At the peak of her career in the late 90s and early 2000s, fashion was colourful and grungy.
It was the age of micro minis, halter tops and sky-high ponytails secured with a scrunchie.
But former actress-host Sharon Au does not regret any of her past fashion faux pas.
The 41-year-old told The New Paper: “When you don’t invest in timeless pieces, it is only natural to look back and find many items outdated.
“Our tastes change. It is a function of age.”
Au left showbiz at the height of her popularity in 2005 to pursue a degree in International Political Science and Law at Tokyo’s Waseda University’s School of International Liberal Studies. She returned to Singapore in 2011.
During her time abroad, she also lived in Lyon, France, from 2008 to 2009, on an exchange programme.
Her time in France, she said, is what shapes her style today.
Au said: “I was face to face with walking testimonials of French people who showed me that comfort and confidence trump all fashion trends.
“They’re always in the same look, same colours, with their hair windblown and messy, never styled.
“They don’t follow trends or ‘it’ things blindly, but what they exuded to me was much more precious and (something) money can’t buy – comfort in their own skin.
“They looked good in everything – just jeans and a basic T-shirt. There was nothing outstanding about their outfits, but it was their overall confidence and nonchalance that was beautiful.
“I came from the entertainment industry where everything was head to toe red carpet.
“So for me to go and see au naturel in action – I was very inspired.”
“Now, I wear things I feel very comfortable in,” said Au, who is assistant vice-president of Mediacorp.
She was so inspired by what she saw overseas that she started a fashion portal, styleXstyle, in 2012.
Her latest venture is the Style by Style Vibes café at the new Mediacorp campus at One-North.
TNP PHOTOS: CHOO CHWEE HUA
The Singapore Airlines sarong kebaya is special to Au, who was a Singapore Girl for 15 months before she was talent-spotted and quit flying for showbiz.
She paired the stewardess uniform with nude Christian Louboutin heels.
“I was 19 and fresh out of Hwa Chong Junior College. I had never travelled before in my life,” she recalled.
“I miss that time of my life because I was so young and sucked up all the experiences like a sponge.”
“When I go to work, my outfits are almost the same – mostly black, structured, neat and a little power woman-ish,” said Au, who usually adds a blazer to her Zara dress.
She accessorised with an Hermes Constance handbag, a belt from local designer Zenchi and jewellery from South Korean brand Stonehenge.
Au keeps it casual and flowy for lunch with her girlfriends.
She opts for Hermes tassel loafers – she does not wear heels on her days off – and a maxi dress from Swedish brand & Other Stories.
She said: “Just because you dress down doesn’t mean you have to look sloppy. I like wearing something shapeless and relaxed.”
She paired a simple Banana Republic white tank top with pants from Australian brand Satch, blazer from French label Zadig & Voltaire, Hermes Birkin bag and accessorised with South Korean jewellery brand Stonehenge.
“When I wear this outfit, I feel empowered, like I can change the world,” said Au, adding that high heels and a bold lip make a winning combination.
“To me, a woman is sexiest when she comes across as confident, decisive and opinionated.
“That’s why sexy to me is not revealing. It’s not about showing your shoulders or skin. It’s more of the attitude.”
Text by Natasha Meah
This article first appeared on The New Paper.