My wardrobe

Loud and proud

Business director Carol Loo thinks it is better to be overdressed than underdressed

Ms Carol Loo, Asia-Pacific business director at communications agency Auditoire, wears this yellow Zara suit to business meetings.
Ms Carol Loo, Asia-Pacific business director at communications agency Auditoire, wears this yellow Zara suit to business meetings.PHOTOS: COURTESY OF CAROL LOO

Q & A

Ms Carol Loo, 33, Asia-Pacific business director at communications agency Auditoire and co-owner of It Takes Balls, a fashion retail business that promotes knitting and sustainable fashion production.

How would you describe your style?

Maximalist. It is kind of extravagant and a little schizophrenic, bipolar chic. I'm all for being overdressed than underdressed.

When did your interest in fashion start?

Being a girl, I guess we all start really young, wanting to be in fancy dresses like Disney princesses or like superhero She-Ra in her sexy costume saving the world before bedtime.

As a teen, dressing loud, extravagant and over the top was almost an everyday affair. Studying at Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts helped fuel the interest further and now I'm lucky to be in a job that is all about perception and impressions, so dressing up is a norm.

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

I don't have favourites. There are too many whom I adore and they change over the years. Currently, they are Balmain, Jimmy Choo and Vita Fede, when I'm able to splurge. 

My go-to brands are local labels Harry Halim and Exhibit and Spanish label Zara. I love Zara for its seasonal basic pieces at inexpensive prices. I also like Net-a-Porter - the best one-stop click for inspiration and shopping the latest trends.

Who are your style icons?

Top of my list is Anna Dello Russo, editor-at-large and creative consultant for Vogue Japan. She's like a super stylish Ah Lian.

In the fashion industry monopolised by po-faced, unsmiling, flinty-eyed women (think American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour), Dello Russo is loud, amusing, wild and fabulous. And where most fashionistas are straight-faced and restrained, she is giggly and flamboyant.  

And then there's my squad of fashion-designer and influencer friends - fashion designer Qwen, influencer Yoyo Cao, creative directors Jumius Wong and Jack Wang, and Esther Quek, editorin-chief of Citizen K Arabia.

They may not be style "icons", but your circle of friends has an influence on your style and I am inspired by them. It helps that they are in the fashion industry, so I'm kept up to date with news and trends.

What are your favourite pieces in your wardrobe?

They include a Dolce & Gabbana lambswool mini bag (photo 1) that cost 27,000 yuan (S$5,600) and a red qipao with jade buttons (photo 2) by Singaporean designer Lai Chan that cost $800.

The Zimmerman silk dress with whalebone corset (photo 3) is testament to the fact that I don't wear and throw - I've kept this for seven years. It's still a favourite. I think it cost about $ 1,200. 

Then there is a jumpsuit by Max Mara (photo 4). I love onesies - they are perfect for days when I don't have the time to mix and match. This cost about US$1,350 (S$1,800).

The yellow blazer ($129) and trousers ($79, both in main photo) are from Zara. It's a maximal colour bomb, yet appropriate for my business meetings. I don't know a client who hasn't remembered me from our first meeting when I wore this, even when I wasn't leading the presentation.  

Do you have any weaknesses when it comes to shopping?

Heels. Sexy, flamboyant heels. What is your favourite splurge piece? This pair of Chanel suspenders (photo 5) that cost US$1,900, which I bought from What Goes Around Comes Around, a vintage boutique in Los Angeles. 

Is there a purchase you have regretted?

A Karen Walker cocktail dress ($830, photo 6).The sexy low back and velvet bow got me. I ignored my second thoughts about the poufy, layered cupcake skirt. I've never worn it.

What is your most recent fashion purchase?

A pair of red, delicate, suede high-heel sandals (photo 7) from It's impossible to say no to intricate lace-up tassels, fringed vamp and that price. It was only US$176.

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

Be visible. Be confident.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2016, with the headline 'Loud and proud'. Subscribe