Q+A: Lin // out of the bag

longtime readers may know the lovely and stylish Lin from one of my favorite blogs, out of the bag. Lin's elegantly minimalist style and beautifully composed posts are a constant source of inspiration for me, so, of course i had to interview her! 

Where are you from and what do you do?
I am from Singapore, and I work in the media. 
When did you realise you cared about style? How did that happen?
I was always fussy about clothes as a kid. I think lots of kids have that moment when they only want to wear one particular item every day and that was me. But I think I only truly understood that I wanted to dress a specific way after I started university and it was the first time I didn't have to wear a uniform to school. I'd always read fashion magazines and followed all the fashion shows but it was then when I made the connection between what I saw out there and what I would like to see on myself. 
Why did you decide to start a blog? How have you found the experience?
Part of me has always thought, how nice it would be to have a magazine with only things I liked. And I needed a place to collect my thoughts and the things I love about style and fashion. I think blogging lends itself to a very visual topic like fashion, and so it started. I started it in 2005, and sputtered and deleted it and started again in 2006. It used to more about my opinions on what was out there, but as I started building a wardrobe and feeling my way around "personal style", it grew to be more about that. It's pretty much a diary. Having people read it and share comments and have a conversation with is kind of a happy bonus. It sparks off ideas and widens my perspective. 

Tell us about a favourite/definitive outfit, and when and where you wore it. Why is it significant to you?
I think the first time I tried on a pair of skinny jeans kind of changed everything. I had straight-cut jeans before but nothing that tapered so sharply and it's like I finally found a pair of jeans that made sense to me. I no longer had to buy boot-cut jeans (the widely-available style for much of my life) and take in the flare. I think skinny and straight jeans look best with flats, and so I, the lifelong flats-wearer, finally had the perfect style. I got them in 2003 or 2004. Since then, a pair of jeans and a great t-shirt has been my uniform. I like the casual, wholesome and yet rebellious spirit of a great pair of jeans. 

What are some of your observations about Singapore style?
Like in Shanghai, I find style here quite trend-driven, and divided into different tribes - the hipster look, the avant garde look, etc. 
You can find all the big names here, from high-end ones to mass-market ones, so what's trendy elsewhere will find its way here. And at the same time Japanese and Korean pop-culture is very popular here so there's influence from there as well. I think that has made Singaporeans more aware of style, more willing to experiment, but it's very much a evolving scene.
In a general sense, it's very casual in Singapore, partly because of the weather, and also because Singapore culturally, is not formal - even bankers who earn lots of money will make it point of pride to know where the best hawker food stalls are. My mother moved here from Taiwan in the early 80s and she wasn't used to Singapore style at all at first: no one wears hose and people go out in shorts and slippers, no matter their age.
 I do wonder if being in a culture so casual also creates the feeling in people that having "personal style" is unnecessary. Singapore is one of those places where you can really dress however you want and it's fine because there are "no ground rules",  and yet you don't see a lot of bold or distinct looks on the street. I guess this takes time to evolve.
How would you describe your personal style journey? Describe your style 10 years ago, 5 years ago, compared to now.
10 years ago, I was already deeply interested in fashion and how people dressed but it was something disconnected from my life because I was in school uniforms 5 days a week and on weekends I was always having some kind of training (track etc) or at a part-time job where I wore a uniform. 
I think my style journey is a lot like yours! I think even as of 5 years ago I had no idea how I liked to dress beyond putting on a pair of jeans. I enjoyed experimenting with whatever caught my fancy - I had a boho skirt phase, I had a denim skirt phase, I had a wear-everything-with-sneakers place, I had a pretty-tops-with-jeans place. Somewhere along the way I got tired of playing and looked at my jeans and t-shirt thing and decided, okay, this is the base, let's see what makes sense from here. Basically, it was knits and I went through a cardigan phase - I have grey and black cardigans in all kinds of styles. Work introduced me to shirts and so I went through a whole bunch of shirt styles before I decided slouchy boyfriend ones were the best. So now I basically wear just that - jeans and shirts/t-shirts and a cardigan. Sometimes I wear a blazer, sometimes I wear a sweater, sometimes I wear shorts.

You're very clear and analytical about what you buy and what you choose to splurge/economise on. What are some of your guiding principles?
Not sure if this question really applies to me, since I can be flaky and impulsive as often as I am clear-headed. I run through my wardrobe in my head whenever I feel like buying something. Usually I probably have something similar because I like the same things over and over again. If I do, I reject it. If it needs replacing and this is a good substitute, then I consider it for a day or two and come back again. If it's a novelty thing I may wait it out for a week or more. If it's too expensive I wait for a sale. Sometimes by the time the sale rolls round I may have lost interest. 
Generally, if I hesitate for no apparently reason it's a "no" because when it's truly right I have that unmistakable sense of confidence. Also, with more "right" decisions, the desire to buy has receded, so while it can be hard to fend off temptation, it really does pay off in the long run. 
A lot has been said about thoughtful shopping, but is there such a thing as overthinking? How do you strike a balance?
I'm not much one for lists, even though I've tried. Almost all my favourite things are accidental. At some point I realised overthinking probably is my brain trying to tell me that it's a "no". It's throwing every mental block my way to keep me from making a mistake. So I listen and abandon the item in my head and rarely do I regret it.
That said, sometimes I enjoy the process of stalking something, and turning it over and over. It doesn't matter if I don't buy it in the end, because the process of admiration was fun. There's no regret in admiring beautiful things, if you don't let yourself become obsessed with ownership. I think letting go of the idea of needing to own something just because it's painfully wonderful and being content with looking at it from afar has freed me of a lot neurosis about shopping.   
Who or what is chic to you?
In terms of famous people, it would be Sofia Coppola, for being so tasteful, and Jane Birkin for being so liberated. I like Coco Chanel because she was the first to think of women as having lives, and not just something to be ornamented and trussed up for admiration. Or so the biographies tell us, haha. 
And I think confidence, and self-possession, is chic. 
Do you ever find it hard stay inspired when getting dressed? What do add to your outfits to keep yourself from feeling dull and uninspired?
Yes, I those "this is boring what should I wear" moments like everyone else. Even though I have a closet full of things I love. But it passes. I put on a white t-shirt and a pair of jeans and by the end of the day I've forgotten the "crisis". I'm not much for accessories so unfortunately I have no miracle cure. I put on some good music and my earphones and just get over it.  
Share five things you love about your city.
1) Great food. I miss local food whenever I travel, and there's a great variety of cuisines here as well, and of excellent quality. 
2) Multi-cultural. True, in recent years, the "new" immigrants here has been a source of friction due culture clashes and political sentiment. But generally, I feel like we're outward-looking and curious about other cultures and countries, being a small island nation. By itself, Singapore has a multi-racial demographic and I always liked growing up and living in such an environment.  
3) Green spaces. It's pretty urbanised here but there are lots of parks and I happen to live near 2 nature reserves, so I'm a beneficiary of the "garden city" plan.  
4) Safety. It's a very safe place. I never have to worry about walking down quiet streets at night. It's not crime-free here, but it's rare.  
5) It's home. I may have 10 complaints for every 5 things I love, but it's home and I'm emotionally vested in it. I think I could move anywhere and live there and settle in, but everyone has one place where they feel comfortable and "at home", and mine is Singapore. 
see Lin's post on her Classic 10 here.
all photos from out of the bag


  1. "I think letting go of the idea of needing to own something just because it's painfully wonderful and being content with looking at it from afar has freed me of a lot neurosis about shopping."

    I love that, I have been trying to do the same thing and it is very helpful. "This would look so great.. on someone else, not me" is also very helpful to keep in mind sometimes :)

  2. Love her thoughts on list-making and serendipity in shopping. I really enjoyed the interviews both of you did and am thrilled to have discovered your blog. You've got a great aesthetic and excellent inspiration for balancing the basics with a bit of fun.


  3. Just found your blog from outofthebag...so glad! Another blog to be inspired by. You definitely have style ;)

    intemporelledappel.blogspot.com (or tumblr)

  4. Oh this Q&A is great. I love Lin's style and her blog. So it's great to hear about her thoughts on shopping and personal style. I am like her with respect to shopping lists and knowing automatically when some item is a must get.

    Also loved reading your answers in Lin's blog, by the way!

  5. Great interview, I've just read it with pleasure:)

  6. loved it!

  7. Excellent interview. What a great idea for you to interview her as well. I love it.

    Your answers were so thoughtful and clear on Lin's blog. I really enjoyed reading them.

  8. I enjoyed both your interview with Lin, and Lin's interview with you! Thanks for sharing your and her philosophies about thoughtful shopping and wardrobe creation.

    minima/maxima, a blog about minimalist style

  9. Oh, so comfy.. my staple!



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