COVER ART: Re-imagining Effortlessness

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Hadeel 

My redefining of effortless fashion comes after years of mimicking outfits and being frustrated by a closet that was not comfortable, flattering or fun. What’s been renowned as effortless was in fact just an ill fitting pile of clothes that looked so much better online — and usually a lot less see through. 

Effortless fashion to me is more conscious of more sustainable and ethical consumption, comfort and expression. It’s rummaging through my family’s closets and reworking their old pieces, swapping clothes with friends or thrifting online or in person. It’s also avoiding the discomfort of jeans at all costs and prioritising comfort above all but with an added flair and an extra thought. 

Hadeel is a politics student, but mainly just a person trying to decipher human interactions and leave a positive impact.

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Olamide 

To me, effortless fashion is not feeling obligated to change or alter the appearance of my hair. In today’s society I feel that there is a lot of pressure for black women to conform to a certain type of look I.e through the popularity of weaves and wigs. As a result, it’s taken me a long time to find comfort and empowerment in the act of not doing anything at all. Feeling beautiful in natural hair has always been a battle for me, but I think it’s one that I have finally won.

Clothes on the other hand is a different story. I feel like I am still experimenting with what I truly like rather than just conforming to what is perceived as fashionable. Jogging bottoms were something that I always avoided through fear of being perceived as ‘chavy’ or ‘ratchet’, but when I think about it this fear is just further proof of the privilege of effortless fashion that is only afforded to some. One day I hope that my style will easily flow through me rather than being a conscious decision that I have to make everyday.

Olamide is a 20 year old content creator with a particular interest in radio and audio platforms. Her podcast ‘spill the universitea’ explores the difficulties of navigating through higher education as an ethnic minority.

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Sope 

I do not believe effortless beauty exists, at least not in the way that is often depicted. From a young age, thought has always gone into the preparation of outfits and my style; even as a schoolgirl, I was constantly aiming to make sure my skirt fell a certain way from my hips or I was following the latest trend that all the girls were adapting in my school (this is a whole other level of problematic but anyway….). I have been the victim of many a crucifying gaze of strangers and friends, whether the outcome be judgement, appreciation or confusion in response to my style.

With age, I came to realise that as a woman, I rarely dress in anyway that is ‘effortless’. Let’s take my hair for example, there is thought put into my hairstyle, whether it be in a ponytail, a wig or with my natural mini-fro, I have spent time painfully trying to make myself effortlessly beautiful and attractive; from making sure my edges are laying flat and swoop to mimic a soft wave on my hairline, blending into my extensions or the use of Cantu products and castor oil to accentuate the curl pattern in my Afro, everything is deliberate to create a certain image.

In society, women are constantly judged by the way they dress,talk and as a black woman, I am judged on the state of my hair as to the white gaze, ‘effortless’ and ‘maintainable’ are not used interchangeably, with black women in the workplace often interrogated when wearing their natural hair and it is sometimes easier to adapt to the Western ideals.

Irrespective of this, I feel the most beautiful, free and effortless in my old oversized t-shirt, hair wrapped in my favourite pink silk headscarf and glasses. This is where I see my beauty and I feel no pressure, only freedom.

Sope is currently working as a data analyst for a consultancy. She is very interested in providing a voice and the stories for those who have been frequently annoyed in the past and introducing new narratives. She is a volunteer at the Migration Museum Project, Black Cultural Archives and lends her time to Shado Mag, constantly looking to find fresh content.

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Amuna

I think of effortless fashion in its most literal sense: Ideally, I don’t want to do anything and still feel&look good. Everything I wear has to be colourful and interesting so that I can just throw it on and feel&look colourful and interesting, too. Clothes and jewellery make me happy; make-up, hair styles and nail polish stress me. My appearance has to reflect my mood, and my mood is never ‘uncomfortably tight’ or ‘hours of dedication’ or ‘careful, expensive’. 

Getting to this point has taken me an unimaginable amount of effort. Growing up as a black girl in all-white Germany, I fought many battles until I was ready to accept and eventually embrace myself. Now that I have reached a whole-some level of self-appreciation, I do not need any effort to feel&look good anymore. In fact, all my energy goes into being healthy instead. As long as I feel good, I look good. 

Amuna is the chief-editor of Kandaka. She is interested in intercultural creative knowledge production and decolonial feminist approaches to society and education. She is also a lover of pretty things.

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Photos by

Dina Elsawi

What I usually perceived as “effortless fashion” sucks, it’s boring and is not always necessarily effortless. I am a person who enjoys colours, playing around with colours, playing around with clothes and blurring the lines between certain styles. Effortless fashion to me as an individual is putting together a comfortable look that is still fun, clashing, and makes me feel good. 

Egyptian.

Photographer and graphic designer.

Insta: @dinaelsawi

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