Continuing with a series of features on other fashion bloggers of note, this week I’d like to introduce you to June Wang. An architect by profession, June is quickly establishing herself as a stylist and fashionista through her blog, Stylish With A Budget.
Before going on, however, a quick word about architects; they’re an underpaid, underappreciated, and unsung bunch, despite what you might think you know based on admiring or criticizing rock stars like Frank Gehry. ( I know, because I have personal and professional connections to architecture without being an architect myself.) It’s a bit like this graphic:
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I could pontificate on how architecture is vital to civilization- so vital it’s easy to take for granted, but I’ll just leave this public service announcement at this: architects deserve more appreciation for the work they do.
Moving on, what currently interests us, as fashionistas, is how architecture can provide a fertile framework to support ideas and practices in other design disciplines. It’s telling, for example, that some of the most imaginative fashion designers, like my perennial favourites Annie Mohaupt of Mohop and United Nude, are trained architects who have turned their skills to footwear. June presents her architect’s perspective, and I’m looking forward to watching her blog evolve.
In the meantime, I asked June a few questions via eMail to better get her perspective on design, fashion, and style.
How does your background in architecture influence your perspective on fashion design?
I think the principles of design in both architecture and fashion design are very similar, they are about proportion, color, textures and juxtapositions of form/materials etc. I would say I have the trained eyes and that's something very valuable in terms of appreciation of art, architecture and fashion, and everything appealing to my eyes/tastes. I am very detailed orientated, when I look at architecture I like looking at the form and details of how things put together; and when I look at clothing, I look at the cutting of the clothing and look for that special detail that make the outfit stands out. It's not exactly the same but the principles are quite the same.
How would you define "good" design in the fashion industry? What kind of clothes and accessories appeal to you most?
For fashion, good design to me is the cutting (form) that hang on a body and the fabric the way it drapes. I have always been that "tall" girl when I was growing up until I came to the US for graduate school, 5'7 is not that tall for US standard but as far as my memory goes, I was always the tallest. I was very thin (98 pounds and 5'7) so finding clothes fit me was not that easy. In Hong Kong, most girls were about 5'2 and 5'4 were considered tall so 5'7 and that thin means clothes didn't fit me well, the tops were either too short or too wide and luckily pants were not a problem. Until I came to the US, all of a sudden clothes started to fit me better and I just thought may be I gained some weight and grew into a woman's shape.
I am a late bloomer and the first time I got a taste of designer item was my first official job, I bought a pair of shoes from Barneys NY. They were Barney's brand but to me they were designer item and I got quite a few compliments when I wore them. Then I was hooked to Barneys...I started browsing the clothes in Co-op department (designer floor was out of my price range) and tried some things and bought few of them. I started to notice the difference between regular labels and designer labels (I meant more of contemporary labels instead of those high end designer labels). They are expensive for a reason but I have to say I would not necessarily think $10K Chanel jacket is the justified retail price.
Personally, I love minimal design (in both architecture and fashion) so I was drawn to designs like Theory, Helmut Lang and Zara. I think Zara is such a great brand that provides a lot of alternatives for fashion lovers like myself, I love the design and the whole package, they never look cheap, loud nor trashy.
So you get up, take care of your morning ablutions, and then put on your clothes for the day...how do you decide what to put together to make your ensemble?
I consider myself a simple person, I like simple things. So normally I have some sort of uniform that I stick to and when I shop I just stick to that uniform look and it's quite easy to put clothes together in the morning most of the time. Sometimes when it doesn't work, it really throws the whole morning off that I would be late for work (only once in a while).
Many years ago, I was into tall boots with skirt + turtle neck sweater in the winter, and skirt + an unique top in the summer. All I needed to do was to pick a skirt and I was good to go. And later on, I was into dress with tall boots, so I just picked a dress and added a cardigan and a coat and I could leave my apartment. Summer was always a little bit more challenging during that period of time because short dresses without tights were not very work appropriate. And in these recent few years I love wearing leather pants more, and grew to mix and match with other styles than just one signature look. I was never a big fan of dress pants because I just hate the knee area got all wrinkles and the constant ironing of the pants. But I could work with pants that don't have those issues...so the skinny jeans trend has worked quite well for me. Especially those leather skinny pants, waxed pants that have the skinny legs.
After I started blogging, I became more aware of what to buy and what to wear and I had to plan the night before of what to wear especially when I needed to do the photo shoot the next day. Most of the time I need to be true to the name of my blog "stylish with a budget" so this gives me more challenges when I shop and how I put things together. Repeating outfits can be very challenging because nobody wants to see the same thing over and over again but the fun part is to repeat it differently every time.
I've been following other blogs and for some reason, I am not very into putting a lot of necklace or many bracelets on my wrists...I felt it's quite bothersome in the morning to put those stuff on and put them off when I get home...recently I even stopped wearing watch. But I also realized those stacking techniques were quite a big deal in the blogging world.
What are your style influences and inspirations?
My first impression was the time when I first traveled to Europe, I found the women in Europe were very stylish, especially the Italian and French ladies. I really loved the way they used scarves to compliment their outfits and it just made so much difference. That's the beginning of my love for scarves. I bought a LV leopard stole and an Alexander McQueen skull (modal) scarf because i thought they were such investment pieces...normally I wouldn't spend that much on a skirt or a dress. But scarves, that's my weak spot.
And later on, when I was studying at Columbia University, our program had a lot of international students (Europeans and Asians) and there were only 4 born and raised Americans...yes, somebody actually counted. There were a few of our classmates were very well dressed and I just paid attention to how they put things together and they always looked very stylish no matter what kind of all-nighters they just pulled.
I think I love people watching and I just love to observe people, especially their appearance.
In your experience - and since it's the name of your blog - what do you think is the best way to achieve a signature style on a limited budget?
Actually this is what I have been thinking hard about. It's not easy like I said earlier that nobody wants to see repeating outfits and the critical part is how to repeat without being boring (which I am still trying). And the budget is also another hard part - I admit I love labels so it's hard to transform the budget idea with designer labels. I actually had to think quite far ahead before purchasing one item because no matter how cheap something is, it's still money that I can put towards something else. So buying from eBay and during sale became a big thing to me...which means I can only buy very few items on regular retail price. But to me quality + quantity (not just quality) are the key factors to my wardrobe and my blog, when I buy a piece of clothing, I cannot think it's cheap so I can buy a few that means I have to buy strategically...I don't need multiple black skinny jeans and I don't need multiple very similar silk dress/skirt/tops....I just need to be creative. When I stick to these few principles, I was able to not buy few things on my wish list, and I do have to practice my patience to wait for sale time.
In terms of signature style....I would have to say I don't really have one for now. Maybe a leather bottom for now....I just love leather pants, leather shorts and leather skirts, they just add that extra chic factor to any outfits.
Many thanks to June for taking the time to answer my questions.
Here's that link again to her blog, Stylish With A Budget.
On an unrelated note, don’t forget to send me your pictures for this week’s Frivolous Friday belts & buckles challenge.
Also, I’m still collecting questions for my interview withUgglebo president and owner Dave Giese. I’m almost done with my own list of questions; it’ll be another week or so before I’m ready to send them over. So, do take advantage of the opportunity to ask Dave some questions about shoes, clogs, running a footwear company…whatever comes to mind.
Finally, if you enjoy what you read, please consider “following” this blog through blogger or your favourite blogroll service. Or, subscribe via eMail to get fresh Fashionoclast missives in your inbox.
Note: Images of June used with her kind permission. “Architect” images is from an unknown source; if the copyright holder wants me to remove it, I will.