overdressing dion

Overdressing, According to Dion and Steffi

Overdressing still receives judgement in our society, and can even be tagged by a few as inappropriate or ‘extra.’ Whether it be hanging out with friends on the weekends or going for lessons in school, those of us who like to dress more extravagantly can sometimes feel uncomfortable with the unwanted attention we get from curious strangers. You start to question if the outfit that you’ve so proudly picked out that morning looks good on you or worse — if you have food stains smeared across your top or face and look like a complete fool, trying to catch a glimpse on any reflective surface discreetly so as to not draw even more attention to yourself. Turns out, you’re not alone in your thoughts. We spoke to Steffi Heloise and Dion Chan, who have adopted a laissez-faire (literally ‘let it be’) approach to expressing themselves freely and embracing their creativity and style over time, and show you how to do the same.

steffi overdressing Photo by Nicole Ng

According to both, style is a form of self-expression, your chosen skin to reflect your beliefs, whether it be your mood of the day or political stance. Taking pride in what you wear shows what you really care about. Trends consciously or subconsciously influence a majority of our styles, and Dion, in particular, feels that trends stem from coincidences that happen during events like fashion shows, where multiple designers merely happen to use the same fabric or accessories in their pieces that they send down the runway. Many fast fashion brands then pick up on these ‘coincidences and market them to the majority. Hence, while following trends aren’t bad per se, defying said patterns like Steffi and Dion can cause sideways looks from strangers, as both don’t necessarily blend into the crowd. Steffi, for example, derives her unique style from historical eras, especially Edwardian clothing, using the content from online historical costuming communities as inspiration. While Dion doesn’t think he dresses all that different, he still feels that he stands out appearance-wise, based on people’s reactions to his accessorising.

So, how do we overcome this fear of judgement from others?

Recognising the potential initial intimidation of dressing up on a daily basis that many may experience, both agree that there has to be a mindset change in order to overcome this fear and become more confident in how you look. While it’s uncomfortable at first, it’s important to differentiate curiosity and judgement from onlookers and stop automatically assuming that their thoughts towards your outfit are negative in nature, when in reality they may just not be used to it. Steffi addresses the attention she gets from many people, be it her friends or Grab drivers, affirming that most of it are positive. In fact, people she knows expect her to dress in her usual fashion. Dion goes as far as to sometimes feel special due to his unique style, and takes the attention in stride, understanding that not everyone has the same mindset or eye when it comes to style. What’s more, they both agree that it’s always better to be ‘overdressed’ than underdressed, to show up prepared for any occasion and be remembered, rather than to not be noticed. While they find overdressing appropriate for most things, Steffi underlines that it’s important to know where to draw the line. For example, interviewers at creative job interviews may take to ‘overdressing’ or unusual styles kindly, but in other fields? Probably not as much.

More importantly, we must recognise who we’re dressing for. Both imply that confidence grows gradually if we dress for ourselves, rather than to stand out, or for other people. The latter relies heavily on the opinions of other people to feel like you look good, rather than coming from a self-assured place. In other words, to feel sure of yourself, your dressing should stem from self-motivation to express yourself according to your own rules.

For individuals such as Dion and Steffi, dressing up differently means more hassle, as compared to clothes we can buy off the rack at any store. Finding the perfect piece may take a long time, and with Singapore’s growing but still small variety, they turn to making their own or buying it online at an exorbitant price.

The main takeaway here is to change your perception of overdressing in order to overcome the often self-judgement. While people may react to your outfit in certain ways and feeling self-conscious about it is normal, think about it this way: there are so many things occurring at once in each of our lives, people are unlikely to give it much thought anyway. Giving their intentions the benefit of the doubt will help you feel more at ease.