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Can we just talk: How moving out taught me to shed the clothes of my youth

Can we just talk: How moving out taught me to shed the clothes of my youth

Cleaning out my closet

Text: Cheryl Chan


It takes a pandemic for me to discover that I have no discernible hobbies. As people lament on social media about wanting to break free (as well as post their laundry list of things they plan to do once the Circuit Breaker measures have lifted), I'm sitting back with The Rolling Stones on Spotify ('Beast of Burden' is my jam), ice coffee in hand (I'm partial to an ice soy vanilla latte), secretly enjoying the tons of free time I now have.

Now, I don't even consider myself an introvert. In fact, I rank pretty highly on any extroversion tests I've done online (if the internet says so, then it must be accurate). But I would consider myself a homebody as most of my free time is spent watching movies, TV shows, YouTube, and of course, a good number of trashy reality shows there are out there (hey, I never claimed to be highbrow). Also, is listening to music still considered a hobby? Because according to Reddit, if I say yes to this out loud I am an elitist musical douche, so I guess it's a no for now.

So this brings me to the last of my "hobbies" fashion. Or rather, collecting it. Fashion has always been something that I've held dear to my heart. I mean hello, as Buro. Singapore's latest fashion editor (hi, how are ya?), I've liked it enough to let it basically become my career. Call me a byproduct of the 2000s, but growing up I was obsessed with magazines, and every rom-com I watched basically told me the dream was to become a fashion magazine editor. In this dream I also had to move to New York, but looking at how the state of things are right now, let's say I'm glad I didn't manage to fulfill that part.

Can we just talk: How moving out taught me to shed the clothes of my youth (фото 1)Read in Carrie Bradshaw's voice: "And as I lay here typing, it was at the moment where I wondered outloud, was my style in quarantine as well?"

But I am however moving out. Well, it's only 15 minutes away by bus from my family, but still, a very un-Singaporean decision given that I'm choosing to do so with friends as opposed to waiting for my fictional boyfriend to propose we get a BTO together. But with the excitement of moving out comes the hassle of packing up. One truly does not know the amount of things you can amass till you have to squeeze your entire life into five boxes. And now the fashion collection that I have so proudly amassed have quickly become the bane of my existence. Oh, how the tides have turned.

How does one little person accumulate so much clothing you may ask. Well, with no discernable hobbies, spending money on clothing worthy of collecting was my way of fun. Some people collect Pokémon cards, I buy Jaquemus dresses (or as a friend calls them, ridiculously proportioned clothing) to wear to work on a Tuesday.

As detailed here in a story on the coming-of-age purchases that defined us, I guess having a stylish wardrobe was mine. You know that scene in The Devil Wears Prada when Emily tells Andy that she sold her soul the minute she put on her first pair of Jimmy Choo's? That was me the second I slipped on my first tissue-paper thin Rick Owens tank top. And I guess you could say I've been continuously chasing that high for the last decade of my life. Throw in a disposable income with no huge debt in order, and you've got yourself a shopping addiction that almost went seriously out of control.

Can we just talk: How moving out taught me to shed the clothes of my youth (фото 2)Clothing was always a way for me to find my "people", and I used to envy the beautiful sets of stylish friends snapped at fashion week

When you grow up idolising designers and admiring the beautiful clothing they create, it's natural to strive to be a part of that world. And hey, it's a fun way to express your creativity as well. I can't create music or draw to save my life, but I sure can put an outfit together.

But now that I have to consolidate all of my clothing into one space, and then manage it into an even smaller space, I'm faced with the mistakes of my youth. The trendy sequinned jeans that I never wore beyond a season, or the colourful holiday gear I hastily bought in the hopes that I could one day be a viral smash due to my outfits (LOL), all remind me of who I used to be, but not who I am today.

The designer "investment pieces" I thought were worth purchasing? They now all cost me, for every added piece means more boxes and an increased quotation from the movers. And even after a weekend spent clearing out what felt like half of my wardrobe, I still have to leave behind formal wear and seasonal gear in my parent's house.

Can we just talk: How moving out taught me to shed the clothes of my youth (фото 3)
An artist's rendition of me saying goodbye to all my clothes

So while I once thought the right wardrobe was the key to looking like an adult on the outside, not managing my finances properly definitely didn't make me feel like one on the inside either. And if part of loving something properly means to let them go, then goodbye my lovers, goodbye my friends, we had great times together, but it's off to the donate pile for you.

So as I pack to continue both my life and style journey with the three boxes that made the cut, I invite you to follow along as I unveil Can We Just Talk, a monthly column from me where I chronicle personal stories, (hopefully) funny anecdotes, honest opinions and maybe, if you're lucky, a couple of embarrassing tales along the way.

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