Trading Places – Crisscrossing Black and Yellow

After four years of Fashion School, I came out with two things: limited job prospects and a wardrobe consisting of black clothing. Depressing as it may seem on the surface, a black palate is both practical and flattering. And frankly, black goes with everything. Win-win, I always thought. Working at Novella, however, I was alarmed by my stylish colleague, Liat, whose brazen wardrobe appears effortless and playful — and terrifying when I envision it on myself.

For the past six years, my new year’s resolution was to methodically incorporate at least one item of colour into my wardrobe. I’d start off slowly by adding just a pop of colour in limited doses, so as not to overwhelm my psyche. So far I have veered into white and light grey — it has been a trying process. New year’s resolutions often become distant memories. Each morning, in a rush and with excuses, I end up wearing black and hoping texture will somehow spice things up. So obviously, the office took one look at me and decided that my funeral-like appearance required an upgrade. So for our second Trading Places article, Liat and I partnered up to revisit basics and wear outfits with colour — even yellow.

DAYTIME OUTFIT

Michelle: The average person simply cannot wear yellow and not look like Big Bird. But, for Liat’s sake, I really tried to like this top. I was pleasantly surprised to see how flounce sleeves could make the yellowness seem intentional and I liked how they added some texture and a playful vibe, which, to be honest, I don’t have. Next, I tried on the gingham trousers, which at first glance reminded me of a picnic table. I have to say though, that these pants were both soft and stretchy and on-point with this season’s trends. Incorporating some black made me feel like I could actually wear them. In general, my daily uniform includes black skinny jeans, and I noticed how much more mobility I had with these pants. I was fresh, youthful and a literal beam of sunlight. Unsurprisingly, I did end up buying the pants to wear with more black. The yellow will have to wait till 2018.

Liat: As a fashion blogger, my biggest fear is looking boring. And for that reason, the oversized sweater didn’t look appealing to me. My first thought was: This is not my cup of tea. But at the same time, I was curious to see how it will make me feel when I pull it off. As for the jeans, I was satisfied with what Michelle picked for me. I adore the fringe details on the buttom because of the uniqueness they add. The boyfriend fit along with the oversized sweater made me rethink my fancy style, especially when it comes to my busy unglamorous life as a busy mom. I love colours, prints, and feminine details like ruffles and lace, but for a casual weekend look, like a day with my kids at the park, I can never go wrong with such a comfy outfit.

NIGHTTIME OUTFIT

Michelle: I’m just going to start off by saying that I hate dresses because they require a certain femininity that I do not possess. Rompers or jumpsuits are just their awkward and unappealing half siblings because when you have to go to the bathroom, ain’t nobody got time for all that work! Needless to say, this romper was a challenge, both physically and emotionally. It was also a full-on floral print with a ribbon tie back, paired with a Supreme Deluxe pizza purse. There was a lot going on. My petite frame was fully submerged and drowning in colour, pattern, and print, and quickly moving through the five stages of grief. Initially, I was in denial thinking, “maybe this works.” I quickly moved to stage two and three, realizing that I had put both legs in one leg of the romper but bargaining with myself that no one would realize my error. I then became depressed, realizing that colour was not for me and finally accepting that only Liat would ever be able to look cool in this outfit. This outfit was way too far out of my comfort zone.

Liat: The black top featuring a built-in corset belt was extremely comfortable and it’s definitely something I see myself wearing with a colourful flowy skirt or high waisted pants. I love the idea that this corset is already attached to the shirt, which saved me the time of figuring out what to wear. Plus, it’s super trendy this season. Pairing it with black skinny jeans and oversized shirt makes it too casual for my fashionista soul, especially as an evening look, since I am the type of person who is always trying to mix things up and create an unexpected combination. Also I was afraid that that the button up shirt looked quite boyish. Even so, it’s not an outfit I’d normally pick for going out. But I must say it looks great together and I am willing to adopt it as a day look. I was really satisfied with what Michelle picked out for me and I think it’s also flattering to my body shape.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Michelle: Despite my pessimistic attitude toward all things colourful or peppy, I have to admit that I had a lot of fun with Liat and this exercise. It made me realize that society does not care what you wear as long as you own it. I learnt to be less anxious about colour and more willing to try something new, so next time I see colour on a rack, I will at least give it a shot. But, I am not sure if I’d ever wear yellow again, so don’t hold your breath.

Liat: As a fashion addict, I am always willing to go on a shopping spree. For me this experience was pure fun. I noticed how I am always looking for outfits that will let my individuality pop up, which leads to a closet that lacks basic pieces like plain t shirts or simple black jeans. I realized that I need to increase the causal department in my closet. It also made me realize that I have too many girly dresses, which I got just because I couldn’t leave them hanging in the store. At the end of the day, I bought the black corset top Michelle offered me because of it versatility.

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Trading Places — Ripped Denim and Navy Cardigan

Of many idioms in the English language, ‘to be comfortable in one’s own skin’ is one of my favorites because it seems to me to express a certain kind of ideal: to be confident enough to be placed anywhere with anyone, exist without the limits of comfort zones. I’m not sure if anyone lives a life like that — maybe Jonathan Goldsmith does —and I certainly try to stay within the boundaries of my comfort zones. Routines are key to this feat; go to the same coffee shop, sit at the same spot, order the same drink; make, of small things in one’s daily life, rituals and repeat them. Or, visit the same shops, wear the same clothes in blacks and whites, and always button the button-up shirt all the way up.

In many ways, we are bound by what we’ve become comfortable with. And it’s difficult to ever really confront them since we’re also bound by the mechanisms of our daily lives and since not all of us can have an Eat, Pray, Love soul searching cruise down the inner-self time off from it. So at Novella, we thought that changing outfits, getting into something you’re not really used to, is a good and simple way to break free from our routines.

Trading Places is our way of trying to see ourselves outside of our usual selves. That our team’s outfits range from flowy flower patterned blouses, classic oxford button downs, and head to toe black to embroidered band denim jackets, sheer polka dot dresses, and short-sleeve jumpsuits make this prison break more exciting. For our first installment, Chris, our fashion editor, and I partnered up to kick each other out of our respective comfort zones.

Daytime Outfit

Hoon: The Metalica tank top was beyond comfortable. I don’t think I’ve ever worn anything that so coyly covered and uncovered my nipples every time I lifted my arms. The breeze, since it was a hot day, was nice and cool and I adjusted well to life at this temperature. Next, I put on the denim shorts. My left foot got caught in one of the artfully ripped areas and for a second it seemed as though it might rip entirely and leave me with no choice but to lead a criminal life of damaging, and absolutely refusing to pay for, H&M shorts. Once on, the shorts let in a lot of air and was not as tight as I had originally anticipated or as Chris had warned, which was a relief. Then I put on the hoodie, which was cut in a way that the front ends of it veered away from my body. This, also, was a new sensation. It was possibly the most daring outerwear I’ve ever worn. I think that had I been wearing my usual pair of long black pants, I might not have felt too out of place in this outfit Chris picked out for me. Something about the ripped denim, as absurd as it is, was entirely contrary to the way I picture myself.

Chris: Although this may seem like a simple white shirt and casual navy blue pants, this was so far out of my comfort zone that it’s almost haunting to see these pictures as I write this. I’ve never been the type of person to opt for what others would consider “appropriate” and “tame” clothing. My personal style, has above all else, remained extremely casual and undeniably very me. So the thought of myself (sorry Hoon) moving over to the dark side of “grown up” dressing was really a step away from anything I would ever do in my personal life. There is one thing that I think I really enjoy about this outfit; the pants. Now I can undoubtedly do without the white button up shirt, but the pants are truly something I could see myself wearing and making my own. Not only were they extremely comfortable, moving with my body rather than against it, they came with andextremely handy and unexpected draw string waist, which would allow me to tighten and loosen my pants as the occasion calls for. Congratulations Hoon, you’ve made me realize that Uniqlo has comfy pants. I hope you’re proud of yourself.

Nighttime Outfit

Hoon: You can’t really see it in the photo but the ripped areas of this particular pair of jeans from Zara are curiously patched with various patterns, the most disconcerting of them all the two leopard prints. The jeans were tight but wearable, which seemed to me to be cruel in that they’re meant to be exactly that: tight and just a snippet short of being unbearable. I fumbled for a while to get them off and, to be honest, I don’t think Chris would really wear this particular pair himself. Chris and I both liked the green, white, and yellow shirt with daisies on them. It has splashes of brightness but was toned down by the dark green, which would make it, were I to go down that route, the gateway shirt to more colourful shirts. The light oversized denim jacket though you can’t see it in this photo, had roses embroidered in the back. But aside from the oversized aspect, once I put it on, I realized that it isn’t too far from something I’d venture to try on by myself if the mood were to strike.

Chris: Here’s the thing. Hoon is one of the lucky few on this beautiful blue planet that can pull off the studious Ivy League valedictorian look and not make it look like the constricting uniform of the ruling patriarchy. I, on the other hand, manage to make this J.Crew ensemble look like a failed attempt at making an aggressive Yale Skull & Bones look approachable and friendly. There’s something about this navy cardigan and grey-slack-dress shirt combo that that looks menacing. It looks predatory. Like a republican who’s smelled the blood of a  lower middle class citizen and is looking for nothing less than to pounce on his unsuspecting victim and rid them of their life force through heavy taxation and a higher cost of living. But if I do look to the bright side, the one thing I may consider wearing out of all three items would have to be the cardigan, just as long as I can have it oversized and riddled with holes and tears.

Final Thoughts

Hoon: The exercise was fun. I noticed how the uneasiness I felt while Chris picked out the outfits would soon disappear and seem disproportionate in retrospect. Goes to show that I egregiously associate certain aspects of myself with the types of clothes I choose to wear. Though I am still pretty certain that I’d not wear the ripped denim of my own accord, I might very well go back to that H&M for that tank top.

Chris: I think my favourite part of this little activity was watching Hoon’s eyes widen and face shoot white as I went through rack after rack, pulling out options of what I was willing to put him in. In retrospect, I did  manage to learn something interesting about how two different people view each other and how we should accept everyone for what makes them different and unique. Props goes to Hoon though. Our outing has inspired me to buy both outfits that I put Hoon in.

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