Outfit of the Days

Dressing up and styling outfits… ever since I was able to decide/purchase my own clothes at 13, fashion has always been my hobby. It’s an interest I hardly ever discuss, but is definitely something that comes through in how I dress my characters and how I develop their sartorial sensibility.

I love learning about clothes and what makes a piece look good. Cut, material, drape, how a piece can change the way someone carries themselves or how they are perceived by others.

Fashion is an extension of my interest in character design. I’ve mentioned before somewhere how I love observing people holistically: their mannerisms (gestures, voice, way of speaking), their bodily characteristics (the features of their face, their body shape, the individualistic quirks of their character design) and their dress.

Everything is fascinating to me, worth appreciating and including in my art. I find having this habit of engaged, appreciative, ruminating observation really helps to make a drawn character design feel grounded, lived-in and human; but even if I didn’t have this indirect goal of converting these observations into shapes and traits for my mental library, I simply enjoy beholding each person I meet this intently.

My Aunt is a Monster characters

I turn this gaze upon myself too. Looking at myself, cataloguing what makes me me

A year ago, I decided to draw myself with more specificity. Being so specific is going kinda in the opposite direction of the typical self-cartooning approach, where a cartoonist’s caricature becomes so distilled they are basically yassified stick-people. But given my whole schtick about purposely seeking out and designing for quirkiness, for consistency’s sake I needed to exhibit those values through my own caricature.

Most of the quirks I am featuring here are apparently features that others worry about on themselves: flat profile, flat fleshy stubby nose, poor (double) chin, monolid eyes, long torso, hip dips, very bottom heavy and fleshy/big-boned pear shape figure, and cankles. I hardly ever see these details in art, however these are features I inherited and I want to show them off more – afterall I already have this philosophy to character design of always grounding characters with details that offset them from what’s “beautiful” or “classical”. All my quirks are abberations if you view them through the lenses of contemporary beauty ideals, yet replicating beauty ideals are not the only important purpose available – in art and in general, is it?

A long time ago, when I was 15, I used to draw myself in this kooky way. This iteration of my caricature wasn’t that off; the hair covering my eyes was an exaggeration of my deep side part (lol so late 2000s/early 2010s). It’s also a reflection of how my personality used to be so detached from the body that contained said personality.

I like looking distinct, but I wasn’t too keen on engaging with what that meant in regards to my facial features and body. It was and continues to be a dangerous world out there for people raised as teen girls. I was super aware of the void that one can fall into when paying too close attention to what they look like, especially during adolescence. Sure, I have this flat stubby nose and these monolid eyes, and I don’t look like what the magazines are saying… I didn’t want to finish connecting the dot of my face to the dot of BEAUTY STANDARDS. So that was the extent of my studies upon myself. (didn’t stop me from intently observing other people though)

Instead I directed all that energy to fashion. Since I refused to construct my image around my biology, I constructed my image around my style. Dressing up is something I could completely control and curate, plus learning how to dress up is similar to learning how to draw… so fashion became one of my major hobbies.

So for maybe like 15 years straight I’ve developed a personal philosophy around my sartorial style and the kind of image I want to project – especially now that I am a public figure of some sort. It’s part of my job nowadays to meet with people and tell them who I am and what I do. I have to embody my artistry. Luckily, that was a task I was well-prepared for.

These are the core rules that inform my approach to fashion:

  1. Buy clothes that look and feel good (dressy, elevated, best-Sunday-clothes worthy, etc) (bonus: distinctive in the way you connect with) from the start. This way you’ll never have to think too hard about making outfits that look good because all of your pieces are already bangers.
  2. Clothes should pair with as many things as possible in your existing wardrobe.
  3. The feel of clothes affect how often you wear it, so get materials, cuts and tailoring that respect the quirks of your physicality.

With those rules as my foundation, I crafted a pretty solid style that could last years. Even though my tastes continue to evolve as I advance through my adulthood, most of my clothes still connect to me.

I always liked colour, quirky prints, flared skirts and whimsy. I blame those favourites on the vibes of the era when I first started my fashion journey. Back then in the late 2000s/early 2010s, moustaches, llamas, owls, pocket watches, retro silhouettes, and twee (aka classic Modcloth) were in. While my style is no longer preppy, kooky 2010s hipster, you can still see the ghosts of it in the prints I choose and the silhouettes I gravitate towards.

Lately I’ve moved towards jewel tones and natural materials (linen is a favourite). Embroidery is also appearing more. I also started embracing my physicality, that is, being more revealing and complimentary. This era is defined by the pencil skirt, a 180 from my trademark circle skirts (I still love circle skirts though – they match my figure/proportions).

Maybe this is a logical progression from my relatively recent realisation that my face (the flat nose, lips, monolids, thick eyebrows, the whole look) is actually vamp, not cute or pretty or sweet or whatever. Realising that has ended the years-long taboo for me regarding my body. I am enjoying being able to consider dressing for my face now, too.

Anyway, all of these thoughts are coming to mind because I started following fashionable, knowledgeable people who have a similar approach to clothes and are more keyed into the discourse, and… well. Fashion discourse is wild.

  1. Clothes are getting worse in quality and more plastic over time
  2. Shoppers are starting to lose their ability to discern how clothes look and feel good because of (1) and online shopping… and the current trend cycle.
  3. Trends are cycling so fast and they are so many micro-trends that if you want to be trendy (as in, you follow the trend, not set it) you have to shortcut thinking and treat your clothes as not something you wear for a long time, but as accessories. ALL OF IT.
  4. Apparently a lot of people wear clothes only once and/or purge through huge hauls constantly ???? This is mind-boggling to me, as someone who keeps pieces for years and mix and match and repeat outfits. Anyway, what this shortcutting does is that people don’t spend enough time wearing their clothes to develop an opinion on their style. See (2).
  5. Relatedly, these people don’t see individual pieces of clothes as individual pieces, but inseparable to their judgement of how that piece may be photographed to a specific outfit. What this means is that they can’t objectively evaluate whether or not a single piece of clothing looks good on its own i.e they can’t determine that this black circle skirt is a good piece if they don’t like how it looks on a goth-styled model vs a preppy one.
  6. Similarly, they also can’t separate individual pieces from the mannequin/model.
  7. I think people in North America don’t know how to do laundry because never once have I experienced clothes fraying or disintegrating after washing (I have experienced clothes getting holes because of age), and yet I keep hearing Americans complaining about this situation.

The folks I follow keep bumping against this fast mentality towards fashion and it’s… disappointing when placed into the context of waste, microplastics, labour and constant consumerism, but I find it very sad how people are accidentally or intentionally preventing themselves the joy of being able to define your own image through good, well-fitting clothes. The discourse reminds me a lot of how many artists sacrifice their artistic vision/craft to chase clout, which I have spoken about quite a lot on this here blog.

I don’t really know how to end this post, as usual. I guess I will say that I value being more present with one’s self-expression and their interactions with the world. And that clothes really do make the (wo)man/person. I love it when people have a distinct, individualised style that reflects their personality, especially in an internet that’s demanding homogeneity.

Hello, hello

Reimena Yee is a graphic novelist, artist and flamingo enthusiast.

She writes and illustrates quite a few webcomics and graphic novels. When not making books, she lulls away her time with essays on craft, life and experiences in the publishing industry. Some of her thoughts of art and life are rather unstructured and will evolve over time as this blog matures, as they should be.

Currently committed to being Alexander the Great's death doula. Is a nerd for all things spooky and historical.

Melbourne / Kuala Lumpur

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