Here Comes Summer: Catriona Gray’s Empowering Splash of Fashion Choices

Here Comes Summer: Catriona Gray’s Empowering Splash of Fashion Choices


Bringing in the heat of stylish wear in this year’s summer escapade is Catriona Gray who is out in the sun to celebrate confidence and colorful self-expression through powerful fashion choices with the Tropical Essentials 2023 collection

The Philippines is a tropical country known for its paradise of pristine beaches and islands. With beautiful landscapes, it is no surprise that summer is easily one of the most anticipated seasons of the year. Ultimately, summertime represents freedom and the best parts of life—exploring and trying out new things for self-development, which is why it’s also Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s favorite season.  

The beauty queen, host, and advocate of many creative pursuits has always lived in the tropics, where beating the heat means taking a dip into the cool waters of the sea. When she was younger, she always traveled to the Philippines during the summer holidays. “These trips obviously really shaped my identity and also formed my first recollections of our country,” she shares. 

Catriona had seen, experienced, and memorialized the beauty of our nation that she could identify with and be proud of. But she couldn’t have done that without deciding who she wanted to be or how she wanted to grow. To connect more with herself in developing confidence, Catriona makes powerful fashion choices through sustainable, stylish, and versatile swimwear and garments.  

Her all-time favorite season

It’s the hottest time of the year, and the warm breeze calls Catriona to the islands for an escape from city life. Describing what summer looked like for her, she charmingly illustrates it in a total recall: “Summer always conjures memories of swimming in the pool or beach, sunburn on shoulders and having picnics under the shade of a tree or umbrella. In other words—always spent outdoors.”

Catriona Gray favors minty green asymmetric cuts in fresh colors paired with a sarong

Summer invites us to spend time with the people who matter most in our lives. It also reminds us to take a break from our work and everyday routine. In our special bubble, we dive deep into the water, drink fresh smoothies, and bury our feet underneath the sand. For Catriona, her love for lounging about next to the water has been the most relaxing. 

“I’m such a water baby, so I’m always happy in the sea or the pool—either reading a book or playing a board game with a friend. Smoothie bowls and ice-cold juices are my favorites this season,” she shares, as she goes on describing her go-to comfortable beachwear that feels just like herself: “I’m quite a conservative dresser—not a hubadera, so I love flowy skirts or kaftans, big sun hats, and cute, beaded or woven bags and sandals.” 

While Catriona has been busy with many things and is already going beyond being Miss Universe, as she revealed in her previous MEGA cover story, she ensures she still has time for her family, fiancee, and friends. Since she’s been raising the flag of our country’s culture, arts, and beautiful destinations, she mentions “Bohol, Boracay, and Palawan” as her favorite local destinations.

The beauty maven feels more at ease during this time as she embraces her best self: “I make an effort to escape the city during summer, and having that time off leaves me refreshed and reenergized.” 

Never go out of style with an all-black classic swimsuit

It’s truly revitalizing to be in our best form—the kind of person who’s at the height of a feel-good emotion or is being a little miss sunshine—but evoking that certain feeling has to come from within us. We get the power to choose how we express ourselves. Like summer, we often want to be as equally hot and fun as it is, and this kaleidoscopic period is the perfect chance to spice up our beach ‘fits that allow us to move in comfortable and flexible ways. 

Fashion of self-expression

Fashion has been defined countless times, from TV and print magazines to social media posts and commentaries. The most common description we’ll find is that it describes a popular practice of dressing up. While this attributes to the term itself, the word has transcended time, becoming more than being tagged as “pretty” and “shiny.”

Fashion, for some, may seem as simple as looking good, but as society propels us into the future where fashion plays a pivotal role in individualism, it sets up an industry of creative thinkers and expressive individuals. Through clothes, we get to tell our stories and introduce who we are to the public, even on the beach. Catriona has a short but inspiring meaning to it: 

“[Fashion] is a form of self-expression that you wear.”

Catriona Gray on defining fashion

Self-expression, like fashion, has many layers, but it all boils down to being who we are. It shows the world our thoughts, beliefs, values, and feelings. Most importantly, it is the expression of our personality, and one of its many avenues is fashion or style. 

“Everyone has different facial features, [and] everyone also has different body shapes. Different colors and shapes work on different people,” Catriona says, so it makes sense for us to love our figures first. “Because without that self-acceptance and appreciation for our bodies, we won’t make decisions that honor and protect ourselves.”

The undeniable power of self-confidence

With so many unfiltered opinions coming from others, it can be challenging to find the ensemble that works for us, but at the end of the day, only we get to call the shots on how we dress up. Choosing what we want for ourselves gives us the courage and power to put ourselves out there. 

“It’s the woman’s choice that empowers her. To be able to dress the way she wants, to express herself—with her choice of fashion—that’s empowering.”

Catriona Gray on how a woman’s fashion choice is empowering

This summer, Catriona chooses to dress up for this tropical heat with H&M’s Tropical Essentials 2023 collection. “I always love color blocking in breezy materials like linen, and H&M always delivers such flattering silhouettes. Especially the swim pieces. My collection keeps growing because I can’t get enough,” she gushes.

Seasonal trips are fashionable occasions to try on a new bikini top or to mix and match fun and vibrant colors for two-piece suits: a sunny bright yellow or passionate red paired with a mesh cover-up dress. If it makes us happy and more confident, then what others say doesn’t matter. 

“Exploring allows you to find out what works for you and what sparks joy,” the water baby explains. Referring to the Tropical Essential’s mint asymmetrical cuts with an airy weave sarong, she adds “This season’s drops have been some of my favorites.”

Lounge away in a comfortable bikini suit

We all have our favorite stylized pieces, and they help boost our confidence. For the beauty queen, confidence is also intertwined with how we view ourselves and our internalized energy: “When you feel comfortable and that you’re wearing something that flatters you and your body, and makes you feel beautiful, then your confidence shines through.”

Celebrating summer in stylish pieces

H&M’s Tropical Essentials 2023 is all about elevated fashion with bright summer colors, asymmetric cuts, and stylized wraps. The campaign celebrates different individuals and different ages, which makes it inclusive. There are many pieces and cover-ups to try on, and their stylish swimwear makes fashion achievable. 

“I’m really proud to be an ambassador and to work alongside H&M,” Catriona shares. “There’s such a huge range of silhouettes that flatter so many different body shapes, so the capsules always feel very inclusive in that way.” 

Catriona embodies a feel-good summer in a stylish swimsuit paired with mesh cover-up pants

Catriona feels “easy and breezy” in Tropical Essentials 2023 swimwear. With swim pieces that are modern and stylish, this collection is sure to elevate our looks. Applauding and respecting the differences in our style choices also helps build confidence when women empower women. “Empowerment goes beyond the image, beauty, or façade. It’s about giving equal opportunity, freedom, and choice to each other,” she imparts. 

Embracing the power to express and love ourselves is the first step towards confidence. H&M’s Tropical Essentials line brings us modern pieces that make us feel like iconic models of our hot summer stories. 






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