What we wear when we dress for no one but ourselves.
If we’ve learnt anything this year, it’s what we like to wear when no one is around to see it. For me, it’s been nothing but bike shorts, crop tops and an oversized jumper or tee. If I want to feel ‘put together’ I wear jewellery. Others have stayed in their trackies or pyjamas, while the arguably most impressive among us have continued to dress up every day, for no one but themselves.
What we’ve worn throughout 2020 has revealed a lot about the human condition and why we wear what we wear. Fashion has always been a barometer for social progress, and a global spike in activewear and tracksuit sales has perhaps been a symbol of our collective desire to return to simpler times. (That, or perhaps all the sourdough baking has given me the same impression).
For anyone interested in the psychology of dressing, may I point you elsewhere. Because this article is not about why we dress the way we do. It’s about three of our readers, and why they wear what they do. For Ailene, it’s comfort clothing that sparks positive memories. For Ananda, it’s experimenting with fashion that she can feel good about. For Colby, it’s about refining her personal style.
It’s a reminder there are no rules in fashion and – with the exception of corporate dress codes – there is no ‘right way’ to dress. In partnership with Medley Jewellery, here’s what three FJ readers wear when they dress for nobody.
Ailene Wu, Actor, Content Creator and Model
Fashion and I have always had a love-hate relationship. Some days, I leap out of my bed in the morning to see what sort of outfit I can put together. Other days, I wish I could just throw everything away and hide in the biggest oversized jumper I own. I’ve always thought of fashion as yet another way to express yourself to the world – but what happens when you don’t even know who that person is?
When I was younger, I didn’t even think about what others might say. I mean, my mum still has pictures of me wearing a leopard print skirt, layered on top of jeans, with a pink bedazzled singlet at our Year 2 sleepover. The craziest thing about that image isn’t the fact that both of my older sisters actually let me leave the house looking like that (cough, no loyalty, cough cough) – but how I had the biggest, proudest smile on my face. Why? Because the outfit was my very own creation.
Fast forward to middle school, when I suddenly became hyper-aware of everything that was ‘wrong’ with my body. My chest was as flat as an ironing board, my legs were ‘too skinny’ (I was affectionately called chicken much of my early teen years), and my growth spurt made me look like a less ominous version of Slender Man (another nickname that unfortunately stuck around for a while). I couldn’t wear just anything I wanted anymore – I had to wear things that were socially acceptable, outfits that made me ‘fit in’. Skip ahead again to post-puberty and suddenly, my thighs were too thick, my arms were a little bit flabby and my stomach wasn’t as flat as those Instagram models.
I won’t lie and say that I’m completely confident in my own style now, but one thing has definitely changed. I’ve realised that I don’t want to hide behind a style that isn’t my own, just because society says it’s more acceptable. I will wear the tops that I want, even if they might look even better on someone with more cleavage than me. I will wear the huge jumper that has paint on its sleeves and doesn’t give me any ‘shape’, because it reminds me of those frantic folio nights full of laughs with my art class. In the end, I think finding confidence in your style is about understanding that no matter what label is thrown your way, only you can define yourself. So why not just dress for nobody but yourself?
AILENE WEARS / MEDLEY JEWELLERY ICE COLD HUGGIE HOOPS, STARGAZE STUDS, MIDDIE HUGGIE EARRINGS, SUPER SLIM PINNACLE RING AND GOLDILOCKS RING
Ananda-Amrita Shakir, Vintage Curator at Saorsa Collective
Finding my own style coincided with giving myself permission to explore my true desires and dreams. I used to wear basic, unflattering pieces just to blend in because I thought I had to “be somebody” to have an expressive style. I just didn’t have any confidence in myself.
I believe style is an expression of your identity and as it evolves, so does your voice. Exploring who I am and forgiving the mistakes I’ve made along that journey has played a huge part in me becoming confident.
If I had to sum up my style I would say elegant, timeless and powerful femininity. I love a mix of neutrals, natural fibres, ditsy florals or a bold statement print. In the morning, I usually just feel a certain colour and base my outfit around that. Sometimes I’m so drawn to the tone that my kids and I end up colour matching. At the moment though, I am really inspired by layering. Both pieces that I’m wearing here are unassuming on their own, but together create an outfit that makes me feel confident, sexy and just damn good. My outfits generally revolve around what is practical to breastfeed my daughter in, and layering items makes it super hard to feed. So I felt that this outfit really represented me and tied into the idea of dressing for no one but myself.
No one has the final say in what is “stylish” because finding your voice and style is a personal journey that is for you only. As long as you feel good, nothing else matters. I used to follow trends which inevitably meant lots of unworn fast fashion purchases, but I can’t remember the last time I searched for trend reports. This is why I love vintage & thrifting – I know the chances that someone has the same piece as me are almost nonexistent; it’s a completely sustainable purchase; and I can take my time to explore various unique pieces without adding to landfill.
Fashion tells a story of who you are and how you see the world around you. Throughout history, it’s signified rituals, community and traditions. But our expression through fashion should never come at the cost of human rights and our planet. I acknowledge the frivolous and wasteful side that exists heavily within the fashion world and strongly believe that it’s crucial to hold big fashion giants accountable to their practices. We must always remind ourselves that ethics and sustainability must coincide with our expression.
ANANDA WEARS / MEDLEY JEWELLERY BAUBLE CHAIN, WEAVER CHOKER AND REGAL RING
Colby Milano, Brand Marketing & Creative Consultant
My personal style has definitely changed over the years. When I was younger and studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, I ran a personal blog where I was a lot more experimental with my looks. Today, I still have an appreciation for playing around, but stick to silhouettes and styles that are more classic, comfortable and suit my body type. My closet consists of vintage denim, too many classic white rib tank tops, oversized shirts, black blazers and lots of dresses!
I was always on a mission to experiment with style and have a different “look” to everyone else. When my friends wore Juicy Couture velour pants and Uggs, I was in ripped jeans, Dolce Vita heeled boots and an oversized shirt or jumper. When I moved from New York to Sydney, my style became more laidback. Now, I’m conscious of fabrications, silhouettes and buying quality pieces over quantity.
For me, fashion has always been a part of my life and a way to express myself. What started out as an interest, then a hobby, is now a career. It’s taught me how to use a camera, build a blog from scratch, manufacture product, work with brands and open up retail stores in a global capacity.
Over the years, it has helped me gain insight into myself, my abilities and it has brought me together with some of my closest friends and colleagues. Fashion is fun, experimental and constantly changing (for better and for worse). There’s so much opportunity in the space and I find that to be the most exciting.
As a Brand Marketing and Creative Consultant, every day of the week a little bit different. Whether I’m on shoots, in meetings or glued to my laptop at home, I am always dressed for comfort without compromising on my personal style. What’s most important to me is fit and comfort. There’s nothing worse than fidgeting in an outfit all day because it doesn’t fit right or I’m just feeling uncomfortable in it. I find that incredibly distracting! The first thing I do after a shower in the morning is put my robe on, I cannot live without a robe (my friends know this). Next, I decide on whether it’s a jeans and tee kind of day or something a bit more relaxed like a linen set. When it comes to jewellery I have my everyday staples and they’re always gold. I might put on an extra layer or two of necklaces or a pair of larger hoops if I’m feeling a bit extra.
I believe in a feel-good, look good mentality. Not the other way around! I think putting yourself first, what you feel most confident and comfortable in, makes you feel good. At least that’s what it’s like for me! When I “look good” in terms of what everyone else thinks I look good in, it doesn’t always necessarily make me feel good. So, I dress for no one but myself, always.