Get ready with me: dressing to feel your best!

In part two of his Get Ready with Me series, your local fashionista Jaden shares some of his tips to express yourself through your style!



YouAlberta is written by students for students.

Jaden (he/him) is a fourth-year East Asian Studies major in the Faculty of Arts. A born-and-raised Edmontonian, as president of the KGK: East Asian Studies Undergraduate Students’ Association, Jaden is a leader, activist and advocate for Asian anti-racism, constantly working to nurture more inclusive and diverse communities. Whether it's singing, drawing, creating video games or, of course, writing, you can usually find Jaden engaged in a variety of creative endeavours. When he's not working, Jaden enjoys connecting with friends and travelling around the world, with the goal of using his creativity and passion as a platform to create a positive impact on the world.

For some people, clothes are just about practicality: what’s comfortable and easy to move around in. This was definitely the case for me a few years ago. But over the past five years, I’ve developed a passion for fashion as I’ve found that clothes can also be an incredible medium for self-expression. I’ve even found that what I wear can drastically alter my mood! Going to school in a random T-shirt and sweats can leave me feeling lethargic, while a satisfyingly put-together outfit can boost my confidence and morale. 

So, if you’re looking to style yourself and experience this magic, I’ll be going over some of the elements I keep in mind and some tips on how I put together my outfits!

Proportion and silhouette 

Form is something I pay close attention to when choosing the pieces for an outfit. I try to style my clothes in a way that accentuates my features and generally follows a rule of thirds, as I find an outfit with a half-and-half ratio isn’t as flattering and makes me appear frumpier and shorter. For example, to enhance my height and make me seem taller, I would tuck in my shirt and go for high-waisted pants, so ⅓ torso and ⅔ legs to create an illusion of longer legs. Proportions manipulate how your body is divided; the right proportions allow for a perceived feeling of harmony in your look.

Notice how tucking my T-shirt into high-waisted jeans extends my figure, making me look even taller. (credit: Iman Qureshi)

You’re not limited to playing with your horizontal proportions (top to bottom)— different vertical proportions can also be interesting, such as how my shirt is half tucked in here. (credit: Mary Encila)

While proportions pertain to the lines in your outfit, silhouette focuses on the overall shape of your outfit. You can create dynamic looks by playing around with your silhouette through things ranging from the fit of your garments– like being baggy or form fitting– to the cuffs of your sleeves and hem of your pant legs. For the latter, I tend to have them reach above or below a joint rather than directly hitting it. For example, if I’m wearing shorts, I try to keep the hem slightly above or below the knees rather than right at the knees, which can cut my body off. I also avoid having it end right in the middle of a section of a limb, like the middle of my shin or thigh, as it looks a bit awkward. However, everyone’s body is different, so what best suits your body type will also differ, so it can take a bit of trial and error to figure out what works best for you.

Playing around with dramatic silhouettes, such as these flowy pants, can create interesting shapes. (credit: Yoab Anbesa)

Having the hems of my shorts above my knees keeps them from cutting my legs at an awkward length. (credit: Jaden Ho)

Colour and prints

Colours are one of the most noticeable elements and, thus, can help tie your look together! Depending on your skin colour, certain colours may look better on you, such as gold, which is more suitable for warm skin tones and silver for cool skin tones. In fact, in East Asia, there are services called personal colour analysis that help you figure this out, though you can simply experiment and see what suits you best! There are endless colour combinations that can create harmony or contrast, though one main rule I usually follow is to keep the saturation of each piece the same. So, for example, pastels go with pastels, neons go with neons and so on. This maintains cohesion throughout your garments, regardless of the relation between colours you use, whether they’re analogous (blue and purple), complementary (red and green), monochromatic (all yellow) or a mix! Of course, there are other ways to put together colours, but I tend to be careful with having too many colours as it can be perceived as too chaotic (unless, of course, that’s what the vibe calls for!). 

Although most of the colours in this outfit are muted, contrasting it with a brighter orange makes it pop and adds points of interest. (credit: Kingston Ho)

A simple blue and purple analogous outfit with pink and purple hair accessories. (credit: Iman Qureshi)

You can highlight certain colours through prints on an article of clothing. Prints are designs or images that aren’t repeated, thus differing from a pattern, creating a more central point of interest in the ensemble. You can reflect colours in a print through the rest of your outfit to connect it all together or make it a clear statement piece by pairing it with neutrals. Neutrals like white, navy or black tend to blend with other colours and are useful for breaking up a look, which helps draw the eye to the focal point. Aside from the general scheme of your outfit, neutrals can also help focus attention on content, as prints can be used as a more explicit way to showcase your own interests, whether it be music, video games or anything else!

Notice how the colour of the print on the hoodie is reflected in the rest of the outfit while standing out against the neutral grey. (credit: Camille Wilson)

In many tops, there may be a smaller print in front and a larger one showcased on the back. In these cases, consider avoiding layers that cover it and opt for other methods to add complexity. (credit: Teressa Yu)

Texture and pattern

The material of your clothes is a great way to elevate your outfit, especially during hotter summer days when layering (which will be mentioned later) is not possible. Texture specifically looks at the surface and visual weight of the fabrics used. Generally, I’d categorize texture into two main types: hard textures, which are more rigid and structured, like denim and leather and soft textures, which are flowier and smoother, like cotton and wool. Using a mixture of various textures can counter and balance different separates against each other, giving another level of detail. For me, personally, I usually lean more towards soft textures and may mix some hard textures in to add an edge to the look.

Remember that texture is also determined by the structure, not just the material! For example, this school uniform has harsher and more rigid lines. (credit: Hannah Harvey)

Mixing the soft texture of the wool cardigan with the hard texture of the shorts creates a balanced outfit. (credit: Theresa Der)

In addition to texture, patterns can also add subtlety or boldness and give your outfit a unique flair. Patterns are probably most associated with decorative designs that feature interchanging colours, like stripes, argyle or tartan. Some may even be more complicated, like one featuring words or cats. But patterns can also be incorporated into the texture of a fabric, such as knit patterns. If done correctly, you can piece together various patterns in an eclectic manner. However, I personally tend to avoid using too many patterns and keep it more minimal, as I don’t want to overpower the eye. With that being said, it’s important to remember to pay attention to the qualities of each individual piece to create complexity, not just the sum of the pieces together!

The use of a simple argyle pattern adds a layer of complexity to the outfit. (credit: Jaden Ho)

Though I usually stick to one pattern, I might mix the pattern with a print to tie the vibes of the overall outfit together. (credit: Cindy Nguyen)

Layering and accessories

This is an especially integral part of how I approach fashion — considering the cold Edmonton climate. With the above three elements mentioned, layering is about stacking individual garments atop each other, which can increase the chicness and sophistication of your look. Layering can create striking shapes, play colours off each other and overall add an additional level of intricacy to your outfit; each layer is a piece of the puzzle that produces the overall, completed image. I try to keep the inner garments or my basics thinner so I can put on more on top of it, though I’m careful not to add too many separates with heavier visual weight atop as it can make the outfit feel cumbersome and unbalanced as, again, balance is important to give an effortless feeling! I also want to make sure that at least a glimpse of every layer is visible and not totally concealed by another.

When layering, it’s best to avoid having too much visual weight, as seen with layering a light jacket instead of a thick one on top of an already thick hoodie. (credit: Brittney Phung)

Dressing warm doesn’t mean you have to lose out on style! A puffer jacket can look perfect when combined with the right pieces. (credit: Kingston Ho)

Accessories, in a similar fashion, add details to your looks and during hotter weather, can even replace layers. Tying your accessories in with the style of your outfit can be the cherry on top that brings it all together. From belts, jewelry, hats, ties, bags and more, they’re easy to add on and can totally transform an otherwise plain look into one that is eye-catching. However, not just objects but your body can also be an accessory in itself: from your hair and makeup to nails to tattoos and skin exposure, all of these things can also contribute to forming the final ensemble!

Though the pieces are simple, the beret, belt and harness tie back into the textures of the outfit, and the jewelry like the waist chain, necklace and more create additional interest! (credit: Alissa Cabaron)

Even fewer accessories, like the bag, scrunchie, shoes and mask, can be effective by making the overall effect cohesive. (credit: Chester Perez)

Personal style and inspirations

Finally, with all of these elements combined, you can start developing your own personal style based on your preferences and aesthetics. This takes time to figure out, and honestly, I consider fashion to be subjective, fluid and ever-changing, so don’t feel pressured to stay trapped in a style you choose forever. And don’t be afraid to explore and try unconventional things that stand out; in the end, what matters is what makes you feel good, so as long as you wear it with confidence, most people won’t question it. When slowly building your wardrobe, I think it’s important to keep in mind that you want it to be timeless as best as it can be; while quantity can help, you want to invest in quality pieces that are versatile in your closet so that you know you will be getting mileage out of your clothes. 

Don’t be afraid to go a bit out of the box! If you feel good in it — that’s what matters the most! (credit: Yoojin Seo)

Fashion doesn’t have to be super complex; something simple and casual can also incorporate your personal style. (credit: Kamen Tan)

Of course, it can be difficult to figure out a distinct sort of brand when it comes to fashion, so I encourage you to look for inspiration around you. It’s impossible to have a style that is completely different from every style out there, but rather, it is how you take these influences and amalgamate them into your unique style that will make it your own. For me, I find myself taking inspiration from East Asian culture, from the fashion of K-Pop idols to traditional clothes to video game character designs. I would generally characterize my style as leaning towards ethereal and elegant with an androgynous twist. There are endless sources of influence that will vary for each person, so look to yourself and your identity to figure out how you want to express it through your clothes.

An outfit inspired by one of my favourite video games: Pokémon! The concept is a grass-type Pokémon trainer with Bulbasaur as his partner. (credit: Johnny Lee)

An outfit I’d consider right up my alley, mixing traditional East Asian elements with a modern twist! (credit: Padgett Hiew)

That’s it!

I covered a lot of material today that I hope will give you a start or some insight on how to come up with your own outfits. Fashion takes finessing, intuition and a vision that grows alongside you and your identity.

As you experiment, not all looks will be a success, and that’s okay! What you should ask yourself is: does it make you feel good? And do you think you were able to express yourself? If you answer yes, then you’ve got the heart of what really matters!