Sunday, April 18

Asking yourself "Is this ME?" and hearing someone else's reply

 My boss commented that I must spend a lot of money buying clothes because everyday I seem to wear something new. This is not true, or maybe it is and we just have different notions of what "a lot of money" and "often" mean. I'm a bargain hunter and I have to be absolutely in love with a piece (and not be able to sleep at night thinking about it) before I will buy something that I find "expensive", only my notion of expensive is not what normal people (I think) would consider expensive. For me any piece of clothing over $20 begs the question: do I really need this? and I don't often let myself ask this question.  Of course what I have learned from yobu is that if I really like something, I might as well just buy it instead of buying all these cheaper items spontaneously that I perhaps do not like as much even put together.  I've learned to put incredible deals back on the rack (most of the time...) and ask myself (and him!) whether the piece is "my style" (whatever that is...). It's like in The Blind Side when she talks about trying something on and looking in the mirror to ask herself "Is this me?" Because if the answer is anything but a straight-out yes then probably you should not walkaway with it (no "maybe" or "could be"). I think with his aid I've already begun transforming my physical outlook and can continue to do so.

I mean one of the things that irritates me about style is that it's not always about what you like, sometimes it's about what you're born with, and this limits my freedom of choice. I know, I know it doesn't have to, and really you can wear whatever you like, but this is what I told myself all my life and at this age is this something I should continue to tell myself? Is it not time to face the reflections of the real world?  I watched this Japanese drama called Real Clothes and in it one of the department store employees working in the fashion section talks about how she has to go to a wedding and even though the type of dress appropriate for wedding guests doesn't suit her (it was something like a strapless knee-length chiffon dress), she doesn't dare deviate from others. The actress who played the part (2nd from the right in above pic) was big boned, she was at least 170cm (hard to tell on TV...) with a 38-40 shoulder width, looking a little bulky, and she was even told by a coworker that she should diet because ideally clothes only look good on you if you have a BMI of 20 or less. Eh, my bad my BMI is like 22 @-@;

...But you know what? I totally get her point. Clothes do look better on you if you have a leaner body, or wider shoulders, thinner/longer legs, and a more narrow waist.  And those attributes are precisely what every model has that I do not.

So what does this mean? I feel so restricted. I feel like I can't wear mini-skirts (but yobo makes me), I can't wear halter tops (my narrow shoulders would be emphasized in a bad way), can't waist-clingers (do I even have a waist?), and I can't wear oversized clothing that look wonderfully drape-y on skinny people and terribly bulky on me.  And there are so many more things that I don't allow myself to wear because I look horrendous in them and nothing like what stylish people look when they wear the same thing.
 Then there are all these other rules regarding what doesn't suit my personality or my face, such as "too cool" outfits (i.e. biker, punk, rock), too lolita outfits (I'm not petite enough), too hipster/hippie/boho, and even too "mature" (for my age, I guess).  Just imagine what it feels like: you go to a department store (or F21 if you prefer) and there are hundreds of different styles of clothing of which a large percentage you probably like looking at. Then imagine a big X on every item that would not suit your body type--a lot less, yes? And then imagine another X for every item that does not suit you or your style, or it is not age appropriate, or work appropriate or just looks more like a costume. How many pieces remain? Not enough.

This is also what bothered me about Real Clothes (drama based on manga), that she goes from this nerdy looking secretary/book keeper look to trying on an assortment of different looks that normally you would think would not correspond with her personality. How does that work at her age? She's 26 in the drama, by the way.

What my point was (I got lost again?) is that when you go to the fitting room, do you only pick clothes you think will suit you? Do you only pick clothes from one style? Do you step out of your comfort zone? And when you're in there, staring at your mirror image, and you ask yourself is this me? Are you really the one answering the question, or is there a voice of reason in your head telling you about why it doesn't suit your body type, why it looks better on other types, why you would never wear it, why it doesn't match with your wardrobe, why you're not the type to wear it, why you should not buy it, etc.? And is it a good thing to own this "voice of reason"? Does owning it mean you can become stylish? does owning it mean that you can look good?

For me, I think yobo is my "voice of reason", I can hear his voice in my head sometimes. But every now and then I wear things I know he doesn't like or approve, because I feel like if I didn't, then maybe I wouldn't be able to ask "Is this me?" anymore. How could I when my opinion doesn't count?


  1. Hi Jess! I really like the way you write. It's very insightful with lots of thoughts around the topic :)

    I normally try not to restrict myself with fashion. Of course, I KNOW I won't look good in punk rock, black and red things because it's simply not what I'd wear on a daily basis or ever, lol. If I really like something, I usually try to see if I can make it work because one thing I would hate is if I walk into a store and nothing will be fitting, physically and stylistically. I sometimes have that "voice of reason" in my head telling me that something will look bad without me even trying it on. Last summer, I was very much into maxi dresses but the length of the dress does not suit someone of my height. I'm 5'4-5'5 and dresses can be hemmed but I hate to spend extra money altering something. So, I'd shy away from them naturally. I don't really have a style that I stay keen to because I feel that a diverse closet gives you room for options on days you want to look and feel differently but I don't take drastic measures and get a Lady Gaga outfit :p I think in my mind, I would feel so lost if I gave myself restrictions. The idea that I could try on a different look comforts me :p But in the end, I still stay by what's comfortable.

    I know what you mean about being a bargain hunter. Same here! I think it's from being in an Asian family! I've learned to be frugal with my expenses and I wouldn't splurge on a blouse unless I know I'd die without it :p All the pieces in my closet are $20 and under. It makes me feel happy that when I find something on clearance that fits great, I've saved even more, esp when the original price is marked 70% more :p

  2. First of all, I think this was one of the best posts I've ever read in anywhere. You really have a great a little self-ironic way of writing. :)

    I have plenty of reasons to buy clothes. I know what looks good on me and suit my body type. Usually I try to buy clothes that I can match with what I already have and the style I'm going for. Right now I'm trying to make my wardrobe a little less mixed. I have all kinds of colors and styles there and sometimes it's really hard to find what I'm looking for. I just really want a wardrobe that everything fits together. Then you don't have to own that many things, you can just wear them differently every time. I'm getting there, slowly, but surely. :)

    Btw. I thought nothing looked good on wide shoulders and I've always wanted more narrow shoulders. :P


Your comment will seriously make my day ^___^
Thank you for taking the time to write to me. I will respond on this page.