Sun sea sand

Sun sea sand

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I Am A Summer Girl

Reading through the August edition of InStyle magazine was an eye-opener. In Summer girls V Winter women, it says being a summer or a winter isn’t just about the colour of one’s hair or skin. It’s more about personality (laid-back vs prim) and being comfortable with the kind of clothes you wear (T-shirts vs silk blouses).

And instead of being boxed in by what some may call a stereotype, I think it’s liberating to understand the kind of person you are and the clothes that suit your attitude.

Aside from being a late bloomer in fashion anyway, having bought my first pair of Levi’s at age 32, I had always been unsure of how I wanted to style myself and the look that I wanted to portray.
Yes I am a journalist, but unlike Kate Adie and her flak jackets while on the frontline, I’ve never been close to a warzone – not even a hint – that I can safely say combat boots and cargo pants are a required uniform. The only time I was about to be sent to the nearly-jungles of Perak, when the rebels stole M16s and ammo from the Army outpost and hid in the jungle, the crisis was over and the baddies caught (and shot), before I had even started to pack.
The only justification I had for being uber-casual, as some journos are portrayed, was when I started out at The Sun newspaper and I was covering crime and spot news – police stations, mortuaries, floods (not once), fires (but we were outside, far away and unheroic), murder scenes (nothing as dramatic as CSI) and a landslide. Even then, being uber-unchic, I wore boys’-cut shirts, unflattering trousers and unsexy hiking boots, as I didn’t have a car and walked everywhere. Though it felt like an unnecessary evil – other reporters in the line still managed coiffed hair and heels! – I found myself, twice when I wore baju kurung and proper court shoes, clambering over a mountain of confiscated game machines and trying to skirt puddles and huge patches of sopping red earth of a construction site to view a body encased in cement.
So then I graduated to normal reporting, but I still didn’t have style. I wanted the polished, million-dollar businesswoman look so that people would take me seriously, but with a petite “nearly five-foot” frame and a youthful face – I’m in my 30s but appear 20, if you squint a bit – I think I look like I’m playing dress up with Mom’s clothes.

And being flighty, sometimes I wanted the girlie look, or the gypsy, or the bohemian, or the French chic, or the British classy… well, you get my drift.
Being almost five-foot tall is not that great, either, when it comes to buying clothes off the rack. My proportion is off – shorter body, longer legs, flat front and back – so shirts would ride up at the waist, sleeves go down to my knees, waistbands look like Erkel’s and hems trail in the dust. I fit into European sizes for children, but most outfits in Asia’s a la European boutiques (like Somerset Bay) didn’t fit into the career-girl mould.

And don’t let me go back that far into college days – long flowy skirts and blouses with huge ruffles should have a sign that says “not for you, shrimp!”.

So I meandered along, gaining a bit of fashion insight along the way, enough to buy low waisted Levi’s – which still don’t fit that perfectly in the bum, by the way – and narrower shirts, cutting a long dress to make a shift, a number of high heeled shoes, almost figure hugging kebaya dresses and watching The Devil Wears Prada several times to get more clues. But I still had a thing for blazers and suits, the evils of “power dressing” getting ahold of me.

Then the lightbulb moment from the pages of InStyle.

I am a Summer! Though not blond, I love the sun, preferring to burn (I tan after only 5 minutes) rather than be cooped up in perpetual winter (as I was when studying in the UK). I carry itty-bitty handbags which only fit my cellphone, pack of cigs and cash – I don’t have a wallet – I don’t have a pouch for makeup and I’m not too bothered if my hair curls at the ends and doesn’t look like it did after an expensive salon wash and dry. Of course, I’d never look as good in slouchy trousers and sloppy T-shirts as Jennifer Aniston, and I’d never wear short skirts, but I am kinda like what is written in the magazine about Summer girls, that they “own 70 dresses and a handful of flimsy jackets, none of which match their shoes, and they never wear tights”.

Ok, so it’s not spot-on, but I do understand why my crisply ironed shirts tend to turn out rumpled as soon as I take them off the ironing board, unlike Gwen Stefani’s look, why I can’t quite pull off a cream silk blouse and tight skirt which are oh-so Katie Holmes and that I’d never end up on the red carpet as glamorously as Gwyneth Paltrow.
It’s just not me!

So what do I do now? Embrace the Summer girl-ness of me, of course, especially with this part of Southeast Asia being a perpetual summer (apart from Brunei’s current unpredictable foul, stormy weather).
Maybe a good cut of jeans, as really, not everyone is a Levi’s girl, empire line top, some loose gypsy-esque (but not too frilly) blouses, baby doll dresses (worn a bit conservatively over jeans, of course, never mind that it’s supposedly out of fashion), and a sunny attitude (now, that last one is a bit of a stretch).
But I’m thinking I can’t give up the power-dressing altogether, so maybe a blazer over a frivolous outfit – staid over fun, but with panache.

What do you think? Can this newborn Summer girl find some fun in the sun to beat the chill winds of a fashion winter? I definitely think so.
Watch out, world – the Summer girl cometh!

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Girl and Someone Else's Camera

Just a short entry because people have been complaining that I haven't updated my blog in yonks.

Well, anyway, this is me when I was covering the Miri International Jazz Festival in May.

The pix was taken by Sarawak Tourism's Gustino, who is obviously a wonderful photographer as he made me out to look quite good. Ha! Can I get him to do all my pictures, I wonder?