I've loved clothes and playing dress up from as far back as I can remember. From the pink frou-frou frock I pranced around in on my fourth birthday, my mum's fascinators I wore as I announced that I was off to the races, to the sky-high Buffalo shoes and cyber-inspired clubwear of my teenage years, how I dressed was one of my main forms of self-expression.
For years, my favourite pastime was shopping for the weirdest clothes I could find. I imagine no one else would buy them, so I wanted to see if I could carry them off. This hobby amassed a sizable wardrobe and I wasn't thinking about how to get the most out of each item either. I certainly hadn't stopped to question what the consequences were for my constant need to accumulate, and it was only in recent years that I've learned about the true cost of fashion, for the people making the clothes and the impact it has on the environment. As a result, I've reconciled that it's still possible to carry on a love affair with fashion as long as we keep making better choices. This led me to the #RedressChallenge.
What exactly is the #RedressChallenge? It's a social media movement raising awareness about making conscious fashion choices. While the hashtag has been around globally (usually relating to fashioning a new piece from an old garment by reconstruction or restyling) this recent wave of tagging has been in support of Singapore's own champion for sustainable fashion, Connected Threads Asia and their annual Fashion Revolution Day.
Like any great revolution in history, it takes time and continued action for real change to happen. For as long as fashion continues to be the second biggest pollutant of the environment, and mass consumerism to ceaselessly rise with an ever-growing population, we need to make an effort to make the right choices (daily!) by making every purchase count.
When I think about someone with a sense of style, those with the newest and latest don't always come to mind. The people who impress me are ones who confidently make whatever they wear, their own. My advice: Don't be afraid to be seen in the same piece over and over again, value everything you own and use your creativity to style it differently each time. Here's how I started.
First, choose an item... I opted for a white cotton blouse from a Parisian concept store at Ngee Ann City, Rue Madame, for its versatility and timelessness, and because I thought not everyone might see past its hippie day-time appeal, making it all the more interesting to style.
Outfit 1: Date ready On it's own, this white cotton top with tassels is a tad too casual for a night out but when paired with a leather skirt and some edgy accessories, it took me from the office straight to date night.
Outfit 2: The power suit Here, the same white blouse is tucked under a tailored jacket and with straight cut pants and heels to help me conquer both the boardroom and the freezing temperatures in the office. I like that the cotton lace and tassels soften an otherwise serious look. The detailing also hints at my inner boho.
Outfit 3: Day dancing White and made of breathable cotton, there's no doubt this top was made for a sunny day outdoors. I threw on a pair of denim shorts and I'm ready for the beach. With the right accessories — loving this boater hat and the eye-catching sling handbag from Thai designer Nasha — I'm festival ready too.
Outfit 4: Old is gold This top has a vintage feel, reminiscent of the Indian cotton smocks that were so popular in the '70s. Inspired by a full throwback, I gave the Rue Madame some flair with flared denim, an actual vintage belt from a friend's mum and this red beret for good measure.
Outfit 5: Fancy a dungaree If you thought overalls were just for kids, construction workers or the Village People, think again. They're ultra chic and they also act as a great cover up when you think your top has been spotted one too many times. The ruffle with tassel combination brings a girly touch to an otherwise tomboyish look.
How do I participate in the #RedressChallenge? Choose a single garment to style several different ways, share these outfits on social media, and then tag any friends you'd like to challenge. Show me what you come up with; tag me on Instagram @tracyjoyphillips.