When my sister and I set up shop at the Tanglin Flea one weekend, I took the chance to get rid of the clothes of my teenage years. There was a ruffled coral top with a sweetheart neckline, a clashy tiered blouse in black, white and purple, and a black and pink polka-dotted knee-length skirt, amongst other wardrobe stalwarts of teenagehood. Being young, impetuous and only having weekends to experiment with style meant that I wore whatever I wanted and damned the consequences, such as the aforementioned lurid dotted skirt, layering tanks over shirts with chunky necklaces, and distressed denim. Remembering them feels a little ridiculous now, but they were well-loved and certainly brought some colour and fun to my weekend wear.
Though I always preferred subtlety and never went crazy with leather pants, disco sequins or neon nail polish, it still feels like I spent a lot of time trying to make trends work in my wardrobe. There were the pseudo-stylish years where blacks and greys dominated the hangers, and the countless afternoons I tried to make grungy denim cutoffs from old bellbottoms, wielding scissors and sandpaper for DIY rips and frays. The fashion goddesses in our lives make trends look effortless, but anyone who’s tried to follow in those footsteps know that it takes time, thought and extreme attention to detail — cuffs of androgynous cropped trousers must hover at the sweet spot just above the ankle, it is a Bad Idea to wear prints that clash, how much jewelry is too much jewelry?
“I give up”, I told myself when life as a college undergraduate began. Long days of stomping up endless flights of staircases at campus meant we had to start dressing for comfort and prepare for warfare between the fickle temperatures of freezing lecture theatres and the humid Singapore air. Silent prayers were said for those who dared wear vertiginous heels to class. However, dressing for comfort became an unfriendly style mantra for the days that laziness triumphed. It’s been years, but my friends still laugh at me for the day I burst into class 25 minutes late in flip flops, ratty denim shorts, unwashed hair pulled back, revealing a tired face sans concealer and eyebrow pencil. In my defense, that was because I had overslept, but the fact remains that the ubiquitous university ‘uniform’ was there waiting, a style trap I had fallen into.
Today, I no longer study magazines or blogs, chasing trends that simply weren’t meant for me. I know what I like – classic pieces, feminine silhouettes, vintage and ethnic influences – and stick to them. Flip flops and shorts are no longer on the first line of defense for sartorially-challenged days.
When I get dressed every morning, I only wear what makes me feel presentable, comfortable, confident, even lucky. If Having Fun was the aim of my teenage years, then Feeling Great is the style slogan of my twenties. When I was a child, I insisted on wearing dresses all the time, daydresses for home and fancier frocks for parties. Thankfully, those high-maintenance days are over, but I’m happy to have come full circle and dress for no one else’s standards but mine. You’ll never see me in harem pants or avant-garde capes that make me feel strange or stand awkwardly, but I’ll always be satisfied and perfectly happy going my own way. ;)
collage from H&M’s upcoming fall line, which should just be named Fall 2011: jules’ dream closet! would wear it all in a heartbeat