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!

10-months of Not Spending…?

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Chanel’s Little Black Jacket Exhibition (2013)

It’s pretty retarded how I’ve made this experiment sound as though I’ve a great revelation of sorts, but it isn’t. It’s obvious that I’m also not the first person to be writing about ‘not spending for x-amount of time experiment’, yet posts like this still intrigues me to no end.

The truth is that our excessive spending behaviour is a modern-day illness that requires curbing. Discipline it enough and there’ll be lesser financial advisers around to help us manage our money issues (incidentally, the first step you’ll need to do is to pay for consultation…).

When topics regarding ‘cutting back on spendings’ are written on a weblog platform, most people pigeonhole it to just fashionable items (clothes, shoes, bags) that only happens to fashion bloggers, but in actuality, it’s really everybody’s problem, because we all spend: food, books, art, furniture, etcetera.

And suddenly you realise that you, though just another face in the crowd, is not off the hook either.

So here I am, a nobody-famous-on-the-world-wide-web, facing my spending demons because I’m broke, again. Though this time round, it is not for the same reasons as to why I was broke many years ago. I’ll spare you the details because this matter-of-fact statement encapsulates that mindless period of my life fairly well:

“A lot of young people try to impress the world and buy too many things,” the doorman said. —Fight Club (Chapter 5)

But yes, I’m broke again. And the reason is really all because I, obviously still a complete child with no sense of reality, decided that since my parents have never set foot on an aeroplane (despite the first commercial flight starting in 1914) that I would do the honours of sending them on an all-expenses-paid family trip to Japan for 2 weeks at the end of 2016…

While it’s an endearing move from a child to her parents, it’s not quite sensible, is it? Because this bold action meant that I ended up emptying out every single cent from my bank to make the trip happen.

The alarming thing, however, is that I’m not the only one (not that stating this fact makes me feel any better). Because of our impatient nature, our money attitude is such that we would only save up to the exact amount that we would require (for a trip or to make a purchase), stop and then spend it all away, almost immediately, resulting in a very dry bank. For most parts, unless there’s an actual goal, we usually just don’t bother with savings, because it’s just too difficult, and frankly, a “terrible waste” (all that savings for an elusive uh-oh situation and you don’t get to touch it before then?!).

“If you don’t know what you want,” the doorman said, “you end up with a lot you don’t.” —Fight Club (Chapter 5)

Needless to say, I did not look forward to 2017.

Just to be clear: while this money behaviour I had was terrible, I don’t regret my decision of the trip; not many people are so fortunate to have both their parents healthy and still happily married. Sure, my money vaporised within 2 weeks, but it was worth the smiles on my parents’ faces, and the gurgles of the excitements in their voices.

Anyway, 544 words later, I’m still broke and so this experiment stays. The rule is simple and is exactly as stated in the title: ‘10-months of not spending’. Yes, this experiment also stretches towards taxi rides and junk food (guess I’ll have to drink more water during my hormonal cravings days) but excludes experiences (I’ve never joined a night-time marathon before!).

I have to stress that the point of this experiment isn’t to be a scrooge and deprive myself of spending my hard earned money (pretty certain I’ll be using a different currency in my afterlife), but rather, to be wiser with my money; not to spend frivolously, to save as much as I can for 10-months, and allocate these savings carefully into sensible sections: e.g.: rainy day funds, to purchase gifts for loved ones, bill payments, etcetera, so that I’ll never have to face an empty bank account again. I know, I know… Saving, especially if it’s for emergencies and not that new Gucci loafers, is rather uneventful, but I don’t really want to risk another episode of panic attacks because I haven’t saved enough for my upcoming annual insurance payment.

Being an extremist when faced with a challenge, I’m quite stubborn determined to have a successful experiment. Below are 5 additional things that I’ve done:

  1. Assigned a separate email account that functions solely as a receiver of e-mailer subscription and discount codes
  2. Placed a fixed amount of money (food) in my purse that will last me for one whole month and leaving my bank cards at home
  3. Immediate payment of bills once my pay arrives
  4. Immediate transferring of money into specific savings account once my pay arrives
  5. Saving 10% of my pay for the end-of-10-months purchases (necessities)

The nice thing about this experiment is that when it all comes to an end, it’ll be November; that’s when the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales comes in and that’s where I’ll be able to make purchases with a good bit of discounts! Of course, if I do need to replenish necessities within the 10-months, I’ll just have to do it. But for most part, this experiment would see me finishing some long bought products, shopping within my room, clearing out things I’ve been hoarding and re-evaluating my general needs/wants.

I do wonder if I would miss shopping during this experiment and if this no-spending behaviour would carry on naturally once the 10-months are up. And though I’m determined to succeed, will I really or perhaps I might just fail… Who knows?

Meanwhile, here’s to not spending, I guess. Cheers!

In case it wasn’t obvious, Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel, Fight Club*, is one of my favourite books to read—especially when I find myself in a desire to consume materialistic goods. I’ve also always insisted that my friends watch the movie* (for those who are too lazy to read have limited hours in a day) because of the stellar cast.

Now you should, too.

2017, Year of Sacrifice

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For money, that is. But what’s new?

Before I begin on the topic, I’m apologetic for the lack of updates here (my last post is a clear fail). I’ve been wanting to revive this space for a while now but haven’t done so because… the whole idea of blogging has changed drastically.

In the past, its function was to be like an e-diary, and it was so straight to the point that I didn’t have to explain what that means when I said “Oh yeah, I’ve a blog!”. However today, majority of the blogs are created solely just to become another way of doing advertorials and creating desires in people to own things that they don’t need.

But on top of that, these days, blogs are all full of images and very little text and that isn’t what I’m used to. But I suppose times have changed, and images are more exciting to look at than chunks of text. I do admit that I’m slightly lazy to be taking photographs—the whole process is so troublesome: You don’t just take an image and upload it; you have to composite the shot, take the pictures a thousand times before finding the ideal shot, upload it onto your computer, edit the picture and then rename it before uploading it for the world to see.

Good grief, that whole process felt like I just went for a run and I’ve not even begun addressing the topic of this blog!

So to end this digression, I’m going to be more diligent here. It’s really the only place I’ve got to rest my mind after a damn long day at work. I don’t know how this blog will alter as I continue but I hope it’ll be entertaining for all to visit, and I hope to have a conversation with all you strangers!

Now back to the topic on money sacrifice.

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Long story short, I’ve really got to get my shit together and listen to what the financial gurus have advised all along: keep some cash in a bank and make sure that one is prepared for the worse (retrenchment? illness? computer breakdown?) and always remember that these money aren’t meant for travelling or that Céline box handbag I’ve got my eyes on.

Earlier this month, I went ahead and did some book balancing. It doesn’t look very good, I have to say (I still require a fair bit of time to finish repaying my university loans), but still, I managed to set aside some monthly deposits to be done—all to ensure I’ll be okay if an unfortunate event should happen, and frankly, so should you.

This is how I’ve done it:

  1. what exactly I am saving up for
  2. just how much money I need
  3. the deadline for me to achieve
  4. when I would like to start (preferably this month, of course)
  5. divide it up to see how much I’ll need to save per month!

One of the reasons why I’ve decided to do this is because I’ve been very inspired by Maria Van Nguyen’s post where she imposes a 6-month shopping ban on herself after shopping consciously for 6-months earlier.

Unfortunately for me, I’m really not at the stage of my life where I can justify spending as and when I please (hello pathetic pay), so I’ll have to take it a step further by not spending for a good 10-months instead. Yes, I am quite the extremist when a challenge is presented in front of me, and I know that there will always be temptation around me (us), but it should be quite fun to see just how much I could abstain.

During these ten months, I’ll be evaluating the things I want and the things I need. I do foresee lots of mending and disposing of fast fashion garments, so that should keep me occupied and prevent my desire of shopping from happening. And I suppose if that happens, there’s always the painting of my nails (speaking of which, I really need to dispose quite a bit of nail polishes).

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There are further things that I’ll like to elaborate on but this has been quite a lengthy post and I’m exhausted, so I ought to stop here now.

Another post, another day soon, I promise!