Today’s interview is with someone who I’ve long admired for her beautiful sense of style (and not to mention fantastic wardrobe). Wei is one of those girls that you see on the street, and you instantly stop and admire whatever she’s wearing. She’s refined, chic and always looks perfectly put together while never over the top. And most importantly, she looks incredibly comfortable and at ease in everything she wears. Enjoy meeting Wei!
Who are you? What do you do, and where are you from? Where do you live now?
My name is Wei. I was born in Taiwan and came to United States when I was four years old. I was raised and had all of my schooling including college, all right here in Northern California. Some may say that I’m a bit of a townie because I never left where I grew up. But the Bay Area is a really great place to live so I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.
You’ve had quite a career path, ranging from working at a defense contractor, to fashion. Can you share some of that journey and how you got there?
Well, I worked two jobs to put myself through college, and I was fortunate enough to get a paid internship with a defense contractor, and later got hired as a buyer with them. After graduation, I worked in IT as a buyer. I was always the only woman in my group…the IT and defense industry is so saturated with men that sometimes it was challenging to work with them. It paid the bills, but my heart was always in fashion.
So, after I got married, my husband encouraged me to follow my dreams. I went back to school and got a degree at FIDM in Product Development. The fashion industry is tough with long hours and you get pennies on the dollar. But after working for a couple of companies, I decided to break out on my own and try out my hand in paving my own way through this industry.
You have a lovely sense of style that’s perfect for your body type. Can you describe what a typical “go to” outfit for you and the components of that?
I am actually super casual. Most days when I need to get a lot of things done and fast, I pull on my black leggings, my boxy striped tee and flats. But if I’m just going to work and I want to look more presentable, the outfit will usually consist of my skinny jeans, with a variation of tee shirt/cardi or a fun sweater, and the thing that ties every outfit together…..HEELS. I swear, heels make every outfit better.
What are some of your favorite “cheapie” items in your wardrobe, and your favorite less expensive places to shop?
Some of my favorite cheapie items in my closet are these long sleeve boxy tops that I’ve gotten at Zara. They have a version of it every year and I always pick some up. This year, the one’s that I got had polka dots and a zipper that goes down the back. I think Zara has some cute stuff, but it’s not always really THAT cheap for the quality. I go to Forever 21 ONLY for their camisole tank tops. They’re only $3.50! Also J.Crew is great..but it bothers me sometimes that I can’t walk down the street without some girl wearing the same thing as me.
Can you share some of the items in your wardrobe that you wear the most?
I have a thing for cashmere sweaters. My husband thinks that I’m obsessed because if I find a cashmere sweater that I like, I buy it in at least two colors. So I have a LOT of cashmere in my wardrobe. Also, skinny jeans. It’s really hard for me to find the perfect pair so when I do find a pair that hugs me in all the right places, I stock up.
What are some of your favorite, “holy grail” items that you love?
Clothing: Chanel jackets. I only have two but they fit me perfectly and everytime I wear them, I appreciate the beautiful design and tailoring.
Bags: Hermes bags..I adore each and and every piece I have. The craftsmanship is divine and I love how each piece is done by hand, not mass produced.
Shoes: Right now, it’s my gingham Miu Miu’s, nude suede Alaia’s and pink satin Manolo Blahniks. I feel like Cinderella everytime I wear them.
What are some items that you purchased in the past, thinking that they were going to be classic and worn all the time- that you regret now?
It’s funny, but I would say my blazers and woven collared shirts. I always see how great these pieces look on other people, but I’m just not the structured garment type of girl. So they just all sit in my closet, waiting for me to wear them. Also, many of my designer bags. Remember the “it” bag phase? There are many sad Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga bags in my closet that haven’t seen the light of day for years.
What’s a lesson about shopping/style/budgeting that you’ve learned over the years that you can share? What percent of your items do you buy at full price versus sale?
Over the years, I’ve learned to never buy something because it’s cheap. Most of the things in my closet that have never been worn, and that have tags on them still, are proof of that mistake. Also, trends are great…..but they don’t always work for everyone. I try to be conscious of the current trends, but try to translate them in a way that is still classic and wearable for more than one season.
I can count on my hands how many items I’ve bought at full price. The only things I buy at full price come from Hermes because frankly, almost everything else will go on sale at some point.
I know you love to travel. What are some of the favorite places that you’ve been? Any travel tips that you can share?
Yes, traveling is so liberating…to see the world really opens one’s eyes. One of my favorite places that I’ve been to is the Maldives. It’s so far, but incredibly amazing and beautiful! A travel tip that I’d like to share is…whatever you pack in your luggage to check, be prepared to never see it again, or see it getting auctioned off on that show “Luggage Battles”. I never check anything that has any high monetary or sentimental value!
What are some of your other passions and hobbies?
In my free time between work and travel I try and spend as much time as I can with my toy poodle, Mei. She has the biggest personality and I adore her! I also love to eat! We like to try new eateries and restaurants wherever we go!
Finally – please share something surprising about yourself!
I think if I didn’t love fashion the way I do, I would have gone into acting. I could always see myself in the cast of SNL. Even as a child I would do inprov skits to entertain my family. I’m a goofball at heart and love to make people laugh.
It’s funny that Wei mentioned having a difficult time wearing collared shirts and blazers, because I feel the same way too. I have quite a few perfect white tailored blouses in my closet – yet I never wear them. Reading her experience just makes me more determined to stop buying them!
I personally love Wei’s style and I am happy that I could share this interview with you all today! Thank you Wei for taking the time to share some of your life here today, and best wishes for your fashion endeavors – they’re sure to be fabulous. For more of Wei – keep in touch with her on her blog, here.