What to Wear This Week: Shirley Chen

In today’s edition of What to Wear This Week, Shirley Chen, Founder and CEO of BAM, a tech start-up that powers contextual shopping on premium publishers, breaks down the mechanics of what she wears and why.

What’s the one garment that never lets you down?

A vest is a joy forever. Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness. That’s what Keats was talking about right?

Do you ever feel like you’re in a rut with your closet? How do you get yourself out?

Of course, though it’s rarely about the individual clothing items and more about the silhouette. Ankle-length dresses and a wider, looser trouser have changed 2016 for me (thank you, Kate Foley…).

Right now I’m switching up my flats for mules, and who can resist floral embroidered velvet or pilgrim bucklesBlack and white will always work.

Where are your favorite three places on the internet (be they sites, Instagram accounts, podcast platforms) to get inspired?

My Instagram favorites are straightforward, weird and satiate a major sweet tooth: @simplicitycity, @superhelder, @gsvgsv, and @thymeandtemp.

When it comes to newsletters, Fred Wilson and Tomasz Tunguz are the ones for me. I found them while searching for very specific “start-up knowledge,” but their blogs are really about the commitment, grit and special dedication it takes to succeed. Having a start-up is not only about a good idea but the ability to execute and build a world class team and culture.

Finally, right now I’m trying to convince my ballet teacher Tiekka Tellier to start a podcast or create a Spotify list! Her class is as much a mental meditation exercise as an intense physical workout.

Have you discovered any fashion brands lately? What are they if so?

@gulhurgel and I became Instagram friends a year ago and now she’s sold at Matches. I’m so proud of her!

The other brand I’m rediscovering is Edun, or perhaps it’s just The Line’s spot-on curation.

Do you start from the shoes and work your way up, or clothes and then down?

Always from the shoes up — it can change your life! My very first fashion internship was at 3.1 Phillip Lim. He had just done the rosettes collection and I was determined to work there. At the time I lived in a studio apartment in Harlem and worked at Bloomingdale’s to pay rent. Out of sheer insanity before the interview I bought a pair of gold Prada flat sandals from Bergdorf Goodman (60% off) as good luck. The team thought that they were “very chic but practical” and I got the job. Nowadays I always start by finding the right shoes for my day.

You’re shopping with a friend and they hold something up and say “Shirley, this is so you.” What do you want them to be holding?

This Rosie Assoulin look, ideally with a pin.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve learned in the last seven days?

I wouldn’t call it cool, but I recently watched Battle of the Sexes from CNN’s “The Seventies.” It details the origin of the Equal Rights Amendment and why it ultimately failed to pass (despite badass women like Billie Jean King). You should watch it! Maybe we can learn from this.

Follow Shirley on Instagram @shrleychen. Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.


Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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