My Wardrobe

Versatility in a suitcase

ShopandBox co-founder Rebecca Chia travels frequently, so she chooses clothes that can take her from one climate to another

Buy clothing made from quality material so it will last for years, says Ms Rebecca Chia.
Buy clothing made from quality material so it will last for years, says Ms Rebecca Chia. PHOTOS: NIVASH JOYVIN, REBECCA CHIA
Buy clothing made from quality material so it will last for years, says Ms Rebecca Chia. PHOTOS: NIVASH JOYVIN, REBECCA CHIA

Q & A

Ms Rebecca Chia, 31, married, co-founder of global personal shopping service ShopandBox

How would you describe your style?

I gravitate towards minimalist pieces that can be easily dressed up or down and clothing with interesting details.

In recent years, my style has been restricted because I live out of my suitcase, which means I need to have items that are versatile.

The pieces also need to take me from one climate to another seamlessly. I am in a different city each month due to my job. That requires me to meet and vet new personal shoppers in 28 countries.

When did your interest in fashion start?

My mother was in the fashion industry. She was a merchandiser at two American fashion buying houses. Before that, she owned a fashion and bridal boutique.

A big part of my interest in fashion is due to her influence and being her shopping companion.

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

Swedish clothing brand & Other Stories - it carries a wide range of trendy pieces and has regular collaborations with major fashion houses and artists such as French illustrator Garance Dore and American fashion label Rodarte.

I also like Australian womenswear brand Kookai. Its clothes have been a staple in my wardrobe since I was a student in Melbourne - it has a great selection of well-made basics in high-quality fabrics.

Lastly, Austrian artist Helmut Lang (who was a fashion designer until 2005) - I love his drapey, minimalist clothing in shades of black, white, camel and grey. I wear my Helmut Lang skinny jeans frequently.

Who are your style icons?

Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn for her easy, classic style and popularising the black cigarette pants and flats combination; and American socialite Olivia Palermo for her relatable, relaxed yet polished style.

What are your favourite pieces in your wardrobe?

My New York-brand Warby Parker's spectacles and sunnies (photo 1) because of its design and value for money; my Mejuri Tuxedo earrings (photo 2) as they can be worn two ways - as a gold stud or as a gold stud-and-pearl combination; my black and fuchsia Shanghai Tang cheongsam (photo 3), which I wear to events - it's fun, has a great bamboo print and the slight flare of the skirt gives it a youthful vibe; a batwing top (photo 4) from American designer Nanette Lepore because it is versatile - it can be used as a swimsuit cover-up, dress or tunic top; and a pair of pointed flats (photo 5) made from vintage kimono fabric, which I bought from a shop in Tokyo more than 10 years ago.

What are your weaknesses when it comes to shopping?

I am drawn to classic and quality pieces in white, black and grey. I could definitely do with an injection of colour in my wardrobe.

What is your favourite splurge piece?

My Mulberry Lily bag (photo 6), which I bought for about £360 (S$640) in May from Bicester Factory Outlet in the United Kingdom.

It originally cost about £600, so it was a bargain. I love that the bag is small - so I'm not tempted to stuff it with too many things - yet is big enough to fit essentials such as my cellphone, wallet and keys.

Is there a purchase you have regretted?

A beautiful pair of silver sequinned sandals from Nine West for my wedding four years ago, which I discovered, to my horror, had snagged my silk chiffon gown. I still have the heels, but wear them only with shorter dresses.

What is your most recent fashion purchase?

A skirt from Australian womenswear brand Gorman, which I bought in Australia two months ago for about A$200 (S$212). I love the quirky gymnast print and the silk crepe material, which makes it an easy piece to travel with as it does not get wrinkled easily and is lightweight.

It is also a great piece to take me from day to night - I can dress it down with sneakers and a vintage T-shirt for the day. At night, I can pair it with heels and a silk camisole top.

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

Invest in clothing made with quality material and classic shapes because it will last for years.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2016, with the headline Versatility in a suitcase. Subscribe