Style Profile: Tiffany Jow

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I met Tiffany while interning for her at a magazine in Washington, DC. I hope I don’t offend anyone from DC (I’m technically from that area), but Tiffany was an exciting respite from the conservatively dressed Washington women. At that time, their uniform consisted of running sneakers paired with socks and ill fitting skirt suits. Tiffany was, and still is, the antithesis of that. She had bleach blonde hair, a penchant for black, and a creative way with clothes.

Now Tiffany is living and working amongst New York City’s well-dressed residents, but she still stands out (just ask Scott Schuman). Profiling her reminded me that you should treat your wardrobe like a collection and fill it with pieces that you love. And these pieces don’t have to be rare or really expensive. In fact, most of Tiffany’s beautiful dresses are under $25. She epitomizes the reason why I started this site. I wanted to cover real women working within real budgets that still manage to look great and be inspired. Read on to see her smart tip for shopping at Beacon’s Closet and how it felt to be shot by The Sartorialist.

What’s your process getting dressed each morning?

I go for a run in the morning, which means I’m still in cool-down mode when I’m standing in front of my closet deciding what to wear. Often, I choose something that’s not weather appropriate. There’s no real outfit-planning though. I pick whatever I’m feeling in the mood to wear.

How far do you run?

Three miles every day except for Sundays.

You practiced ballet for a big part of your life. Has that influenced your style?

Definitely, but in an indirect way. I quite like the quality of grace. I wouldn’t be caught dead in ballet flats or a tulle skirt. Though, I do wear a lot of flowy dresses.

You don’t own pants?

I don’t like things that accentuate this area of me (points to her hip and pelvic area).

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Where do you shop?

Often, at Beacon’s Closet. You have to really take your time and get there first thing in the morning. Going past noon is almost a surefire waste of time; all the good things will be gone. Also, whenever I go home to Seattle I try to look. There are a lot of great second-hand shops like Red Light—the ones on Capital Hill and in the University District are best—or Pretty Parlor. Then, if I’m feeling spendy, Totokaelo is a must. I’d buy everything on their shoe wall if I could. On the whole, though, my clothes are either from Topshop or they are second hand.

Do you always shop Beacon Closet’s Williamsburg location? Have you found particular locations to be better for certain things?

Go to the Park Slope one for shoes. The East Village one, too. The Williamsburg one isn’t bad for high-end stuff, but I despise that neighborhood so much these days that I rarely can bring myself to make the trek up there.

How do you approach vintage shopping?

I always go alone and I always make sure I have a lot of time. You need to be in the right mood. I find it therapeutic.

How often would you say that you shop?

I think I’m constantly looking for the perfect dress, but I rarely buy.

You are very discerning. What makes you buy a dress or something for yourself?

I don’t think of clothing as any kind of novelty or solid budget line. If I see something I really like, I’ll buy it.

H&M dress, Olsenboye sunglasses, vintage hat, REISS purse, and Acne boots

H&M dress, Olsenboye sunglasses, vintage hat, REISS purse, and Acne boots

H&M dress, Olsenboye sunglasses, vintage hat, REISS purse, and Acne boots

What’s the price range you try to hit when shopping for dresses?

Honestly, under $25. I go to the really gross, off-the-beaten track shops and rummage through the racks. There’s a gorgeous dress in my closet that was $8 from a shop in Portland.

If you could make a luxury purchase right now, what would it be?

Probably something from The Row. I like how they’re bringing back loafers and long, below-the-knee bottoms.

If you had more money, do you think you’d dress differently?

No. Just more of the same.

How do you think growing up in Seattle affected your style?

I was a teenager there in the 90s. In truth, I lived just south of Seattle, but my ballet school was there and I always felt more comfortable around the skyscrapers and streetcars and sound of cities. I spent a lot of time drinking coffee and hanging around Seattle Center. I don’t really think it had any kind of direct influence though. There’s never been an icon that’s influenced my style—it’s just a mish-mash of things.

What’s your philosophy with shoes?

I find one pair that I can wear with everything. One really good pair, like my Acne Pistol boots. I know I’m going to wear them every day, so the price doesn’t matter.

Vintage dress and Madewell boots

Vintage dress and Esses bandaid ring by Michelle Lopez

Vintage dressCan you tell me about this ring?

It’s by Michelle Lopez. Her line is called esses. She is actually a sculptor, and teaches it at Yale. I first saw a friend who worked at Grey Area wearing it, and thought about how badly I wanted it for over a year. I finally emailed Michelle, who ended up personally meeting with me with dozens of rings in tow. When I found this dog-eared sterling silver ring, I knew it was the one.

Your hair has always made a statement. Do you invest in your hair?

I treat my hair the same way I treat my clothes: I’ve found a lot of ways to get it done for less. Hair is as much a part of your style as your clothes. It’s like your eyebrows. When your hair changes, everything changes.

Where do you get your hair colored?

When I dyed my hair back to black, I went to this place called Mizu on Park Avenue, and got a terrific cut by a man called Rick Buckler. He used to cut Jon Bon Jovi’s hair.

What made you change from bleach blonde to brown?

After five years of monthly bleach and tones, it was incredibly damaged and time-consuming to keep up: I had to go for a re-touch every four weeks and sit there for six hours with bleach on my head. But if I could, I’d love to go back to blonde one day. Maybe I’ll go gray early and it’ll speed up the process!

How did it feel to get shot for The Sartorialist?

My boyfriend was scouted to be in the S/S ’14 N. Hoolywood fashion show, which was held at The High Line Hotel, so I went to watch. I was alone, because I didn’t know anybody, and I was standing because the label only reserved standing room for models’ guests. I remember seeing Scott Schuman wandering around, but didn’t really think anything of it. Then he came up to me and said, “Hey, do you want to come outside for a second?” I’d been feeling pretty lame standing there by myself the whole time around all those fashion people—it made him deciding to shoot me a shallow kind of validation. We went outside; it took five minutes. We talked about the Victoria and Albert Museum, where I used to work, which is the only museum that has his photographs as part of its permanent collection.

Topshop Boutique dress, vintage shoes and hat

Vintage shoes

Topshop Boutique Dress, and vintage hat

What were you wearing? Were you feeling good about your outfit?

Yeah. It’s just another dress that I found at Beacon’s Closet. I think it’s a Korean designer.

How do you stay inspired as far as getting dressed?

I don’t read fashion magazines. I don’t pay attention to runway shows. When I walk down the street, or am reading the newspaper, I am always looking. But I’m more interested in how people wear things, as opposed to what they are wearing.

You are petite and you have a small frame. Is it difficult to find clothes?

No. I think if I was somebody who wore suits it would be an issue. But in general, I don’t buy something if it needs to be tailored. That’s why most of my stuff is oversized.

Is that a rule of thumb?

No. The only time I’ll buy something that needs to be tailored is if it’s really good. Then I’ll send it to my mom, who is a seamstress and can make anything fit perfectly. She’s recently been commissioned to make my best friend’s wedding dress.

How did you move from journalism to art?

I studied journalism in my undergraduate program in Oregon, and somehow decided that I only wanted to work at Nylon. I finished college a year early and moved to New York the following week, having never been here before, and started interning full-time at Nylon (my college roommate’s sister used to date one of the editors, who offered me the job). I went to a lot of fashion shows and had to do returns for all of the editorial clothing. I hated it! Writing about fashion felt so superficial, even boring, and I realized I didn’t have the personality or trust fund required to succeed.

Then I was put forward for an editorial position at Surface, a design magazine. I wrote about architecture, product design, textiles, art—it was really my first proper encounter with the contemporary art world. Asking people about their methodology, about how an object is made, was fascinating. I felt genuinely challenged by all of the new ideas, shapes, materials, and personalities around me, and decided this would be my focus moving forward. Later, I moved to DC and covered museum and gallery exhibitions, then spent a few years in London, where my work focused almost exclusively on art.

Did you have any art history background?

I have a master’s in art history, which I earned in London. While there, I also interned at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and wrote for Art Review and a few iterations of the Wallpaper* City Guides. Art in London is very accessible. It’s free, and it’s everywhere. It’s more integrated into people’s lives than it is here.

Vintage dress and shoes

Vintage dress

Where in New York do you go for affordable art?

I don’t really buy art, but one of my favorite places to go is a website that’s run out of San Francisco called Little Paper Planes. The only proper work I own is a piece called “The Snake Charmer,” by the pioneering Portland illustrator Carson Ellis. It was a gift. I’m saving up for a piece by Mel Kadel, who’s probably my favorite illustrator. I discovered her work on a wine bottle label in DC.

Do you ever create your own art?

Sometimes. I have watercolors. I also got wax stamps recently, which I use on my letters. And I also started quilting, using embroidery sets from a Brooklyn company called Haptic Lab. They sell these great DIY map quilts. I made one of Brooklyn for my boyfriend’s birthday. It was pretty fantastic, but took me a whole year!

As far as clothes, is there something that you are thinking about for spring/summer?

Full skirts, tasteful crop tops, and loud prints. Maybe even mis-matched prints.

Have you had to change your style for your job?

Maybe it has changed and I’m not aware of it. I have one friend that works in finance. She wears blouses and pencil skirts everyday and looks great. People at the Museum dress quite proper as well. My boss wears really nice blazers and tailored pants and stilettos and she looks awesome. But I don’t feel comfortable in that stuff. I never want to be in a position were I have to think, “Oh, I can’t wear that to work.”

Do you think style is inherent?

I think it’s something one nurtures, but perhaps has been there all along.

Photos by Sam Aldenton.

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