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If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I’m super passionate about sports and exercise.
That means that whenever I’m not at work or at an event, I’m living in activewear.
Recently, my work friend Mariela and I were talking about how different our personal styles are, and what it would feel like living our lives in the other person’s clothing.
We put our styles where our mouths were and decided to undertake a fashion swap challenge. Over the course of a week, we’d swap three outfits: An office look, a casual weekend look and a night time look.
Here’s how it went.
Our dress code at BuzzFeed is super casual, which I love — it gives me the freedom to be myself even in a professional setting. While I don’t turn up in activewear, I do try to include sportswear and streetwear-inspired clothing into my look. I like how comfortable they are, as well as sense of strength that these types of clothing evoke, which make me feel confident and in charge.
Mariela, however, is the complete opposite: Heels, skirt, shirt — she is always dressed to the nines. So when it came to the office look, I knew she would be turning me into a corporate lady. With a satin skirt, white shirt and killer heels, this is the most dressed-up I’ve been at work…probably ever.
While I thought I would feel a little awkward or overdressed in this incredibly feminine look, I actually felt the complete opposite: I felt strong, powerful and in charge. And it didn’t hurt that I was getting compliments from my coworkers all day.
This crisp, white shirt from LONDE — which actually made me feel like a corporate queen.
One of the biggest hang ups I have about my body are my arms. I’ve always thought skinny, toned arms are the ideal, and mine have never looked like that. As someone with big boobs, I’ve also shied away from high-necked pieces. So when I saw that Mariela had picked a sleeveless, high-necked mini dress for me, I was…nervous, to say the least.
When I saw that she’d paired them with some mules, I laughed. Mariela seems like a social butterfly, constantly going out to art galleries or to dinners with friends. Me, not so much. Weekends for me usually mean playing sport and hanging out with my boyfriend. While we might go out for a bite to eat, usually we just watch movies or chill out — neither of which requires heels. On the weekend of the fashion swap challenge, we were doing just that.
While I really liked both of the items individually, I don’t think they really worked together on me. As a curvy girl, I often find that clothes that look trendy or sartorial on slimmer women end up looking either too sexy or kind of matronly on me, and I think this outfit hit tones of the latter.
However, I could definitely see myself rocking both the dress and the shoes separately. And as an outfit, it definitely pushed me waaay past my comfort zone, which I appreciated. It even got me to work through some of the internalised body hatred I didn’t know I’d bought into for so long.
This cute linen dress from Sportsgirl that pushed me out of my comfort zone (in a good way!).
These vintage-look mules from Sportsgirl that are the epitome of “smart casual”.
When it comes to going out, I usually opt for flowy, boho dresses or jeans and a nice top. Tight, figure-hugging clothing has never really appealed to me — probably because every time I’ve tried them on in a shop, I’ve felt like a stuffed sausage.
Again, it’s hard as a curvy woman to find clothes that suit your body type that are glam without being overtly sexy. I think that’s because often curvy bodies have traditionally been hyper-sexualised to be seen as appealing or acceptable — and while thankfully, that’s all changing, I still have some internalised habits that need breaking.
When I saw the outfit Mariela had picked for me, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to face those fears. And honestly? She NAILED it. The dress was the perfect mix of sophisticated and sexy, and I genuinely felt really glamorous in it.
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This not-so-little but oh-so-perfect black dress from MOSSMAN, which I will be wearing to every formal occasion here on out.
Initially, I thought this challenge would be just a bit of fun. Instead, it became an opportunity to face some real body issues that I’d compartmentalised for a while. And I’m really glad it did.
I realised that I had garnered a lot of my sense of strength and self-esteem through sport, which I’d also carried into other areas of my life through my fashion choices. Growing up with thin, Western beauty ideals also meant that I felt left out of a lot of mainstream fashion trends, so I anchored my identity more in the world of sport.
As a result, I’d never truly identified with a classic, feminine style. But undertaking this challenge has shown me how I can still feel confident and strong in ultra-feminine clothing.
I have emerged from this challenge feeling more confident and excited to have more fun with my fashion choices. I’ve also left with a little more self-love and self-kindness, which is worth more than I can express.
What should we swap next? Exercise routines? Daily meals? Let us know in the comments below!
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