By Samantha Chin
During last Friday night’s drinks, our “GTD” (Getting-Things-Done) maestro Eileen and I were talking about our shared weakness of buying things and not using them, particularly clothes. She described how, as a person who prefers muted colours, her friend got her to buy something vibrant – a floral dress with cut-offs at the waist. That dress remained in her cupboard collecting dust.
I am not the most fashion-conscious person; I value comfort more than style. But this struck a chord. I too have many unworn clothes – clothes that were once popular (remember cropped jackets?) and four-inch heels still new in their boxes.
Like Eileen, my well-dressed friends (and fashion bloggers) influenced many of my own purchases. My friends, with more shopping and browsing experience, have a better understanding of how fashion works and they would offer well-meaning advice, “You should wear something to show off your curves!” They want to help me look as best as I can and I love them for that. However looking at these clothes, left untouched in my cupboard, made me unhappy and uncomfortable. No matter how I looked on the outside, if the clothes were not comfortable, I would not feel good. Then, it hit me that comfort is the key criteria for me.
Through daily browsing on social media, I started noticing a pattern of comfortable styles I “liked” and started saving my favourite images from Instagram onto my phone, and the pattern became clearer. The styles are fun, almost whimsical and extremely comfortable. No jackets, and definitely no four-inch high heels.
I started to focus on clothes within a set of criteria (comfort and fun style) and my closet started improving. Now my colleagues do not see me in the same five clothes for each weekday of the week. I take more joy in dressing up in the morning, savouring the time spent getting ready to go out.
I still admire girls who make high fashion look effortless, but now I understand it is not for me. I am working on my own ideal look. There is no one mould to what beauty is. Not everyone has to have, as Taylor Swift sings in “Style”, “that good girl faith and a tight little skirt”.
And it feels the same for work as well.
My parents dreamt for me a career in medicine, engineering, pharmacy or anything with “professional” over it. They have years of experience in the workforce, and are offering well-intentioned advice for my success. Those career options did not gel with my interests, which is in the humanities.
I remember preparing for an interview for a management trainee position with one of the banks, and one of the most expected questions is “Why are you interested in the role?” I could not come up with any satisfying answer.
As I pass my third year work anniversary, the pattern looks clearer. Just like my taste in clothes, I noticed the work I am more energised on – having meaningful conversations with people, learning about organisations and writing. It does not make the journey any smoother, but I get up every morning thinking about how to create value and engagement with people, and listening to personal stories about work.
“Create your own style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.” – Anna Wintour, Editor-in-chief, Vogue