My Wardrobe: Q&A

Thrift-store maven

Illustrator Tiffany Tan buys recycled and second-hand items because they are environmentally friendly

Ms Tiffany Tan shops at thrift stores for quirky and eccentric finds.
Ms Tiffany Tan shops at thrift stores for quirky and eccentric finds.PHOTOS: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Ms Tiffany Tan, 26, single, illustrator

How would you describe your style?

A mix of grunge, bohemian and minimalism with lots of black and neutral colours. But on certain days, I jazz it up with pink.

When did your interest in fashion start?

At 15 years old when I was going through old photographs of my mum in the 1980s. She was a hairdresser then and had the most outrageous hairdos and sported shoulder pads. She is a housewife now, but her individualism and confidence inspired me.

Who are your favourite designers and go-to brands?

As I am often in gym-wear, my go-to is American sports brand Nike for sneakers and sportswear. I don't have a favourite designer. Instead, I shop at thrift stores here and overseas because of the quirky and eccentric gems I might find and because it is environmentally friendly.

There is New2U Thrift Shop at the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations, which I like for its wide range of vintage items and newer clothes from brands such as Topshop or Mango. I shop there once every two months.

A lot of my thrift-store finds also come from my trips to Melbourne, Sydney, Los Angeles and Ladakh, India.

Who are your style icons?

Icelandic singer, songwriter and actress Bjork for her eccentricity; American actress Winona Ryder for her grunge look; English singer Sade Adu's sleek minimalism; and Michele Lamy's (wife of and creative mind behind American fashion designer Rick Owens) dark bohemian vibe with chunky tribal-esque jewellery.

What are the favourite pieces in your wardrobe?

A batik wrap skirt (photo 1) I bought at a random neighbourhood store in Jurong. It always fits me even if I lose or put on weight; a seashell septum ring (photo 2) from an e-commerce site for handmade and vintage items because it represents my love for the sun; and a pair of hammered silver-plated earrings (photo 3) that I made last month with copper wire. I love crafting and decided to have a go at jewellery-making.

Also, a pair of Nike slides (photo 4) a friend got for me from New Orleans, and a jacket (photo 5) I bought from an Art Walk tour in Los Angeles, which is a prison jacket repurposed with artwork.

What are your weaknesses when it comes to shopping?

Currently, pink glitter and sparkly things such as bags, earrings and nail polish. Even my water bottle is pink and glittery. I feel like a little girl again.

What is your favourite splurge piece?

I don't think anything I own can be defined as a splurge.

Is there a purchase you have regretted?

A pinafore-like dress I bought many years ago from home-grown brand Yumumu. It was an impulsive purchase - its yellow-and-brown colour combination was just not me.

What is your most recent fashion purchase?

A black beaded seashell cross body purse (photo 6) that I bought off Etsy for less than $30. I've been in a seashell phase of late and I love the sun, sand and sea. I try to go to the beach or the pool once a week and I go to Bali twice a year. In fact, I returned from a holiday in Bali last week.

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

Be comfortable. Not just in the physical sense, but also show your personality and be confident. And do buy more recycled and second-hand items because it is more socially conscious.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2016, with the headline 'Thrift-store maven'. Print Edition | Subscribe