IN COLLABORATION WITH THE CANARY DIAMOND CO
We are having a full dress rehearsal. Sort of. The annual CRIB Ball takes place on May 3 this year, and our curiosity got the better of us: How does one get ready for a glamorous gala such as this? What goes on hours (or days? Weeks?) before one makes a grand entrance on such an occasion?
The thing is, we have watched enough E! News and Gossip Girl in this life to have a pretty good idea. But we want to know what it is actually like IRL. So, we made a beeline for the #Girlboss advice that has got us everywhere so far (“You don’t get what you don’t ask for.”) — and asked Tjin Lee and Marilyn Lum, two of Crib’s co-founders, to, you know, show us.
“You bring the dress, and we’ll bring the diamonds,” we make our move.
So, here we are. On a balmy Wednesday morning, we find ourselves in a S$12,000 “Extreme WOW Suite” at the W Singapore — Sentosa Cove. We are in the company of our protagonists du jour, a team of hair stylists and make-up artists from Follicle, dresses from homegrown label Whole9Yards (if you don’t already know, Tjin is an avid supporter of local designers. After all, she also wears the Singapore Fashion Week founder hat) and, as we promised, diamonds, LOTS of diamonds. And some emeralds for good measure and, well, to rouse a little envy.
For the next three whirlwind hours, we go from zipping dresses to zipping around the suite, documenting the whole shebang. The ladies are having fun, too. Bathroom selfies, pirouettes inside the jacuzzi bathtub (“Champagne bath, anyone?” Tjin jests), and room service while the power fashionistas dish out precious sartorial insights and show us how it’s done.
Oh, it was a very good morning.
“I DRESS TO PLEASE MYSELF.”
How would you describe your style?
Tjin Lee: Modern classic.
Marilyn Lum: I try to achieve a style that is timeless, elegant and modern.
Who would you say is your all-time style icon?
TL: Carolina Herrera.
ML: Gong Li.
Do you turn to Instagram for style inspiration?
TL: To be honest, not really! I’m not influenced by social media so much for fashion. I wear what I like and what looks good on me. I do like to support local designers and women-led businesses, so I wear a lot of homegrown labels.
Most regrettable fashion faux pas?
TL: Nothing I can remember except for my
teenaged years in the ’80s when I sported yellow MC Hammer pants!
Rachel Zoe famously said that “style is a way to say who you are without having to speak”. What do you think your style says about you?
TL: I’m confident. I dress to please myself, and wear what looks good on me, not the trends of the moment. I like fashion, but fashion should be fun; one should never be slave to fashion.
ML: I would like to think that it conveys power and confidence.
Which part of the getting ready process are you most pernickety about?
TL: Getting my hair done and the make-up right.
ML: Getting my hair done.
TL: Twenty minutes flat — at home. I usually get a salon blowout at Follicle Hair before big events. Great hair styling can go a long way towards helping one look red-carpet ready, even after a hectic day at work.
ML: Minus the hair appointment, 30 minutes.
What can’t you leave home without in order to feel fabulous and confident?
TL: Red lipstick by NARS, pressed powder by Clé de Peau and my iPhone.
ML: A centered mindset.
And what am I likely to find in your clutch?
ML: Money and lipstick.
I like fashion, but fashion should be fun; one should never be slave to fashion.
I buy jewellery to celebrate, never to invest.
Don’t overthink it. Many women spend more time worrying about things that need to be done instead of actually just getting things done.
Give us a crash course on dressing up and accessorising!
TL: Wear what makes you feel great! I don’t overthink what I wear — I wear what I like and top it off with statement accessories or jewellery that make me feel put-together and complete.
ML: Plan ahead, understand what looks work for you, and then try to enhance it.
Let’s talk jewellery. What do you look for when you’re shopping for an investment piece?
ML: I buy jewellery to celebrate, never to invest.
How would one know when enough jewellery is enough when putting together a look?
TL: When it looks put-together, not clashing or over-contrived.
ML: If you look like a Christmas tree, you are probably wearing way too much.
Do you plan your jewellery around your dress or your dress around your jewellery?
TL: Jewellery should complement one’s style, not define it. I believe that if you’ve invested wisely in key pieces, they will fit beautifully into your
style and wardrobe, not the other way round.
ML: Definitely jewellery around the dress.
What is one piece of jewellery you own that, in your opinion, will never go out of style?
TL: My diamond engagement ring.
ML: A pair of gold Monete Gold Denario Antonino Pio Ancient Coin earrings from Bulgari.
What’s the most memorable/outrageous dress code you’ve ever seen on an invitation?
TL: Game Of Thrones at last year’s CRIB Ball gala!
Finally, as a busy working mother, how do you balance work, family and do it all in great style?
TL: Don’t overthink it. Many women spend more time worrying about things that need to be done instead of actually just getting things done. I have developed the ability to compartmentalise the things I can fix and the things I can’t, to fix the things I can and stop worrying about things I cannot change. Just do what needs to be done. The less you think about it, the more naturally things flow.
ML: Be meticulous with your planning, be nice to your personal shopper.