Monday, October 08, 2012

The Art of Wardrobe Building: My Philosophy

“I won’t say, ‘You must have a miniskirt.’ If you don’t have nice legs, it won’t work out. It’s not a question of must haves: it’s more about finding yourself. Who you are, what fits you, what you feel confident in — it’s more about feeling confident than having whatever look.” 
- Isabel Marant

In a world obsessed with having the latest "It" item - be it a bag, a pair of shoes, or a breakthrough gadget, people get so caught up with the hype and hysteria that they just have to have "It".

But the fact of the matter is, not every "It" item is for you, the same way not every "It" item is for me. You have to take into account your body shape (in the case of clothes), your budget, your lifestyle, and if you are lucky enough to know it, your true style.

As Isabel Marant says, "It's not a question of must haves; it's more about finding yourself". To be honest, I went through so many looks before I truly found my own style.

In high school, I did the preppy polo shirt with denims or shorts and loafers bit. I did the Doc Martens, plaid flannel shirt, oversized Girbauds look too.

I went through the Umbro soccer shorts, t-shirt and Charles Barkley high-tops phase when I was in first year college. By the time I was about to graduate, I was in my hippie phase and I kept on wearing Birkenstocks with flared Diesel jeans, flared corduroys or cargo pants. With my dad's Army issue camouflage shirts. In between I wore ankle boots from Russell & Bromley with bootleg pants and Ralph Lauren shirts, Patrick Cox loafers with  a mini kilt (inspired by the movie Clueless) and a short sleeved turtleneck top. My friend Xsa and I even went through a surfer girl phase, wearing Roxy board shorts and hoodies, flip flops from Reef and Quiksilver tees (blame it on Kate Bosworth in Blue Crush). To go to Punta Fuego. Hello.

When I started working for a bank, I tried the corporate girl look. Pencil skirt, cropped jackets, heels. It just wasn't me. It felt like I was playing "pretend office girl". Although I still like wearing pencil skirts to this day. When I moved to retail marketing/merchandising, I was into button down shirts and cropped pants, with zapatillas or driving shoes from Tods. Then I moved on to a more mannish vibe, wearing button downs with trousers and bowling shoes from Camper. I liked that look. It felt "me".

And then, because we had a corporate casual dress code in Citibank, I discovered I also liked wearing full skirts. Full 50s style skirts. And granny dresses. And shirt dresses. I liked wearing black & white Edie Sedgwick stripes and cropped pencil trousers. Then all striped shirts for that matter. Then I got obsessed with ballet flats. Because we could wear flats to work. It kick-started my ballet flats "collection".

Moving to the US was my "downfall". When you see all these stylish people in New York, and Barneys and Bergdorf, Saks Fifth & SoHo and all these cool boutiques are just too darn accessible, especially when they go on sale, there is no looking back. You buy! I also realized I was a downtown girl, and that as much as I liked reading Socialite Rank and Park Avenue Peerage, my aesthetic was really downtown.

Today, my style is an amalgamation of the greatest hits of my sartorial past. Preppy with a dash of edge. A hint of feminine, with a whole lot of tomboy. If I were to shop in five stores for the rest of my life, it's easy:

- A.P.C.
- Isabel Marant
- H&M
- J. Crew
- Barneys

Then of course, I support Filipino, so that would be:

- Anthology Shoes
- Catalogue63
- Sexy White Shirt
- Greenbelt 5 for all the local designer stuff heehee

Bottom line is, your philosophy should be to stay true to your own style, and buy things that work with your lifestyle. Don't use a limited budget as an excuse. My friend Nina M. and I often talk about this. That it's a great thing to have a limited budget. Because it forces you to curate, and really think your purchases through. So much so that you don't succumb to "It".

As a starting point to finding your own style here are five points to think about:

- your style icon. Why do you like his/her style? What resonates with you?
- the oldest thing in your wardrobe that you still use up to now, it's a testament to what you really love
- the most often used thing in your wardrobe, it tells you what is practical in your life right now
- your favorite store, ask yourself why you like the clothes there
- if you had all the money in the world, where will you shop? This tells you what you really like, if you had an unlimited budget. It allows you to go beyond what is a "practical buy" and gives you a glimpse of the "style star" hiding inside you. You can work towards buying similar pieces or will force you to save so you can get what you really want, even if it takes you years.

Take the time to think these five points through. Jot down your thoughts and try to see which direction your heart and closet is pointing to. ;)


ambquezada said...

I love this post. In a world where I'm constantly told to dress more (from what I usually do) and is constantly compared to my fashionable mom and sister, this post helps me be courageous and at ease of who I am. I don't mind wearing hand-me-downs. But I make sure that whatever I get, I like.

Unknown said...

This got me thinking and has inspired me to do a post about my style too! I shall link your post ha. The five points are helpful to know your true style but sadly, I think I'm a lil bit of everything except the grudge/goth look that is. Heehee

Mom-Friday said...

I'm a mix of a lot of things so I don't have just one look or style for myseld. And I agree, having a limited budget made me think through my purchases more, that's why I still have items in my closet that are more than 10years old, and still use!!! :)
Great post Tin!

celine said...

Great post Tin! Funny, I feel like NY had the opposite effect on me. Having to be so practical made me a lot less focused on trends and more focused on what I really, truly liked.

Other than the limited budget, a few things that also help "curate":

1. Not having enough closet space.
2. The thought that you may have to pack everything you own into a box and move at least once a year!

NY misses you! I'll be in Manila in Feb; hope I can see you and your little gang then! Hugs to the babies and the hubby!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tin! What are the other personal style blogs that you would recommend? Love your blog =)

Martina said...

Hi Tin!

I'm just catching up on your blog now because we've been out the past month, thank you so much for including Catalogue63 in your list! Such an honor, especially coming from you whose style we love :D Thank you again for all the support! :) And I love this post! I can so relate. I've also tried so many styles and trends and I think today, even at 30, my style is still evolving. :)

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