My Wardrobe

A love of vintage

Digital marketing executive Uli Chan likes retro clothes and accessories with unique details


Q & A

Ms Uli Chan, 23, single, digital marketing executive

How would you describe your style? Retro, feminine and polished.

When did your interest in fashion start?

I was influenced by my mother. She's a Shanghainese woman with great style - she wears a lot of relaxed, patterned clothing in floral and graphic prints. She's always out with an interesting handbag and either a pair of sunglasses or umbrella for protection against the sun.

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

Ms Uli Chan buys vintage clothes from thrift stores or independent designer boutiques. PHOTOS: NG SOR LUAN, ULI CHAN

I usually purchase second-hand vintage clothes from thrift stores, such as New2U in Waterloo Street or the Salvation Army Family Store in Bukit Timah, or from independent designer boutiques.

My go-to brand is Uniqlo for basics and innerwear. I also look to (Chinese e-commerce site) Taobao a lot for clothing from a specific period, such as dresses inspired by the 19th century, with poufy sleeves and square necklines.

Who are your style icons?

My style is very much driven by musicians. I adore English musician Florence Welch for her whimsical style.

What are your favourite pieces in your wardrobe?

A vintage black lambskin wallet (photo 1). It is my absolute favourite because it is so enduring. And my Dr Martens black boots (photo 2) as they have a vintage look and are very durable.

Another favourite: my round- framed glasses from Oliver Peoples (photo 3), which I found at the Salvation Army and cost only $2.50.

I call them my Captain Sparrow glasses (Captain Jack Sparrow is a character in the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies) and I love the silver frame detailing and detachable lenses.

Some other favourites are hand-me-downs from my mother, including her small vintage brown bucket bag (photo 4) and navy silk matching cardigan-dress set (photo 5), which are about 25 and 15 years old respectively. She gave both to me about six years ago, which is when my interest in vintage clothing really started to flourish.

What are your weaknesses when it comes to shopping?

Unique details - these could be as subtle as the right size and shape of collars or the perfect colour of buttons. Such details make or break the look for me.

I also have a weakness for dresses, skirts and trousers with pockets as they are so practical.

What is your favourite splurge piece?

My Dr Martens boots. I wouldn't consider them a splurge now that I'm working and drawing a salary, but they felt like one when I purchased them more than six years ago.

They cost around $180 and are worth every penny because I still wear them regularly.

Is there a purchase you have regretted?

Probably all my sky-high heels. I've learnt over the years that they aren't exactly the right shoes for me and my lifestyle as I'm always moving about.

What is your most recent fashion purchase?

A black dress (photo 6) from Los Angeles-based boutique Deandri last December. It reminds me of Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family television and film series, a character I've loved since I was a child. I love the stiff and oversized collar. It has pockets too, which are perfect for my office job. It cost me US$80 (S$110).

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

If I want to purchase something, I always ask myself why I want it. This is to make sure that what I buy is in line with my style and will make me happy in the long run, instead of something I buy because it's on trend or cheap.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2017, with the headline 'A love of vintage'. Print Edition | Subscribe