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I listened to the work fashion episode of TFG while at work and then started this book about the psychology of dress. I'm not a very professional dresser. I hate tailored things even though they look good because my body keeps changing and they can't keep up. And I have never dry-cleaned anything I own with the exception of my bridesmaid dress for my sister's wedding but then I never saw that dress again.

I also have never really had a job where it is imperative that I dress to the nines. My current job is data entry but I don't work in an office. The only dress code is steel toed shoes and a reflective vest so really, nobody cares about your effort. It's also really cold so I never take off my hoodies pretty much.

I just realized that I hate collared polo shirts even though they had been my go to for business casual ever since. I basically grew up on cheap shirts with fake brands and ugly designs in front. My mom bought them at a market stall. And she herself, even though she sold clothes for a living, wore a uniform all the time of button down patterned or plain blouses and black slacks with some loafer shoe. My dad is more stylish except his style pretty much freeze-framed: tucked in polo shirt or tee, belted straight leg jeans and a comfy and light running shoe. He also policed the heck out of my clothes growing up. I think my mantra that I got from him is don't make a spectacle of yourself. Dress respectably. Don't catch attention. Don't wear anything too short. Blah blah blah.

I actually learned to shop for myself on a trip to Hong Kong after high school. I remember looking out the shuttle from the airport and marvelling at how everyone on the street looked amazing. College I was a big mess though, a mix of boring things and weird things. I bought one pair of bell bottoms. At one point, I wore a witchy black dress and boots with pointy toes. Then one time I wore my gym uniform all day basically.

After college, I learned the fun of thrift shops and the beginnings of my style was born. I called it shabby chic after that one show, but really it's the soft faded colours and interesting patterned fabrics and the occasional funny graphic tee. In Canada, I discovered my favourite neutral which is navy blue. I also am partial to gray and charcoal. As I've gotten older, the graphic tee lost its appeal. I'm less kitsch now and leaning towards classier, plain looks.

I also have this self-appointed mantra of disembellish, disadorn. (After a poem I wrote.) It just reminded me that sometimes simplicity is enough, that I don't really have a compelling need to stand out and be unique and one of a kind. I still have some fun things, but they're in colours, patterns, fabrics and cuts that fit my current body, are appropriate in most occasions, and within the budget.

The one book that really influenced my style though is called Cheap Date's Guide to Style. It talks about making your own fashion classics, and about getting inspiration not just from what's in magazines but also movies and books and art. I don't really have a fashion icon to imitate though I admire the bravery of Frida Kahlo and Beth Ditto. I had a brief mori girl phase but after a while it felt infantilized. My older woman inspiration is my aunt who is always well-dressed and well-maintained. And my little sister who is slowly building a more mature wardrobe, and also is a go-getter with a strong independent streak. She's very trendy but has her own fashion quirks too.

Things still on my fashion wishlist: Decent work bag, unbranded, not too big or small, possibly leather, with long enough straps or a crossbody strap. Work appropriate dresses with pockets and lining. Decent coat. Low heels. Good pant suit. Thick and sturdy tights. Winter boots.

I wonder what people think of my clothes, though. Like I seem to give off this proto-hipster impression of quirky second hand clothes even before the coinage of the term, but not really because I am the type to jump on a band wagon when it's almost over, like the buddha bead bracelets in college and the current harem pants. I'm really slow to adopt trends because I like what I like and most of what's trendy won't work wih my body anyway.

January 2017

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