Remember that opening scene in The Devil Wears Prada? It was set up to showcase how there are two kinds of people. The clackers, aka the stylish and fashion-oriented crowd of the fictional Runway magazine, and then there’s Andy. The earnest writer and protagonist who pulls on a lumpy blue sweater, a slick of lip balm and her hair in a ponytail before turning up to what was supposedly the most important job interview of her life.
I can totally relate because I have two modes when I get ready for work in the morning: Either I’m out of the house in 15 minutes (aka I’ve chucked on my favourite worn-in band tee, a pair of denim shorts and sunscreen), or I’m an hour late because I felt the need to werk a look—inclusive of a full face of makeup. So depending on my mood or my schedule for the day, I am *both* Andy AND the clackers.
(Yes, women are multi-dimensional and multi-faceted. We’re never just one or the other.)
After I wrote a piece on going on a shopping ban for 30 days to curb my impulsive shopping habit, I thought to myself: if the newness and novelty of having a new outfit daily was the thing that was affecting my self-esteem and giving me crippling anxiety, why don’t I streamline my getting-ready process?
Why don’t I just wear the exact same outfit every day?
The Art Of The Uniform
While I was never one to subscribe to that school of thought, there are many merits to uniform dressing. Just look at Steve Jobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Carolina Herrera and Hilary Clinton. All four have been known for their instantly recognisable uniform. For some like Lagerfeld, that signature look has since gone on to become an iconic symbol of the man. Who would have thought a black suit, starched white shirt with a high collar and fingerless gloves could mean so much?
As someone who grew up within the Singaporean education system, I too was accustomed to a uniform for 14 years of my life. For more than a decade, I put on a school standard-issue blouse-and-skirt combo devoid of any personality and went to class without really caring what I looked like.
Sure, like most teenage girls, I folded my skirt shorter, but that was the extent I was allowed to modify my uniform (albeit temporarily) without getting into trouble. So when I enrolled in a polytechnic after my O Levels to pursue my diploma, I ditched the uniform before one could even say “Eh, what’s your L1R4 score ah?”
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My entire outfit plan this week.
Fast forward to 10 years later and I still strongly subscribe to the belief that what you wear can be a strong indicator of who you are as a person. And as a huge consumer of fashion, the clothes on my back were also a great way to express my creativity.
But sometimes even clothing fatigue get the best of us.
And so after taking various OOTDs and racking my brains to come up with multiple inventive outfits for various fashion challenges I had taken on for work, I had decided enough was enough. I wanted to take a break and adopt the uniform dressing that many had been preaching for years.
The Chosen Outfit
First I had to determine my outfit. Wearing something inconspicuous like a white shirt or a black turtleneck was too easy. No one would even blink an eye if they noticed I was wearing the exact same thing every day. For this experiment, I wanted to wear something noticeable. I wanted it to be obvious that I was wearing the exact same thing every single day.
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Comedian Tiffany Haddish paid for her own Alexander Mcqueen gown and went on to wear it for five different occasions
It also had to be something that I liked, or at least felt confident in. This outfit would also have to hold up if I had to attend an event or appear on camera if I was filming a video for work. Unlike most who liked the appeal of remaining anonymous with a uniform, I was the exact opposite. I wanted to Tiffany Haddish it and chose a bomb-ass outfit that made me feel happy whenever I wore it.
The chosen look
I settled for a Junya Watanabe striped t-shirt with round vinyl sleeves because this was a t-shirt that incited comments (both positive and negative) from people whenever I wore it. I happened to have it in two colours (one was a Christmas gift) so that for hygiene reasons I could rotate them every other day. I also needed to be comfortable and mobile, so I paired it with denim shorts which don’t require frequent washing and my trusty checkerboard Vans. I threw on a silver chain necklace that I picked up at the Club 21 Bazaar and wished for the best.
This might come as no surprise to many, but as it turns out, no one really cares if you wear the same thing twice. I know I don’t, as I especially love seeing some of my colleagues wear outfits that I enjoy looking at more than once. Inherently, we tend to assume people are paying attention to what we are doing or wearing, but the reality is, people are way more focused on their own lives much more so than the lives of others.
So why did I add so much pressure on myself?
While I too enjoy the novelty of a fresh new look, the following I had cultivated in real life and on social media was fast becoming accustomed to it, and the people-pleaser in me was trying to keep up with the demand of OOTDs and lewks. And as people demanded more, I collated outfits to post, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Clothing really *IS* a form of expression for me, and I didn’t enjoy the constraints of wearing the same thing every day, especially if it didn’t match the mood I was in or the weather. But constantly supplying the demand for newness (both to my small following and myself) was doing me no favours either.
Like all things in life, too much of anything is a bad thing. Too much of nothing is *also* a bad thing. So just do whatever you want to do, and if anyone makes fun of you for wearing the same thing, just say F U. As for myself, whether today I’m an Andy or an aspirational clacker, I’m still the same person whose clothes don’t define who I am.
TL;DR: It’s just clothing lah, OK.
To read more of Cheryl’s fashion challenges, click on the links below.