Roundtable: Let’s Talk About Personal Style

Roundtable: Let’s Talk About Personal Style

In today’s micro-trend obsessed world, what does personal style really mean?



The late great designer Yves Saint Laurent said it best: “Fashion fades, style is forever.” While anyone (with the money) can put on the latest fashions straight off the runway, there is still something to be said about true personal style: a painstakingly cultivated mode of dressing that speaks of the wearer’s distinct personality and rises above fashion’s trend cycles. It’s that elusive quality that all truly stylish people have in common, that je ne sais quoi that separates clotheshorses from the trendsetters.


Ahead, we speak with four young fashionistas on the elusiveness of personal style and the work it takes to hone one’s fashion sense.


Wonder: What does personal style mean to you? And how would you describe yours?

Toots, 26, news writer/musician: I'm a firm believer that personal style should reflect your lifestyle, interests and personality. I love watching a lot of anime and cartoons, and I've been listening to a lot of grunge, so I feel like my sense of style reflects that. I've been into tattered denim pieces, americana and Western wear—basically just the opposite of that very clean look that’s everywhere right now.


Kaye, 28, senior copywriter: I focus on how I feel when I wear clothes. Do I feel comfy in this? Do I feel pretty or sexy? I don't intellectualize my style too much, so it's hard for me to describe it in words. I guess I'm into classic and clean silhouettes? Mostly because I'm small. But I'm also very into this modern Filipiniana thing. It ties into my identity as a writer; who am I and what do I write about? A lot of that is very Filipino, and that's something I've been trying to hone. Also: shopping local brands instead of fast fashion.


Myra, 28, account executive: Fashion is important to me, but not because I'm trying to be different from everyone else. I just want to express myself. My style is an accumulation of all of my interests, it’s kinda preppy, but I try to experiment every once in a while. I do try to add one statement piece to add a little oomph to my look. I think that fashion should be fun, that's how I would put it. If I'm not having fun dressing up, then what's the point?


Merry, 25, development associate: Fashion is therapy for me. When I'm feeling down, I put on an outfit that makes me feel happy and hella hot. My style is functional, minimalist and black. I've been obsessed with really wide silhouettes, and I've been going to a lot of raves. So that specific style really resonated with me. This year, I'm also going to shop more consciously from online thrift stores that sell unique pieces.


Roundtable: Let’s Talk About Personal Style


“If I'm not having fun dressing up, then what's the point?”
—Myra, 28


Wonder: Social media has made the micro-trend cycle so short. Today, fads can be in and out in a matter of weeks. Do you think that true personal style can flourish despite this?

Myra: I mean, it's pretty obvious micro-trends are there to sell things we don't necessarily need. Before, trends were easier to ignore because we weren’t as exposed to them. We didn’t use to doomscroll. Discovering your personal style before was slower and more authentic, versus now that it's so always on. When you put it in the context of TikTok and how you use the app, which is to say brain dead and scrolling mindlessly, you're just getting information and you're not actively thinking like, “Do I actually want this?” 


Kaye: Micro-trends aren’t always bad. Some trends are fun. And it’s nice to discover new aspects of your personal style because of your FYP algorithm. But also, what matters is what you're going to do with all of these micro-trends. Are you just going to be a sponge and blindly accept, or do you filter?


Toots: The good thing about micro-trends is they might help you discover new things that resonate with you. However, it just feeds into this idea that you always need this latest thing, you need to be caught up with what everyone else is wearing, which can lead to overconsumption. My approach with trends is to wait a couple months and see how I feel about them after. I had been eyeing a pair of Gazelles, and since I still really liked it after three months, I bought it.


Myra: Wow, you guys are strong. I just give myself like a week or two. Sometimes it's the next day (laughs).


Wonder: Actually, let's talk about that! Do you struggle with overconsumption?

Myra: I'm not gonna lie, yes. But I think I'm more careful with how I purchase clothes now. I ask myself specific questions. “Do I see myself wearing this more than once? Does the material match the price?” Yeah, questions like these before I actually hit the checkout button.


Kaye: I don't struggle with overconsumption only because I don't have the budget to over-consume things. If I did, I probably would. I think honing my own personal style has a lot to do with thinking, “Okay, how many ways can I get as much ROI as I can from this shirt?” Versus buying one of each color, you know?


Merry: I'm a Marie Kondo type of person; I don't wanna buy things in excess. I usually take a look at my closet every month and see, “Have I worn this in the past few months or so?” If I haven't, I'll try to wear them again. And if I don't like it, I'll give them away. I'd rather have a capsule wardrobe, just the bare essentials that you can mix and match.


Toots: I do. I tend to hoard, especially since I have my notifs on for several Instagram thrift shops. But something I've been trying to do recently is to sell two pieces for every one piece that I buy. And I always buy secondhand. I actually haven't bought anything from Uniqlo or H&M in months.


Roundtable: Let’s Talk About Personal Style


“Personal style is important:
being able to distinguish what you like and what looks good on your body.”
—Merry, 25


Wonder: Recently, micro-trends and aesthetics get very interesting names, such as eclectic grandpa, tomato girl summer or coastal grandma—to much controversy. What are your thoughts on this?

Merry: I honestly don't know what these micro-trends are, if I'm being honest. This is the first time I’m hearing these words. What?


Kaye: I think top of mind, the names are kind of cute. I mean, I’d like to look like a coastal grandma when I'm 50. I'm trying to think if it's ever been harmful—but right now I can’t think of any bad effects.


Myra: I think it's cute that it encourages beauty and fashion girlies to try out different styles or palettes. Like I remember “milky girl makeup” was a thing, and it got people reaching for browns and blues. There’s a boba hair color, which is like a little ombre, and that was really cute!


Toots: Personally, I believe you shouldn't mold yourself onto certain aesthetics that you see online, but instead use them to discover something about yourself. Otherwise, to go “Oh, I’m gonna dress like an eclectic grandpa today”—to me, it just comes off as cosplay. It doesn't really mean you're stylish; it just means you know how to copy things from the Internet.


Wonder: Let's talk about being basic. Particularly, what's so wrong about being basic?

Kaye: I think being basic also has a lot to do with the kind of person that's associated with it. As a woman who has basic tendencies, I don't really find anything super wrong with it. I'm very lenient towards it because everybody has basic tendencies, you know?


Myra: True. Sometimes, when you try so hard to be different, you end up being basic. Let's say owning a pair of Sambas, it's basic for most people, but I think it's cute. And if a lot of people are wearing it, why should it be bad?


Merry: I have a very simple answer. Being basic is boring, period.


Toots: I have no qualms with basic people. I actually embrace people who embrace their basic-ness. I’m also pretty basic in some aspects, but I think it's good to be self-aware when you're being basic.


Wonder: When you pick out an outfit in the morning, how intentional are you about it?

Toots: On a good day, my outfit comes to me in 30 seconds. Other days, it takes more time to think about. Generally, I do like putting thought into what I'm going to wear for the day.


Kaye: Something I've been trying to do for the past two to three years is to really plan my outfit. I think personal style is a muscle that I have to exercise. Otherwise, I’ll just wear t-shirts and jeans all day. It's been fun because it turns into this whole getting ready with me montage. I do put a lot of thought into it, but I try to make it as light and fun as possible because that's where, you know, the style happens.


Myra: I like experimenting with the things I already own. Especially planning outfits for trips! I like planning each look for each day not just because I want to look cute, obviously, but also you have to consider the climate, what's the weather gonna be like, etc.


Roundtable: Let’s Talk About Personal Style


“Wear what makes you happy. I think it's as simple as that.”
—Kaye, 28

Wonder: What was the last outfit you had so much fun putting together?

Toots: I went to BGC last week, and I was thinking, “What do people usually wear when they take a picture by that gray wall?” So for funsies lang, I wanted to cosplay as a BGC-goer. That was funny and fun.


Kaye: Last weekend, I went to Bobapalooza, and I had no idea what the vibe was. So I had no idea what I was gonna wear. But I had these pair of vintage flared pants that were my grandpa's. We just found it in the closet and, for some reason, the length was perfect on me. He had them made by a tailor in the ‘70s, and I thought that was really cool. So I wore them. The thing I like about clothes is when there’s a story to them. Like, I bet my grandpa didn't know that his pants would one day be worn by his grandchild at a festival. I also wore flowers in my hair.


Merry: At the recent Zara sale, I bought this pair of jeans with legs that were so wide; I’m obsessed with them. And when I went to Japan a few weeks ago, I bought these Chelsea boots with a square toe. When I wear them both together, I feel so powerful, like Michelle Obama or something. 


Myra: I'm currently planning what to pack for my Singapore trip to watch Taylor Swift. So I’ve been thinking about which Taylor era I'm going as for the concert day. It’s fun! My goal is to not buy anything new for this trip, so I'm already thinking of pieces I can use. I'm very excited to see what I'm going to come up with. 


Wonder: When you think of great and distinct personal style, which person first comes to mind?

Myra: There's this one girl from TikTok, her name is Myra Magdalen. I've never seen anyone dress like her—it's very unique, very distinct. And you can see that when she posts a get-ready-with-me video, it's not because she's trying to sell something. It's really a form of expression for her, and it's just so refreshing to watch. The thing is, we don't even share the same style! But I like watching her TikToks because it inspires me to develop my own style even more. She's just so sure of herself and what she wants to look like.


Kaye: Same, I like looking at how people dress—not necessarily because I want to emulate them, but just because I love certain aspects of it. There’s this one girl on Instagram, her IG handle is @benulus. Her whole thing is maximalism, like she takes a dress and adds so many things that it looks completely different in the end, and it gets so outrageous sometimes. I'm drawn to people who are open to experimenting, and they take their looks to the next level just out of sheer creativity.


Toots: There’s this content creator named Drew Joiner, and he's so insightful and intentional with what he wears. To parrot what Kaye and Myra said, I don't necessarily see myself wearing what he's wearing, but I admire his passion for fashion.


Roundtable: Let’s Talk About Personal Style


“To go ‘Oh, I’m gonna dress eclectic grandpa today’—to me, it just comes off as cosplay.
It doesn't mean you're stylish, it just means you know how to copy things from the Internet.”
—Toots, 26

Wonder: So personal style—important or unimportant?

Toots: I think it helps with being a conscious shopper.


Merry: Yeah. You see people who might wear a lot of luxury brands, but they don't really know how to carry them well. Sometimes, people wear trends even if they don’t fit well. So that's why personal style is important, [it’s about] being able to distinguish what you like and what looks good on your body.


Myra: As cheesy as it sounds, fashion is a form of self-expression. And without personal style, if I'm wearing something that just isn't me, then I don't feel like myself. So yeah, it's very important.


Kaye: My takeaway from the conversation we've had tonight is that personal style is important because it's a reflection of how you live your life. It reflects your ethics, your mood, how you want to project yourself. I think how you dress is important when you realize that there's so many factors about your life that go into choosing your outfit.


Wonder: How do you think people can find and develop their own personal style?

Toots: Consider your lifestyle, interests and personality. Think: Does this shirt fit my lifestyle? Does it display what I’m interested in? Does it show off my personality?


Myra: Express yourself as much as you consume. In relation to TikTok where you might get all these ideas, I think you should also try putting things together on your own.


Merry: I think it all comes down to agency. If you just copy outfits or trends from TikTok, that's not personal style, it's just copy-paste. So at the end of the day, exercise the agency to choose your own clothes. Don't be slaves to trends, they're there to guide you but they shouldn’t dictate your personal style.


Kaye: Wear what makes you happy. I don't know, I think it's as simple as that. Regardless if it's trendy right now or not, if it makes you happy then wear it.


What are your thoughts on the importance of personal style? Let us know in the comments!


This roundtable interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.



Words Jer Capacillo

Art Dani Sison


You may also like

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get weekly updates on trending topics

Ⓒ 2018 – 2023 Wonder ™ | All Rights Reserved


Discover More


Don't miss a thing

Stay up to date to the latest news and articles.