Greetings Trendy Tuesday readers,
This week I have the pleasure of introducing a local fashionista, Bonita Au, whose striking style is well worthy of our very first style feature. While chatting over delicious food at the Vancouver Art Gallery Café located in the heart of Vancouver, Bonita was kind enough to spend one enjoyable afternoon with us in order to answer some questions about life, fashion, and trends.
Vest, Shirt, Necklace and Collar Pins: Topshop // Shorts: Topman // Shoes: Zara // Ring: C. by Chelsea
To get the generic questions out of the way, how did you first become interested in fashion?
I started taking art lessons when I was about 5 years old and developed a strong interest in fine arts; painting in particular. Then in high school I got into black and white film photography, which helped me strengthen my eye for form, shape and design. This later transitioned into an interest in fashion when I travelled to Asia for the first time and witnessed a culture where art is not only expressed through paintings and 2D photographs hanging on art gallery walls, but in daily routines through choice of clothing. It was a feast for my eyes; walking art on the streets.
How would you describe your style?
My style evolves from season to season but I would describe it as city chic with a dash of novelty and edge. I’m relaxed but not effortless; I try to always look polished. I especially love novelty prints and patterns (ie. Animal and photo prints). I like to combine different styles that together create an unexpected look and consistently challenge myself to step outside of my own comfort zone. I dress mainly for myself and I get bored if I see the same thing over and over again when I look in the mirror. I aim to surprise myself every time. If I feel like I’m leaning too much on the safe side, it’s time for a change.
What are your biggest style inspirations and icons?
Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang, and Gabrielle Chanel.
I’ve always had a thing for Belgian designers; they are the masters of avant garde deconstructionism. They showcase cut, form and shape so intricately, yet wrap it all up in a minimalistic bundle. It’s a beautiful work of art translated into fashion and I think that is what’s most important; Martin Margiela and Helmut Lang both put art before fashion and are true artists, not just designers. Gabrielle Chanel was quite the opposite and put function over fashions of her time- who doesn’t like a rebel? Her great sense of distaste and disregard for others’ approval of her pursuits are what impress me.
What are some of your favourite trends of the moment?
I really love matching tops with skirts. For summer we saw a lot of these combinations and for fall we are going back into mixing and matching more; however, we are still seeing some matching combos with longer pencil skirts versus the shorter flared skater skirts from summer. Long pencil skirts are key for fall with an interesting texture like a raised pattern or a shiny vinyl overlay. As well, ankle boots with cut-outs with an interesting sock worn underneath is a favorite trend of mine for fall!
What styles or pieces do you consider to be classic? Also, what items do you think every woman should have in her wardrobe?
The statement necklace is a must-have and a classic. It’s my go-to piece when my outfit needs a little pick-me-up. A tailored jacket or many (one can never have too many well fitting jackets) is also a closet staple. In particular, I would always keep a menswear inspired jacket on my must-have list. There is nothing sexier than a woman in a double breasted jacket with a pocket square or tuxedo blazer with peak labels. When it comes to jewelry I adore novelty pieces. Every woman should have at least one cocktail ring in their wardrobe. It is the perfect piece for adding flair to a casual outfit or the finishing touch for a more formal affair.
What are some items that you never leave home without?
I never leave home without a good umbrella. It’s Vancouver, might as well look stylish while dodging the rain. I have a few different colours and styles to match my outfits including a long bamboo handle leopard print umbrella. I always carry a lipstick in my bag that I switch up every few weeks. Currently, I alternate between a bright orange one named “Infrared” from TOPSHOP and a orange tinted red from YSL (#15). Oranges are great for summer and fall as they are not quite as regal as red but not as dolly as pink either. I can’t leave my house without my leopard print cell phone case either; I have a thing for prints, which always complete an outfit.
What is your go-to outfit? What are currently some of your favourite items in your closet right now?
My go-to outfit on a casual day are boyfriend jeans. You can never go wrong with a pair of slouchy, distressed-looking denim and a pair of pumps with a relaxed open knit sweater. For a more a feminine look, I always find myself reaching for a maxi skirt. You can easily create a bohemian chic look with sandals and an off-the-shoulder top or a very sexy outfit with a fitted cut out crop top. In the winter I tend to wear thicker knit maxi skirts with ankle boots so it’s really an all-year-round staple for me. My signature look however is ‘fancy pants.’ You can always count on me to be wearing patterned jeans, pants or a skirt.
One of my favorite items in my closet right now is my champagne colored faux-fur vest that I cannot wait to wear for fall/winter. I also am in love with a pair of suede burgundy sneaker wedge heels from Lacoste and a classic draped asymmetrical knee length dress from Helmut Lang.
What was your last buy?
My last buy was a men’s black neoprene photo-printed sweater with the image of a roaring leopard in the jungle. I love buying menswear for myself. Anything with a leopard motif is a must-have in my books. It’s my weakness.
What is your opinion on stealing vs. splurging?
It’s definitely okay to ‘steal’ on most styles; I’m not a name-brand-only type person. My number 1 style rule is to always pair high (priced items) with low (priced items). You make the outfit, not the label that’s sewn into it. You can’t buy style. However, if I love something, I can’t put a price on it and I am more than willing to splurge on something that I absolutely adore. The most important thing when you’re spending a lot on a little is that you are buying something because you love it. It doesn’t matter if the world hates it as long as you love it. If you’re buying something for $5 because the rest of the world loves it even though you don’t yourself, it’s a waste of money.
What is your best style advice for anyone who might be self-conscious about expanding their style horizons?
Believe in yourself because if you don’t, no one else will. Life is way too short for boring clothes. Always dress for yourself and don’t let anyone else’s opinion affect you.
Do you believe that there is a point in which someone goes too far with their fashion tastes?
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone so I believe in pushing myself and stepping outside of the usual conventions; so whatever makes you feel uncomfortable could be a good sign for a fashion adventure. I am not one to judge others’ fashion tastes in terms of going too far; for some people, I myself have already gone too far, but for many I am probably tame compared to what they would wear. When it comes to pattern though, I like to think that too much is never enough.
Once again, many thanks to the lovely Bonita for sharing her views with us in such an enjoyable manner. We wish her the very best in her future endeavours and may she continue inspiring the rest of us to push our fashion sensibilities past our comfort zones!