Fashion is a powerful tool to express oneself; it can even be described as our self-extension. How we dress is how we want others to perceive us. And so, as we continue to campaign for women this month, we interviewed four successful Filipinas, all intelligent and influential in their own fields, who have mastered the art of wielding fashion and style to their advantage. Below, internationally-recognized designer Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Globe's Director of Strategy and Program Management for the Content Business Kat Ramnani, actress and painter Heart Evangelista, and Happy Skin co-founder Rissa Mananquil-Trillo talk about what it means to be beautiful, how they measure success, and their sartorial secrets in power dressing.
1. How do you define being beautiful?
Amina: Being beatiful is sparked by hapiness, a sense of purpose, purity, and sincerity of heart.
Kat: The people I find most beautiful are those with inner peace. To me, inner peace is about carving out the life that you want despite what obstacles you have had to face.
Heart: Being beautiful is best defined by how unapologetic you live your life—when you are confident, kindhearted, and brave. "Be-you-tiful," as they say.
Rissa: When we hear the word beauty, we think it’s all just about appearance. True beauty isn’t always what the eyes can see. It’s the intangibles—intelligence, integrity, kindness, character.
How about success?
Amina: Success is going after your dreams.
Kat: Success looks different in everyone's book—it's about who's asking the question. To me, success [is achieved by] creating changes that last—by way of empowering and enriching Filipinos' lives.
Heart: Success is when you embrace your own journey while still being able to help and inspire others to follow their dreams.
Rissa: Success to me isn’t about feeling fulfilled because of numbers, but [by knowing that] at the end of the day you’re making an impact and changing lives of people. More than being successful, it’s about being significant. Significance means making a contribution to others.
2. When it comes to fashion, do you think dressing well to work makes an impact to how people perceive you? How so?
Amina: More than dressing well, I think what is more important is dressing appropriately for the setting and occasion. So yes, it is important to be aware of who you are and allow it to reflect in the way you put yourself together.
Kat: Absolutely, clothing significantly influences how others perceive you. Steve Jobs, in his simplicity and consistency, made a statement that inspired many people to subscribe to his ideology of uniformity when dressing. "Dressing well" is subjective; to one person it can mean a pantsuit, to someone else [it can be] jeans and a hoodie. My [take] is to wear what makes me feel my best and allows me to feel that I am presenting the best version of myself.
Heart: Yes! Tom Ford said it perfectly, "Dressing well is a form of good manners." This doesn't mean you have to dress lavishly, but I do think you have to discover your personal style and really own it.
Rissa: To me, dressing well and dressing right is a form of good manners and is about being well-groomed. You only have one chance to make the right first impression—make it count and allow it to tell a story.
3. What's the best, no-fail work outfit for you?
Amina: A button-down, a pair of trousers, and fun kitten heels.
Kat: Skinny cropped pants, block heel shoes in a complementary color to my top (not too high so that I can walk, run around), a button-down shirt with a fun detail, and statement earrings.
Heart: A tailored white suit is a classic look that you'll use forever. Invest in pieces that complement your figure and that are well made, that way they will survive the seasons and various occasions you may encounter.
Rissa: Dresses. These are the fashion items I turn to with confidence. They work for me when I don’t know what to wear. They flow over a woman’s flaws and hug the right places. They can be worn many times over by just changing accessories. They are reliable pieces that never fail to make a woman feel remarkable.
4. What do you wear to feel empowered?
Amina: Definitely heels! And a blazer or a suit. Been on the lookout for suits to add to my work outfits.
Kat: Your mind. To me ,the most powerful thing and the sexiest part of a person is their mind—and don't be afraid to put it out on display. Questioning ideas, contributing to a conversation, giving perspective, showing your worth are some of the most powerful things you can do. A great outfit will complement it, but you should really focus on making your mind the center of the show.
Heart: My go-to look is a nice blazer paired with trousers or a skirt to soften the look. Plus, nude heels—every lady should own nude heels! I'm empowered when I wear this outfit because this is a look that I truly feel confident in. While these are staple pieces, I can always play around with textures or colors and still stay true to my personal style.
Rissa: A great pair of heels. It can change your mood, posture, and attitude. It can instantly transform outfits from simple to stunning. It will work for you on your best day and on your worst day. And no matter what, it will always make your legs look better.