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  • Writer's pictureSheryl

Camisole Chronicles

Structured, with a touch of lace. Mm, acceptable.

"I am very girly, but not the lace kind of girly girl.

I like makeup, and dressing up but in a more boyish manner?"

"Mmm me too. Can't do lace. I'm the simple, structured type.

But you don't really belong to any category though..."

my friend peered at me as I took another sip of coffee.

"But lace on camisoles. You know, just a little bit. That's okay."

"Oh yeah!" *proceeds to overexcited agreement.*

So camisoles. Or even chemise dresses. The essence of a chic French summer wardrobe. Two pieces that were historically worn as undergarments, yet today emerge as the respected queens amongst other scandalous shoulder-baring, neckline-exposing tops.

And ironically, they balance the masculine-feminine equation to which contributes to French dressing.

Here's my theory: the art of wearing camisoles (or Parisian dressing, really) is a state of mind. It calls for unapologetic confidence and attitude.

A reason why I've always avoided such tops in the past stemmed from a traditional upbringing and societal expectations (how dare you show your shoulders). But also, body image (flabby arms - oh the horrors!). So when it comes to camisoles, it can really range from:

Scenario 1 / Utmost confidence (the best scenario, really)

You know, just one of those good days when you're feeling your best. When the digestive system feels cleared, that lower pooch gone. You throw on your best pair of jeans, perhaps a touch of lipstick. Your favourite earrings. Even your hair is on-point as you dance to a morning playlist. And when confidence overrides pain, well, bring on those HEELS!

And for days like these, who needs a jacket?


Scenario 2 / The comfortable, the shy, the everyday

Now, as much as I would love to be living Scenario 1 every day, unfortunately, Scenario 2 makes up 95% of my days.

Days when you roll out of bed with hair a mess. It is not a bad day, so to speak, but just a low-effort day. It is just part of the 'every day'- when all you want is a cup of coffee (or tea). When your mind is preoccupied with so many other things that arm exposure would be too much to handle. So the jacket kicks in.

But that is precisely the fantasy that media traps us to think.

The everyday is vulnerable, elusive.

But confidence stands out: they are moments that ask to be seen.

One thing that really fascinated me was how simple chic French girls actually dress : a slip dress and some boots. That's it. And yet, the confidence to which they wear it with makes me feel as if that is the most classy outfit I have ever seen.

This simple combo was inspired by a French style blogger on Instagram. And after trying it myself, I admit that it was very comfortable (especially for my post-bakery belly) but a bit nerve-wrecking in the beginning.

Personally, I have always felt the need to accessorise, normally with belts, when wearing a simple camisole or chemise dress. Because to wear the chemise dress by itself calls for the sheer confidence of the wearer in acknowledging the simple beauty of the garment on its own. It was like literally baring the soul with no 'styling' whatsoever to hide behind.

These are usually the type of outfits that I would either wear at home, or it could be something that I dismiss as an 'everyday' outfit. It is another thing entirely to be bold enough to label it as an outfit worthy of the curated squares of Instagram.

Why can random photos I take while strolling along the River Thames be more worthy of the mood board than moments, or outfits of the everyday?

The aesthetic. Well, that's one. And the facade of strength and confidence that media has us portray. But maybe the strive for this image of the 'strong, capable, independent modern female' lies not in how masculine or feminine one dresses, but in embracing the everyday. In embracing that there is indeed fragility behind that front, and a little bit of flirty fun behind the structured.

- Sheryl

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