Dressing Up? Dressing Down?
For me, dressing up is putting in the effort to mix and match my outfits. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a certain style, since I like a variety of different styles, but more towards the balance in colors, patterns, and so on. I do think that wearing skirts and dresses are definitely associated with dressing up, but wearing pants can also be part of it. And of course wearing something a little revealing, such as off-shoulder or crop tops, or short skirts are also a big part of it. But, the ultimate dressing up for me is to style my hair, along with mixing-and-matching my outfit with my makeup and accessories.
While dressing down is putting in less effort to creating a balanced look. Basically, it’s when I just wear whatever’s at the top of the drawer. Okay, I don’t actually wear “whatever” is at the top of my drawer, but I would purposely wear something that’s not balanced, or what would make me look shabbier. And of course, this includes not wearing any accessories or even doing my hair.
Why I Love to Dress Up
I’m just going to be honest, but dressing up makes me feel pretty and gives me a confidence boost. It makes me feel that putting in some effort in my appearance can really make a huge difference, and also gives me a sense of control in how I appear to others. Dressing up brings me joy, as long as I’m not obligated to do it. In a way, it’s something I do for myself and not for other people, but is something that I rarely do in reality.
Why I Dress Down
I dress down to avoid unwanted attention, whether it is positive or negative.
This quarantine period allowed me to focus more on myself than others, in a sense that I felt more freedom in choosing whether to dress up or down. Although my laziness did encourage me to dress down for most of the time, but there are times when I do want to dress up. A few days ago, I was inspired to wear a red checkered pleated mini skirt paired with a black tee, which I consider dressing up since I was wearing a color that stood out and showing more of my legs. I went out to walk my relatives’ dog and received unwanted attention.
“Are you Japanese?” A random kid asked. At first, I didn’t realize that the question was directed to me. In my head, I just thought of how out of the blue this question was. Then I realized that it was probably because I dressed up. I was not upset by his question, since Japanese people have mistaken me for being Japanese too. But, I was more surprised by this unwanted attention since all I did was just dress up (I didn’t even style my hair or did my makeup).
This experience made me think about how visually dominant this world is. The attention that I only receive when I dress up, feels very unauthentic to me. When I don’t dress up, people don’t pay as much attention to me as when I do dress up. I really can’t stand this insincerity because it’s such a pity when others only see my physical appearance as opposed to who I really am inside. Thus, further encouraging me to dress down, because then I can figure out who actually matters in my life.
On that very same walk, a couple old men approached me and asked about which dog I owned. At the time, I was very surprised by this unwanted attention and felt very uncomfortable and scared. I was afraid of being raped. I know that my fear is irrational, but I can’t help but be afraid. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Growing up in a conservative society where victim-blaming is prevalent and always being told to “dress accordingly”, it is so easy for me to think that the only way I can keep myself safe is to dress accordingly. By dressing accordingly, it means to cover more of the skin, wearing long pants or skirts, and long sleeved tops, etc. Hence, my irrational fear leads me to suppress my desire to dress up in order to stay in my comfort zone. But, I am starting to pity myself for feeling responsible for preventing other people’s wrongdoings.
I was recently inspired by Mark Manson’s best-selling novel, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck”, as he discussed how people who fear death are not truly living. This made me reflect on how my irrational fear is controlling how I’m living, instead of me being the one controlling my life decisions. Yes, I do dress down so that I could filter out my relationships, but I shouldn’t be dressing down because I fear attention. It is difficult to accept this fact since this is one of my biggest insecurities in life, but I know that in order to become the person I want to be, acceptance is my starting point. And I will practice being away from my comfort zone by dressing up to my heart’s content.