In the age of Instagram, how do we really dress for ourselves?

Undo suede robe, Intimissimi bodysuit,  Uniqlo jeans
Photos by Andrei Suleik

Top Filipino stylist, Pam Quiñones was once quoted saying, "Style is the process of elimination," and while at first it sounded like a verse from an ordained fashion bible, its exercise is feeling more like a style rut than a sartorial awakening. 

See, in the recent months, I have reduced my daily wear to pretty much the same pieces in almost formulaic combinations--custom trousers in the same fit in three different colors or skinny jeans or culottes, men's button downs or tank tops or body suits, a coat, and the low to no heeled slip ons if not white sneakers. On lazier days- slip dresses. During my free days- activewear. The frills, including what used to be my staple of 4-inch heels, have been eliminated from day-to-day wear and have now been reserved for actual events or important meetings. And I suppose this is what’s causing me to feel rather stuck.



I’ve written about this before, several times even, but it always goes back to the same ideas: function before form, and also in the recent years an increasing consciousness on sustainability, because how far or how long can one keep up with the mantra of tiis-ganda (Literally, “to endure beauty”)? And when I talk about tiis-ganda, I refer to it beyond simply tolerating momentary discomfort, because let’s face it, most women who have explored fashion have learned to endure uncomfortable heel heights, constricting clothing, impractical hem lengths, and heavy make up one way or another. It’s the lack of sustainability I can’t seem to contend with-- Sure, I can live with the itch of a lace jumpsuit every time I wear it, but how many times can I really wear the same lace jumpsuit? Is it only for evening wear or are there ways to make it appropriate enough for work? If I spend Php X amount on this lace jumpsuit, what other purchases am I foregoing, and is it worth it? (As I write this, I really am considering the purchase of a lace jumpsuit on sale on the LCP website.)

Throw in social media, more particularly Instagram, in the conversation and the dialogue becomes even more self-confronting. In a profession that doesn’t actually oblige me to document myself, what or who am I dressing up for? Of course, fashionable women ought to answer, “Myself!” but how genuine does that ring true if even a fraction of the motive considers how it’ll look on Instagram? Whether we like to admit it or not, Instagram is not solely a platform for self-expression but also for seeking external validation via those ubiquitous little hearts for likes and comments of approval from our friends or followers. If it were truly only for ourselves, we’d just take the photos and store them in our mobile’s albums, or maybe have them printed to store in physical albums like those from the yesteryears. But where’s the fun in that right?

I had originally assumed the excesses Pam was referring to were the trendy pieces that didn’t really go with one’s personal aesthetic, but could she have also been speaking about today’s excessive rituals for peer approval?


I suppose I won’t know until I ask, but while I muster the courage, I’ll be sticking to my recent formula for getting dressed in the morning. It feels quite repetitive and may not be worthy of the daily ‘gram, but I’ve always been a creature of habit, and the rhythm is both comforting and efficient.

By the way, I didn’t push through with buying the lace jumpsuit, because I remembered I have this bodysuit which can pretty much approximate the look.

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