Hello fashionistas, can you believe it’s been five weeks since our last wardrobe raid (read it here)?
In the first of our two-part Unlocking WoW Closets series with Wear Oh Where, we played stylists to one of the coolest girls we know — former assistant fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar Singapore, Yilian Ng, and gleaned a season-full of candid insider tips on style and shopping.
We must admit, it was très difficile to say goodbye and let go (there might have been some tears and yelping) of that BV dress and Balenciaga bag of hers. But don’t worry, we’re okay now. It helped that we kept ourselves quite busy with… well, marauding another to-die-for wardrobe. This time, our mission took us to the stupendous home of Jia En Teo, co-founder of Roomorama.
Walking into Jia En’s wardrobe is like entering a mini multi-label boutique. From Cèline and Chanel to indie brands favoured by the 33-year-old, this has got to be a case of “a wardrobe full of clothes and everything to wear”.
As we zip back and forth between this little slice of heaven and the rest of her photogenic home during our photo shoot, we chat about the evolution of her style since her collegiate days, her love of white shirts (we swear she has an entire department of those in her wardrobe!), quick pick-me-up tricks in the morning, and the reality of being pregnant (Jia En is expecting her second child, congrats!) and chic.
How would you describe your style?
Jia En Teo: Minimal, fuss-free, comfortable and occasionally daring.
What are we most likely to find in your wardrobe?
Jia En: Lots of white shirts — they look good with everything. Lots of black — always classy and easy to dress up or down.
Who’s your style icon growing up, and nowadays?
Jia En: My mum is super stylish. At 60, she still has an eye on what’s trendy, and has never had any fear in making fashion statements. She is responsible for purchasing the most fashionable pieces I have in my wardrobe — things I would never buy on my own, but end up loving. Her closet has served as my go-to “boutique” since I was a child. Her style is a little more colourful and flamboyant than my usual fare, but I love jazzing up my wardrobe with her amazing clothes and accessories.
How does shopping in your 20s differ from shopping in your 30s?
Jia En: Oh, in my early 20s, I had just moved to New York from college in the Midwest. So, as you can imagine, I was trying to find my footing between collegiate dressing and asserting a city style. Regretfully, this took longer than I would have liked, mostly because living in New York was expensive, and I could never bring myself to pay too much for clothes. Plus, I also carried leftovers of my freshman 15 well into my working years, so I was probably more self-conscious than I am now (I’ve since lost the extra pounds because of a healthier lifestyle).
I used to shop frequently at Urban Outfitters, and I think I can call my then-style kind of boho. As I moved into my mid and later twenties, I discovered second-hand designer shops like INA and Tokyo7 in New York, and I think that was my style turning point because I discovered and started wearing designers that I’ve truly grown to love, like Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Rick Owens and Margiela.
Can you tell mums-to-be out there what the biggest challenge of dressing up is as your baby bump grows?
Jia En: I actually love dressing with a bump. I don’t usually wear body-hugging stuff, but with a bump, I feel quite liberated to do so, to show off the bump. I think the tough part is at five to six months, when you don’t have a full-fledged bump, and you may just look chubbier than usual. During that period, for both of my pregnancies, I wore a lot of oversized oxford shirts, or loose billowy tops with shorts or leggings.
Whenever you feel fatigued or uninspired in the morning, what’s a quick pick-me-up?
Jia En: Heels and lipstick do the trick for me. I wear lipstick only on weekends and at night, but I wear heels all the time to dress up anything I’m wearing. I am very much of the opinion that you can still wear heels throughout your pregnancy, as long it’s not too uncomfortable (I usually bring along a pair of flats just in case I’m out for longer than expected).
Where do you shop for stylish maternity clothes? Or is that an oxymoron?
Jia En: I have not bought a single maternity piece of clothing. There are many creative ways to adjust your existing wardrobe as your bump grows.
For example, I extend the waist of all my usual pants, shorts and jeans with a hair-tie that I loop through the button-hole and then I just hook it on to the existing button. As my bump grows, the hair-tie stretches, or I just add more as needed (like a zero-point elastic rope, if you can imagine), and bring down the zipper when required to expand the waist. I also use a belly band over some pants, because they allow me to completely unbutton or unzip pants, while still holding them in place.
If pants are not comfortable enough, buy a few tank dresses. These are great to showcase your bump — I always throw on a waistcoat or a vest to hide any extra weight I might have gained on my back or hips.
Can you recall your worst fashion faux pas ever?
Jia En: I used to paint a flower on my cheek when I was 15 when I went out. I was really trying to channel ’70s psychedelia. I like to think that I was “on trend” back then.
You have five minutes to pack five items from your closet before you’re shipped off to an island. Go.
Jia En: Swimsuit. Sunglasses. Sarongs. Sunblock. Hat.
Head over to WEAR OH WHERE to read more about Jia En’s on-duty style, life as a boss-slash-mum, and of course, more pictures.
Editorial direction: Karman Tse, Editor, Wear Oh Where
Styling & Art Direction: Camilla Testori, Style Tribute
Photography: Maria Eleonora Graziani (www.boomboomstudios.com)