As a flip-flop-wearing teenager in Hawaii, freelance writer Alexis Cheung would pore over fashion magazines, daydreaming about what she’d wear in a climate with four distinct seasons. Now, after living in New York for eight years, her style has evolved into something more urban, but it still has the laid-back feeling of her home state. Here, she shows us five fun outfits and reveals her bargain shopping tips…
“My style is pretty minimal, and I’m always going through my closet and editing things down. I love the idea of owning just a few things that I wear all the time. My dad always had the same methodical morning routine and outfit. He wore oxford shirts, which was unusual in Hawaii. I always thought it was a little boring, but as I’ve gotten older, I think having a uniform is the ultimate expression of yourself. I’m most drawn to trousers and monochromatic outfits. I will say, though, if you wear all white, invest in some OxiClean. I just spilled coffee on these white pants! I think anyone can pull off all-white outfits, as long as they know how to clean them.”
“I try to never pay full price — I get lot of things at sample sales. I’ll usually find out about them on Racked or Instagram, and I go alone. I’ve heard horror stories about people clambering over each other for a pair of shoes at sample sales but in my experience everyone is always really friendly. I guess solidarity comes easily when you’re basically naked and changing in front of other women! Before I buy something, even if it’s 90 percent off, I make sure I truly love it and I remind myself that it still costs money. I’ll make a mental inventory of everything I could pair it with. These shoes were from a sample sale. A strap was missing from one of them but the shop girls kindly let me switch it out for a different one. If you look closely, you’ll see the strap doesn’t quite match the shoe’s color.”
“I always strive for a casualness that is rooted in my Hawaiian upbringing. I didn’t even own a pair of close-toed shoes before I moved to New York. Wearing heels was just not practical or a part of the Hawaiian dress code. I still don’t have that many pairs of shoes — probably fewer than 10 — and you’ll never see me in crazy uncomfortable heels. I love wandering around New York and being anonymous sometimes, so I only buy shoes that I can walk in comfortably for a long time. These boots are my highest.”
“I am obsessed with blazers, which I think started when I stole my mom’s tuxedo jacket in high school. When I go thrifting I always look for cashmere sweaters and blazers. The key is to get them a bit oversized; I like things to be a little slouchy, never too done. If I’m wearing a more body-conscious dress, I’ll balance it out with an oversized blazer. My best friend rolls her eyes anytime I ask if I should wear a blazer because I’m always wearing one. Funnily enough, she and I often show up wearing the same look — if not the exact same item of clothing — completely unplanned. It’s nice; my style has always been about dressing like women I’d like to be, and the fact that that’s my friends more and more is really sweet.”
“I love jumpsuits because they’re so easy. It’s like a base layer that you can dress up or down, plus it’s an all-day outfit. You can wear one to work with flat shoes and then quickly change into heels. I stick with simpler jumpsuits, which let me have more freedom with accessories. I love scarves. When my grandma passed away she left a ton of scarves, and I’ve always used them. I don’t wear a lot of color, but scarves are an easy way to add color to an outfit without being super bold.”
Thank you so much, Alexis! Your style is awesome.