Wardrobe Keepers

by Lena Kamarudin

4 tastemakers let us in on where to shop and what to buy (Pre-Fall 2019 purchases included), so you can build a tightly edited wardrobe filled with everyday classics and worthwhile investments.

Charmaine Seah, Managing Director, Elementary & Co.

A regular face in the local style circuit, Charmaine Seah is also the managing director of Elementary & Co. — a marketing and branding agency she co-founded with her husband. Seah is always spotted in the coolest threads especially from local fashion designers and is a firm believer that comfort always trumps trends.

One of the most valuable lessons she has learned through the years when it comes to dressing up is to never wear ill-fitting clothes. “You don’t want to end up looking like the clothes wear you. You need to own the look!” she says. And one of the best ways to do that is by stocking up with classic pieces in your wardrobe. For Seah it’s a classic white shirt. “It can make you feel smart, ladylike or even like a tomboy — so versatile, age-appropriate and extremely chic!

How to Build-a-Classic-Wardrobe by Charmaine Seah @eleventhour

Classic shirt: Local label Inventory. All their shirts are handcrafted in Singapore. I love their modern cuts and more masculine silhouettes. I’ve also co-designed a shirt with them that can be used as a shirt dress. In Good Company also has classic pieces with interesting twists.

Outerwear: Bimba Y Lola. It’s never just your standard black or khaki outerwear but always something fun and unexpected.

Statement Jewellery: Begum Khan, Venessa Arizaga and Shourouk. Because statement jewellery should be loud and fun!

Evening wear: I make a lot of my evening pieces at Ann Teoh. She’s been making pieces for my mother and I for more than a decade now, and my wedding gown was by her too. Then there’s also Time Taken to Make A Dress for the most sublime gowns. 

T-shirts: Local label Rye. No matter how many times I use and abuse their muscle tees, they never go out of shape and they’re so light and soft. Perfect for this weather.

Sneakers:  I live in my Vans old school slip-ons, classic converse high tops and leather Superga sport sneakers.

Everyday Jewellery: Bagatiba — a fine jewellery line from Los Angeles. They specialise in sustainable handcrafted pieces. I personally like their chunky but elegant pieces in silver or gold but I also love their layered necklaces.

Jeans: Parisian brand A.P.C. Because they fit me perfectly and make my legs look slimmer and longer!

Pre-Fall 2019 Trend: Tie-Dye 

“If you’re going to splurge, this tie-dye shirt from Prada is both weekend and office appropriate.”

“A classic white shirt. It can make you feel smart, ladylike or even like a tomboy — so versatile, age-appropriate and extremely chic”

Charmaine Seah

Germaine Ong, Vice President, Marketing

As the Vice President of the marketing team in an international bank, Germaine Ong is always poised and immaculately dressed. This stylista is also a big fan of Australian labels as she spent more than a decade living in Melbourne. Like anyone of us, Ong deals with fashion conundrums from time to time, but has a great fall back solution for days when she’s uninspired. “I save looks that inspire me in a folder on my phone and whip them out whenever I feel uninspired — it’s an easy way to reference the looks I like to try!” But she’s quick to point out that it’s important to be authentic and never fall prey to the wearing all the latest trends at once and looking like a fashion victim.

How to Build-a-Classic-Wardrobe by Germaine Ong @latenightlyricals

Outerwear: Max Mara if you’re thinking luxe, but Massimo Dutti does quality outerwear pieces if you’re looking for something more affordable.

Boots:  A pair of Hermès boots will set you back but with some care, but it will also last you for years and years to come. 

Tailored Separates: Aussie fashion designer Dion Lee is the king of tailoring in my books — sexy, body conscious tailoring with just the right amount of quirk for a fresh and modern appeal.

Everyday jewellery: Cartier definitelty. I’m a big fan of Van Cleef & Arpels for classic pieces that can really be future heirlooms especially the Alhambra range for timeless pieces. 

Evening wear: Bec + Bridge is a contemporary womenswear Australian label. It’s my go-to label for slinky, understated slip dresses. I have lost count of the number of Bec + Bridge dresses I own.    

T-shirts: Mango carries a range of cotton T-shirts that are super soft and comfy, and most importantly retains its shape well after washing. 

Sandals: Lately I’ve really been into Valentino sandals — both the V-Ring range and the classic rock studs. Despite being flats, they dress up any outfit thanks to the chic embellishments on them.

Jeans: Known for its high-quality, Made-in-the-USA indigo, Agolde jeans is my latest obsession. I recently bought my first pair but have been very impressed with the fit so far. It tucks you in where you need it to but lifts your derrière at the same time and literally moulds to your body. Perfect!   

Pre-Fall 2019 Trend: Poncho

“Burberry does a great one that you can even personalise it with your initials!” 

“It’s important to be authentic and never fall prey to the wearing all the latest trends at once and looking like a fashion victim”

Germaine Ong

Georgina Foo, Architectural Designer 

Georgina Foo draws her style sense from her design ethos centred around minimalism.  Less is more. I tend find myself gravitating toward pieces of simplicity, but rich in terms of garment construction, silhouette and material instead of something trendy or flashy,” says Foo who loves being inspired by the fashion archives of old Celine (under Phoebe Philo) and runway trends of labels that celebrate women such as The Row. Besides fashion, Foo, who is on her way to becoming a certified architect, loves collecting beautiful and quirky homeware from her travels. “Right now I am  obsessed with growing my collection of mid-century lamps and chairs.” 

How to Build-a-Classic-Wardrobe by Georgina Foo @seaofknit

Classic shirts: Muji has a really well-stocked selection of quality shirts.

Outerwear: Le17Septembre. Whenever I’m in Seoul, I’ll make sure to stop by to stock up on one of my favourite Korean labels. 

Leather boots: Maison Margiela. Buttery soft leather constructed with inimitable quality and finesse that ages beautifully with wear. Definitely an investment piece for the wardrobe. 

Evening wear: Soié the Label. We often think of evening wear as something OTT, or something super fancy that you would only wear it once in a while. I like the idea that evening wear could be subtle yet sexy, and functional at the same time. And these pieces from Soié the Label could take you from day to night effortlessly. 

T-shirts: COS. They have reliable line of basics staple-wear every season that is both comfortable and accessible. 

Sandals: ATP Atelier. Prioritising style over fashion, this Swedish-Italian footwear label combines contemporary designs with traditional craftsmanship. 

Denim: The Reformation. With a design mission to craft effortless silhouettes that celebrate the feminine figure, you’ll find jeans of various fit here that celebrates every body type. Their sustainable fashion practices are a huge plus point for me too.

Pre-Fall 2019 Trend: Tunics

“The tunic-and-trousers combo is a huge pre-fall trend and something I personally would wear. I really like Subtle Simple — homegrown label from Vietnam I discovered two years back. They have some beautiful sheer tunics that are perfect for layering for pre fall!!”

“Less is more. I tend find myself gravitating toward pieces of simplicity, but rich in terms of garment construction, silhouette and material instead of something trendy or flashy”

Georgina Foo

Angie Lai, Entrepreneur, Founder of ALT

Angie Lai rocks a distinct style that’s essentially made up of lots of monochrome and metals. And, you’ll never catch her without a piece of statement jewellery as she considers them her armour. Her passion for jewellery eventually led her to set up ALT four years ago. Says Lai of her brand, “Our jewellery pieces are sometimes statement-making and sometimes understated — but always emanating character.” Lai, who has recently moved to Kuala Lumpur last year has honed her style aesthetic of skinny jeans, T-shirt and leather boots to perfection. “I think an effortless style comes with experience. I detest complicated outfits that cannot last me through the day. I’m all about comfort but yes, make it fashion.

How to Build-a-Classic-Wardrobe by Angie Lai @angielaitay

Outerwear: I prefer trench coats because it’s easy to pack. Burberry has a timeless selection. Definitely worth the investment.

Tailored Separates: Lately, I’ve been shopping a lot on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.com. They have a solid range of classic, well-tailored blazers, shirts, skirts, trousers.

Statement jewellery: ALT of course! I’m launching a new collection in September.

Evening wear: For me evening wear means wide-legged jump suits. Local label The Missing Piece makes really flattering jumpsuits. 

Shirts: Online French brand Sezane has great silk shirts in good cuts in a variety of colours.

T-shirts: Source collections has amazing cut and fit for the Asian body. Love the sustainable Tencel fabrics they use.

Sandals: Over the years, Isabel Marant has always been my go-to.

Boots: They will always be my preferred footwear. I usually get my boots from Prada, Saint Laurent and Chanel as they have designs that resonate with my style.

Denim: Uniqlo wins hands down. Their jeans have a great stretch and available in all the basic colours.

Pre-Fall 2019 Trend: Preppy Suit

“Invest in Thom Browne’s suits. He’s the master in American preppy fashion — but with a very intellectual point of view. Dover Street Market has a pretty well curated selection.”

“I’m all about comfort but yes, make it fashion.”

Angie Lai

Related link:

Pre-fall 2019: Colour Wheel

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