Real Girl Wardrobes - Angelina Chee

12 April 2015

Angie and I met in high school and we've been good friends ever since. Last year, we spent a few months living together in her Sydney apartment and I loved seeing her outfits each day.

Angelina works in the fashion industry, as the marketing manager and buyer of a French optical company that specialises in importing European eyewear and sunglasses, which means annual buying trips to Paris, Milan and Hong Kong. Today, the 30-year-old shares how her French friends dress and the item she only buys on sale.

How would you describe your style?

I have quite a classic style. I like to highlight my wardrobe with statement pieces that I'll have forever. The ones I really invest in are the pieces that I can see myself wearing at 40 or 50 or 60. I don't throw away anything - hence all the luggage under my bed!

You get to travel a fair bit for work, what do you get up to when you’re overseas? 

Basically when I go, I go to trade shows. The two main European trade shows are in Milan in March and Paris in September, which coincides with the fashion weeks but I generally don’t go. Mainly I'm there to see the eyewear and meet with the manufacturers and distributors to look at their new collections and select styles to bring back to Australia.

What influences your style?

I get a lot of inspiration from walking around Paris and Milan when I'm over there. A lot of my French friends have very neutral wardrobe palettes, it'll be a lot of camels, browns, blacks, greys and whites. A lot of my basics will be the blacks and neutrals and then I'll chuck on a bright coat or a coloured pair of shoes. I often stand out in Milan because they wear a lot of black, especially in winter. 

I'm really curious about where and when you shop because in the three months that I lived with you, the only thing you bought was a singlet or two!

A lot of the time I don't have time to go shopping in Sydney. I find that I have more time when I'm overseas, or if a sale is coming up, it's a destination where I know I'll pick up a couple of key pieces.

When I buy things, I really look for things that I will keep forever. They're transeasonal or I'll look for statement pieces so I have a bit of a balance. I do hit up the designer sales when they're on, you introduced me to that - you dragged me to the first ever Sass & Bide sale!

Which sales do you go to and how do you know when they’re on?

From friends telling me or you've gone once and put your name on the mailing list. Willow is my number one. Love, love, love her stuff and I always find something beautiful at her sales. Kirrily Johnston but her brand is no longer. Also Josh Goot, Ellery and Lover.

I get pretty overwhelmed at warehouse sales - what's your strategy?

Just grab whatever you like the look of to begin with! I'm always the girl with her arms laden with so many things. I just love trying things on, I think every girl loves playing dress up, so for me it's kind of like - why not? Try it on! 

But when I'm doing the final cull, I look at - do I need it? Am I just buying it because it's on sale? I will be a little bit more flexible with prints at a sale because you're not overextending or paying full price for something that you might just buy on a whim, it's a bit of fun but generally I look for statement pieces.

So you only buy prints on sale?

I don't buy prints normally. I only buy basics, so jeans or if I need t-shirts and things like that and they're black, white and grey.

Do you have a budget for clothes?

I have a budget for my entire life, so I do have a budget for clothes. It allows me to see how I'm tracking, so if I'm over in one month - for example I've just come back from Paris and went to my favourite shop - the next couple of months I've got to watch what I buy. It keeps me focused in terms of - do I really need it? 

Tell us about your favourite shop in Paris. 

In Paris, I just love walking around and looking at the shops, at the quality of the fabrics and the different designs to what we get here. One trip I made a list of all the designer vintage shops, some were quite French - the type where someone would have to put the clothes on you.  Then I stumbled across this beautiful little shop in the Jewish quarter, in the Marais district. It had vintage and also second hand clothes. I spent three hours in there and tried on about half the shop!

I started talking to a lovely lady who runs it and was fascinated by her business. Marie's worked in the fashion industry all her life and decided to open up a shop. Her clients range from models to socialites - women who get given these beautiful items by brands or receive them as gifts. For whatever reason they don't want them or don't use them and they sell them to her. She has anything from vintage YSL or Chanel blouses to brand new Chloe dresses with the tags still on them. I go back there every time I'm in Paris. 

Are there European brands that you love and are they really expensive? 

One of the perks of being involved with brands is that I get access to their outlets - it's appointment-only, ring-the-doorbell type stuff. Chloe was one of my brands about five years ago and in Paris there’s a Chloe outlet. I've bought a beautiful wool cape from there and it's generally anywhere between 40-70 per cent off retail. I'm quite lucky in that sense.

I’ve bought these Chanel shoes [from the second hand shop] which were hardly worn. They’ve got the beautiful quilting on the heel and I think I bought them for about 120 euro. 

Let’s talk about underwear because I know you have Victoria Secret mules.

Victoria Secret g-strings are the best. You can't see any lines, they don't cut in and they don't give you muffin top or anything like that. They're the best I've found and they're comfortable. I discovered them on a trip to New York for work and then after 5 years I thought - need to get some more! Luckily, I have lots of friends that travel and an ex-housemate who lives in LA. 

You also really like H&M bras? 

Oh yeah, I'm not into the lacy bras much to Dave's dismay! I'm into functionality and you can't see them under anything you wear. The ones I have are just black and beige, I think they’re called the best t-shirt bra in the world. 

Do you have a favourite item that you love to wear? 

I'm really into gold at the moment. Since I hit 30, I’ve been given a few gold things - my mum gave me a gold necklace which my grandmother gave her, and of course you gave me my horseshoe, which is rose gold. I'm terrible with accessorising and I always forget to put rings and earrings on, so it's good that I can just leave some necklaces on.

Has your style changed over the years?

Oh yeah. When I started uni, my mum said - let's go shopping to get your uni wardrobe, and we went to Kookai. I don't think I've bought anything from Kookai for years. I probably wore tighter things, whereas now I'm more into comfort and loose-fitting clothing. I realised that it suits my body type more, or maybe as you get older, it doesn't look as good!

How do you get dressed of a morning?

It’s generally what I feel like, unless I have a meeting or something. If I have a meeting, I will put more thought into what I wear and maybe take a blazer with me to dress it up.

Your job means that you’re never short of sunnies.

I have a lot of sunnies. One of the perks of my job is that I have a marketing set of sunglasses of all my ranges in my office that I can use whatever one I want. Funnily enough, I don't change as often as you might think. I always have an aviator, a statement piece and a plain black acetate (plastic) frame. At the moment, I have a Lanvin as my classic aviator and a Police as my statement because it has coloured lenses.

What about handbags?

I believe in investing in one good handbag instead of many but that's my philosophy for everything - quality more than quantity. I'm a hoarder, so I need enough space to put a lot of things, especially when I’m travelling. I like to represent my brands, so at the moment I'm using a gifted Furla Candy bag. I had the choice of a multitude of colours but ended up going for black.

Tell me about shoes.

Day-to-day, I pretty much wear flats or boots with a slight heel but I do have some insanely high heels but I'm okay with it, I'm a short person! 

Some are crazy high - how do you walk in them?

With perseverance! And confidence. 

What’s your approach to make up, what do you feel most comfortable in?

I always use a primer underneath my foundation, mine has SPF as well, which is good. I wear foundation, bronzer, curl my eyelashes and apply mascara, and put paw paw ointment on my lips - that's very much my basics. If I'm going out I will put some blush on, some lipstick and eyeliner.

What do you wear to work? 

My black Sandro jeans with a white or grey t-shirt and black flats, and if it's cold I might bring a blazer or a cardigan.

What about to a wedding?

To a wedding I will wear a beautiful dress, something that stands out.

What would you wear on an outdoorsy road trip? 

I'd wear my Lululemon for sure. Gym pants, t-shirt or tank and sneakers or if I was going on a bushwalk or going canyoning then I'd wear my drainage shoes. I have these Columbia shoes that are like a cross trainer but it's got drainage points so you can go through water and it'll drain. I love being outdoors and trying new things. 

And what do you wear at home on a weekend?

Lululemon! I'm usually running around and I'll probably go to the gym in the morning and do the grocery shopping. If I'm going horse riding, of course I'll be wearing horse riding gear.

You travel a lot, how do you pack a bag? 

I make a list, so say I've got five meetings, I'll need five meeting outfits, then I'll need two travelling outfits and five casual outfits. From there, I’ll make a list of what I'll wear and look for any crossovers. When I'm overseas for work I do like to pack Australian designers, to feel like I'm flying the flag because we do have a very different style. It's more playful, laid back and a lot freer.

If it’s a holiday, it’s the same thing. If we’re going out to dinner one of the nights, I’ll pack an evening outfit, and then three day outfits and two beach outfits.

Living with you, I couldn’t help but notice that you’re endlessly positive - nothing ever seems too hard. I’d love to know where that comes from.

My mum is very positive and that has rubbed off on me. We're very easygoing, happy-go-lucky people - if it happens, it happens, if it doesn't, it doesn't. 

Also, if someone says - how was your day, what did you do? You might decide to focus on the positive things that happened in that day. That person might not know all the shit things that happened in your day, they might think everything good always happens to you but I think that you can focus on the negative things if you want to but the positive things are the more important ones to focus on.

Thanks Angie! Just in case you missed it, you might also like Real Girl Wardrobes: Adele Packer.


  1. so stylish! and all that list making = amazing!

    1. When I travelled in uni, I used to make lists of every single thing I packed so I could check it off and make sure I didn't leave anything behind! Was not about fashion, was more OCD!