The owner of silk-staple fashion label ANUK never misses when it comes to fearless fashion. Her reflective, considered aesthetic is her best weapon— and she wants you to feel just as powerful. Boom!
My first impression of Samaadhi (affectionately known as Sam) was that she really knew her way around an oversized white shirt. Clean and classy, on the day of our interview, she’d paired it with jeans and simple jewellery. “I’m super glamorous from Monday through Wednesday, and then less so toward the end of the week…like now,” she says, laughing. “Though Friday night is, of course, a whole different story!”
As a longstanding fan of fashion, I often use clothes to reflect my mood on a Monday morning or as a prop during difficult meetings. To my delight, Sam agrees. “If you wake up in a sunny mood? Accessorize that smile with something feisty. Feeling down? Head to toe black, darling!” Her upfront, no-fuss demeanour is one of the many reasons I admire Sam. One other? Her stunning clothing brand.
I first saw ANUK pop up on social media last November, when Sam posted a few images of her closest girlfriends in pieces from her premiere collection. I was instantly enamoured by the simple, clean silhouettes sported by women of different body types. The silk clung in all the right places and had the kind of effortless fit that guaranteed simultaneous comfort and glamour.
“It’s no secret that assembling an outfit is like selecting social armor,” says Sam matter-of-factly. “I consider any outfit an extension of one’s individuality. What you choose to wear is how you, as a person, face society. I created ANUK to be the kind of armor women would choose to feel good about themselves or to feel empowered as they make their way in the world.”
I tend to agree: In my opinion, how we develop our personal style is akin to how we develop our Instagram presence: it’s a semi-portrayal of how we want the world to see us…and I don’t think that’s a bad thing, because it’s a projection into who we want to be. Comments Sam, “Developing your sense of personal style is a high-value art form, where you learn to express yourself—how you’re feeling that day and the kind of woman you want to be.”
Last summer, I was walking down the streets of Kuala Lumpur, captivated by the lady in front of me. Clad in a flowy, black burqa, she’d caught my eye not because of her attire, but due to the glossy pair of black patent leather high heels peeking out the bottom. Instantly, her story appeared much more layered—I found myself wondering what she did for a living; what mood she’d been in that morning, as she was picking out her outfit; and what she wanted to portray to the world. I have no doubt she did the same analysis on me. In a society increasingly focused upon image, and where the single greatest influence on a first impression is physical appearance, does what you choose to wear define who you aim to be?
I pose to Sam that dressing according to how you want to be perceived is one way to control your image to the outside world. “Definitely. I see people changing their sense of style very often—it’s constantly evolving, as their persona and levels of confidence change.”
Indeed, fashion has always existed as a medium to express an opinion about yourself to the world—sometimes it’s a reaction to the current political climate (akin to Dior’s “We Should All Be Feminists” or Prabal Gurung’s “The Future is Female” t-shirts), a response to religious customs (Dolce & Gabbana’s collection of abayas) or simply a big ‘screw you’ to conservative families (we all know how that feels!). Over time, fashion has constantly been used to dazzle, impress, and shock, but most importantly it’s been a vehicle to express how good you feel about yourself and the woman you will become.
All fashion facts taken into consideration, it’s no secret that what you wear affects how you feel. Case in point: Due to a nasty cold last month, I spent a few days surfing the sofa in an old T-shirt and baggy pyjama shorts. Sickly symptoms aside, my sartorial decision – or lack thereof – left me feeling distinctly below par. In no way am I suggesting that one needs to get dolled up when feeling under the weather – let’s give ourselves a break – but the sentiment is clear: Look lacklustre, feel lacklustre. The mood-enhancing quality of clothing is what makes the fashion world spin and what has the ability to turn our week around; when one is in need of a confidence boost, fashion might just be the answer.
There’s a favourite story Sam always recalls when trying to convey this exact feel-good factor of dressing well. “A friend of mine was studying for exams, and was feeling a little down. One day, she called me up and sounded super bubbly. ‘I wasn’t feeling too great about myself,’ she admitted over the phone. ‘I was in a pair of track suit bottoms, so I decided put on a pair of high heels and a cocktail dress, and I just walked from one end of the room to the other. I feel so good. Now I’m going back to studying!’” Sam laughs raucously.
“Unlike in generations past, high fashion doesn’t always equate to shoulder pads and pearls; the present way of confident dressing takes many forms and is defined purely by how a garment makes one feel, rather than the style in which it’s made. Sometimes, it’s the stories and memories associated with the particular piece that make it so appealing; at other times, it’s something as inexplicable as the way the fabric falls on your body when you have it on. Whether it’s the perfect pair of jeans or an exquisite leather jacket, confident fashion is realizing that the choice of how you want to dress is yours and yours alone,” says Sam. It’s about owning your trajectory and ever-developing sense of self, and expressing it in a way that stays true to who you are.
“When I was researching for my first collection, I read an article about the iconic Calvin Klein slip dress Gwyneth Paltrow wore to the Oscars in 1996. It was a period where taffeta was huge, and almost every other star turned up in crazy, big ball gowns…and then you had Gwyneth showing up in a slip dress! To this date, people still remember her outfit and what it stood for,” Sam relates. Lost in her thoughts for a second, she continues, “The more I think about it, the more I believe that is a great example of confident, fearless fashion. It’s when you have the absolute self-assurance to tell yourself, ‘This is me. This is how I would like to be seen.’ It’s about taking risks and having fun with fashion on your own terms. Once you feel comfortable in the aesthetic you’ve created for yourself, your mind is free to focus on other things—family, work, the world. So, rather than focusing on what makes you stand out in a crowd, you should focus on what makes you feel like a star. Do that, and no matter what you wear, you’ll have the envy of everyone in the room.”
This article was originally published as ‘Samaadhi Weerasinghe: On Confident Fashion & The Impact Of Your Current Style On Your Future Self’ in the August 2017 Confidence issue of Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka. For more stories of inspiring women, grab a copy of our latest magazine.
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