Passing Judgement

Don’t judge me, but…



Women are delicate creatures.

By delicate, I mean PMSing even when they’re not PMSing, never having anything to wear, eating burgers while complaining about their Winter muffin top, and bitching about their girlfriends while they emoji-flirt with their local barista on Instagram.

And so, by some terribly scientific (anthropological?) formula of deduction, I’m here to address the million dollar question of how one satisfies their sartorial tendencies in public without the rest of the room thinking you’re a total douchebag.

See? Science.

In all seriousness, there isn’t a day when a girl doesn’t stop me on my merry way on the street, on Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram, with the same old: cool outfit, but don’t you feel out of place, uncomfortable, weird, too different, in that? Celebrity culture, a perfection-driven social media game, and the mere existence of Doutzen and Adriana, have evolved a lot of the world’s women into intermittently terrified, second-guessing, and self-depricating-as-a-joke-but-secretly-not-a-joke Gollums, with the burning desire for peer approval and OMG BABE YOU LOOK AMAZING.


What you wear serves a very simple and fulfilling function – aside from leaving at least something to the imagination (but if going starkers is your thing, I am right behind you until you get arrested, upon which it definitely was not my idea). Regardless of whether you’re into “FASHION”, or even think you have any form of “PERSONAL STYLE”,* what you wear is a reflection of your personality and creativity, with no implications for any other woman (or sassy man) who happens upon your get-up on your way to the train station. The fact that so many women are scared to take an aesthetic risk that they have been dying to try for fear of their co-workers’ you can’t sit with us, or sideways passenger glances on the bus is amazing to me. By all means, wear what makes you comfortable, but don’t dress for other people.** If that means lions, floor plans, and no bra, good for you. If that means snow nudity, embrace the frostbite. If that means geode embroidery, sheer hems, leather trackies bed hair, and no makeup, then you’re probably winning, because you get a free gift with that.

At least, in my logical hypothesis, the less women feel threatened by fellow female judgement, the less they will feel the inclination to judge others skin-deep.

Preach it.




**unless you have a school uniform, in which case the wrath of your Principal will surely dictate any modifications

3.1 Phillip Lim Two Texture Ryder Satchel

Embroidered Geode Long-Sleeve Shirt

Rouched Leather Track Pant

Shot en route to Uni – because when you break it down, it’s just a fancy sweater, trackies and a school bag. Don’t judge me.

  • Mango

    bless this post. Your blog was one of the things that gave me more confidence to just say fuck it,and just dress in whatever I want… and feel damn good about it. And if this can become a more common mentality in the average setting, then the world might also become a more peaceful place. Thank you, Margaret.

  • lae

    Perhaps six (+?) years of having uniform skirt lengths measured, strict dress codes and lack-of-hair-ribbon drama from high school have a longer-lasting effect than expected? I wouldn’t be surprised if the association between ‘looking weird/different’ and ‘singled out of the crowd to be made an example of’ were being subconsciously drummed into our heads along the way.

    That being said, confidence can pull off an outfit more than a model-perfect body or flawless face ever could, so hats off to your general sentiment and for defeating strict uniform-induced fear programming (:

    • margaretzhang

      Super true! Particularly where uniform-policing is strict and punishable by detention… though, I’d say the judgement amongst girls is probably more prevalent after growing up in an environment without uniform restrictions. Human nature, huh…

      • lae

        I’d say the fear of being punished by the ‘wicked teachers-and-evil-strict-school system’ is still far less than being socially punished by hundreds of judging eyes from fellow peers. So…lesser of two evils, I suppose. But the whole girl-on-girl judgement is particularly terrible – embrace the sisterhood, I say :(

  • Vicky w.

    You would never be judged showing up like that at Georgetown University. :)

    • margaretzhang


  • You preach girl! I think the biggest factor in this is confidence. If a girl feels insecure, that’s when she bitches about other peoples outfits & it being too ‘out there’. If everyone had enough confidence we would all have happy days :)

  • I love this post! This type of judging of what other people wear is intensified in smaller countries where people still live with some preconceptions about how and what clothes should be worn (I live in such a country). Although I do not really approve of ridiculous outfits which are solely put together for the sake of showing some kind of a pointless rebellion, or outfits which are truly inappropriate in certain places, I still believe that taking risks with fashion, especially ones that you know will make you happy, is a good thing. Dressing for other people is never going to make you really happy. One should dress for themselves.

  • Avanti

    Love this. Amen!
    I hate it when people give me funny looks because of what I’m wearing. If I want to wear baggy hiking pants and a wollen coat along with colourful sneakers why can’t I!?
    People are too quick to judge.

  • j_mapelle_nee

    Preach it indeed!! Truth be told, initially I turned my nose up at the likes of you. Not to you personally, but to the rise
    of the self-confessed “FARSHUN” blogger. It took this year to finally sneak a glance at your blog to see for myself what all the fuss was
    about (and hours stalking your Instagram) that I now stand converted. I’ve always been known as the print-on-print-on-layered up-upon-layer-print
    girl and only this year decided to break from that and do more monochrome, and resist the urge to wear more than one statement neck piece
    at a time (my forte).

    You have taken layering to a whole NUTHA LEVEL and I like that about you, especially the way at times you admit how ridiculous it may all seem, but you’re so cool about it and you never take yourself too seriously. I love that! I was never one swayed by other peoples opinions on the way I look but to a degree my decision to stick to more “subdued” blacks and whites and no more prints perhaps was my subconscious effort blend in, which didn’t last long anyway, colour and print is creeping slowly back into my wardrobe.. Lol! Cause that’s just it, we can’t deny the part of ourselves that just wants to be real and not give a damn about what others think. X

    • margaretzhang

      Glad I busted the cookie cutter for you! Nothing wrong with multiple statement necklaces though :) We all need a little indulgence…

  • Amen to that!

  • As the saying goes, ‘they gon judge you anyway’. Wear whatever the fuck you want.

    From two girls who vehemently share this ethos,
    Jenny N and Rainie Wolfcastle

  • what an amazing top !!! about your post, speechless, interesting as usual, such a good writer you are

  • Ana

    I love the message in your post and 100% agree with it too.
    I think we all have felt that pressure of “what will other people think” at some point in our life. And I have seen it translated in a number of forms, but there are two that stand out: people that want to follow every single trend, to make sure to fit in to their circle and people who just tone everything down, so they just become a wallflower. Both these situations make me a bit sad, and hopefully your post helps some lovely senoritas to come out out their shells and be themselves. I know for a fact that blogging has helped me further express myself through my clothes and just have fun with it :) My favourite part of the day is when I pick an outfit in the morning. Do I get odd looks at the office from time to time for being blatantly overdressed, yes… do I really care? No .. hehe
    Thank you for empowering girls to be themselves in your usual funny, witty ways :)

    Ana x

    • margaretzhang

      You go girl!! The whole ‘trend’ thing publications push to death probably don’t help girls feeling like they’re being too different…

  • Tracy

    Your outfit is amazing!

  • Love the 31Phillip Lim’s shirt and the bag so much:) XO

  • vio

    I love that you are so unpredictable in your styling, it really seems like your creativty and mood shines through. I love how you’re not afraid to pull of a really feminine silhouette in one shot, and then a really sleek or sporty one in the next. I find that almost every blogs are too one-dimensional to be inspiring, yours on the other hand really stands out of the bunch.

  • ygriega

    Well put! I need to care less what others think of my get-ups and get creative again

  • Loved reading this! So so true!

  • In complete agreement with your point of view. It’s a shame there are too many delicate creatures who lack confidence and self esteem. Consequently, lash out at those who do have the confidence to express themselves. A cycle which just sets us back. Wear what you want, own it, and be happy! Kinda simple you would think!

    Love this top by the way.

  • This is so well written!
    I couldn’t agree more, you should dress for yourselves and no one else. Sadly I live in a place where this is seldomly appreciated and all you get for dressing as your heart desires is others throwing you an appraising look.
    This sweater is totally awesome!!

  • monkeyshines
  • Thehatchaser


  • This is a really good post, with a great message. I think it’s good to be yourself, and I have been trying to strive for that more and more. During my high school years, I remember that being very difficult, with superficial judging being the norm. Since graduating college, I think it matters to me far less than it did then. Perhaps it comes with growing up – mentally more than physically – and eventually coming to terms with oneself.

  • that bag is so pretty! x

  • I actually used to be really frightened to wear what I actually felt like wearing. But one day, I just stopped caring about people’s opinions and started dressing for myself. Now I can happily step out of the house in my vintage overalls & chunky sole creepers and not want to crawl into a hole and hide everytime I get glances on the street. Loved this post, Margaret.

    Oh and, your shirt is awesome.

  • Totally agree! For me the key is don’t compare myself with whatever other people around me are wearing. Because something that looks good on you might not look good on me.

  • Chanty

    So true, you should also start with yourself by not being so judgemental, what you say or think of others is merely a reflection of yourself. You’re so damn cool Marg!

    Love your photo and expression on the first pic (flawless) ! You will always have my praise of “OMG BABE YOU LOOK AMAZING.” ;-) More power to your blog!

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  • Okay first off, I really love your outfit here. Secondly, I totally hate it when people just straight out judge you for what you’re wearing like it’s so crazy or scandalous. Like, no just stop. Funny enough that before I read this post, I got a hate message on Tumblr saying my style is “cliche and unoriginal as fuck” LOL. I mean, if anything, nothing’s really original anymore. Everything is just recycled inspiration. So to hell with that message. I like what I wear and I’m not gonna let anyone tell me otherwise!

    Also, this post slays. BLESS THIS POST AND YOU.

  • Couldn’t of said it better myself! I think everyone should dress in what they like and what they are comfortable in, who cares if you get a weird stare here or there; as long as you’re happy than its all worth it!


  • Kitty M

    Fabulous post and it made me smile. Each to their own in my opinion. I feel more sad that people just don’t seem to make an effort any more (I am based in the UK). I have always been interested in fashion and make up, been very influenced by my mum (she recently retired from Chanel) and grandmothers, who would NEVER leave the house without a full face of make up. i am the same. I turned 40 last year and I think I have my own little unique style. People have been cheeky enough to come up and make comments to me in the past (good and less so)! but it wouldn’t bother me too much these days. I work in recruitment and coach people on how to style themselves for interview, as we form judgements about teach other so quickly. To me fashion is a creative art form and a way of self expression, I couldn’t imagine not making an effort and I wish more people would. Interestingly in the UK it can often be the working classes who really get glammed up, whereas the middle classes etc can be a bit scruffy – like they don’t need to prove anything. My parents were both brought up in working class families in the 1960’s so maybe that is ingrained in me too xxx

  • Ugh Phillip Lim, my love!

  • Run tell that.

  • Lucy


  • Oh MZ, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Again. I’m a law student too, and sometimes when I turn up to uni with one too many clashing patterns, or something the slightest bit zany, or FARHSHUN-like, people get negative. All of a sudden my academic opinions aren’t quite as valid, and my integrity as an intellectual is challenged. Only now that I’ve almost graduated I have the confidence to say ‘f*ck it, I do what I want.” Following your blog has really helped boost my confidence, and your balance and success in life reminds me of the validity of my own goals. Thank you.

  • I love your take on the subjects you cover. You have a unique way of looking at things x

  • From New York With Love

    This was nice and refreshing to read from a fashion blogger, thanks for another great post!


  • Your blog is my favorite! End of story. I just love your writings, they inspire me so much and make me laugh right in the next moment. It’s definitely crazy how women, somehow, tend to dress for other people. There’re these (as you said) Gollums, that somehow, live within every woman. Perhaps we should really try to focus on how we feel rather than how would people feel. As simple as that.

    Great article, Margaret.



  • The Work Diaries

    I love how the background contrasts the outfit in this picture. xx

  • fashion altitude

    In general, women tend to be nastily judgemental towards other “fellow”women who are sassy, daring or only for being themselves , instead of being supportive of one another ..That is sad to observe…However, though I often observe this ritual, I go with a flow, basically mine, and follow my path. That makes life lot more more easier And if I would get the message don’t sit with us, that spares me the bore of being bored…

  • aini

    Again, you come up with such an inspiring post. As a girl living in a place with collectivist culture where even the street style are -dare i say it- absent, i need to think twice even to accessorize. Some times for the sake of practicality, but most of the times, just to avoid any kind of potential commentary that people might give. And that just doesn’t seem right. As long as it causes no harm to other, Should we all be able to show some self expression without getting a feeling as if we’re sticking out like a sore thumb? And so i agreed, we can be kinder to others. But then again, if you’re finally able to do what’s good for yourself despite what all the other people say, you might have achieved self-actualization, and it’s a long way to get there.

    This post inspires me so much that i’m going to re-nominate this topic as my possible future thesis. Thanks Marg!

  • Kristen

    This was so good, and so true. Even for me, sometimes I think about the judgy looks I’ll get on the bus or whatever, so I’ll change at school. So many girls are dressing EXACTLY THE SAME, like clones, it’s exasperating. It’s like they all bought every single piece of clothing from the same mannequin and called it style, or fashion, or an outfit. PREACH MARGARET, YOU ROCK, KEEP BEING AWESOME/WRITING AWESOME THINGS.

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  • between the blondes

    Obsessed with the satchel!

  • Pam

    Really loving this post because you are able clearly express what everyone is feeling “skin-deep”. I guess sometimes with FASHUUUN it is a combination of judgement and also understanding what is suited to our own body shapes. Of course confidence is key, however not everyone is Miranda Kerr. Much like the rest of life, it is a balancing act maybe :P

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  • Maria

    i agree people should wear what they want to! i like your message at the end. but you shouldnt generalise the term “Women” as delicate creatures. some women wont identify with anything on what you just said, some will. gender is not binary but constructed so in a sexist society.

  • alexandra shulika

    Very strong message! I totally agree with everything you wrote! It is an amazing feeling of not caring what other people think of you, it gives you freedom and you may focus on your own business! Ladies, have more faith in yourselves!

  • Janae

    I love your writing!!!


Margaret Zhang 章凝 is an Australian-born-Chinese director, photographer, consultant and writer based between New York and Shanghai. Since establishing her website in 2009, Margaret has gone on to work with global brands including CHANEL, UNIQLO, Swarovski, YEEZY, Bulgari, Gucci, MATCHES, Under Armour, and Louis Vuitton in a wide range of capacities both in front of and behind the camera, while completing her Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws at The University of Sydney. Margaret’s directing, photography, and styling has been employed by the likes of VOGUE, L’Officiel, Harper’s BAZAAR, NYLON, Marie Claire, GRAZIA and ELLE internationally. She has been listed in Forbes Asia’s 30Under30 and TimeOut’s 40Under40, and her work has been recognized as shaping the international fashion industry by the Business of Fashion BoF500 Index for the past four consecutive years. She went on to be the first Asian face to cover ELLE Australia. In 2016, she co-founded BACKGROUND, a global consultancy for which she specialises in Western-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-Western cultural bridging for a range of luxury, lifestyle, and brand initiatives. In 2017, she exhibited a series of 39 unseen photographic works as a solo show in Sydney, and premiered her first short film – a 15-minute exploration of her visceral relationship with classical music on both performance and abstract planes – to critical acclaim.

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