The Reluctant Stylista

I like short shorts. I have no qualms about a neckline that plunges almost to my navel. I love cropped tops–they’re a staple in my closet. And I adore barely-there fabrics and cutout designs that reveal a hint of skin here and there.

This is probably why my friends jokingly call my fashion as hubadera (to my non-Tagalog speaking readers, the root word hubad translates to nude). But contrary to popular belief, I don’t automatically gravitate to a low-cut lamé cropped top nor do I wear Daisy Dukes on a daily basis. Sometimes I find people showing me items of clothing or outfits and saying something like, “this reminded me of you”–but to me it looks like something I would wear to work if I were a pop star who has sharks as backup dancers. Unfortunately, I am not one nor do I have any of those, so other than these outfits’ revealing characteristics, I often fail to see why people associate me with this fashion. My point is, I don’t just select random bits of clothing to wear–there’s an art to the everyday hubadera.

In Defense of the Hubadera

Everything in moderation. It’s an old-fashioned rule, but one that I faithfully subscribe to. Well, most of the time. If I’m wearing a cropped top, I’ll be matching it with a pair of pants (in fact, I often do so with my favorite wide-leg pants). If I’m wearing short shorts, my first instinct is to go with a high neckline or a long-sleeved shirt, unless it’s hot outside–then I’ll usually wear it with a tank top, and always with the option to layer with a lightweight cover up. See the pattern? If it’s skimpy on top, you cover at the bottom and vice versa.

It’s not you, it’s me. People who don’t know me very well sometimes reach a certain conclusion on their own. I hate to burst your green-eyed bubble, but I dress for myself first. If I feel good in it, then that’s all there is to it, really. And dressing to be attractive to the opposite sex is usually an afterthought. I find it extremely flattering when compliments come from other women because let’s face it, that’s pretty hard to come by. Women have more exacting standards when it comes to looks, and especially when it comes to other women. I noticed the reason why we have plenty of these body-positive beauty campaigns going around is primarily because we set impossible standards for ourselves. In general, men are a lot easier to please (unless they’re gay–then they notice everything).

Image from PopSugar

It’s all in proportion. I come in a bite-sized package. And I don’t know yet if this is a good thing or bad thing (probably it’s both) but I am also quite curvy on top of being short. In fact, one of my gay friends told me I remind him of Betty Boop, with her sizable bum and skinny ankles (which I chose to take as a compliment). I have the sort of body type that if I covered up in layers, I’d look even shorter AND stubby, even though my limbs are tiny. The truth is that I look best in a high cut body suit that gives the illusion of longer legs especially when paired with flesh-toned pumps. Alas, I am not Ariana Grande. I don’t have to impress you all. So I’ll just settle for short shorts or a top that proves my torso isn’t shapeless.

It feels comfortable and I look damn good in it. I used to have hang ups about my body. Now, even my longtime friends have pretty much forgotten that I was rarely ever in dresses, shorts nor skirts until three years ago. And in the event that I’d choose to wear them, I would slather on two coats of Sally Hansen Air Stockings on my stems before going out. Fortunately, as many of my enlightened girlfriends would agree with, the beauty of getting older is acquiring the ability to give less fucks and being more comfortable in your own skin. One of my friends recounted that when she was younger, she thought her body was fat and ugly so she would only dress up in jeans and long-sleeved tops. When she was older, she looked at her photos and realized she was in pretty good shape years ago; that if she had the chance to do it all over again, she would’ve enjoyed dressing up more. I guess you don’t always realize how good you have it until it’s too late. When we were younger, we often felt self-conscious and wondered what other people would think. Then we grow up a little, and, to quote the aforementioned friend, “We realize this blessed fact: nobody actually cares.” It’s all you! Nobody cares if you have flabby arms or thunder thighs–and even if they did, do you really want to agonize over the opinion of someone who doesn’t mean anything to you? It only matters if you think it does.

Now I’m in my 30s and I’m just owning it. I feel like I have never been in better shape in my life. And these are the clothes that I feel look good on me, so I’ll wear them until I don’t think that anymore.

We live in a tropical country. Do I really need to say more? With our humid climate, bundling up is the last thing on my mind. Short and lightweight is the practical way to go. It’s easier to move in, too.

Alex Lapa wearing Oxygen, Erwin Lee Tan, Zalora and Something Borrowed

Sheer top: Oxygen | Bandeau: Bench | Silver shorts by Erwin Lee Tan | Leather backpack: Zalora | Shoes: Something Borrowed
OOTD photos by Nio Manzano

But remember, there’s always a time and place for everything. I wore a plunging neckline that was almost to my navel at the first Philippine Fashion Ball. Nobody batted an eye. Yes, I wear frayed and threadbare Daisy Dukes–at the beach. I’ll be hubadera if I can get away with it, but not if it’s going to make myself and other people uncomfortable.

However, while streaking Edsa is not on my bucket list, I do not subscribe to the idea of women being told to cover themselves up like suman so as not to be a temptation to men. Are men that stupid? Are they animals who can’t keep it in their pants? This a lengthy discussion reserved for another time but bottom line is, we all deserve respect regardless of the clothes we wear. Your body, your choice. If others judge people by their hemlines, then it’s their problem.

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