perfect effortless makeup routine. She defines minimalism as seven products: four face coverage, one for eyebrows, one for lashes, and the infamous red lip. Who knew fiery red lipstick could be considered minimalist?

@palomita_perfume effortless ✨french girl✨ makeup. tag me if you try it :) #makeuptutorial #simplemakeup #frenchbeauty #effortlessstyle #skincaretips #EmilyinParis ♬ La vie en Rose - Edith Piaf

This past Paris Fashion Week, praised Gracie Abrams, an American singer attending the Chanel show. Not only does her effortless look take extensive time and “natural glam” by makeup artist Hung Vanngo and hairstylist Bobby Eliot, but it also costs thousands of Euros  to “effortlessly” dress in head-to-toe Chanel. 

“She wanted a look that embraced effortless French style, so she chose the label’s monogrammed cardigan-jacket, which she paired with high-waisted, wide-leg jeans and a classic chain-strap Chanel bag.”

- Christain Allaire 

The hypocrisy of this look is coming to light as women expose the true behind-the-scenes effort. Gaia Bertoncini, a satirical TikTok creator with 50.6K followers and 2.7M likes, creates an abundance of parody videos about the “effortless or messy French/Parisian girl.” These videos show that Parisian women don’t have perfect hair, they don't use lipstick every day, and they don't cake on makeup every day; this is just how Parisian women dress in their photos.

@gaiabertoncini Some of the things you asked me ✨🌺 #french#messy#girl#hair#and#makeup ♬ Le temps de l'amour - Françoise Hardy

“God guys, this is a PARODY on how French girls are portrayed by different media. Stop with the makeup advices, it’s a parody.”

-Gaia Bertoncini 

Léna Situations, a Parisian YouTube vlogger was interviewed by last year about what it takes to “achieve ‘French girl’ cool.” Lena views the aesthetic as a societal beauty ideal that puts French women in a box, limiting them to a particular unattainable image.

What does French-girl beauty mean to you?

“The French-girl aesthetic is supposed to be embodied by a white girl who doesn’t wear a lot of make-up. She must have the perfect straight hair or something a bit wavy. She’s a natural beauty. But it’s not natural. No girl just wakes up and looks like this. And this is where I feel like the aesthetic is damaging and can cause insecurities for many French girls who do not fit that image. In reality, you can be French and be non-white.”

- Léna Situations

The new effortless façade is one of the most popular looks and social media aesthetics right now, and even I am guilty of attempting this style. The need to act or pretend to be effortless on social media has taken over my feed and the way I present myself. The irony of this deception is the true amount of effort behind effortlessness. Don’t be fooled by Instagram; that sparkling Eiffel tower photo took a whole lot of effort.