You know how the moment December hits and Mariah Carey is basically on everyone’s Christmas Spotify lists? So that’s exactly like me, but only with all my party clothes at the end of the year.
The minute the first of December strikes, I break out the sequins, the tulle, the diamanté and keep all of my fancy gear in heavy rotation throughout the month. And then the new year rolls in, I retire everything to the back of my closet. Unseen and tucked away until the next festive season comes along.
And then I rinse, lather and repeat.
I’ve stuck to this cycle for years on end now, so why fix what isn’t broke right? But then I started thinking, why *do* I need an excuse to wear my most extra pieces? I mean, I’ve already carried a Hello Kitty carrier as my purse, so what’s actually stopping me from wearing my party clothes from January to November? Why do I need to wait for a party or a wedding to break out my fancy gear? In fact, some of my pieces are so over-the-top that I can’t even wear them to a wedding lest I want the bride to sever all ties with me.
Besides, with the amount of money I spend on clothes, I should be wearing them to…just about everything to get my money’s worth via the cost per wear. Cost per wear (or CPW for short), is basically the magical formula that most fashion people use to justify their purchases. Especially when it comes to beautiful, luxurious and devastating designer pieces that comes at the cost of a down payment of a house. Jk, I’m just exaggerating. Maybe just a month’s rent. It’s the antithesis of fast fashion. You spend more but you get longer wear out of your clothes.
But I digress.
If you’ve been following me or CLEO for some time now, you know that I am partial to a style challenge or a fashion experiment. Either by choice or to satiate my Digital Editor Hidayah’s need for amusement. So for this month’s challenge, in anticipation of the party season, I decided to wear a selection of my fanciest gear to the office for an entire week, regardless of whether I had a party to attend to or not. And to see if it was actually doable, I would take public transport to the office to judge the reactions around me.
Watch the video to see how the public reacted, then scroll through the photos to see what I wore:
Since I was juggling two style challenges at one go (the other being the Hello Kitty carrier challenge), I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I started the challenge with a feathered top from Prada layered over something really basic and every day—a t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
So while I thought I had looked “normal” enough, apparently my outfit was still visually offensive to commuters on the train. As I stood in the train, a woman seated in front of me could not stop giving me “the look”. While I’m usually oblivious to such looks, I was more aware of it due to the challenge I had bestowed upon myself. At some point it got a bit uncomfortable, so when my stop came I was super grateful to leave the train.
I’m not going to lie. I literally bought this top just for this challenge. I had been browsing the high street stores for work, and I just could not believe that this top was from ZARA! The sleeves were huge and OTT, and Lord knows I can’t say no to what Associate Editor Sophie like to call “ridiculously proportioned clothing”.
I did cheat as I was running late for an event so I took a Grab instead of the train, but when I headed out for dinner at a coffeeshop in Katong, all the chefs from the kitchen peered out to look at me. So initially I wondered, did I look extra pretty that day? Am I fly as hell? The answer to both questions is no because as it turns out, they were all sniggering at my outfit.
Note to self, for the sake of your self-esteem, only wear “fashion” outfits around other fashion industry people.
As with all my style challenges, everything somehow always gets better by mid-week. I don’t know if it’s because it’s two days away from the weekend, or that’s the point where I tell myself to stop being neurotic and that no one really cares about what I wear, but this is where I usually gather enough courage to up the ante with something bold.
So I took my own advice literally and chose a gigantic tulle skirt from Comme des Garçons . Now, I’ve worn tulle skirts to the office before (see the time where I dressed like a five year old), but never one this big. I had bought this from the recent Club 21 Bazaar and have been looking for an excuse to wear it and I guess now I did.
And while I really, really liked this outfit (it’s literally the editorial outfit of my dreams), man, it was cumbersome AF to take the train. Especially during peak period! First of all, it was a tight squeeze to get through the MRT gantry (yes, that’s how big the skirt is) and maneuvering through the crowd was tough.
And while I usually don’t take up much space beyond my own in the train, this time around my skirt spilled into the seats on my left and right, causing other commuters to roll their eyes at me whilst I desperately tried to tuck everything underneath my legs. At one point when some seats freed up, the man next to me siam-ed so fast I felt really embarrassed.
Oh and did I mention peeing and walking up the stairs was also a challenge because there was so much fabric I kept tripping over my skirt?
As I rummaged through my closet to try and see what could top a full-on tulle skirt, I remembered this pair of gold sequined pants I owned. I used to imagine that if I had to host a dinner party in my home, these pants with a silk pajama top would have totally been it. Of course I had negated the fact that 1) I don’t cook (like, at all), and 2) I don’t own my own home. So again, these pants were relegated to the back of the wardrobe, waiting for the day where I would become the hostess with the mostess.
I figured since party outfits usually equates to something shiny, I decided to take these babies out for a spin. I toned it down with a motorcycle vest as well as a pair of knee-high boots just to keep things a bit grungier.
I definitely got a lot less stares (although a colleague of mine asked if it was “legs day”) so this outfit really wasn’t that much of a stretch. Until I went to the office lobby and saw that I matched the Christmas decorations there. FML.
On the last day, I decided to wear a dress I had actually bought for Christmas two years ago. I LOVE this dress. It’s so extra and looks way more expensive than it actually is that people are always surprised when I tell them that it was a great bargain from ASOS. The only downside is that because of how short and tight it is, I’ve only managed to wear it two more times since then because this felt like a dress that needed An Occasion.
So while I was filming at home, I was feeling myself. I was snapping a ton of selfies and just all around having a one woman photo-shoot at home. I had even piled on a statement necklace and a pair of earrings that resembled Christmas baubles. And to keep it day time apprpropriate, I decided why not pair it with a pair of fancy thong slippers.
But as soon as I left the house, the false confidence that an air-conditioned room had boosted in me slowly left at the same time beads of sweat dripped down my forehead. It was way too warm for a sweater and my skirt was so short I could barely cover myself as I sat in the bus and at the office. I was suddenly reminded on why I don’t make it a point to wear cocktail dresses unless I was heading to a party.
I love fashion. I think by now it’s pretty obvious how much fun I have with it. But one of my biggest pet peeves in the whole wide world is not being dressed appropriately for the weather. I hate having layers when I’m warm, and I hate not having enough when I’m cold. And almost all of the week’s outfits made me feel either way due to the transition of the extreme heat of the outside, and the Siberia levels of air-conditioning in my office. I was literally feeling extremely uncomfortable in my own skin.
Taking public transport was a bit tricky as well. I do tend to take a cab whenever I’m dressed a bit more “extra”. Not just for the convenience, but to avoid the commuter stare down as well. Sometimes my clothing take up extra space and I feel slightly embarrassed when people move away from me. An older couple did enjoy my tulle skirt and gave me a compliment on the train though, so shout out to that sweet husband and wife pair that made my day at Braddell MRT.
But it wasn’t all bad though. I really did enjoy utilizing some of my clothes outside of the party circuit especially the ZARA top with huge sleeves on day two and my Comme des Garçons tulle skirt on day three. Attempting to make them work for the office and the day time really brought about some interesting outfit combinations that I otherwise wouldn’t have tried. And regardless of the weird stares I got, being in those clothes really made me feel happy.
But I am never one to chose fashion over comfort and convenience. So while I will slowly try to incorporate some of my fancier pieces on days where there’s minimal walking and zero chance of me being in the outside heat, I think this is one experiment where I’ll concede defeat.
Sorry party clothes, back to the wardrobe you go—it’s not you, it’s me! See you same time at Christmas and New Year’s again?
To read more of Cheryl’s fashion challenges, click on the links below.