The Unintentional Uniform

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When I returned back to work in January this year, my body was unwilling, my mind was pretty much blank, and I struggled to recall the route to my studio.

Yes, my 2016 holiday break was much needed.
No, I was not dRunNnKk.

Anyway, I suppose it’s a little strange to be writing about what had happened in January today—after all, we’re already a week into the second quarter of the year. But I had to because:

Can you believe this—I’m struggling to decide what to wear to work now and this didn’t happen during the start of the year (where I was at my most unwilling to get out of hibernation). Mind you, I haven’t a huge closet or a massive amount of clothes; it’s tiny!

But then it hits me:

I had been repeatedly wearing the same few outfits due to my sheer inability to be bothered to think about what to wear.

In other words: I was lazy :-)

During the start of the year, our weather was slightly jumbled up and I found myself favouring monochromatic silk camisoles, high-waisted blue mom jeans, cashmere pullovers and wool cardigans over everything else that I had in my closet. The sheer child-like joy of wearing only my favourites unknowingly turned into my uniform for the next 2 months!

It was really quite a fantastic moment for me because it meant that I could constantly hit the snooze button before parkour-ing out of my warm bed at the very last minute, and still get to work on time—all while being wonderfully dressed!

Of course, the ease of wearing something without such fuss during my busy mornings wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t made the effort to curate a portion of my wardrobe in the first place.

Note:
My mornings’ are busy because I make it a priority to have breakfast, watch a little educational YouTube videos (The School of Life is my favourite!), scroll through Pinterest to start the day, and I have to spend ~20 mins preparing my work-lunch everyday.

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Left to Right: ASOS Farleigh slim mom jeans in blue / Floti clay bead / Grana silk camisole in white / Everlane silk camisole in grey, navy and black / Mango’s ribbed jumper in off-white / Grana cashmere boyfriend crew neck jumper in black / Uniqlo × Ines de la Fressange’s cashmere cardigan in black / Uniqlo men’s merino wool cardigan (this belongs to my dad!) / MUJI aluminium clothes hangers

The above was all I wore in rotation. It’s hard to believe it, isn’t it? And while it’s little, it makes me feel extremely pleased and satisfied just looking at how uncluttered and visually pleasing my wardrobe is.

This organisation all happened some time towards the last quarter of 2016 when I was unconsciously doing an extensive reading about clothing—the style, trends, manufacturing issues, environmental impacts, etc. Through the perspective of these writers, environmentalist and fashion editors, I found myself formulating questions about what I was wearing and attempted to be as specific as possible.

Are these clothing made of natural, breathable fibres?
Eczema is such a pain. Also, fidgeting around in itchy clothing is quite unflattering! Today, I tend to favour cotton, linen, silk, cashmere and wool.

Do these clothing have a funny smell—especially after a long day of wear?
I realised that polyester and acrylic knit don’t go well with my natural deodorant and even when I’m using aluminium-based deodorant, they still emit a funny smell on me!

Do these clothing feel good against my sensitive skin?
Again: Eczema is such a pain. Thankfully, it’s quite contained now and only flares up when I’m stressed or eating things that I shouldn’t (like soya and cocoa)!

Do these clothing flatter my body shape?
Mirrors aren’t the best at showing you the truth—the image you see of yourself is slightly altered due to the lighting and the position/angle that it is placed upon.

I’m not entirely sure if the following makes sense but in any case, here we go: it’s best to either take a photo of what you’re wearing and then evaluate it through that medium, or, look at your reflection (at a distance) through reflective glasses/plastic—the slight blurry effect still allows you to see how your outfit truly look altogether, instead of pinpointing what you look like in them (in other words, you are being critical of the outfit on your body shape first).

Do I feel good wearing these clothing?
This is probably more important than the above body-shape question; even if the item flatters my body shape, as long as it makes me feel uncomfortable (e.g.: too short, too tight, etc.), I won’t buy it!

Are the colours, cutting and fabric suitable for my real lifestyle?
I walk 20 minutes (from my apartment to the train station, and then from the train station to my studio), 5 times a week. It isn’t a lot, compared to other people in the other parts of the world, but it is very hot and humid where I stay! I also work close to 10 hours a day in a studio with 2 naughty cats!

Do I truly like these clothing or am I just following a fast-fashion trend?
I’m so grateful for the return of mom jeans (other names: old school Levi 501s, Levi wedgie fit jeans and high-waisted tapered legs jeans) as they are the most flattering jean silhouette for my frame, so that’s something I hope will continue to be readily available even when I’m 50 years old! Also, as long as there’s a single thing that I do not like on the clothing (e.g.: I hate exposed zippers), hard as it is, I will simply have to do without it!

Will these clothing still hold up well after all the laundering?
I do all of my washing by hand (it’s a great exercise for toning your arms!) but I still machine tumble-dry them in a delicates-bag before sunning them in the open.

Despite the world’s view on fashion as something frivolous, it actually isn’t; what we wear has a huge impact on our overall confidence and it sets us up on how we would be feeling for the rest of the day. If you’re wearing something that you’ve to constantly adjust or if it itches, then you’re not going to feel very much at ease for the whole day. This trickles down and will affect your performance for the day!

It’s interesting to note that because of this uniform dressing, it helped me discover some of the following things that I needed, things that I like and things that I hate to do when preparing an outfit for work.

Need: One unfussy black leather belt

Like: Unfussy clothing / Neutral colours / Red for shoes / Camisoles / Long sleeves / Boat neck

Hate: Ironing shirts / De-pilling wool jumpers / Shirts with collars / Pure white clothes / Tee-shirts

Looking through the list above, I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that I didn’t have a huge list of needs! Granted, it’s only been 4 months so far, but I do believe that this goes to show how we tend to muddle our needs and wants all the time.

Although, 5 years on, I still want that camel-shade Céline box bag. Some day!

Mind you though—all the hard work of curating a wardrobe will go to waste if we aren’t thoughtful about what we are purchasing and bringing back into our home—it really goes both ways!

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Silk and Wool goes hand in hand in erratic weathers!

But… we are probably wondering about the same thing:

If this uniform dressing was such a success for the first 2 months of 2017, why stop?

Unfortunately, I haven’t got a positive answer for this.

I suppose just as I had unconsciously picked the usual suspects to wear for the first 2 months, I must have realised it sometime in March that, while these repeated items were my favourites and I felt super comfortable in these luxurious fabrics, I wanted a bit more variety in my outfits.

As it is, my work life already has a routine and now my dressing too?! I wanted a challenge (aka: I was kinda bored and was being utterly annoying here) but nothing was working out because for the pieces of garments that I still love but do not wear, it’s all because the colour scheme seem out of place in my wardrobe and are quite hard to match with the rest of the items.

I suppose that’s where the “I have nothing to wear!” situation started.

Was the uniform dressing not meant for me?
I don’t think so; I’ve applied uniform dressing for my home wear since 2014. As I wash my clothes every evening, I’ve only got 3 sets of lounge wear on rotation and I’m perfectly fine with them. Yet for reasons unknown, I never thought to do it for my work wear.

Perhaps I just haven’t mastered the art of curating my work clothes just yet.
Perhaps so. Many people say that the easiest place in your life to start decluttering is the wardrobe. But that’s actually the hardest and this is why I could only attempt a partial wardrobe curation.

Growing up, my parents had instilled in our family that we mustn’t waste because it earning money isn’t easy. So whenever we wanted to buy something, we had to justify it—was the item’s price tag worth the money we earned through the number of hours we had to worked for?

If yes: Buy it.
If no: Leave it.

So for most parts of my life, apart from the rare occasional dresses my mother made for me when she had the time and extra cash, I wore mostly hand-me downs because they were still in great conditions (i.e.: sturdy breathable materials, colours were still bright, age appropriate, etc.). Because of such observation and habits, it was drilled in my head that if the item is still in good condition, do not dispose it—use it, until its dying days.

I suppose you could say I felt some level of guilt.
Admittedly, it took me a while to dispose some garments that no longer fits me and/or my lifestyle. Initially, I thought it was because I was being a sentimental old bean, but looking at the above, I was just unwilling to part with the clothing—because of the money that was spent on it, because it’s a form of goodwill onto me, because they are still in great wearable conditions, because I shouldn’t waste, because [insert any other reasons here], because…

I didn’t know how to say “No” to hand-me downs.
I didn’t know how to say “No” to clothes that really didn’t work well for me, no matter how pretty or great the fabrics are.

Letting go of still-good clothing was just never in my system, and so the cycle continues. I felt that disposing these still-good items (i.e.: through recycling bins, donations or selling away) was quite painful because it was akin to flushing money down the drain.

But it’s still money lost when I’m not willing to wear it and it just sits in my closet unloved, isn’t it?

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But it’s 2017 now and a change is necessary if I don’t want to go through this whole nonsense of having nothing to wear again in the morning.

So yes: I ought to stop feeling guilty, start letting go and pick up where I had left off and continue to curate my wardrobe. In short, have my fashion-life sorted once and for all—I really do need all the sleep I can squeeze in for all the gruelling work that’s coming my way soon!

Here’s what I’m going to do:

  1. Separate clothing into 2 sections: Studio (work) and Off-duty (play)
    • If the items could work for both section, then put it to the off-duty section first; it’s better to have lesser things to look at at the start of the morning (especially on Mondays)
  2. Further separate the 2 sections into another 2 sections: Love and Unloved
  3. In the Love pile, select only the natural, breathable fabrics to keep (if possible)!
    • For the ones that are synthetic but still serve a purpose, keep them till a good quality replacement can be located!
  4. Quickly dispose the Unloved pile through recycling bins, donation groups, or selling them off

Well, it’s always easier said than done, and it might take me a while, but here goes nothing!

Wish me luck!

If any of you are keen on the silk, cashmere and any other beautiful fabric pieces from Grana (they ship to most countries!), here’s a 10% off for all you new-comers to get started! Hurray!

I will probably do a silk camisole review comparison between Grana and Everlane, so do keep a lookout for that!

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