My Wardrobe: Q&A

Easy-to-wear classic dresses

Ms Rose Tong chooses comfort over trends when it comes to her outfits.
Ms Rose Tong chooses comfort over trends when it comes to her outfits. ST PHOTOS: FELINE LIM

Ms Rose Tong, 53, is the executive director of the Singapore Retailers Association, which helps to promote and develop Singapore's retail industry. The association has organised the Great Singapore Sale (GSS) for the past 23 years. The married mother of three is also the director of Retail Academy Singapore.

How would you describe your style?

I prefer comfort over following trends. No over-the-top frills and sequins for me. I also eschew shiny satin pieces that could become uncomfortable in Singapore's heat and humidity.

I prefer simple and classic dresses to separates so that I avoid going crazy trying to mix and match my outfits. However, if I am in a whimsical mood, I will select something with a splash of colour.

When did your interest in fashion start?

Probably when I was in my mid-20s. I had just started working at a mall where I had to organise fashion shows and put together eye-pleasing advertisements for the tenants.

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The job meant that I had to work alongside fashion stylists, make-up artists and models. I was plunged into this whole new world of glamorous fashion. So I learnt to dress up a bit more too.

I also learnt that it is not just the clothes that matter. One's hairstyle, make-up and accessories go a long way to completing any look.

Who are your favourite designers and what are your go-to brands?

I like Calvin Klein, DKNY, MaxMara and Banana Republic for their classic pieces with simple lines and non-fussy fabrics, such as cotton, that fall nicely on the body.

I also like M.Maison, Metro's private label, because it has elegant pieces in warm natural colours.

Who are your style icons?

I don't have any particular style icons I follow. But I like Kate Middleton because she always looks elegant in her A-line skirts and conservative, yet flattering, dresses.

What are your favourite pieces in your wardrobe?

My linen dress from M.Maison (photo 1). It is simple enough for the boardroom, yet the ruffled sleeves are a nice detail that gives the piece some character.

I like this A-line dress from Giordano (photo 2). I like that it hides the fat on my arms. The front lapels also make it look more professional.

I bought this brown dress with pink frills (photo 3) from a store in Mandarin Gallery that has since closed. I love that it is quirky and whimsical.

It is an ice-breaker because, being neon, it is eye-catching and people always ask me where I got it from.

I like this cute, beige floral dress (photo 4) because the flowers move when I walk. And it transitions from day to night easily. I can wear it to the office and to a cocktail dinner.

What are your weaknesses when it comes to shopping?

When there is a sale, I am always tempted. Especially by stuffed toys and interesting decorative knickknacks. I have been looking forward to this year's GSS as I really need a new pair of jeans. The sale is a great time to update your wardrobe.

At the GSS a few years back, I got a great blue and purple leather backpack at 60 per cent off. I use it when I travel.

What is your favourite splurge piece?

A crocodile skin bag (photo 5) I bought from Metro for $3,999 last month. I chose this red colour because it stands out. I have a lot of black dresses so I thought I should have something to go with my outfits that really pops.

Is there a purchase you have regretted?

I bought a pair of sandals online for $5, but the size was not right and, after wearing it twice, the material started to peel. It was so cheap, but such a waste. It is better to spend money on quality items.

What is your most recent fashion purchase?

This red dress and scarf combination (photo 6) I bought from Kirk Woods (Metro's private label) for formal meetings. They still have the tags on them. I bought both last week. I usually do not wear accessories, but I think the scarf adds an interesting detail to the outfit and it's so easy to wear.

What is the best shopping or style advice you live by?

When you cannot take your mind off something you want to buy, just get it. Otherwise, it will keep haunting you. As long as it does not cost you an arm or a leg, that is.

Those planning to go for the Great Singapore Sale this year should check the official website for deals (www.retail.org.sg/gss.php).

One tip is not to shop while you are tired. You are not likely to make good decisions and it is not fun to shop in a grouchy mood.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2017, with the headline 'Easy-to-wear classic dresses'. Print Edition | Subscribe