Photographer Alice Gao has an eye for beautiful moments — and over 966,000 fans on Instagram to prove it. “I’m drawn to details in life,” she said. Not surprisingly, the same is true for her style. Here, Alice shares her petite dressing discoveries, the most versatile piece in her closet and why she loves ugly sneakers…
“I’m 5’2″ on a good day, with a long torso, and I’ve learned that certain clothes can extend the eye and make my legs look longer — like pointy-toe shoes and high-waisted jeans that hit right above the ankle. A 10″ to 10.5” rise is first thing I look for when shopping. A tailor can adjust the rest — hem the bottoms, alter the waist or taper the leg. I’m always going back to see how the piece fits a model online as a frame of reference, like, Oh, so that’s where it should hit! Also, pieces can get way more chic when pulled off the shoulder, especially a button-up cardigan. It gives it a little edge.”
“I travel for work two to three times a month — I recently went to Marrakech for the first time, and Antwerp took me by surprise with its charm. My trips involve very little sleep and lots of juggling. When I’m not actively shooting, I’m handling all the annoying admin business things that no one likes to talk about. So far, I’m a one-woman business, so I’ve gotta do it all! I like basics for travel. I’ve been a fan of Everlane for years — since the time they were just selling T-shirts. I’ve been wearing the hell out of their Boss Boots. COS also has nice silhouettes, and the price point isn’t too crazy. If I need to dress up those pieces, I’ll add something statement-y, like a blazer or these pearl earrings.”
“I love wearing jeans, even on special occasions. In high school, my friends called me the ‘Jean Queen’ because I was obsessed with getting my hands on second-hand designer denim. I even became a member of a denim forum where we would geek out about new washes and cuts. It was such a thrill. I still troll eBay for 100% cotton vintage Levi’s. I found this boys’ pair for $20, and they ended up being such a great wash that I wore them every day last summer. When hemming vintage jeans, it’s important to use the original hem to keep the special distressing the same.”
Sneakers: Nike Air Max 97.
“I thought these sneakers were hideous when I first saw them. Sometimes I’ll still think, Oh man, those are really ugly! — but in a *cool* way. They’re comfortable and give me more than an inch of height. My work clothes can’t be precious because I’m usually schlepping a bunch of equipment around the city.”
“I’ll throw on a button-up if I want to feel slightly more pulled-together on the job. I often shop in the men’s Uniqlo section for their wrinkle-free shirts and just size up. For a more feminine look, I’ll knot the bottom or tuck the collars inside to create a nice V-neck. A black bodysuit is a layering staple, too. Snap bottoms are important, though. Otherwise you have to get fully undressed when you use the restroom — let’s be real.”
“My parents’ sacrifices and hard work as immigrants have played a huge role in my own work ethic. They’ve been able to build a life for themselves out of NOTHING — it was a true story of coming to America with $20 in your pocket — so I feel like I can’t slack off. I never want to take for granted the fact that I enjoy what I do. Even when I am completely run down and burnt out from taking on too much, I still feel lucky.”
Thank you so much, Alice!
(Photos by Christine Han for Cup of Jo.)