"It is better to be beautiful than to be good. But...it is better to be good than to be ugly." ~ Oscar Wilde


My friends have been too polite to remark on the absence of my fashion taste. A very pretty girl once called it “practical” – because she didn’t want to call it downright ugly.

I want to excuse myself. I can’t help trusting my underdressedness. For no embarrassment in the world could break down the cold wall of resentment that dressing too well have fallen upon my family.


There was a time when money was really tight. At nine, five and two years old, Gramma’s looked at me and my brothers respectively and said with disgusted pity, “Children, you look godawful poor.”

When Gramma said this – and right before she drove us into the first children’s apparel shop - my brothers were wearing my downhanded smaller shirts and pants. I was wearing a brand new shirt, just three sizes too big, so that it’d fit for another three years.

Because wherever money is tight, you would wish everything to last forever. Even secondhand shirts and shorts. Even faded colors and bug-eaten socks.

After a while, when the money started coming, we got to afford private education. Unfortunately, looking poor kind of stuck. All the money in the world can’t buy taste, you see? It gets even harder to fit into “privately educated community” if your community privately cared too much about your sense of fashion than, say, your sense of education.

And, damminit, the money kept coming!! We had so much money that everything we owned became worthless. In three years, everything was replaced; the car, the house, the furniture and eventually the wife.


And it’s not all that bad, really, because my brothers wear their money comfortably. Because, nowadays, they dress with better and more expensive taste. Because on date nights, I’d be wearing Anggi’s Levi’s and Ade’s Nautica and manage to keep a straight face until dinner is done.

Because, heck, I’m stuck, man. I’m stuck at a time when we were little, and looking poor and handing down each other’s clothes just because we’re siblings and siblings are supposed to keep each other within decency’s limits. No matter how much money is bitterly wedged between us.

And it’s those unspoken pledges of loyalty between loving siblings, that one can never look too poor or too rich to wear.

[PS: If the way I dress bothers you so much, why don’t you be my stylist for grace’s sake? I’ll buy and wear everything you call pretty, and I’ll even PAY you for it by the hour. Sadly, that I can afford.]

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