Growing up as a fashion-crazed girl in Malaysia was like being a bread lover with celiac’s. So when I moved to the United States to go to college, I couldn’t wait to indulge my fashion proclivities. I happily rocked plaid miniskirts with matching sweaters a la Clueless (I realize I’m probably dating myself here), when one day I overheard a classmate snidely remark, “So nice of her to dress up for class.” Then I started working, and the whole idea of an office wardrobe beckoned, so inspired by the power suits of Dynasty and Working Girl (okay, dating myself again here), I enthusiastically traded my plaid miniskirts and sweaters in for pencil skirts and tailored jackets. A colleague rolled her eyes and stated, “I don’t understand why people dress up for work.”
Time and again I was made to feel like the girl in the ballgown at the ballgame. I understood that for most people, clothing was simply meant to be functional. But for me, it always felt like an opportunity to be creative, albeit on a different type of canvas. I was enthralled with the myriad colors, shapes and textures to choose from. I was enamored with the way a piece of clothing could take you to a different place and time. I marveled at the designers who created wearable art, and I yearned to bring a piece of that world into mine. Fashion was aspirational: it was a bridge between the the life I wanted and the life I had.