Beauty queen and model Kylie Verzosa reveals she was not always the glam fashionista. As a schoolgirl, she resorted to wearing the same outfit over and over again every Friday.
“It was a pink top, not even branded, with flared jeans that had flowers on it. Every week, on the day where we g=et to wear civilian clothes, that was what I wore, to the point that my classmates teasingly called it my ‘uniform.’ Uso ngayon yan, ha!” recalls the reigning Miss International with a hearty laugh.
Mixing comfort and style
Verzosa shares she started exploring fashion and developing her sense of style only when she started modeling. She describes her favored outfits as elegant, classic, and feminine in neutral, pastel, or dark colors.
“I like clean cuts and nice silhouettes, and I am happy that this is what I have found in our local stores, specifically Bayo. The brand really fits my personal style preferences and I am happy to be working with them,” she adds in between takes at a photo shoot for the homegrown label.
Verzosa likes trying out new trends too, and may occasionally reach for bright colors.
“When I see something I like online, I like to try it out to see if it suits me. If it doesn’t, I move on to the next,” she grins. “It all depends on whether you feel comfortable in it.”
Comfort is where her grandmother’s style influence comes in: “Her advice was to never walk out of the house if you don’t feel comfortable and confident in what you are wearing. You have to feel confident; confidence is sexy for both women and men.”
And while she likes to browse boutique racks to look for something new, she giggles when asked about the state of her closet. “My closet is organized according to what I like wearing at the moment. I live in a state of organized chaos! I never lose my stuff, though. I always know where to find them.”
Picking out her OOTDs (outfit of the day) is a go-with-the-flow process. “There are times when I prepare what to wear the night before, but that can change too, depending on how I am feeling that day. I think that fashion is a form of art and I get inspired by my mood. Before I went out to the shoot today, I changed three times.”
According to the beauty queen, a basic wardrobe should have the following staples: a good pair of jeans, a good white top, a good blazer, a go-to-shirt, trousers, black pants, a nice loose polo shirt, and a little black dress. “You can mix and match with these. It is very practical to have these ready in your wardrobe instead of splurging on too many trendy things. If you have an expensive trendy outfit, you can probably only wear it once for the cameras or to a gathering. You can’t repeat it anymore, unlike mixing and matching classics that you can wear on several occasions. This saves you money and time, and you get to think a lot less about what to wear.”
And while Verzosa may have sashayed through the pageant circuit in swimwear onstage, she actually advises covering up. “My advice for girls is don’t show off too much skin. I am medyo conservative that way. Learn when to show what you have, and when not to. You should always look appropriate for where you are going, and who you are showing yourself to. Honestly, elegance never goes out of style.”
On finding your own personal style, she quips, “Don’t be afraid to try new things. Try different things. You can be quirky about it and experiment until you find the look that works for you.”
Stand for something
In this interview for The Sunday Times Magazine, Verzosa proudly related that she has been chosen as one Bayo’s featured celebrities in to mark its 25th anniversary objective; that is to highlight Filipino achievers who have created a positive impact on Philippine society.
Indeed, Kylie Verzosa is one such influencer who has become noted not only for her Miss International crown but also for her campaign on mental health. She says that the two are interrelated.
“When I joined Binibining Pilipinas, they asked me what advocacy I would like to talk about. I did not want to talk about women and children, or poverty. I said I wanted to talk about mental health. It was so weird to them. ‘That’s not a happy advocacy,’ they chided me. ‘You should talk about women and children instead,’ they advised me.”
The beauty grins and mentions her stubborn streak. “Even after I won Miss International, they were asking me to talk about women and children, but no, I wanted to talk about mental health so I did.”
The topic is close to her heart because it hit home hard. “My father is bipolar,” she discloses. “I watched for years as he took his medications and I realized that it was a double-edged sword. You use these medications to keep you alive, but they also make your life shorter. I wanted him to get out of his illness naturally.”
She goes further to say that she and her sister also suffered from depression. “I know how it feels to be in that stage, to have that feeling that your life is at a dead end. Then, when I was going through it, I realized there was nobody talking about it. It was such a taboo.”
Verzosa wanted to get through her depression naturally, so she did her research, and with the help of several treatment techniques she found—including exercising, doing yoga, Pilates, and healthy eating—and with guidance from her doctor, she got better. “Even when I got better, I was questioning why nobody was talking about it. That was why I chose to advocate mental health at the pageant.”
Verzosa has since been invited to talk about mental health for many agencies, particularly the World Health Organization. She has also given a TED Talk on the topic, and has received so many messages from people who say that she has helped them by speaking out.
“I am really glad that I can get to talk about it. Exposing the dark part of my life has brought light on the subject. I have also realized that I would not be here if I did not have to pass through all of that. With everything I went through, I am able to help other people, by removing the stigma attached to mental health issues.”