I just came back from the Matthew Hussey Lifestyle retreat in San Diego. And an overwhelming number of ladies attending the retreat came up to me (and are still contacting me) about how to become confident and stylish as I appeared to be, which was a huge compliment to me. So I dedicate this entry to all those ladies that were at the retreat.
I started this blog for that very reason in the first place. I find myself repeating things all the time when people come up to me to ask similar questions. But the truth is, I could throw together an outfit and give it to someone else to wear it and many women would not wear it because they would tell me that they don’t have the confidence or the right body for the look.
Balancing it all out
The retreat sessions began everyday with a workout session where I come wearing normal workout outfits like everyone else, no frills. This is no different than any other day I live back at home where I start my days at the gym in my gym clothes. I also don’t wear makeup on a regular basis unless it’s for a dance performance or a modeling photo shoot. If I do go out, I’ll go ahead and put on false eyelashes but I don’t prefer to cover up my skin and clog up my pores with foundation or powder.
Like I got to do with my roommate at the resort we stayed in, I am very much a minimalist at home where I take my high heels off indoors like most asians. And in the privacy of my own space I wear no clothing or almost nothing. Luckily, my roommate and I at the resort were perfectly comfortable being butt naked around each other and I realized it’s because we’re both secure about our bodies underneath our clothes. In other words, in order to be confident in clothes you need to be confident without clothes on. But the truth is….
There’s a lot of fit women who aren’t fashionistas
Fit women have fit bodies. But if you go to a fitness expo like I did earlier this year, you will see a huge sea of women in heavy makeup wearing workout gear. The truth is, even women who feel great about their bodies sometimes get used to wearing a certain style (many times fitness gear) and they don’t know how to show off their bodies in other types of clothing. Likewise, there are many gorgeous women out there who clearly aren’t used to wearing heels (you will notice it when you see it). This means you have to practice. Whether you think you don’t have the right body yet or not, you should still practice being stylish at every stage your body is at.
Who I Forgave
There was a segment on forgiveness at the retreat. And one of the people that came to my mind was this boy back in high school sitting in my English class freshman year that laughed and pointed his finger at me for what I was wearing back then. Back then, I prided myself in not “caring” what I wore on a different level. I was always told that I was the nice sister in juxtaposition to my pretty and popular younger sister (oh the identities we are given as children!) Like Matthew Hussey who openly shared about his experiences of stage freight when he was younger, I openly share my experiences of feeling like a so-called former ugly duckling and how it led me to always blink in photos, which I have gotten relentlessly teased about by family members.
How I faced my fears and insecurities
Ultimately, I went the extreme route of pursuing modeling in order to get rid of that phobia, facing my fears head on towards the camera. Like most people, I do still occasionally blink in photos but it no longer bothers me like it used to. Oh, and if you didn’t get the hint based on what I said two paragraphs ago about how fit women aren’t always fashionable, the same could definitely be said about models often being the most insecure people in the world about how they look (yes, the stereotype tends to ring true for a lot of models I’ve met). In order for you to stay confident, you need to find room in your heart to like what you look like or like something about the way you look and also like other things about you that aren’t look-related (this is what Matthew said about loving yourself).
How I developed my personal style
The truth is, I still don’t really “care” about what I wear – I do care in the sense that I take pride in how I dress myself now but I soon got over that notion that I needed to dress like everyone else in high school after that boy still laughed at me when I came in the next day wearing the new jeans and top I got from shopping that same day he laughed at me the first time.
My mother used to always tell me that she thought I looked better in short hair and in pants. Today, I own one pair of dress pants and various workout pants. Otherwise, my clothing style tends to revolve around skirts and dresses. And I have never gone back to having that short bob hair style since high school.
I took this photo at the retreat as the pouch bag was something I coincidentally packed with me to use for the first time on the trip since receiving it as a birthday gift (with the necklace) from my mother a few weeks prior as a birthday gift. While my mother used to [and still probably does sometimes] dread about me always being “different” and unlike everyone else as would be expected of in a typical asian culture, I did come to very much appreciate the appropriate message splashed across the pouch bag that also matched the pink color theme of the ladies retreat.
Don’t be afraid of changing your style
I had a long phase in my teenage year to my early twenties where I was heavily into scarves in the winter.
And like a typical teenager, I did briefly go through a sluttier short skirts/dresses phase back in my teenage years. When I started earning more money as an adult, I started to invest in dresses I would find myself falling in love with that have often ended up being timeless, classy and of better quality. I think that’s the key. I don’t really buy anything unless I am really in love with it. And that is how I keep my rather surprisingly small-sized collection of clothes small – valuing quality over quantity.
The gloves and hats came as a later phase. The gloves became a necessity to protect my hands one winter when the tips started cracking, which was a huge no-no for my daytime job working with my hands. As Matthew Hussey would say, I “crow-bared” it in there.
Going for Uniqueness
To simply put it, my sense of style is probably considered unique under most people’s standards because I don’t really go shopping in regular stores like most women do. Most of the shopping I do is online (don’t be afraid – many online stores have great return policies) and I also tend to do it once a month, all while I also make a monthly trip to the Goodwill truck to donate old clothes which are both monthly rituals I have. Again, quality over quantity.
Do you wear things or try to look a certain way because of what you see everywhere? If you do, then you WILL end up looking like everyone else. If that’s what you like, fine. But if you honestly ask yourself what you would like to wear or look like, you probably wouldn’t save those outfits for costume parties or special occasions. For that matter, it makes me sick sometimes thinking about what women wear to those occasions too for that same reason…. being told/sold the notion that I need to wear the same old white wedding dress didn’t do it for me when I got married to my ex-husband. So what did I wear instead?
The photos may look familiar if you’ve seen them in my porfolio at http://www.monalisamoon.com Here’s a better idea of what the front of the dress looks like from the website I bought the dress from:
A lot of women see things they might feel that way towards but don’t get it because they’re not sure how to wear it or what to wear it with. I don’t really always think about that because I buy something I fall in love with first and then figure out how to wear it afterwards or get other things to wear with it later on.
It’s all part of enjoying the journey, rather than dreading it.