Do Singaporeans dress badly?


Yay! Let’s all be armchair fashion critics now.

As part of The Great Singapore Sale 2009 (which started yesterday), Nuffnang is hosting a fun blogging contest. Write a blog entry on the topic “Do Singaporeans dress badly?” for a chance to win attractive cash prizes!

The Great Singapore Sale 2009

Details of the contest here.

You know, I would love to say that Singaporeans dress badly. (I think humans are instinctively more critical towards people closer to them.)

But I thought about it objectively and came to the startling conclusion that Singaporeans don’t dress worse than people of other nationalities.

Every country has its fair share of good and bad dressers.

And, even then, dressing is very subjective. There are times when I stare at a very ugly piece of work (for example a pair of shoes or a blouse that someone is wearing) and I’m horrified that such an ugly thing could even exist. I want to shoot the designer.

Ugly shoes
What in tarnations is this monstrosity?

But who am I to say that something is ugly? The very existence of it proves that there are people who don’t think it’s ugly. At the very least, the designer and the person wearing it both like it, and they are entitled to their opinions even if I feel like shooting them.

I’ll say one thing about Singaporeans and fashion, though. We prefer to be safe than sorry. So we wear safe clothes that allow us to disappear in a crowd. We don’t like to stand out.

There are, of course, exceptions. And then there are people like me who want to play safe and stand out at the same time. So I’m always veering between wearing boring clothes and wearing crazy clothes.

Two years ago, I started a fashion diary to chronicle my more adventurous fashion moments, also as an excuse to start dressing more boldly. It was a lot of fun.


But I don’t dress adventurously as much these days because it’s really hard to find interesting pieces in Singapore and I don’t have time to go travel-shopping, plus it’s very time-consuming to mix and match clothes perfectly.

But I think Singaporeans should all attempt it. There will be people who like what you throw together and people who hate it, but at least it’ll make our streets more vibrant and exciting.

I was at Bugis Junction a few days ago and spent 10 minutes taking photos of people walking past me. Bugis is a great place to collect data on fashion because of the wide demographics of people found there (executives, funky teenagers, auntie types, arty students).

Random peopleRandom people

From my 10-minute sampling, I concluded that Singaporeans don’t necessarily dress badly. They just dress safe.

Of course, I can’t say with certainty that the people I saw were all Singaporeans, since we have a huge proportion of foreign talents on our shores. (Which makes it even harder to judge whether Singaporeans dress badly).

But I already had a thought about this many years ago, when we didn’t have that many foreign talents yet.

While waiting for a date at Raffles City Shopping Centre during peak hour one day, I was people watching. In half an hour (yes, my date was that late), I only saw about two people wearing something bold and exciting.

Avant Garde fashion

People-watching in Singapore is pretty boring.

Of course, one problem, as I’ve mentioned, is that it’s hard to find interesting clothing items in Singapore. Everywhere you go, you see shops selling basically the same thing. And Singaporeans are busy people. We don’t have time to go around hunting for interesting stuff to wear.

And because all the shops are selling the same things, we end up all being clones (which, I suppose, contributes to the feeling of safety that Singaporeans instinctively desire).

Worse than the clone problem is the fact that people are now increasingly shopping online at blogshops that all sell the same things. With online shopping, you don’t get to try on clothes, which means that people are now also wearing ill-fitting clothes.

Online shopping

It’s quite a worrying trend.

Perhaps we should start thinking out the box. How about wearing pajamas out?

Pajamas have become a lot more fashionably delightful. I was looking around in La Senza the other day and saw many sleepwear items I would actually wear out.

La Senza sleepwear

I love pajamas and always have a large collection at home.

Sheylara in pajamas

Of course, I wouldn’t wear this out unless it’s for a pajama party. But pajamas are getting more un-pajama like so, one day, you might really see me going out in the streets in my PJs!

Generally, I think Singaporeans are alright in dressing. We just need to be more adventurous and stop following trends blindly because not all trends look good on everyone!

And I hope more shops will bring in more exciting choices!

16 thoughts on “Do Singaporeans dress badly?

  1. Avatar

    Well, how should I say, it is a great coincidence. I was reading a thread on GTA Forums where they were discussing about the clothing option for Luis in GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony, then I got an RSS alert that there was a new post on your site about… clothing? Cool.

    It’s not many times such coincidences happen. But it made me smile.

  2. Avatar

    wow i like the safe dressing idea that your article revolved about. i was in japan for a month and only returned yesterday. i must say that dressing is their way of expressing themselves – and they’re not afraid to stand out. or perhaps everyone wants to stand out and that makes everyone of them clones too. but perhaps that applies to singapore in the way that we all are afraid of going wrong, therefore we dress safely.

    i’m not sure what my point is. but sure japan fashion is like taiwan and i suppose its too hot in singapore for us to follow certain trends. (:

  3. Avatar

    You know what if singapore starts to pajamas to go out. I would not be surprise as in Shanghai they do it… and I mean they really wear your normal pajamas that you sleep on out on the street and do their shopping….. :)

    Maybe if we want to do it why not… BUT it better to be with more fashionable kind… :P

  4. Avatar

    yah~ we just dress safe (or boring, depending how you see it~ha) and presentable for most of the time but that doesnt mean we dress badly~

    luv the pajamas outfit =P

  5. Avatar

    … we all live in diff countries and have diff cultures, therefore we dress differently. We should not compare our fashions by comparison with other countries. Individuality is key…dress to make yourself happy…it’s all good.x

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    @Sheylara: So THIS was the “fashion-related” post you mentioned in passing the other day. Nice work!:) Although I have to say, I think you were people-watching at Bugis during the wrong time of day. I’ve definitely seen way more outlandish fashions walking about. Its Bugis, after all…

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    abraxis: Cool. I generally like Japanese fashion. They’re so creative and cute at the same time!

    -=}{oT~dEv1L 666=-: Hahaha nice! I love moments like that too! It’s synchronicity! :)

    yandao87: Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Japan dressing culture. Yeah, more people are adventurous there and I wish Singaporeans would start doing that too. But I guess it’ll be quite hard because Singaporeans tend to be more judgemental, which discourages people from going against the norm too much.

    arachno: lol. I was told after I wrote this blog that we do have Singaporeans wear pajamas out – the aunties that go to the wet market. I dunno if that’s true, lol.

    ByPassing: Yup, well, like I said, we do have good and bad dressers. :P There’s safe good and safe bad, haha.

    Relax: I started seeing gothic lolitas in Singapore around last year. And I mean random people on the streets, not those going for cosplay events. But they’re very toned down versions. :P

    Aweegin: The sad thing is that Singapore fashion is very influenced by other countries’ fashion cos we import clothes from fashion cities around the world. It’s very hard for Singapore to have a distinct Singapore fashion because no one would support local designers!

    Shu Fen: Thank you! That’s really kind of you to say! :)

    RN1209: Yup, this is it! Haha… I had to write this post at very short notice and that was the only time frame I was able to snap photos at. :P

  8. Avatar

    Hi, I’m doing a project on Fashion trends in Singapore and I found your blog while doing research. May I use pictures that you’ve taken in Bugis and also some of the contents in your site for my project? I will credit your site as the source. Thank you (^-^)

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