Golden Girl: Tessie Singson on Fashion After 60
Tessie Singson, better known on instagram as Lola Androgynous, is a womenswear enthusiast whose age and gender-fluid approach to dressing is actively breaking down industry standards. Teaming up with her son, Tessie has curated an extensive archive—from Margiela to Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto—that tastefully articulates her attitude towards clothing where intention, emotion, and design intersect. We spoke with Tessie about her unique archive, her online presence as a style expert, and how the coming of age ultimately fosters a new appreciation for authentic style.
Kate Marin: What is your cultural background and how does it influence your style of dress?
Tessie Singson: I'm actually from Manila where fashion is rapidly growing but still very conservative and commercial. The fashion sense of people is somewhat deeply rooted from what people see on TV and what celebrities and bloggers wear. Frankly, I dress as I please. I never follow trends as well as cultural norms. Usually, I just wear whatever that makes me happy. I think people should dress what pleases themselves and not other people.
KM: When did you first become interested in fashion?
TS: I have always been into fashion. But I think my passion for fashion magnified when my son JP moved back to Manila from San Francisco and introduced me to the androgynous mode of dressing. Since then I have been obsessed with Japanese designers and a handful of European designers. My son works as a buying consultant/personal shopper so he travels around the world to source. Usually, when he returns home he spoils me with some of his finds. This is how I discover never heard labels.
KM: What about androgynous dressing appealed to you?
Well, I like the menswear silhouettes and proportions. I particularly love wearing anything oversized. I love the idea of moving freely without restrictions.
KM: I love that your son plays a role in the way you dress. How were you dressing before he moved back from San Francisco?
TS: Yes we get inspiration from each other. He is like the daughter I didn't have. Back then my style was more plain and generic I think since I wasn't exposed to alternative dressing. He sort of opened up this another new world for me where I can play dress-up again like when I was younger. I guess after you get married and have kids eventually you shift your priorities and just focus on your family to the extent of neglecting to take care of yourself. I think it is important to still pamper yourself like getting a manicure or a trim at the salon once in awhile so you don't look like a Stepford housewife.
KM: How has your style changed with age?
TS: I am like a chameleon. I like the idea of evolving and continuity. I don't want to get stuck in a box.
KM: What kind of relationship do you have with your clothing? Is it emotional or utilitarian?
TS: I would like to think that my relationship with clothing is more emotional than utilitarian since I dress based on what I feel. I admit sometimes my outfit choices are NOT the most practical! Hah! Kidding aside, I think dressing, in general, is very personal. It is a reflection of your thoughts and personality. It also empowers you. It gives you a certain confidence and affirmation. Frankly, I'm still overwhelmed with the attention I'm getting both at home here in the Philippines and even abroad. But I'm just glad that people are more open to new things. In my case, a new aesthetic. And I encourage women to dress unapologetically and confidently. Step out of your comfort zones.
KM: Has social media changed your thought process or method of dressing?
TS: Absolutely! Aside from meeting new friends with similar interests and tastes, it allowed me to be more open-minded and appreciate fashion in all its glorious forms.
KM: What pieces have you owned and worn the longest?
TS: Hmmmm. Probably my old gold Rolex watch. It's probably one of the things I still wear through the years. I do have a penchant for vintage. But most of what I have in my archive I have acquired in the past 5 years.
KM: What’s one piece you will never let go of?
TS: This one is tough. Perhaps one of my CDG jackets.
KM: What does your archive look like?
TS: My archive is quite eclectic. For clothing, I mostly collect Comme and Yohji and a few from Margiela. For jewelry I love mixing contemporary (Céline, Marni) with vintage from the 80s-90s (YSL, Lacroix). For bags, I go for unique non-mainstream bags and occasionally Chanel. And for shoes I love Guidi!
KM: Do you wear everything you own?
TS: Not all. I am lucky to have a son who has an amazing wardrobe and a splendid taste. He is a collector too. So sometimes I get to wear pieces from his vast archive.
KM: Do you ever buy pieces you know you won’t wear?
TS: Once in awhile! Life is too short to have regrets! So if I cannot sleep at night then that means I need to have it! Thankfully, there's Heroine if I sense the need to unload and share my treasures.
KM: Older women are largely under-represented in the fashion conversation. If they were properly included, would the industry look different? Perhaps fewer trends, more lasting-designs? What do you think?
TS: What's ironic is that the older women market is a considerably very lucrative market. I do think if it's well represented then we will see more quality non-disposable things in the market. It would somehow eliminate people from buying things that they would wear once or thrice. Instead, they would invest in something they would have for a long time. Pieces that they can actually pass into someone in the future.
KM: Who are your favorite designers and why?
TS: Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto. Well, because they encourage people to march to the beat of their own drums.
Browse Tessie's listings here or shop her grails below.