I hope you all enjoyed yesterday’s interview with Mia! ! We have a lot more amazing material to get through today – enjoy!
What does your husband make of your designer habit?
First of all, congratulations on your wedding! Haha…my husband is ok with my designer habit as long as I spend within the budget he gives me. He believes that it’s worth it to buy quality pieces from good designers, and then use them for a long period of time. I think it may be because of the field he works in (he is a banker and has a lot of high net worth clients), that is why he is exposed to the world of quality and really doesn’t need much “training” from me.
But I do educate him on the “technical aspects” of the brands, like for example, the leathers of Hermes, the Hermes scarf prints, the Chanel styles, what is in and out now etc…..just in case he sees something I might like during his overseas business trips ….haha! So, now he can actually tell that a lady is carrying a Mykonos Blue Togo Birkin. Not bad huh? LOL!
Anyway, it all comes down to the communication between you and your spouse when it is about spending on designer items. I am honest to my husband about my spending on designer items, and make sure that when we do our family expense budgeting, this portion is part of the plan. In this way, you won’t have any misunderstandings around spending, which is what a lot of couples quarrel about. My husband knows my passion for fashion, and he understands that since I am no longer working, this is something that keeps my life balanced between family/friends and my own hobbies/passions. So, the key is, communication and honesty.
What else do you like to do in your free time? Other hobbies?
Before when I was still single, I loved playing golf and scuba diving. Now that I have a son, I don’t have much time for myself. So, most of my free time is spent with my son because I believe that it is very important to spend the most time you can with your kids during their first 6 years of development as these are the years which their personality will be molded and will affect them for life. In my spare time, you can find me at the park, at the supermarket with my son, at the bookstore, at my son’s extra curricular activities etc. Having said that, I do make sure that I have at least 1 day per week which I can indulge in my own thing (like spa, facial, massage, shopping, lunch/tea with friends).
How often do you travel to Europe?
I used to live in Switzerland- my husband worked there and we got married there. So, Europe has a special place in our hearts. My husband and I travel to Europe once a year for our wedding anniversary, especially France since this is a place and culture we both love.
Please share your unique advice for making smart fashion purchases.
I think you need to build your wardrobe based on a “Core and Satellite” approach. This is a financial term I borrowed from my husband since he manages investment portfolios. There are some “core items” which I believe should stand the test of time and never goes “out of fashion”. Then there are some “satellite” items in your wardrobe which you constantly change and fit according to the season and your mood.
Core items, you can spend more money on them. Satellite items, get the ones with the best value for money. But as to which are your core items and which are your satellite items – it is really down to your personal taste. For me, my definite core items are bags and shoes, and satellite items are clothes. Some people may choose jewelry like diamonds or pearls or jades to be their core items, so everybody is different.
What mistakes have you made that you’d advise readers to avoid?
Yes, I definitely made wrong decisions before when buying designer items. During my feverish period, I had almost 70 Chanel bags in my home!!! Is that crazy? Definitely! And I must say I am not proud of it. Why did I end up with 70 Chanel bags? Because the color/style was a limited edition, because it was the last piece in the store, because it went on sale, because my friend has it, etc. (Sound familiar?) Sometimes, I can be so desperate that I don’t sleep at night just to talk to my SAs overseas and ask him/her to look for my bag. This is a common mistake which a lot of people make and then you end up with a lot of stuff which you don’t use. To be frank, it is really a waste of money and a huge mistake! 😛
I admit I went through this phase before and now I’ve learned to be more selective in the process of building my dream closet. Yes, I still buy the same item in different colors but only because I love that particular style or color, and that I know they go well with the things in my wardrobe and I will wear them. We should not be stressed over possessing a certain item. It is about the genuine appreciation of the design and quality work behind. It is also about finding a brand that you can associate with and feel passionate about. Don’t buy just because it is rare. Don’t buy because a celebrity has one and you want to be like her. Don’t buy because it is on sale, or it is going to have a price increase soon. Buy because you appreciate it and will use it to the max.
Shoe heaven…Mia’s collection
What are your essential closet items?
1. A nice quality designer’s bag which is classic and you will still love it after 20 years
– For me it would be my Chanel flaps and Hermes bags
2. A pair of presentable heels which you can walk in properly and confidently (some heels and designs are just not practical like some of the horrendous Louboutin heels which you can’t even walk in)
– For me, it would be my YSL Tribtoo pumps and Tribute sandals collection because I find YSL heels to be the most comfortable designer heels that I own.
3. A good outerwear (coat/blazer/jacket) which can last you for a long time
– For would, it will be my Stella McCartney black wool coat and Helmut Lang leather jacket (and of course I will venture into a nice Chanel tweed jacket in the near future…hehe!)
As for all the other accessories and clothes, you can buy inexpensive non-designer brands to mix and match with those 3 designer’s things above and improvise your looks. I love European brands such as Kookai, Zara, H&M, Mango, French Connection, Maje, Sandro, and a lot of other Japanese street fashion brands. I like to mix them up altogether – street fashion with high fashion. I am not a “brand snob” (I tend to choose items with small designer’s logo or without a logo at all), and I don’t want to be seen in designer’s clothes and accessories from head to toe. That is just way too overboard and that is also one of the reasons why my clothes are mostly non-designer to balance the look. I still love to buy in local stores where the items are well-made but may only cost US$10. You can give away these accessories and clothes when you get bored. But keep your timeless designer’s coat/outerwear, heels and bags.
If a reader had a $1k budget, what would you recommend as essentials? $5k, and $10k budgets?
Budgeting is not my expertise but I am getting better everyday with it. First of all, I think you must understand your style, what you like and don’t like, what is comfortable for you to wear and carry according to your lifestyle and your body type. Like me, I perfectly know that a piece of simple sheath dress, or a suit with tucked in blouse can instantly make anybody look polished and high-fashion. But you will never see me in those because my body shape doesn’t allow me to wear these type of clothing as I will look really ridiculous in them! Why? My legs are terrible due to my big thighs and large calves, and I have a big tummy after giving birth to my son. So I don’t show people my legs AT ALL and never reveal my tummy with fitted clothes! LOL! You won’t see me wearing shorts or leggings or short skirts or one-piece short dress or fitted clothes because these clothing items will reveal the worst parts of my body. 😛 Remember you should know your body type and don’t blindly follow fashion trends….hehe!
Anyway, when you have the above basic understanding/facts about yourself in place, then you can “plan” your purchases:
(a) $1K budget – Shop at H&M or Zara or Topshop or Forever21 or Japanese/Korean street fashion stores or even thrift stores to get your favorite dress, tops, jackets or jeans ($300); buy your shoes at Nine West or Aldo (here in Hong Kong we have Staccato, Millies, Joy&Peace local shoe stores) which have good quality heels or flats ($200); then leave $500 to buy a good quality purse in 2nd hand consignment stores or eBay or maybe during designer’s sale.
(b) $5K budget – you can still do the things in (a) above for the clothes, but with the extra $4K budget, you can buy 1 to 2 pieces of designer’s jeweleries like a Chanel or Lanvin pearl necklace ($1K), a pair of classic designer pumps of your choice which you can walk confidently in (like Roger Vivier, YSL, Louboutin, Chanel) ($600), and then buy a designer purse ($2k+) which you love and will carry. For the purse, the choice of tote, bowler bag, shoulder bag, clutch, messenger bag will be based on your own lifestyle. I will of course recommend a Chanel classic flap if you have more spare cash to spend, or a Bottega Veneta “Veneta” classic tote, or a YSL Muse bag, or a Celine luggage tote, or a Givenchy Nightingale. There are a lot of choices out there so it’s all up to your personal preference.
(c) $10K budget – this is just pure heaven! With that kind of a generous budget, you can still do the things in (a) and (b) above, but with the extra $5K, I suggest to buy a piece of Hermes leather bag such as Evelyne for messenger, a Garden Party or Marwari for shoulder bag, or a Picotin for hand-held bag…these are under-the-radar bags with more affordable price points but really with good quality leathers which can last you a life time. Or if you love exotics, you can invest in a piece of Chanel python bags.
The above “budgets” are purely based on my own preference/style and readers might beg to differ. At the end of the day, it is how you feel most comfortable and happy with the things you wear as well as how you get the most “mileage” out of your purchases that counts. Remember “cost per wear”. 🙂
Finally, please share something surprising about yourself!
I was named the “Tequila Queen” during my college days. I can drink 10 shots of tequila straight…haha! But those were the days! I’m a wine person now. I also love to sing and perform on stage. (I can sing in a Karaoke room for 5 hours straight by myself. :P) I have won inter-school singing contests during my high school years and also during singing competitions in my old company with around 1000 employees. I have also been the Masters of Ceremonies for most of my company events. You can say that I love the stage! 😀
LOL – I thought that last bit was so endearing, didn’t you? Thank you so much Mia for letting me interview you and for giving us all a glimpse into your absolutely freaking AMAZING closet. Again, you can read more about Mia on her blog, here. Have a wonderful Thursday, everybody!