style smart

December 3, 2009

There are books I read with full concentration, but there are books I just like to skim read and look at pictures.

Like Style how-to books.

I own many; Rachel Zoe, Gok Wan, Nina Garcia, Victoria Beckham, Audrey Hepburn tributes, In Style series.

rachel zoe

But I never believed in copying these icons or take fashion tips too seriously. I am quite stubborn with my own style and so far, I think I know what suits my body and what doesn’t. I’m really petite, so it’s hard to wear oversized things or flats with confidence, so I can’t emulate every trend because more often than not, these are meant to be directed towards ladies with average height and the average body type. And also, we need to understand our society’s acceptance to what we wear, and also the more sensitive one; what our religion’s take on it is.

victoria beckham

My mother would die if I started wearing this and posing like that

So, when I read these books, I am really looking for updates; to just update my brain on what’s new and the new tricks of fashion illusions. Generally, just to analyse how people dress, what kind of messages they are telling with a particular fashion item, and why on earth we girls obsess over fashion in the first place. Also to look at nice graphics, I’m a sucker for books with nice colours and pictures. I’m such a child! Hehe.

Most of all, I like to see how these stylists become millionaires just by telling people what to wear and what not to. I mean, anyone can do that. In fact, we all do that everyday! By telling our best friends to put that ugly thing down, or by telling our mom not to wear grey as it washes out the colour in her face.


Most of the time, the more successful ones are the ones who are simply more famous; the ones with reality shows. Gok’s Fashion Fix, Trinny and Susannah, The Rachel Zoe Project. This increases my curiosity and gives me incentive to study the showbiz industry, because, well, you never know.

What I can conclude from studying these stylists is that they have the likeability factor. Either they have relateable styles, or a nice personality, or they like to give useful never-heard-before tips. I watched Gok make a bubble skirt just by pulling a thread in the hemline (it was like magic!) or his tip to wear white leggings underneath coloured leggings just to make the colour pop more.

And the ultimate success factor; they use the media to their advantage. Media contact is essential because tons and tons of press is injected into their project, and they use all sorts of public figures in their shows as marketing tools (e.g. model Alexa Chung in Gok’s show…who btw looks very much like my primary school friend Shasha Marissa…Alexa, I mean..not Gok hehe). Another useful marketing tool is to have controversy in their shows and some acting on their part doesn’t hurt either. Of course, strong cash capital goes without saying.

With all these, even you and I can host reality shows.

So, when you hear fashion advice, don’t obsess. Some things just don’t work for different people, so don’t obsess to make it work. I’m a huge fan of these kind of shows, but I make sure to make it a source of entertainment than anything. I’m a huge reader of style books, but I know not to take every word too seriously.


For example, I read The Style Strategy by Nina Garcia recently.

Most of the things are obvious; stylists everywhere basically just repeat each other (skirts just below the knee, wear shoes your size, wear lining, have a white crisp shirt in your wardrobe….things are so obvious, it’s like a speech in the fashion world). Most of the tips are vague and open-ended which is understandable, because she’s writing a book not just for me, but for millions of other women with different tastes and bodies.

What I took in from her book wasn’t the style tips or must-haves because I am a believer of creating your own style and letting that develop on its own. But what is interesting to me is her style strategy which is self-evident in the title itself.

Basically, this is her Style Strategy; to ask herself these 3 questions:

  • What do I have?
  • What do I need?
  • What do I want?

I find this overlooked concept so smart because it can change the way you shop, for the better. And God knows, I need that!

I am proud to say I can put a “check” on the first part because I’ve diligently created my own Oracle recently. One of my times better spent that one, because not a day goes by without me consulting my “Oracle” on what to wear. The most efficient way to control your inventory, I would highly recommend. I would gladly do this for you if you’d pay me 🙂

The second and the third questions are a big blur for me. The overlap is vast and it’s a big grey area. What I want is stubbornly what I need too. I’m still learning how to differentiate these 2. Struggling, naturally.

On an unrelated issue, I visited Chanel in KLCC (did you realise there’s only ONE Chanel store in the whole of Malaysia?!!!) last weekend and saw THE red bag.

red chanel

I told the lady it was 14K in Jakarta, and here it was RM 12K. A whopping 2K difference.

And she simply said to me, “NEVER NEVER buy from Jakarta because of their high luxury item tax.”


From my experience, most of these designer goods are the cheapest (I say cheap with a pinch of salt) in Paris (because most of them originate from there). Then, the order from cheapest to most expensive is  London, Singapore, Malaysia and Jakarta. These are just the places I usually buy from, so if you know the prices from other countries, do share!!