Attitude Personal Outfit

Why you should wear what you love

Knitted Two Piece Crossover Top-5

Why you should wear that you love – what I learned from my past fashion faux-pas

Knitted Top & Knitted Skirt Hello Parry | ‘Caty’ Sunglasses & ‘Trio’ Bag – Celine | Watch – Cluse Watches | Ring – Porter Lyons | Shoes – Adidas Originals (Stan Smith)

I have never considered myself ‘fashionable’. In fact, not only do I dislike the term, but my many ill-advised fashion misadventures in the past would indicate quite the opposite. However, it is through making these so-called fashion faux-pas that I learned what ‘personal style’ is all about.

Let’s start in primary school – my favourite piece of clothing in the world was a giant tartan circle skirt that I couldn’t spin around in without taking out a vase or two. While all the other kids were wearing quite sensible things like t-shirt and jeans, I was always in my big tartan skirt, trying to be a princess. That is, until after my pre-teen growth spurt, when no amount of denial could help me fit into it anymore.

Come high school, I had developed an obsession with all things country western (except the music). I had a pair of maroon cowboy boots and even a cowboy hat in the gaudiest hot pink. Despite being the cause of much pointing from strangers and humiliation for my friends, I wore that bright pink cowboy hat everywhere and with everything.

Then, in uni, having learned nothing of fitting in with the crowd, I had moved on to my ‘school girl’ phase – probably something to do with my discovery of Japanese Anime – which had me permanently outfitted in tiny (tiny) mini-skirts and knee-high socks – I even put my high school uniform back into rotation. This borderline sexy costume (paired with an anti-bra attitude) had me branded as the tart of Law school, whose untenable skirt length had probably had me up skirted by every boy on campus. Quite the contrary to being embarrassed about flashing my undies at every crosswind, I was rather knicker-proud about my unsexy cotton numbers, complete with the days of the week printed on the bum.

Later, embarking on my legal career, I decided that it was time to finally become an adult and dress in a ‘socially acceptable’ way. I tried to read fashion magazines, follow trends, and emulate celebrities and even bloggers, but the more I tried to observe all the fashion do’s and dont’s out there, the more confused I became.

Looking back to my fashion-ignorant self, how I looked to others never even crossed my mind. I was just wearing what made me happy and gave me confidence. No wonder the ‘what x you should be wearing this season’ rhetoric never made any sense, and I realised that the question I should have been asking all along is not ‘What am I supposed to wear?’, but ‘What do I want to wear?’; not ‘What style should I adopt?’, but ‘What is my signature style?’.

Much soul searching revealed that, despite my previous track record of gimmicky ensembles, I am a minimalist. I would rather be comfortable and feel like ‘me’, than win any best dressed competitions, and own a few nice things, rather than a wardrobe full of fast fashion. So I wear sneakers any chance I get, invest in well-made signature pieces (in neutral colours for versatility), and am a believer in casual clothes for all occasions, even (and especially) for evening.

It’s not that I am an advocate for dressing conservatively. A judgement about right or wrong in personal style is really not relevant at all. Rather, contextuality is important, and expressing yourself is important. For example, we all need to understand that such things as a two piece suit is inappropriate at the beach, but on the other hand, I can easily see myself wearing a white linen blazer and matching pant on a tropical island somewhere.

I created Beige Renegade precisely to debunk the suggestion that the fashion truth is out there (like the X-Files, this is just fiction). Your clothes should make your life easier and happier, and for this, one must look within, not without. To truly express oneself through how we dress (in other words, personal style as a calling card) is, after all, the purpose for which fashion exists.

So go forth, find your signature style, and always, always wear what you love.

Knitted Two Piece Crossover Top-2 copyKnitted Two Piece Crossover Top-4 copyKnitted Two Piece Crossover Top-5 copyKnitted Two Piece Crossover Top-6 copyShop this look:
Knitted Top & Knitted Skirt Hello Parry | ‘Caty’ Sunglasses & ‘Trio’ Bag – Celine | Watch – Cluse Watches | Ring – Porter Lyons | Shoes – Adidas Originals (Stan Smith)

Photography: Helen-Jayne Driscoll – Boho Tailor

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  • Agnes
    31 December 2015 at 6:31 pm

    Well I definitely can’t imagine you in all things country! Haha

    Glad you were able to find a great balance because your personal style is great!

    Agnes x

    • Jiawa Liu
      1 January 2016 at 4:33 pm

      Haha I have photos of said country western style, which I might divulge one of these days! I think ‘balance’ is the perfect way to characterise what I’ve been talking about, because I don’t think it’s productive to completely reject things you’ve done before, just because you think differently now. I would never wear a cowboy hat now (fingers crossed), but I remember wearing quirky things like that as a lot of fun at the time.

    31 December 2015 at 6:58 pm

    What a great, honest post! So funny to remember all our fashion faux-pas before we’ve found our own style!
    xx. Mirjam

    • Jiawa Liu
      1 January 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Haha thanks hun! I think making ‘mistakes’ is always a good thing because you learn from them. But when you think about it, most of the times they really aren’t mistakes at all, but a different point of view at a different time.

  • Wafaa
    31 December 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Amazing post. You know I went through almost the same dilemma. My style was never extremely far from my current one now, but I always struggled to stick to my personal style and wear what really makes me comfortable regardless of the season trend. Until recently I became very selective of what I buy and I decided to wear only what suits my personality and as being a fashion blogger I decided to work with only the brands that fits to my style 100 % and I’m doing a zero compromise on that. Thanks for being a true inspiration ??.

    • Jiawa Liu
      1 January 2016 at 4:27 pm

      I think that being a blogger presents its own challenges because it’s sometimes hard to say no to brand collaborations, even if it’s not really your style. I think you’ve really made the right choice by not compromising, and it’s definitely paying off, because your style is gorgeous!

  • Claudia
    31 December 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Love the knitted top and skirt and with sneakers looks so cool!

    • Jiawa Liu
      1 January 2016 at 4:23 pm

      Thanks love! Sneakers and knits are always perfect in my book!

  • MissLilly
    31 December 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! If you wear what you love you will also feel more confident and ultimately we should be pleasing ourselves first 🙂 I love comfortable clothing, that makes me look nice. Don’t care about fashion, just care about what I like. Love the knitted top, looks cosy! Wish you a great 2016

    • Jiawa Liu
      1 January 2016 at 4:22 pm

      Yes! Comfort and confidence is the most important! I personally think that people assume ‘caring about fashion’ means that you have to follow trends. But I agree with you 100%, it’s really about what you like, how you interpret fashion/trends to express your unique style. Happy New Year to you too!

  • Anonymous
    9 January 2016 at 2:32 am

    This article was such a pleasure to read! I relate to how you feel, that pressure from the outside world is incredibly strong at times. My dilemma is perhaps opposite of yours: minimalism is very popular and on trend, and while many people love a minimalist style, I like things that are very quirky and perhaps quite different from classic clothing with clean sleek lines. I’ve tried to dress this way, but I don’t feel myself at all. I still love 70’s clothes, 90’s and early 2000’s clothes, intricate detailing and luxurious fabrics! But I feel wearing what I love, I won’t resemble cool fashion bloggers and Instagram street style stars. I just want love what I’m wearing, even if it is passé or not stylish! Following your heart can be a challenge at times. I have to remind myself that what’s in fashion is always changing, so perhaps this season what I’m wearing isn’t cool, but in a few seasons it could be the it style!

    • Jiawa Liu
      9 January 2016 at 8:12 am

      Hi! Thank you so much for reading. Your comment is so interesting, and I believe our experiences are more similar than you think. The dilemma you’re facing seems to be:
      1. You believe that minimalism is currently the trend, and that all the ‘cool fashion bloggers’ are wearing this style. On the other hand, you feel the style you really like for yourself is not in season at the moment.
      2. For some reason that you haven’t elaborated on, you feel compelled/pressured to not wear the style you like, and instead, to resemble fashion bloggers and streetstyle stars who are dressing minimalist.

      As to No. 1, I agree with you that from a certain point of view, it looks like minimalism is a ‘thing’ at the moment. However, trends are really a funny thing, because you will see different trends depending on where you look. In particular, with ‘minimalism’, there’s just as much intel out there that says ‘minimalism’ is in fashion, as it is out of fashion. Minimalism is not currently a strong theme in mainstream fashion at all. What I mean by this is that it is not being seen on the runway, and does not get particular mention in popular fashion media. But I know you are referring more to bloggers and streetstyle stars. However, in the social media world, you are prone to getting a biased view depending on who you are following. For example, if you currently following a lot of the Australian minimalist bloggers, of course it starts to look like nothing but minimalism is cool on social media at the moment. However, it’s absolutely not the case that the more popular personalities on social media, or the big streetstyle stars, are wearing minimalism. For example, many of Australia’s most popular Instagram stars, including Nicole Warne with 1.5m followers, Margaret Zhang with 700k followers, Tash Oakley at 1.6m followers are all not minimalist. The only minimalist Australian bloggers who have been really able to reach over a substantial level of popularity is Amanda Shadsforth and Sara Donaldson. And what about some of the biggest fashion bloggers in the world, like Chiara Ferragni, with 5m followers and Kristina Bazan with 2.2m? They do not identify as being minimal at all. Similarly, none of the most photographed streetstyle stars are often seen in minimalist ensembles – in fact, it is generally understood that in order to get snapped by at fashion week, you need to wear something quirky or colourful, or otherwise quite fantastic.

      No.2 really hits on exactly what I am writing about in this article – wearing what you love, no matter what. But of course, it does depends on what you are trying to achieve. You haven’t said specifically why you feel pressured to dress in a minimal style. If this is about building a popular social media presence, I have heard many of my fellow fashion bloggers say that they believe to be popular you have to have a minimal Instagram feed. However, as I mentioned in the above paragraph, the ‘statistics’ don’t really agree with this. In fact, it seems to indicate that to be really popular, it would be better to adopt a more mainstream style. I think what is happening is that people are confusing having a minimal Instagram feed with having a consistent brand image in general. No matter what it is you are doing, it is a strong brand that is really going to get you noticed. For this reason, social media personalities that have a special gimmick tend to gain popularity very quickly. For example, Murad Osmann built his 3.7m following by consistently posting photos of being led around the world by the hand by his beautifully dressed girlfriend.

      I guess if what you are saying is that it’s difficult to feel confident when what you are wearing is what’s the popular trend. Then what it sounds like to me is that you are a bit unsure about what it is that will make you happy, whether it’s dressing in the way that you love, or conforming to a subculture that you want to be a part of. When I used to wear quite quirky clothes, I have to admit that it was really out of an ignorance about fashion, and I just wanted to have fun and express myself in the way I knew how. I thought wearing simple t shirt and jeans was incredibly boring, and didn’t understand how you can express yourself when you don’t add something quirky or special.It was only after I exposed myself more to the fashion world that I was able to look at everything that’s out there and decide what I really liked. I’ve also come to realise that there are so many ways to express yourself through fashion. In fact, sometimes not making a statement (which is often what minimalism is about) can be the most potent statement of all.

      • Anonymous
        10 January 2016 at 6:07 am

        Hi Jiawa,
        Wow, thank you for taking the time to write your very insightful reply. I love hearing your perspective. You have such a broad view of fashion, branding and social media.

        For me it’s because where I live, minimalism is the mainstream style. I’m also an aspiring musician and do not want to be ostracised and mocked for wearing things that aren’t considered stylish. I want to fit in with everyone and be accepted, but when I wear the sleek minimal clothes that are popular, I don’t really feel myself. There are definitely aspects to the minimalistic look that I do love and wear already. I do admit that I haven’t been very into trends for a long time, preferring just to wear what I like. There is a lot of pressure to just conform to a simple classic style, but I often feel that all the rules suck the fun and playfulness out of fashion. I guess with time the answers will become clearer to me.

  • Anonymous
    10 January 2016 at 8:24 am

    I forgot to mention, I love the creativity and expression fashion brings to people. I love to see people wearing what they love, whether it’s a minimal, maximal, underground, vintage or other style. The part I hate about it is the judgment and the rules, the mockery if you’re dressed “wrong” or deviate from the group in some way.

    • Jiawa Liu
      13 January 2016 at 2:03 pm

      Oh yes, I hate when people judge others for what they wear, or make snide unnecessary remarks. But you know, it doesn’t have to be something you have no control over. If you are truly confident and happy in your style, then what other people think or say can’t touch you. As someone who’s never really done a good job of fitting in, I’ve come to realise that, often, when people say negative things about you, it’s your own insecurities, rather than the comment itself, that really ends up hurting you. You know what? Just concentrate on working on yourself, and sooner or later what other people think become pretty irrelevant. That’s the ‘Beige’ way ;D!

  • Dilek
    13 January 2016 at 6:34 am

    If I were to look back now, I would probably cringe at my past fashion choices but as you wrote here I was happy back then when I made them. I remember when I had my Japanese anime craze back in fifth grade I made my mom sew me clothes inspired by anime characters. I even have a yearly class photo where I am wearing this peach colored suit inspired by who-knows which anime paired with sandals in socks…yikes! I am not a fast fashion person either. I like investing in quality and timeless pieces and since I sew most of the clothes I wear, I always make sure that I like my clothes. Thank you for an awesome post! ^^

    • Jiawa Liu
      13 January 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Thanks so much for reading, and for leaving this refreshingly honest comment! It looks like we both went through a Japanese anime stage (and aren’t ashamed to admit it)!! Although my mother was never as supportive as yours about wearing anime character inspired clothes (let alone making them for me!). I remember I actually crafted myself some Chun Li balls one year and wore them out as a hair style…but unfortunately everyone thought I was Sailormoon… As silly as these ‘faux pas’ might seem, I think they are the hallmark of someone who values meaningfulness in what they wear. I feel like I can’t connect with clothes unless I know the story behind them. For example, I love knowing that the iconic Chanel jacket was borrowed from a bellhop’s uniform, and that cable knit sweaters were originally worn by fisherman. So re these scenarios so different to putting my hair up in double buns because I like a particular anime character?

      • Dilek
        14 January 2016 at 12:47 am

        I can’t tell you how much I agree with you. This is why I always try to challenge social construction of what is “fashionable” and what is deemed “cool” and “hot”. I love it when items have a story as you described here which is why I try not to judge people’s outfit choices (or any other life choices) without knowing their story.

        There is no shame in admitting of being an Anime fan. And that Chun Li hair incident…I was a fan of Ray from BeyBlade (one of the many fictional characters I had a crush on…that may sound unhealthy, but I promise I am a sane person). He wore his long hair wrapped in a white cloth thing I cannot describe properly and I thought it was so cool that I tried it for school. I got bored from explaining over and over again who Ray was so the next day I just gave up. In your case, I applaud people for at least knowing who Sailor Moon was. When I mentioned anime to my friends back in the day their first reply was “Those cartoons with the big eyes?” haha Thank you for the awesome reply! ^^

  • Char
    18 January 2016 at 3:13 am

    Completely agree with this! If you’re not in love with what you’re wearing, why wear it?

    Char xo ||

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