IF we could categorize people by the way they dress, we would have, on one end of the spectrum, extreme, and on the other, conservative.
On the extreme end, we have Lady Gaga, whose style of dress is outrageous. Take her meat dress, for instance, at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. It’s the first of its kind: tufts of thinly sliced meat draped around her, including a smaller piece mimicking a beret over her grey tresses, and her meat-wrapped platform shoes. Then there’s the purple-hair dress, and the headdresses—a face cage, a white fluffy cloud, and a heavy-set square hairy block.
Sure, she is a celebrity, but her dressing makes a point. She wants to be unconventional, she doesn’t have to follow the crowd. “Baby, I was born this way,” she sings in her song, Born This Way. The way she dresses is just part of her manifesto that she’s “on the right track” and she’s “born to be brave” and “born to survive.”
Not everyone though, has the star power or talent of the grand Lady. Some of us stay in the median. At my school, teachers wear what teachers wear: proper, staid, and decent outfits. The men are always in long-sleeved shirts and black pants, taking after the principal. The ladies, either in a blouse-and-skirt combination or a full dress. There has never been a day in my close to four years in school where a teacher has come into school grounds and all of us boys drop our jaws and go, “Wow!”
Such conservative style of dress speaks of one’s profession as much as personality. My businessman father falls into this category. His business shirts are almost always white. The only other shirt color in his wardrobe is light blue. As for ties, they tend to be of the darker hues without fancy patterns. Mostly, they’re striped. His muted style shows up in his preference for suits that are dark-colored and shirts without monogrammed cuffs. In other words, he is not a flashy guy.
As for me, I’m not flashy too. Uniqlo plain-colored T-shirts are my favorite. I have green, blue, black, and gray. That is my idea of vanity. And for bottoms, Billabongs, and footwear, flip flops or Crocs. For this reason, no one would tease me for being “step” or “uncool.” Instead, I get this kind of comment: “Hey, how come you’re always wearing this?”
I may be boring, but this style of dressing is fuss-free. It’s too tiring to have to wake up to tiresome decisions. Besides, it’s wasteful to be always out there buying new things and clogging up your wardrobe. I’m not like Ryan, for instance, who has pairs and pairs of Nike and Adidas, castles of shoeboxes, acquired from purchases every month. That’s a 200-to-300-dollar dent in his pocket for each shoe purchase—not a problem for a rich kid who can easily finance his fetish for shoes and his desire to keep up with the trend.
Underlying it all, however, is the desire to feel secure and even establish an identity. That’s what teens are caught up with: they crave attention, they crave looking good, they crave to matter in the world. Their fashion statement is attention-seeking, loud, and boisterous. Ear studs that are shaped like spikes or doughnuts, piercings on the nose and the eye brow, and incongruously huge zero-prescription black-rimmed spectacles. And the girls force their feet into wobbly high heels, or stick false eyelashes for the sole purpose of winking like Bambi.
What they wear may seem ludicrous to staid, dull folks like me. But the world of fashion reflects the diversity of the people and personalities. It is a world that runs from the extreme to the conservative.
Chester Chua, Secondary Four
For more essays by Chester, visit Chester Writes.
This essay was written in response to the ‘O’ Levels 2013 exam, Question #3:
The way we dress reveals who we are. What are your views?
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