STYLE CHALLENGE: THE “UGLY” SHIRT

We all have those items of clothing in our closet that we naturally skip over. It could be a pencil skirt that doesn’t go up past your thighs anymore but you keep in the vain hope that “It gets harder to lose weight as you get older” doesn’t apply to you. Maybe it’s the perfect white T-shirt with imperfect yellow armpit stains that you won’t wear or throw out until you find a suitable replacement.

And then there’s the “What was I thinking when I bought it?” pieces that seemed like a good idea at the time but now hang there rejected while every other apparel gets asked to dance.

While this could be the perfect opportunity to KonMari the heck out of your wardrobe, why not tap into your inner creativity and try to make your uncertain clothing work? I mean, there was something that drew you to the item in the first place so it deserves a chance before you go searching for the nearest donation bin.

Let’s all go to our closet and choose something that has rarely or never been worn. Come on, get moving!

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OK, I’m back, how about you? Oh, you stopped to take selfies with some forgotten pieces you discovered and are now posting it on your Instagram stories using the “Poll” option to decide whether to toss or keep it? OK, OK, I’ll wait…

 

Alright, are you back? It’s about time! What did you select? I found this shirt (still in the bag!) that had been sitting in one of my drawers:

I bought this blouse on a trip to Hong Kong thinking I could pull it off for everyday wear. It’s actually part of a pajama set but nightwear as outerwear is supposed to be cool I hear. For some reason though I could never bring myself to leave the house wearing this.

First I wasn’t sure how conservative dressers in my family and society would view the PJ aspect (“Oh look at her trying to be weird again”). Then there was the fear of being mocked for looking like a dim sum waitress from said unadventurous dressers. But hey, if non-Indians wear bindis and delight in henna tattoos then why couldn’t this Indian girl dabble in another culture’s clothing, right?

With this mindset, I challenged myself to bring this shirt to life in three different ways. You decide if I should keep it or toss it straight into the arms of a sleepy dim sum waitress who’s getting ready for bed.

LOOK #1: THE SILK ROAD

Style factor: I’ve never met a robe that didn’t instantly make an outfit look more stylish. Layers give the impression that you made an effort to intentionally put pieces together, not lazily wear the first thing you grabbed. I particularly like how the silky robe contrasts with the unique buttons of the shirt – called “frog closures” in case you didn’t know. It gives the look a nice vintage feel.

Perfect for: A Saturday afternoon when you will be out and about but you aren’t sure if you will run into anyone you know, so you dress nicely just in case without worrying about “wasting” your best pieces.

LOOK #2: BLAZER OF GLORY

Style factor: Here we have a contrasting combo of sophisticated (the blazer) and trendy (track pants) to add flair to an otherwise dull look (the shirt). Juxtaposing different types of styles – formal/informal, classy/casual, sporty/professional – is a surefire way to give an outfit depth. It’s also a good exercise to help you learn to re-wear your pieces in different ways.

Perfect for: This outfit can easily go from work to play. It gives the impression that you had a really busy and productive day even if the truth is you wore it for 10 minutes before your baby threw up on it.

LOOK #3: OUT IN THE OPEN

Style factor: So you have a shirt you’re not quite sure about? Whatever! Embrace it and wear it with confidence! Anything can be dressed up with tons of jewelry and statement accessories. Throw on all your loved items – more is more! This can be applied to even the simplest outfit of yoga pants and a tank top. Enjoy your clothes even if you’re wearing a shirt that should be on the body of an arm attached to the hand that’s refilling your Oolong tea.

Perfect for: Having fun! Sure, it was stressful to wear a shirt I wasn’t even confident about in the first place. It reminded me that a foolproof tactic before making a questionable purchase is to visualize ways you can style the item with pieces you already own. It’s effective and ensures you’ll have ample opportunities to wear it. But realistically, who applies such carefully thought out logic and decision making when it comes to shopping. The best look you can wear is the smile that’s only achieved by impulsively buying things!

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