Style

A Week of Outfits: Alice Gao

A Week of Outfits: Alice Gao

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…

Cardigan: Everlane. Jeans: Goldsign. Kitten heels: Mansur Gavriel, similar. Earrings: Céline, similar. Nail polish: Smith & Cult’s Tang Bang.

“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.”

A Week of Outfits: Alice Gao

Blazer: ba&sh. Black tank: GBTSO. Green pants: Reformation, similar. Boots: Everlane. Earrings: JH.ZANE.

“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.”

A Week of Outfits: Alice Gao

Sweater: Club Monaco. Jeans: vintage Levi’s, similar.

“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.”

A Week of Outfits: Alice Gao

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.”

A Week of Outfits: Alice Gao

Black bodysuit: Wolford. Shirt: vintage, similar. Jeans: Moussy. Boots: Loeffler Randall. Purse: Hope Stockholm.

“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.”

A Week of Outfits: Alice Gao

Blazer: Everlane. Shirt: COS. Jeans: M.i.h. Jeans, similar. Boots: Stuart Weitzman, similar. Earrings: similar.

“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!

P.S. Alice’s beauty uniform and apartment tour. Plus, more women share their favorite outfits.

(Photos by Christine Han for Cup of Jo.)

  1. She truely is the reason why I am on instagram. I real inspiring style icon especially in her work. Queen of light and shadow. With the cutest cat named Mies. Keep up the fantastic work, Alice. It’s beyond magic.

  2. Love! I follow her Instagram So simple but always classic staples. I hear the last paragraph often and I wonder if people at the time know that doing your best isn’t the amount that you do is how you treat others and yourself. That is the best way other than financially to give back to family and you.Love and respect is a powerful thing. My mom and aunt taught me to make sure that I am in line first and all else will follow. That’s the best gift I could give them. Great post!

  3. Julia E says...

    I’d love to know where the shelves are from :-)

  4. Tricia M says...

    I have given up with jeans, (they just don’t suit my figure) but Alice makes denim look so sexy and stylish. It’s a real pared down look which looks fabulous!

  5. Deboleena Mazumdar says...

    apartment tour for Alice please!

    • yas!

  6. She has a wonderful sense of style

  7. Alice is so pretty and casually stylish. She’s also a ridiculously talented photographer! And bonus: she’s really nice in real life :)

  8. Liz says...

    YES to another petite woman who looks cool and put together and not like a child!! You go, Alice!

  9. I really love her casual elegance! I’m way too practical to buy trendy clothes that you can pinpoint to a year or season so I especially appreciate Alice’s elevated basics.

  10. Mai says...

    Thank you for featuring Alice!! I am a huge fan of her style and follow her on IG. she always looks effortlessly amazing and has an enviable bag collection ;)

  11. Em says...

    Yes to the ugly shoes. I’m a big fan of wearing things that go through the tunnel of ugliness and come out the other side seeming cool. I’ll wear running sneakers with jeans, baggy jeans, grandpa sweaters that are way too big. Vests.

    It’s all part of this ugly-beautiful style I’ve created for myself, which is a major departure from the “hot girl” clothes I used to wear in my early 20s. While I don’t go over the top, I love wearing items that are a bit eccentric. It makes me feel like a grownup, cool, stylish lady, even if others may view me as a bit “frumpy.”

    • Maiz says...

      I want to see your week of outfits, Em! :)

  12. Essss says...

    Oh man, that COS shirt in the last photo is just gorgeous. Doesn’t look like they have it online anymore, anyone find a similar?

  13. Erin says...

    I love the five outfits series! Each person has great individual style and I always find a new way to wear something I already own or something I want to try that I might never have discovered. And I love that they are real, albeit more glamorous than average, dames!

  14. she is such a creative inspiration, have followed her work for some time, and also adore her style. great feature!

  15. Maria says...

    Thank you CupofJo for this wonderful feature. I appreciate seeing people who look (and are as tall) as me! Alice, your style is modern, easy, and eye catching. I can see myself wearing everything. Taking a mental note of the black turtleneck + white collar shirt combo. Looks so chic.

  16. SW says...

    I’m 4’9″ and happy to see a petite lady featured. What great style!

  17. Im 5 so I try to also get clothes that makes my silhouette longer than me hehe. Her style is so cool! I am also a jean queen but since giving birth my body changed so much that jeans no longer looks as flattering. I am still looking for new style to accommodate my new shape.

  18. Kelly says...

    It’s funny, I’m 42, and totally went to high school and college in the 90s where we lived the baggy belted Levi’s first hand (a la Rachel from Friends) and every time I see those light colored high waisted mom jeans like Alice is wearing I’m like “omg NO NO NO!” but I literally was on Nike’s website last week and was like I NEED some old school 90s Air Max’s NOW — exactly the ones she’s wearing!?

    Its so weird how nostalgia manifests — like why do I have a viscerally negative impression of the jeans I used to wear but immediately purchased the exact Nike’s that I owned 20 years ago?!

  19. Nice outfits! All these clothing you can find it in any girl wardrobe! and it is still stylish and chic

  20. Daynna Shannon says...

    I really appreciate a woman of color being featured.

  21. Jeanne says...

    Love Alice’s work. I follow her and she’s so elegant and effortless (and real too).

  22. At 5′ with a long torso, I love seeing how Alice dresses with that sort of shape in mind. And I too adore Everlane!

  23. Liz says...

    Love her! She seems so stylish and sweet!

  24. Angela says...

    It would be interesting to hear from a tailor about the benefits of tailoring different types of clothing, which articles of clothing to tailor to get the most bang for your buck, etc.

    • Golden Moon says...

      I second that.

    • Preeti Varma says...

      I’d love this too!

    • Missy says...

      Yes, please.

    • Mona says...

      Yes! Joanna – this!

    • hayley says...

      Yes, please!

    • Lizzie says...

      YES. Also, dumb question but…how? Do you just go in and say “make this look better on me?” Do you have to know what alterations you need? And can you go to any tailor for any type of clothing?

  25. Mary says...

    Oh, it is so refreshing to see someone with a similar body type to mine! When she talks about the long torso and having to look at the rise of the jeans I was like “YES GIRL I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND!” I do the same thing, having just recently realized that this was my clothing issue! (Took me long enough!) And it has totally changed the game! High rise denim, I know some people hate you, but bring on the 11 inch inseam because it is changing lives! Thanks Alice! You are making all the sense in the world!

    • Liz says...

      I have the same issue! An 11 inch rise mean just barely covers my belly button. Crop tops look like sports bras. Jumpsuits give me wedgies. And no mini dress is ever long enough. It’s surprisingly disruptive and a problem no one believes you have!

    • Laurel says...

      Omigosh Liz I feel you on the long torso. Not to mention trying to find a one piece swimsuit. ::laugh cry emoji:: I have to buy extra long tankinis and high waisted bottoms if I want my whole torso covered. Even the “long” swimsuits from specialty places are too short!

  26. Faith D Farley says...

    I like your self style. U know what looks good on your body type. I dress for me love classic n bringing me into my wardrobe.

  27. Linda says...

    Love her style. Love her idea of looking for menswear at Uniqlo! Thank you for featuring an Asian American woman!

    • myhanh says...

      COJ Team– do you look at the number of comments as your compass for future posts? Love Alice’s confidence that makes her hair, makeup, and outfits look beautiful! And thank you for featuring an Asian American woman.

  28. Emily says...

    Thank you so much for featuring a petite lady! When you are short it can feel like nothing in the fashion world is made for you…it’s inspiring to see her pull of some pretty rad looks. More petites please!! :)

  29. Carmen says...

    Love this idea of living in jeans. Thanks for the great ideas, being I myself have problems finding anything that fits my bottom half. Thanks again.

  30. She has such confidence and poise that she would look beautiful wearing a potato sack!

    • Laura C. says...

      Exactly!

  31. gilli says...

    Love her! So funny, I always say I’m 5 ‘2″ and 3/4 ” on a good day! She has great advice about style and tailoring!

  32. Omg YES to all of these outfits!!! Love this so much

  33. Love her style and this series!

  34. Mac says...

    All hail the Jean Queen!

  35. I know this is a fashion post but I have to ask, where is the white shelving from?! Thanks!

    • Maria says...

      IKEA.

  36. Karen says...

    *face palm* BOY JEANS! As a petite woman I never thought of trying on boy jeans. Genius! Thank you, Alice!

  37. Rae says...

    Beautiful color palettes in each outfit!

  38. Abigail says...

    Alice is lovely, and I love seeing fashion for petite women on COJ! More please!

  39. Nataly says...

    LOVE HER! I’ve been following her on insta for a while now! She is so talented, totally gorg, and has such a great eye for art/style!

  40. dccat says...

    Love COJ and hope to see more Asians featured here. Can we get the deets on the lipstick she’s wearing with the club monaco sweater? thx

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Hi! She’s traveling right now, but she said she’ll get back with the details!

    • Emily says...

      Yes please. That lipstick is gorgeous.

    • Anna says...

      Hello! Revisiting this post because I love Alice Gao’s style – any news on what lipstick she is wearing?

  41. I think the one thing I’ve noticed through all of these “week of outfits” posts is that no matter what the woman is wearing, if she’s smiling and confident, she is beautiful.

  42. I’m only five feet tall. I’m bookmarking this page to copy how she wears her pants! I usually avoid them because I feel like they make me look even shorter.

  43. Isabel says...

    Thanks for sharing her week of outfits. Love them all, so versatile, unique, and relatable. Will definitely start looking for inseam length.

    If you like her style, you should check out a previous post featuring her apartment. It’s as cool and effortless as her wardrobe, and I used her living room as an inspiration to decorate my office. Now I love walking into work every morning due to its serene and welcoming space. Thanks for featuring her!

  44. Cindy says...

    Please ask her to share her beauty secrets too!!

  45. Love her simple, cool style.

  46. Liz says...

    I have serious style envy now!! Plus, ugly sneakers are my jam. Comfort all the way!!

  47. sam says...

    this isn’t related to her outfits (which are lovely!) but – is there any way you could share where she got her white bookshelves with drawers in the “ugly sneaker” pictures?!

  48. Jo says...

    Oh my goodness, that Club Monaco sweater might be the most perfect sweater I’ve ever seen ???.

  49. I’ve been following Alice for a while and am always so curious about how she affords all these beautiful, expensive things! She has incredible, if unattainable, taste. She must be crushing it business-wise. Good for her!

  50. Natasha says...

    She is so beautiful! I love her style.

    Would love to see a Week of Outfits post from a stylish physician… it’s hard to put together stylish and professional outfits that hit all the requirements (work under a white coat, no cleavage when leaning over a patient to do an exam, no short skirts for the same reason, comfortable closed-toe footwear for lots of walking and safety around needles), can go in the washing machine after each wear (germs, body fluids, etc)… and are affordable (for medical students and residents and newly minted physicians with a ton of debt!)

    • Carla says...

      Like you for instance?! :)

    • My toddler’s paediatrician has THE best style, I should hook something up, haha.

    • Natasha says...

      Haha Carla, as someone who stares at her closet with dismay every morning and wishes she could wear jeans and sneakers and a casual sweater to the hospital, this would be for me rather than by me ;)

  51. Claire says...

    She has such a clean and intriguing style. I like the color palate, and how the outfits look like they are ready to go to work and stay comfortable too. The pearl earrings are gorgeous. Would you share what color lipsticks she is wearing, please?

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Asking now, Claire! Stay tuned. x

    • Claire says...

      Thank you!

  52. Jodi says...

    OB.SESSED. with her week of outfits. Exactly how I like mine. Simple, classic, stylish, without being overly trendy. She crushes it, and I would have never known she was only 5’2″ if she didn’t say it! Thanks for sharing.

  53. Katie Larissa says...

    I wish I could wear a cardigan like that! So striking! But I’m afraid it would look dumb on me (in fact I know it would because I just went and tried it and NOPE.) haha but I love it on her!

    • Jen says...

      Lol!!! Same here (except I didn’t bother trying it out)!

  54. I’ve been following Alice for years and have loved watching her style and personal aesthetic transform. Both her clothing and her photography are always pushing forward in subtle ways. She has a great eye for the interesting!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Couldn’t agree more, Lindsey!

  55. Lucy says...

    Make that 966,001 followers! Her work is simple and beautiful, as is her style.

  56. Thank you, Alice, I’m going to remember that – I have a long torso, not short legs :-)

  57. Tiia says...

    Yay, finally!!

  58. Meghan says...

    This is great. I’m just curious- how do you hem jeans *with* the original hem? Isn’t the point of hemming to cut off the original hem?

    • Noelle says...

      Most decent tailors can do it. They just cut the length off and re-sew the original hem at the new bottom. It really does look SO much better to have it done that way.

  59. Been a fan of Alice Gao’s for years! Lovely to see her cool casual look!

  60. Rebecca says...

    Wait, what’s the most versatile piece in her wardrobe?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      the button-down shirts from uniqlo! you can wear them all different ways.

  61. Thanks for introducing me to her beautiful Instagram! And of course wardrobe, she has a cool confidence in every picture I wish I could master.