My Wardrobe: Q&A

Mixed-media artist Tan Yang Er loves sheer-lace tops and romantic prints

Artist Tan Yang Er enjoys wearing ripped jeans when working in her studio.
Artist Tan Yang Er enjoys wearing ripped jeans when working in her studio. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Tan Yang Er, 24, is a mixed-media artist whose work involves photography, producing and shooting videos and creating art installations for exhibitions

How would you describe your style?

Functional romantic. I like to indulge in romantic prints, but also need to function in this weather when I’m in the studio, painting or checking out exhibition sites so it has to be practical.

I’m usually in a T-shirt and jeans at the studio. Grey and white clothing is the worst to sweat in because it shows, so black is the safest. I wear my jeans to death. I have about 10 pairs of jeans. Ripped jeans are mostly what I go for because they provide more ventilation.

When did your interest in fashion start?

When the movie The Devil Wears Prada (2006) came out, I was in Secondary 3 and it changed my life – not just because of the fashion in the film, but also how they talk about anticipating people’s needs in terms of work.

I got more into fashion after that and in junior college especially. I’ve kept all my favourite Vogue and Porter magazines. I buy both UK and US Vogue to understand how both countries write about fashion.

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

Japanese labels Sacai and Comme des Garcons, French label Chloe and Italian label Fendi. There is also this designer in New York I really like, Georgine, and my friend’s label in Jakarta, Mazuki.

I usually shop online at Asos and at Zara, H&M and Charles & Keith when there is a sale.

I love thrift shopping as well. I got this Ed Hardy shirt (photo 1) for $10 from a thrift shop in Brooklyn on my recent trip. In 2006, people were wearing it with low-waist jeans with huge buckles, so I figured I’d try to bring it back. I wear it with a leather skirt to dress it up a bit.

Who are your style icons?

I don’t have a specific style icon. It’s always a certain movie or occupation that I get obsessed with and I go through phases. I love the film Fight Club (1999) – Brad Pitt’s character wears a red leather jacket so when I saw this red leather jacket (photo 2) online for $80, I had to have it.

What are your favourite pieces in your wardrobe?

This black heavily embellished vintage dress (photo 3), which I got at a thrift store in Perth for about $100, and the red boots from Charles & Keith (photo 4), which I got at the outlet store for $29.90. They are so comfortable I even wore them to build an art installation recently.

What is your favourite splurge piece?

I bought this black duffle bag (photo 5) from Project Shop. It cost around $300. I got it when I was 18 and it was a big splurge for a teenager.

I was and still am so overcome with guilt, but at least it has lasted six years. It’s great for travelling and shoots.

What are your weaknesses when it comes to shopping?

Sheer-lace tops. I have five or six black or grey sheer-lace tops. Of course I layer when I wear them. I like them because they are romantic and channel a delicate feel.

Is there a purchase you regretted?

I bought a red mini-skirt online and it was way too small for me, so I had to pass it on to one of my friends who’s a size 0. At least it was put to good use because she rocked it.

What is your most recent fashion purchase?

My Comme des Garcons bag (photo 6) that I got from the Metropolitan Museum of Art after viewing a Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garcons founder) exhibition on my recent trip to New York.

It was about $95 and the exhibition was amazing.

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

If you want to be someone, you have to start by dressing the part. As they say, dress how you want to be addressed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2017, with the headline 'An affair with romantic prints'. Print Edition | Subscribe