What Is It: Different aspects of Taylor Swift’s lifestyle, broken down into seven days of fun-filled, Swift-themed activities
Who Tried It: Maggie Malach, PEOPLE Associate Editor, Digital Platforms
Level of Difficulty: 13/10 (because Taylor’s lucky number is 13, but also because I was very dedicated to my cause)
As a journalist, my job often requires I keep late nights, regard Goldfish crackers as a balanced meal and write about very sexy men. But no occupational hazard could have prepared me for the arduous (yet exhilarating) task of transforming myself into one of the biggest pop stars in the world: Taylor Swift.
Determined to be truly Swift AF for the duration of my trial, I assembled a week’s worth of feats of strength, cranking Reputation to get in the proper Taylor mindset. Cats, cookies, red lipstick, I wrote in my notes. Seems simple enough, but if the singer’s complex album promotion cycles are any indication, my week would be anything but chill. I turned Reputation up even louder.
“Are you ready for it?” Taylor breathed excitedly.
“I hope so,” I whispered back.
DAY 1: Work It Out
I kicked off The Most Taylor Swift Week of My Life by tackling my greatest fear: group workout classes. Taylor (and numerous squad members) are famously fans of the cool girl, Instagram-friendly ModelFIT gym. Considering many of T’s friends are literal models, I found myself stricken with a combination of fascination and outright fear. I’ve seen Karlie Kloss’ abs — what kind of cardio sorcery did I just sign up for?
Despite my reservations, one overcast morning I found myself on the subway, zipping downtown to New York City’s lone ModelFit location. If teenage Taylor can move to Nashville and land a life-changing record deal, you can do one workout class, Maggie, I told myself. Obviously that wasn’t enough incentive, so I promised myself a bagel with strawberry cream cheese and the biggest latte ever if I survived.
Karlie, pictured here in front of ModelFIT’s famous windows, looks like she could crush her workout without the incentive of a doughy breakfast, but alas.
My complicated relationship with group workout classes harkens back to my lack of coordination. In previous classes at other studios, I’ve struggled with keeping up with routines, and I ultimately spend more time trying to mirror the instructor than actually working out. I probably looked terrified when I walked into ModelFIT, but I didn’t need to be. Every single person in the studio proved to be the friendliest person I’d ever met, and when they found out it was my first class, they were even more thrilled. Even though I felt like I was in over my head (wait, what is a Pilates ring?), their enthusiasm was contagious and I found myself kind of excited for the class to start.
I took the Sculpt class, which the ModelFIT website recommends for first-timers. With a soundtrack of Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, One Direction and Nicki Minaj serving up some serious energy, the instructor led us through an hour of moves that incorporated hand weights, ankle resistance bands and, yes, Pilates rings. Prepared to stumble my way through the class, I was shocked at how easy it was to follow the routine. And even though I could feel my body working, I never felt like the moves were too advanced for my brittle, damaged bones. I only thought about my bagel once.
When it comes to Taylor authenticity, I give myself points for attending her studio — though I definitely did not look this refreshed when I returned to the real world:
DAY 2: Chicken Nuggets and Chill
For my second act of Swiftness, I took things down a notch, curating a (hopefully) Taylor-approved night in.
“Being alone is not the same as being lonely. I like to do things that glorify being alone,” Swift, who is currently in a relationship with actor Joe Alwyn, previously told Seventeen. “I buy a candle that smells pretty, turn down the lights and make a playlist of low-key songs. If you don’t act like you’ve been hit by the plague when you’re alone on a Friday night, and just see it as a chance to have fun by yourself, it’s not a bad day.”
Thanks to an interview with Vogue, I know that Taylor’s favorite candle is Byredo’s Tree House, her favorite cocktail is a vodka Diet Coke and she would eat chicken tenders every day if she could. Armed with a strong drink, a catalogue of Swift hits (not exactly low-key, but still on-brand) and chicken nuggets (my grocery store randomly doesn’t carry chicken tenders, but I’m confident Taylor would okay this slight departure), I set out for an evening of utter relaxation.
Taylor is a well-documented baker and while homemade cookies aren’t on her night-in itinerary, it just seemed right to whip up a batch (or five) of her famous vanilla chai cookies. After a fan requested the recipe, the singer revealed that her wildly festive recipe is modified from this one on Joy the Baker. And while skin care also isn’t on the prescribed list, I treated my face to a charcoal peel-off mask because I don’t want to live in a world where Taylor frowns upon exfoliated pores.
DAY 3: Cat on the Go
Like former New York City ambassador Taylor Swift, I am a woman about town. Following her move to the Big Apple, Taylor was often photographed strolling out of her apartment with a cat (or two) in tow. In my mission to Taylor-ize my life, it only seemed right that I, too, complete my errands in the company of a cat. Though I am not a cat owner (a clear strike against my dedication to becoming Taylor, obviously), my friend lent me hers. Conveniently, Roscoe Santangelo is named after a network TV character — just like Meredith [Grey] and Olivia [Benson].
Roscoe and I had an extremely busy day planned, as a hip young woman and even hipper young cat are wont to have. We kicked off our errands by fueling up with coffee and people-watching. Roscoe, ever the unwilling participant, made sure to remind me he’d rather be napping at home. Latte in hand, we stopped by a liquor store, which is perhaps a less Taylor activity. But, hey, someone has to buy the vodka to punch up that Diet Coke. We concluded our jaunt by browsing for some greens. I asked Roscoe if we should pick up some kale. He was visibly over it.
DAY 4: It Feels Like One of Those Nights
No foray into Taylor’s life would be complete without sharing a meal with an esteemed squad member at an “it” restaurant. Luckily, the singer has been photographed at multiple buzzy N.Y.C. eateries with various friends, so I had no trouble finding the perfect place to continue my quest. I chose the Waverly Inn, a celeb-friendly West Village establishment that serves up cozy vibes and has the decor of (what I imagine to be) Taylor’s rustic Tribeca penthouse.
Here are Taylor and Cara Delevingne (who dined with Lorde, Jack Antonoff and Suki Waterhouse) leaving the Waverly Inn in September 2016. Hi, guys!
Nestled in the back of the restaurant’s covered garden (safe from the glaring lenses of the paparazzi), it’s hard not to picture Taylor and her friends tucking into the signature chicken pot pie or sampling one of the mouth-watering cocktails. Since we have no historical record of what Taylor nommed on at the Waverly Inn, I sampled the grilled octopus, a beet and mozzarella salad and the shrimp risotto. Conclusion: I would do ModelFIT twice a day until the end of time if this was my menu on the reg. Seriously, look at this risotto situation:
DAY 5: Making Waves
One of the trickiest aspects of morphing myself into Taylor is perfecting her signature blonde curls. Having previously chemically lightened my hair to a Swift-esque hue, I figured the hardest part was done, right? Not quite. Mastering that cool, done-yet-undone look was definitely going to be a challenge, so I called in a professional, Omalia Bush, a stylist at Maria Bonita Salon in New York City. The verdict: So. Much. Amazing. Volume. My hair was big because it was full of secrets — secrets to getting these effortless waves.
Here’s how you can get the look too:
1. When starting with dry hair, remove any tangles with the Cricket Co. Copper Clean Paddle Brush.
2. Using the end of the Cricket Co. Ultra Smooth Fine Toothed Rattail Comb separate the hair into four sections and hold with clips (one at the crown of your head, two in the mid-section behind each ear and one from below those two sections).
3. Going section by section (starting with the bottom and working your way to the top section at the crown of your head) use the Cricket Co. Ultra Smooth Black and Gold Collection Styling Iron (1 inch) to curl smaller sections no larger than 1 inch wide. Pro tip: Vary the size for the “messy curl” look and leave just the ends (about half an inch) out of the iron to achieve the wavy look.
4. For the face-framing sections, always curl hair away from your face, but as you get towards the middle/back of the head, vary the direction you twist the styling iron to give dimension. (This look is so easy because it is less about getting the curls so exact, the more it varies the better!)
5. Once you get to the crown section, apply a thickening spray at the roots and blow dry the hair using the Cricket Co. Ultra Smooth Black and Gold Collection Dryer in an upwards direction to boost volume.
6. Once you’ve curled all four sections, use the Cricket Co. Ultra Smooth Coconut Conditioning Comb to open the curls, finishing with hairspray to make sure the curls last and to get rid of any flyaways.
DAY 6: That Red Lip, Classic Thing That You Like
While the anticipation of Taylor’s ModelFIT workout left me worried, the aspect of this challenge I knew would be most, well, challenging, is adopting Taylor’s signature red lip. I aspire to be one of those people who can flawlessly drink coffee/eat spaghetti/live a glamorous life without getting lipstick everywhere, but that’s never been the case for me. What should be a simple swipe of a cherry gloss turns my bathroom into a veritable crime scene. Despite a shameful lip color track record, I was determined to make my own luck and own this Swift-sential component.
The challenge: rock a “Look What You Made Me Do”-inspired color for 12 hours.
“Part of the drama of this lip color is that it is so dark that it works on everyone,” Kelli J. Bartlett, GLAMSQUAD Director of Artistry tells PEOPLE. “The deepest color looks intense and dramatic on fair skin tones. Darker skin tones can rock metallic and glittery shades for an extra pop!”
Here are Kelli’s recommendations for finding the perfect statement lip shade for your skintone:
Urban Decay Vice Liquid Lipstick in “Rock Steady” (light), “Crimson” (medium), “Black Mail” (dark)
Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in “Nighthawk” (light), “Shame” (medium), “Hex” (dark)
For my 12-hour challenge, I opted for the Urban Decay Vice Liquid Lipstick in “Rock Steady.” If you need proof of the transformative power of lip color, simply view my before and after shots:
The color goes on super smooth, almost like a gloss. When it dries, however, it takes on a deeper saturation and more of a matte-like texture. Bonus: You will definitely feel more badass as you strut around living your life.
And strut I did, boldly sipping coffee (like, a lot of coffee), bingeing on Chex Mix and occasionally busting out a “Look What You Made Me Do” stomp. I snapped status reports of my lip color over the course of the day, and I was amazed at how resilient the color is. I’d planned on reapplying after lunch, but got distracted trying to find a Christmas Tree Frappuccino (not part of the Taylor challenge, still on-theme). When I finally left work at 7:00, I still hadn’t reapplied — but the color looked amazing.
DAY 7: The Old Taylor Can’t Come to the Phone Right Now
My seven days of Swiftmas culminated in the ultimate transformation: metamorphosing my decidedly un-pop star self into Taylor. That means combining both the hair and the lip with a Taylor-themed outfit. Could I pull it off? Would celeb-seeking tourists mistake me for New Taylor? Could I avoid wearing pants and avoid getting frostbite?
I paired an AMEN Distressed Knitted Sweater (as seen on Taylor in the Reputation Secret Sessions in Rhode Island) with black Taryn Rose Catherine Over the Knee boots to get that comfy-yet-edgy look the singer’s been sporting. The embellishments on the sweatshirt made me feel like I should be headlining a tour, while the amazing cushioned footbed in the boots reassured me that I could survive a concert on my feet without dying.
The Verdict: Being Taylor was a lot of work. The added glam definitely spiced up my normal week (never have I ever lampshaded at work), but keeping a “What Would Taylor Do?” mindset was more exhausting than I expected. However, my confidence in rocking a statement lip has grown a billion-fold (thanks, Tay!) and should the opportunity to become a Grammy-winning pop star ever materialize, I am ready for it.