Image: StraitsTimes / Chew Seng Kim
Lou Pexin, the co-owner of online clothing store Baju Mama Vintage, talks about her obsession with vintage clothing and her wardrobe's focus on colour.
How would you describe your style?
It’s colourful and a mix of vintage and modern. When I dress up for gigs and events, it’s more glamorous.
When did your interest in fashion start?
It started when I first tried singing professionally – that was in my first year of university when I joined a jazz band – because that meant I had to shop for clothes according to the theme of the concerts.
Who are your favourite designers and which are your go-to brands?
I don’t usually go for brands. I go for styles, but there’s one local label on Instagram that I drool over: Ong Shunmugam.
Founder Priscilla Shunmugam combines Chinese and Indian elements in her fashionforward pieces, which I find cool.
That’s what I try to do with my own dressing. I take vintage pieces such as cheongsam and samfoo and I try to reimagine them and wear them in a way that’s appropriate for 2017.
Who are your style icons?
The first person who opened the door to the world of vintage clothing for me was Dita Von Teese, the American burlesque artist. At any point in time when you look at her, she always has her hair perfectly done in a vintage style, red lips and winged eyeliner.
American singer Katy Perry is also a big inspiration. When she came out with her first mainstream album, there was a vintage pin-up vibe to it. If you look at the song, One Of The Boys, she dressed up as a parody of Lolita (the young protagonist in Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov’s novel of the same name), which was colourful and playful.
What are your favourite pieces in your wardrobe?
One is a purple Thai silk gown (photo 1), which was handed to me by my friend and mentor Vina Yu, who is 50 this year.
Many years ago, she tailored a gown for one of her big events. She casually took it out of her wardrobe to see if it would fit me and when I put it on, we were both stunned because it fit perfectly.
Another dress that I love and have worn to death is this 1980s floral dress ($75, photo 2) from Baju Mama Vintage. It has two different buttons for sizing, so even if I put on weight, I can choose which button to use.
I also wear these vintage-inspired leather Marisa sandals (photo 3) quite often. I paid $168 for them. They’re from Australian shoe boutique Charlie Stone Shoes and they match a lot of the things I wear.
Some of my favourite accessories include this gold brooch from my mum, these beautiful jade earrings that were a gift and these drop earrings from home-grown jewellery brand Eden + Elie (photo 4).
What are your weaknesses when it comes to shopping?
Anything from the 1950s is my weakness. But they’re mostly expensive, so I’ve started looking at reproduction styles as well. Clothes designers will take 1950s cuttings and styles and make new pieces, ones that won’t disintegrate too easily.
What is your favourite splurge piece?
A blue dress that has cute polka dots and a diamante-encrusted bow tie at the neck (photo 5). It looks like a cross between a suit and a dress, which I love. I got it from Etsy, an online marketplace dedicated to craft and vintage items, for $200.
Is there a purchase you have regretted?
I don’t regret anything. When I bought pieces at the time, I really wanted them and I usually wear all my clothes to death.
What is your most recent fashion purchase?
Recently, my best friend and I went to the New2U Thrift Shop run by the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations, which has a flea market quite frequently. I bought a crazy mermaid gown for only $75 (photo 6), which was really worth it.
What is the best shopping or style advice you live by?
No two bodies are the same. Always tailor your pieces and feel good in them. As long as something fits you and you feel comfortable in it, that’s all you need to pull off a piece.
Article first published on Straits Times