On Being Whole

On Being Whole

An Antidote to ‘Dilution’

Feature image: a pixelated version of Jasper Yu‘s photography

Time to get a little raw and uncomfortably real. Definitely easier not to broach the subject. Awkward silences ensue, noses rubbed in anxiety, “shit, did she really just say that?” Definitely easier to stay silent, to not be difficult, to let the small things slide. There’s apparently even a formal term for these things— “microaggressions”, nice to be able to intellectualise something which has gnawed at my edges for a while now. It’s not always easy but sometimes entirely necessary to speak, especially when things have been left unsaid, a narrative unravelled that should have been uprooted long ago. When you’ve allowed others to speak for you, over you and instead of you for one too many chapters. But what if, you are here on this earth, in this very moment, living and breathing alongside 7 billion others “for such a time as this”? (Esther 4:14)

What has prompted me to speak up about an issue where I usually take a curious observer’s backseat is that the dominant discourse right now overwrites the mixed, we are put in one box or another, in my case I have been called everything under the sun. Dependent on where I am in the world and usually how much and what make-up I am wearing (it’s still amazing to me how a little flick of eyeliner can radically change someone’s perception of you) I am ang moh (phrase for white person in Hokkien), Brazilian, Thai, Eastern European, and just recently on a trip to Florida spoken to in Spanish half a dozen times as I guess those people perceived me to be Hispanic. I unfortunately do not speak Spanish. Geography has never defined my identity. Culture crosses borders. I have never felt offended by the question (which I often receive when I meet new people) “where are you from?” Though I know and understand why some people do get offended, I’ve always understood it to come from a place of curiosity and it has often opened up richer conversations for me, though I think I have been fortunate in that case.

I speak for one small corner of the mixed race experience, but I am speaking. The diversity within being of mixed ethnicity is beautiful, complex and underrepresented. Other people’s fascination, attribution and association regarding who I am is interesting in itself. It is important that parents who are raising children within an interracial environment allow them to embrace that, it will pay dividends in later life. The face you see, the features you analyse. In most cases I haven’t seen it as racism, but merely racial study. The external has a big part to play. Trust me I get it. I code differently according to your familiarity with the “Eurasian” face. I also fully recognise that in some senses I have a cultural monopoly due to what has been thrust upon a lot of Eurasians, Pan-Asians (the terminology differs dependent on where you are in the world, another issue altogether), ethnic neutrality, sometimes privilege. Even a surname can discriminate, sorry, ‘help one to discern’.


Wholly necessary journalism on #racism experienced by Malaysians in Britain: "I met this guy in a pub. We spoke all night and got on really well. When he asked where I was from, I naturally said Malaysia, as that is my country of origin. We spent the night together. But the next morning he asked why I could speak English so well since I was Malaysian. I told him I was half English. To which he replied. ‘That’s cheating, I thought I was sleeping with a full Asian chick.’ And he got dressed and left." Evelyn Bee, Wadebridge "This guy was telling me how great colonialism was – ‘We gave you justice, railroads, your country wouldn’t be progressive if it wasn’t for us’ – and then he told me: ‘You wouldn’t have gotten into uni if it wasn’t for colonialism’." Izyan Hay, London #LinkInBio for the full piece #colonialism #malaysia #malaysiaboleh #malaysian #speakout #asian #hapa

A post shared by Styleish Substance (@styleishsubstance) on


Most of the time I find it amusing and let it be, so I’ll say that it has taken me 25 years of living to reach the point where I felt compelled, truly so, to write this. Simultaneously, I do not take the below lightly, the death-by-a-thousand-cuts incidents that myself and others like me, us “mixed others” who tick that hilarious box on every form, who have grown up straddling an invisible line of others’ perceptions live within. I figured it was time we spoke for ourselves. Following on from recent events, such as casting decisions in Hollywood to the amazing photographs and accounts captured by Daniel Adams on racism experienced by Malaysians in The Guardian, I’ve decided to let this see the light. Some of this I wrote about three years ago in reaction to a specific incident. Some of the below was written as a direct result of marinating upon derogatory terms I read in a prominent newspaper; some of it years ago, some of it just this afternoon.

It has always darkly humoured me how people make backhanded compliments about the appearance of my mixed heritage and in so doing diminish my being Asian, and Chinese beauty generally. I’ve heard it all: “wah, she’s so European-looking lah” said with reverence at the salon (this disquieted me even as a child as I could sense the implication), “your features are so interesting, it’s like the Asian and white have mixed so they’ve diluted the edges off each other to make this nice fusion of both”. Dilution. I hate that. I’ve heard it from people I love dearly, well-meaning people, Chinese and non-Chinese people alike. I accept that the Eurasian face in particular is commoditised and it can be seen as a ‘privilege’ in these times of globalisation, I actually wrote a whole piece on just this for the Business of Fashion, which will be published at a later date. We in many ways embody the “best of both” that casting directors are looking for, the familiar and the exotic whether a local or foreign audience is onlooking. On my visits to Malaysia I would often be stopped in the mall and asked to be in this “Milo/Nokia/Dove” advert before they realised I wasn’t a citizen or of legal age. In the midst of this talk of commodities and demographics, as a human being and an individual I am well aware that one of the hemispheres I represent is often derogated, so if I use my “so European-looking lah” face to talk about and give voice to those who don’t inherently straddle this ethnically ambiguous line then I will do so. Alongside this ethnic neutrality/privilege is a double-edged sword, as one of my mixed best friends recently said to me, “can I choose to bring out my white ‘half’ when I am being frisked in the airport for the umpteenth time” (she’s got more melanin in her skin than me)? Being mixed is a hodge podge when it comes to many things, from whether I am considered first generation, to being ethnically viable for diversity programmes.

I am a woman who likes things with grit and minus the bullshit. I cook with garlic and ginger as base ingredients like I was taught to. It’s interesting what goes on in the pot, what that mix means. That melding of genetic and cultural and ethnic calculation, appropriation, attribution. A lot of my life I have taken the stance: Allow me to be what you assume me to be. It’s interesting as it tells me so much more about you when you tell me who I am, and I don’t have to say a word but smile warmly and nod. What does it make you comfortable for me to be? I am comfortable in my skin and my identity, but what I’ve realised more and more recently is that others aren’t, and that it is time we had a conversation about it, rather than sitting on the sidelines and allowing others to speak about us, others who don’t inhabit the skin and identity that we do. Others who have tried to make me and others like me feel “less than” over the years and as if the fact that we are “only half” disqualifies us from understanding and participating in our own culture in a meaningful way. It’s an ugly and bigoted reality and perception and is a form of racism like any other.

Batik babes 💗 the traditional technique of using coloured dye and wax to create intricate patterned fabric for clothing, accessories and more is part of the tapestry of Malaya culture. Both Indonesia and Malaysia pride themselves on being #batik greats. Here are some of my personal collection: a dress my mum brought back for me from one of her trips back home to #Malaysia, custom-made jackets that my aunt designed and sourced #fabric for and clutches that I scoured for in #Bali, Indonesia last year. My wardrobe has so many #LoveStories within it, I love clothes that have stories to tell, share and pass on over time. Growing up around this beautiful tradition definitely informed my love of #colour, #print and texture 💛 #treasure #batikprint #malaysian #indonesia #batikbabe #lovestory #custommade #slowfashion #mandarincollar #nonya #peranakan #BatikBabes

A post shared by Styleish Substance (@styleishsubstance) on

I remember the small things easily, I am a person of the details. A strength or weakness like most character traits dependent on how they are exploited. We were at a very crummy Chinese buffet, the kind that no self-respecting Chinese person would ever willingly go to (I was there against my better judgment, kind of like when one used to hang out at Tiger Tiger, Cheapskates and those other not so fun places just because the rest of North London was there). Anyway, I’m sitting there, amongst friends, good friends, some of whom I’ve known since baby ages, eating my sub-par sub-room temperature mediocre “Chinese” food and that’s when I hear: “Oh wow, so you’re really, like, actually in touch with your culture, you’re eating with chopsticks! (Laughter) I never realised you were so Chinese”. Chopsticks and mouth both fall open. This was said by someone I’d known most of my life, who had seen my Chinese mother pick me up from school every day for the last seven years. I had no clue what to say, what do you say to that? Do you bring out that list you’ve been keeping since birth “all the things that make me Chinese even though I may not code it when you look at me 101”? Culture doesn’t appear on demand, it is not always visible, this is what disrupts some people without them realising, the subtle realisation that you cannot be put in a box. These incidents are major-minor but they are also cumulative, we cannot let the conversation and discourse surrounding race and subsequent racism be reduced to one versus another, there are a multitude of mixed others who have a voice and an experience that is equally valid.

I remember that same friend diminishing an internship I got through my own shameless teenage persistence as due to racial preference in front of my peers, I laughed it off though it jarred with me, and upon later reflection realised how jealous and petty a statement that was. On a piece of paper you can’t tell anything of my ethnicity, most people think my surname is Scottish. This was the very same friend who voiced their shock at my “Chinese-ness” earlier that year. I quickly learnt that I needed to know and stand firm in who I am internally, as BOY will others thrust their definitions on you, utilise your perceived ethnic ambiguity to their own agenda and if you aren’t secure in your identity you will lose yourself in the confusion of others that attempt to categorise you.

Mood(y). 🖤

A post shared by Styleish Substance (@styleishsubstance) on


These so-called micro-agressions started getting even more up in my grill when I read some ridiculously derogatory comments about a mixed race actor’s casting (Henry Golding) being published in Hong Kong’s most prominent English-language newspaper SCMP (South China Morning Post) and I finally realised that all these small small incidents that I had been playing down my whole life were actually death-by-a-thousand-cuts and that if we stand by and let it, the experience of being mixed will be written off as one of privilege, commodification and without real nuance or genuine understanding. As Maya Angelou said, they bite and blow, take a bite out of you so small you feel embarrassed to comment for fear of “overreacting” and then blow on it to ease the pain. The process continues until the wound is irrevocably deep. The headline reads “Hollywood adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians has cast its Chinese male lead – and he’s half white”, the sub-head goes on to talk about “whitewashing” and the whole piece is full of passive aggressive jibes about his mixed heritage. I get the backlash regarding the casting to an extent, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the acidic nature of some of the comments that the piece reports on: “Guess this film will be two steps forward and one step back for diversity. We still aren’t at a point where a Hollywood film can have a full Asian male lead. Do Asian males need to be half white to be ‘good looking’ enough for the big screen?”, “Golding’s newfound stardom could at least be considered half a step forward from the diversity problem”.

“The message is clear; you simply CANNOT be a full-blooded Asian male in a romantic lead in Hollywood.” This last comment made me laugh out loud at first at the ludicrous notion of being “full-blooded” and feeling like I’d stepped into Harry Potter and its world of “half-bloods”, which I guess is what anyone of any kind of mixed heritage would be considered. Let me just stop and say here as a side note that there are many seriously, objectively HOT Asian men in the public eye: Ross Butler, Hayden Szeto, Godfrey Gao, Harry Shum Jr., Charles Melton to name but a few. Hayden Szeto was the romantic lead in The Edge Of Seventeen, granted this is the first time in a very long time. But anyway this side note is just to clarify that Asian men, like every other ethnicity can be hot, and we need to get over this idea of them as effeminate/unattractive rn, please and thank you.


Anyway, can we address the fact that these terms are derogatory: “Could at least be considered half a step forward”, “whitewashing” in regards to a mixed race person? I can firmly say I am half of nothing, I am neither a division or a dilution, the result of an equation or an experiment and I am sick and tired of these terms being used to describe my personhood and to make me more palatable, less other. There is no internal line running down the middle of a biracial or multiracial person marked “quarter Chinese” “7% Polynesian” “just half Indian”. Is there a chance we can be more creative? Is there a chance we can make more room than binary terms of biracial, half of this, a quarter this and accept people for who they are without having to categorise what we can’t understand? The above also completely dismisses the struggle of “not being Asian enough” or “not being white enough” that mixed actors such as Chloe Bennet (who had to change her name from Wang to even get a casting call for non-Asian roles) go through in the industry. Being of mixed heritage and a product of a mixed race marriage is something that wasn’t even legally recognised in the US until 50 years ago. Louise Hung wrote an incredible piece called ‘The Privileges and Pitfalls of Being Eurasian’. She speaks about the history of being mixed in East Asia, specifically Hong Kong with its British colonialist history being very recent, and how dependent on the situation you may be “called white and your Asianess discounted” or barred from living in certain parts of the city because of your Chinese blood. There is often a third culture in a lot of Asian countries, where generations of Eurasians have their own customs, traditions and communities due to being both. Some key and poignant extracts below:

“Yet, amidst the strides Eurasian families made in Hong Kong in the colonial era, it was death that, instead of being the great equalizer, was the reminder that Eurasians were neither European nor Chinese in the eyes of Hong Kong. Eurasians could not be buried in colonial cemeteries due to their Chinese ancestry, but were also not allowed to be interred in Chinese cemeteries.

Mixed-race Asians are typically just glossed over as “Asian”. Western media is not yet equipped to understand what it is to be mixed-race – be it Asian, Mexican, Black, etc. Because of this lack of visibility and understanding, many hapa and Eurasian people still strive to find acceptance in the two or more cultures they simultaneously inhabit.

Eurasians, hapas, mixed-race Asians are pressed to choose a race to embrace – usually the one they most physically present as. One might make the argument that forcing a mixed-race person to choose the race they most physically “resemble” is a way for dominant races to make it easier on themselves.

Though for Asians, being mixed race may be seen as “favorable” in certain circles, let’s not forget that Eurasian and hapa people also fight for visibility and equality, often from both sides of the racial divide.”

One evening at university I was at a late night exec committee meeting for one of my societies and half zoning out as the meeting wrapped up after an extremely long day. I was packing up my stuff to head home, when I caught wind of a conversation by a fellow exec member who was semi-addressing the group (including me) still in the room. She was venting about the class she was teaching and how there were a lot of international Chinese students who couldn’t really grab the dance routine, perhaps due to language issues (after taking dance classes in French —trust me— trying to coordinate your body, remember choreography and simultaneously translate instructions in your head is DIFFICULT). Instead of explaining the situation as I just did however, she said acidly: “These Chinese people have no idea what they’re doing and just don’t get life. They’re a fucking nightmare”. I actually felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. I sat there. Silent, shocked and wondering how and if to explain my rage about this ridiculous statement. I was the only ethnic minority on this committee and those who know me know that I am not one to not have the words, but quite honestly in that situation I didn’t have them. I packed up my things, left the room and walked home angry, upset and disappointed that people felt comfortable saying things like that full-stop, let alone in my presence.

It is sad but not surprising that at a very intellectual university – one which prides itself on diversity and is more integrated than many others in the U.K – home students in particular, those who did not grow up in major cities, are still largely ignorant of anything beyond their sphere of reference. Maybe I’m too harsh on people who don’t understand what they don’t know, but isn’t that the point of encountering those different from you in environments that foster interaction, to engage and learn? Not judge and dismiss? I honestly don’t believe in pleading ignorance in this day of constant information, there is a key difference between being curious about what you do not know or understand and coming at something or someone with an arrogance and assumption. It made me wonder for the umpteenth time in my life if my eyes were more monolid, my heritage tattooed on my skin, if people would still say these things to my face? The hurt that racist behaviour incites isn’t less “because I’m just half” it cuts as deep and penetrates as much, not half as much. I was also shocked as it made me realise again that others will use my perceived ethnic ambiguity to their own agenda. Perhaps if I used my Chinese middle name in public life, or had my mother’s maiden name, I would more easily “code” as Chinese, perhaps she wouldn’t have felt comfortable saying that in front of me then? In her eyes I was white, or off-white, but I certainly wasn’t Chinese, or perhaps because I can speak perfect English, I’m “acceptable”. How arbitrary. Because I have European blood in me, therefore I am neutralised from being ‘other’? Sometimes people try to treat us like some kind of chemistry lab experiment, a few drops of this to make you more alkaline and palatable and somehow you are transformed into something that you don’t recognise yourself in. We can be chameleons.

There is infinite value in your being.

A post shared by Styleish Substance (@styleishsubstance) on


I could cite many more incidents, much more vicious, vitriolic examples of racism myself and other Chinese people have directly experienced in our every day. However, this isn’t about blame and definitely not about naming. This is about opening up the dialogue, speaking for ourselves and expanding the conversation. As P. P. Wong wrote in ‘A Life of a Banana’ and a good friend reminded me recently: “Chinese have mouths”.

Who doesn’t prefer people to ask them who they are rather than thrusting your perception of their identity upon them? It is a real conversation to discover someone rather than a monologue when you decide who someone is. Assumption results in small talk and small mindsets. As I said, the irony is it tells me so much more about you when you tell me who I am, and funnily enough, you end up knowing nothing about me or anything new. I love how Priyanka Chopra put it in her recent interview with US Glamour:

When somebody else calls you exotic, exotic is a box—it’s the stereotype of snake charmers and face jewelry. You’re just that stereotype. But I don’t get offended anymore. I used to get offended by things that were said to me, or how I was seen. Now I educate. If I get pissed off, I’ll educate in a sassy way. Other times I educate in a Gandhi-like way. You know—I have my moods. [Laughs.]”

There are layers, there is nuance. Let’s not drown each other out in whose voice is the loudest or the most commonly heard. Don’t speak for others, I represent myself. It’s just skin, it’s just eye shape, it’s just a nose. We’re mad to be honest, and we’re also obsessed. Before publishing this I spoke to a good friend about censorship, I felt blocked and like I couldn’t write my own experience as I could foresee the backlash in writing about something which has little mainstream commentary or traction. However her advice was the best: she reminded me that we all have a seat at the table, and that I can speak from my own experience resolutely, in fact as we become an ever more globalised society and mixed kids are more and more common, it is high time our voices are heard with clarity and an open ear. This one’s for all my Hapa brothers and sisters, to beating more bold, beautiful and nuanced paths.

Who knows, maybe you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion? (Esther 4:14)

Don’t remain silent at this time.


SS Book Club: #1

SS Book Club: #1

SS Style Tip 101: A well-dressed mind is the prerequisite to any OOTD. 

I’ve been investing time in one of my first loves recently, reading ❤ Since 3yo it’s been one of my favourite past times (to the point that my nursery had to re-stock our bookshelf, lols). Thought I would share a few of the books I’ve finished/am in the midst of and would absolutely love you to share yours with me too. Here’s to the start of our virtual book club… tchin tchin!

Most of the below are actually non-fiction books which is something I’ve got more into over the past few years (since finishing my crazy book-heavy degree), I do love the immersiveness of fiction but I’ve found so many incredible books written by people I admire coming out of late that I had to purchase. My tastes are pretty varied, I enjoy the most trashy young adult novel as much as Proust en français, not about book snobbery! Books can be entertaining, educational and escapist so you just do you. I know not everyone loves to read, but in this day and age of instant gratification and endless gazing at blue-lit screens, it can be unbelievably refreshing to get into a good, old-fashioned paper and ink book, so I encourage you to try it at least once, meanwhile fellow bookworms, let’s keep on keeping on. I’ve linked where to buy below each book.

1. Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan

Image result for crazy rich asians kevin kwan

As hilarious as the title suggests, this book is fun and unapologetically frivolous. The majority of it spans the social strata of wealthy Singapore, a love triangle and an ABC (American-born Chinese) girl who is thrown into the midst of these crazy rich Asians. Highly recommended and highly enjoyable, also pretty educational for someone who may not come from an Asian background to understand more about the history, economy and society of Southeast Asia generally, as well as learn your nasi lemak from your nasi goreng. It’s currently being made into a Hollywood movie (praise the Lord for representation beyond ‘tech geek’ and ‘subdued friend’ at long last) so read it before it comes out–always the best way!

On Amazon: Crazy Rich Asians

2. Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Image result for option b sheryl sandberg

I am a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg and her first book, Lean In. I was obsessed to the point of incorporating it into two of my university final essays despite it not being on the syllabus (poor Prof. Shapiro). It is an incredible book for both men and women to read. I get the criticisms of it also, but it doesn’t override the overall impact and gold that is found within its pages. I was so devastated for Sheryl upon hearing that her husband Dave had passed away in a tragic accident a few years ago. Option B is a book based upon the journey of grief she is on since his death and has highly practical and in-depth research on how to create not only post-traumatic growth but pre-traumatic growth. It explores how resilience is a psychological tool we can develop in a lot of life’s struggles ranging from abuse, sexual assault, grief, divorce and more. There is a lot of her human story in this too which only serves to drive home all the practical advice and theory more. I highly recommend this for anyone who has themselves experienced grief or has a good friend or partner to support in it. It is written as much for those who are in the thick of it as well as those who are supporting them and a part of their community.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

3. The Wait, by DeVon Franklin and Meagan Good

Image result for the wait

So yes, this book deals in some way with sex and relationships, more specifically putting the physical on the back burner in favour of prioritising spiritual, emotional, mental and intellectual compatibility first (yep, virtually a taboo/seen as a disempowering subject in my generation). However the book is actually a really good read for sceptics, it details the couple’s journey and experience and speaks to women and men in the modern, heterosexual dating game today. I love hearing Devon’s experiences as a man, especially a successful Hollywood producer who in some ways embodies what has traditionally been seen as masculine, and his opining and revelation on sex and its role within a relationship and society. It is so refreshing to hear a different and open conversation on manhood and sexuality. I get that the concept of “wait” and sex are very alien and almost blasphemous to some, trust me, I so so get it, but it’s one of those books that is worth reading even as a thought experiment on hearing the other side of the argument, a lot of treasure in here.

“The first woman came from a man, and every man since has come from a woman”

The Wait: A Powerful Practice


4. The Smart Money Woman, by Arese Ugwu

Image result

My good friend Seun lent me this book which focuses on finances, in particular being female, millennial and managing your finances, though I think anyone could learn a lot from reading this. Based in Lagos, Nigeria, it follows the story of a woman and her friends (in a kind of Sex and The City-style format) who all have very different attitudes and backgrounds surrounding how they spend, make and invest their money. I loved being immersed in this world and honestly it made me rethink and reevaluate a lot of things. There are practical lessons contained within each chapter that are broken down at the end, from good debt, to bonds, diversifying your portfolio and more–this is an essential read on finances for every 20-something.

The Smart Money Woman


5. Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts



Still in the midst of reading this one but had to put it on the list as it’s quite incredible already. Based on the true story of the author who was an Australian fugitive (imprisoned for bank robbery and a heroin addiction) who upon escaping fled to India and ended up learning Hindi, Marathi and becoming a part of Mumbai gang. Apparently the manuscript was trashed twice by prison guards and he rewrote it from memory, which considering it is close to 1000 pages is no small feat! The style of his writing is beautiful and the level of detail is insane, you feel as if you are on a journey of discovery in Mumbai with him and his experiences detail a life lived to the max. I love the sense of being foreign and accepting that status with humility and not pride as you navigate a new place that is inherent in his writing. Apparently there have been disputes about the verity of the account but I’ve avoided reading much about the book until I’m finished, sometimes you just have to enjoy the experience for what it is. Shantaram is a study on humanity, urbanity and a really damn good read.



6. A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty & Power Look Like, by Ashley Graham

Image result for a new model ashley graham uk


A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like

I was incredibly excited to get my hands on this part-memoir, part manifesto by Ashley Graham, and it didn’t disappoint! I’ve been following her career for a while now and I love all that she stands for, her unashamed confidence and razor-sharp vision, she’s also hilarious and brazenly funny. Having read and seen interviews with her about growing up and working within an extremely close-minded industry when it comes to body image and representation I knew that she had gone through struggles to reach the point she is at now in her career and mindset about her body. From the hyper-sexualisation of the curvy female body to abusive relationships, daddy issues, talking through divorce to thriving in marriage she is so raw, real and honest in this book and I for one can’t thank her enough. So much more than just a book about being a model, the fashion industry and even body image, she speaks about the intersection between the female form, diversity, sexuality, power and self-worth in a way that makes you feel like you’re having tea with your best friend. Learnt so much from this and passed it onto my bestie straight away! Must-read tbh.

Please let me know if you want to borrow any of these books, always more than happy to lend, some of them are already in circulation! (Bar Crazy Rich Asians, unfortunately that’s on my Kindle)! 

SS Little Black Book: Singapore

SS Little Black Book: Singapore

Feature image: Jimmy Choos and seriously good views, snapped by me at a press presentation at the Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore. 

I lived and worked in Singapore for a year and half, during which time I explored many a kopitiam (Malay/Hokkien and Hakka words melded to mean coffee shop/hawker centre, kopi = coffee which will help you order!), cafe and bar. Living in a city definitely gives you more intimate knowledge than being a tourist and so in the spirit of sharing here are the places I always recommend to friends and family who ask me for any tips of where to go when they’re in town! I also figured it would be much easier to direct any enquiries to one space rather than writing out a new recommendations list each time! This list will focus on the more bougie spots (I’ll do Part 2 with less-bougie haunts at another point).

Here is the Little Black Book of some of my favourite spots in SG, by no means complete, but these are the enquiries I get the most/where I would take you if I could be your personal tour guide:

Where to drink

Let’s start with where to drink if you find yourself in the Lion City, one of the best ways to enjoy that much-photographed CBD skyline (Central Business District).

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg
Marina Bay Sands = Hotel, mall, casino, the bar, club and infinity pool is on the top. Image: Jennifer McGeever

Ce La Vi on Marina Bay Sands (1 Bayfront Avenue, MBS Tower 3)

Yes yes clichéd but for good reason, Ce La Vi (previously known as Ku De Ta) is the perfect place to go for a drink with a beautiful view of the famous Singapore skyline. On weekday evenings you can take the lift up from Marina Bay Sands Hotel Tower 3 for free but an entry charge applies on weekends. So worth going up to take in the view, sneak a peak at the famous infinity pool and enjoy balmy evenings with a good cocktail. Dress smart, meaning proper shoes and trousers for men, though shorts and slippers (Singlish for flip flops) are the non-official national uniform, this isn’t somewhere you can get away with it. I much prefer the view from Ce La Vi to 1 Altitude (though the latter boasts being the highest bar in Singapore). 1 Altitude view is high up to the point of not being able to see everything in all its glory and the music is way too loud (note to management), you can’t have a proper conversation, so it’s not the place to go if you’re wanting to catch up over drinks.

Displaying IMG_1365.JPG
Yes, that’s a 28 embossed into the ice cube, this place is the real deal. Image: 28 Hong Kong Street 


28 Hong Kong Street

Love this speak-easy bar (which has no signage, so just look for the blank, nondescript shop house with a number 28) for seriously good cocktails and a really good vibe. Much recommended to book a table in advance, which can be a little tricky, but I’ve also walked in before, it’s just a bit of a struggle to find a seat sometimes. Brownie points for being a little different from your average bar and not as bait as some of bars in the vicinity, I think I’m a sucker for a little secrecy. The bartenders are incredibly knowledgeable and lovely, it kind of reminds me of le Sherry Butt in Paris where they recommend you cocktails according to your mood (in the Marais neighbourhood).

Atlas, Parkview Square (600 North Bridge Road) 

I’ve actually never drunk at this bar as for some reason I’ve always been there during the daytime, but it’s crazy beautiful so would definitely recommend paying a visit for the interiors alone. The decor is Art Deco-inspired though I was told by the barman that it was built in 2002. Dreamy, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time to 1920s New York and Jay Gatsby might come down in the gilded lift.

Lantern bar at The Fullerton Bay hotel

Let the light in… #unfiltered ✨✨✨ #SStravels #SSsingapore

A post shared by Styleish Substance (@styleishsubstance) on

Displaying IMG_2288.JPG
Fullerton Bay’s Presidential Suite. Image: Jennifer McGeever

Definitely the best bar to go to if you’re looking for a low rooftop from which you can take in Marina Bay Sands in all its glory. I prefer the Fullerton Bay to its older nearby counterpart, The Fullerton in terms of vibe and views.

The Fullerton Bay, 80 Collyer Quay


Majestic #Spore by night from the Esplanade #bright lights #citynights

A post shared by Jennifer McGeever (@j_wenghan) on


Other great spots with beautiful views: Esplanade roof top. A top tip if you’re not looking to spend money, take the escalators up and out to the rooftop of the Esplanade theatres, it’s a seriously beautiful view of the iconic Marina Bay Sands and has a really nice ambiance. If you want something a little more luxe, walk a little bit to the left and you’ll see the bar/restaurant Orgo, the same view plus dinner and drinks if that’s what you’re looking for.

Where to brunch

There are a lot of brunch spots in Singapore as the American past time has gone global. Most cafes will have a similar price range but the quality of food and service can vastly differ, so the places best worth your time and money investment are below:

Have you tried our Nitro Coffee yet?

A post shared by Chye Seng Huat Hardware (@cshhcoffee) on

Chye Seng Huat Hardware store: This is literally a converted former hardware store so it is incredibly trendy/hipster etc. But the coffee lives up to the hype! And the interiors are nice to while away an afternoon in. The banana bread with coffee butter and in-house cold brew are much recommended.

150 Tyrwhitt Rd, Singapore 207563, closed on Mondays

Open Farm Community

I love this place as it’s the kind of cafe which only works in a tropical climate. They have gardens where ingredients are grown right outside the indoor seating and the interiors are light and airy. Singapore is a tiny tiny country with little farmland but this restaurant makes the most inventive dishes out of predominantly local produce, so it’s one of the only farm-to-table places in the city. The outdoor seating is lush and they also hold monthly farmer’s markets which are well worth a visit.


130E Minden Rd, Singapore 248819

Group Therapy Duxton

I love this chilled spot in the CBD for their AMAZING coconut latte (super rich and creamy coffee blended with coconut oil) and fluffy pancakes. This branch is convenient as it’s in the heart of Tanjong Pagar, but the original flagship is in Katong.

49 Duxton Rd, #02-01, Singapore 089513

I am going to do a whole other post on local food and drink (as in the best places to go for certain delicacies) but for now I will pass on my favourite local chain for local-style coffee, Ya Kun, they’re all over the island. My order is ‘kopi C peng siu dai’ (pronounced ko-pee see ping soo tai) which essentially translates to iced coffee with evaporated milk (local coffee is never made with fresh milk it’s either evap or condensed!) and less sweet (meaning less spoonfuls of sugar). They also do amazing Singaporean breakfast which consists of kaya toast (kind of like coconut jam), runny eggs and a sinful French toast version of their kaya toast too. Wow I miss this.


Image result for ya kun
Ya Kun Kaya Toast


Sunday Folks

If you’re looking for dessert, specifically waffles with homemade ice cream, look no further, Sunday Folks is the OG. Found in the Holland Village neighbourhood, the founders are also behind Creamier in Toa Payoh (my old hood).

Displaying IMG_4502.JPG
Sunday Folks’ famous waffles. Image: Jennifer McGeever

44 Jalan Merah Saga, #01-52 Chip Bee Gardens, Singapore 278116


Where to feast

As I said above, if people are interested, I’m going to do a separate post for the best places to go for local delicacies, but for now I’ll just put down two firm favourites.

East Coast Food Centre is famous for its seafood. There a hundreds of stalls to choose from, so bagsy a table and then order from nearby stalls. Must tries: chilli crab with mantou (fried bread), cereal prawns, otak otak, black pepper crab and fish head curry. Also whilst you’re in Southeast Asia, you should consume as much fresh coconut water as humanly possible, order the Thai ones (white in colour) as they are sweeter than the local/Malaysian ones (green in colour).

Ah Chew Desserts is the BOMB for local desserts. There are a couple of branches, my most-frequented was in Novena neighbourhood but they also have ones in Bugis and Chinatown. I guess Chinese desserts can be an acquired taste (I kind of forget after growing up with them) but those who like mango should try the mango sago pudding, or mango sago pomelo. Another fave of mine is yam in coconut milk, Ah Chew is so good as it opens till late and is super affordable – the best place to go after a long day of exploring.

Bar eating and drinking, there are actually fun things to do in Singapore (though some will have you believe otherwise). I love walking in cities but the humidity can prevent that from being a fun activity in SG, if you’re smart just dress in athleisure as trust you will SWEATING within 10 minutes and do a walking tour of Chinatown area. Keong Saik Road is really beautiful if you want to see another architectural side of the city beyond glass and steel modernity (which is seriously stunning and can be appreciated for what it is). If you are organised enough one of my favourite things I did whilst living there was tour Baba House, an original Peranakan home with the furnishings and architecture intact. It is so incredibly beautiful and they only take booked tours of 13 people at a time so you need to email and reserve your space in advance.


Peranakan beauty 💠 #dreamhome #nonya #nyonya #peranakan #hapa

A post shared by Styleish Substance (@styleishsubstance) on


Where to go dancing

I’ll be real and say that clubbing is not Singapore’s forte, I am the kind of person who goes out to dance, not drink and dally, so the only places which really passed that litmus test for me were Refuge (now moved to Chjmes complex) for good old-school R&B and hip hop, as well as Bang Bang in the Pan Pacific hotel for more commercial music and a good layout. Zouk is a Singapore institution (with another outpost in Kuala Lumpur) so worth going if you’re more into house and techno, but the crowd tends to be more teenage! Wednesday nights are Ladies Night so if you’re female and don’t need to be up early on a Thursday morning, you will basically have a free night of drinks and dancing, head out to Clarke Quay (an area with lots of bars/clubs/good vibes).

Where to keep fit

If you’re in town for a longer period of time e.g secondment, life move etc. Some of my favourite places to work out were WeBarre (for, obvs, a really good Barre class); Wings to Wings (the founders here are SO lovely, incredible teachers and all round boss babes) for seriously good dance classes ranging from ballet, lyrical, contemporary and more; Physical Abuse (which from what I can see has changed its name to BIG Fitness) for a fun hip hop/commercial class if you’re in the mood to get your inner diva on, it’s also a gym but I can’t vouch for that side (I’m not a gym kinda gal). GuavaPass is the Asian equivalent of ClassPass if you’re looking for something like that (you can use it in other Asian and UAE countries too).


Where to get outdoors

The weather can be schizophrenic (insanely sunny one minute, torrential rain and lightning like you’ve never seen it before the next) but the one constant is humidity. When it’s super sunny out, I would take advantage of the weather with a good bike ride in East Coast or Punggol Waterway park (you can hire them most parks) or a walk. A few of my favourite places to walk below:

MacRitchie Reservoir

Famous for its treetop walk, I would start on the Venus Road drive entrance and take a 2 hour walk from there. It’s a really nice spot to get out of the urbanity of Singapore and be surrounded by vegetation for a while.

Southern Ridges Trail

This is a fun walk that takes you through about five different parks and along the Southern coastline of Singapore. It’s super organised and you get to walk through what would have been rainforest (albeit now tamed) and along the trippy Henderson waves bridge.

Kallang Stadium walk

This is lesser known apart from those who live in the vicinity, but it’s an incredibly beautiful and romantic spot to go for a sunset stroll. You can cross the bridge to the stadium side of the river and they have a boardwalk which is really chill and well-designed.

Botanic Gardens

Some of the most beautiful gardens in Singapore and an absolute must for flower-lovers, the Orchid Gardens are actually a UNESCO World Heritage site and boast the largest variety of orchids in the world.

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg
Singapore Botanic Gardens. Image: Jennifer McGeever


Last but by no means least, for those who have never seen, Gardens by the Bay near MBS is a must to experience the Super Trees. OCBC Sky Walk is fun, as well as the various Cloud domes, but even just a walk around the gardens themselves will allow you to understand the city which Singapore is now and the rapid growth of this 51 year old country.

Displaying IMG_2480.JPG
Overlooking Gardens By The Bay. Image: Jennifer McGeever


Hope you enjoy these faves of mine, please do let me know if you pay any of them a visit! I would love to hear your experiences, and if you want any specific recommendations or suggestions for Part 2, let me know!

Jenn x

Women of Style & Substance: Jessica Lee

Women of Style & Substance: Jessica Lee

Jessica Season Lee, a name as beautiful and unique as the girl herself. I would say what first bonded us was art. We’ve both always loved to paint and draw naked people (formally known as life-drawing) and although we went to the same school, we were in different forms throughout our time there. If it wasn’t for our love to create, we may never have bonded the way that we did. We are both a little whimsical, and away with the fairies at times (disclaimer: we may both still believe in fairies). Our artistic tendencies brought us on art department trips together to Paris and New York (which was a school trip for the history books on the scale of hilarity and sheer number of things that went wrong) and solidified our bond.

J Lee
Jess snapped by me in Jaipur, India. Candidly beautiful

She is one of my absolute favourite women in the world, my travel buddy (adventures include burns from bad boys on motorbikes in Langkawi and getting trapped in a bear-roaming National Park after-dark), confidante and someone I can be 100% myself with without fear of judgement. She is my go-to gal for matters of the heart; I remember after one particularly bad break-up I got a handwritten card in the post from Jess with a Seneca greeting on the front: ‘Thank you for being’ it read. So beautiful and so quintessentially Jess (I still have that card on my wall today, it will forever be the right word at the right time in the right place). One facet of her character which I don’t think she even fully realises is her inner resilience and quiet strength; she is living testimony to the reality that kindness isn’t weak and that living with whimsy isn’t congruous with not understanding pain, she inspires me with her unassuming tenacity in both personal and professional spheres more than she will ever know. Soul twin, oriental sister, partner in trying to make voice notes cool (seriously y’all should try it), without further ado here’s Jessica Season Lee and a little insight into her captivating and oh-so-beautiful mind…

A post shared by Jennifer McGeever (@j_wenghan) on Mar 26, 2015 at 8:20am PDT


SS: What did you last Google? 

JL: I last googled ‘Sustainable Fashion Academy’. I want to enrol in a Sustainability Fundamentals course which will give me more of an insight into the sustainability challenges and opportunities we face within the fashion industry, and identify how I can improve processes within my own job. Working at a company that promotes fast fashion has really highlighted the importance of being environmentally and ecologically mindful – I feel somewhat responsible to ensure I am doing all I can to help and educate myself.

SS: Name one app you love that we might not know about: 

JL: I share a food blog called Galstronomy with two of my best friends so I’m on the hunt for good editing apps. I’ve recently discovered Foodie which specialises in filters catered to photos of all my food snaps.


SS: What is your happy place?

JL: My ultimate happy place is enjoying good food with good company – for me, it’s definitely the case that the way to my heart is through my stomach.

SS: What book are you currently reading or did you most recently finish? 

JL: I’ve just finished reading The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett which follows two people and three different versions of their future – both together and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations. I would highly recommend this book – I love how it illuminates themes of fate, relationships and how impactful the choices we make can affect our lives and the lives of those around us [Ed note: This has just gone on my reading list.]

Image result for the versions of us laura barnett

SS: Who embodies style with substance for you?

JL: It won’t be a surprise to many that I think my mother is the ultimate embodiment of style with substance [Yes! Yvonne is the epitome of chic and all of our woman crushes ❤ ). She is chic, elegant and artistic with a distinct sense of style – her love for fashion has definitely filtered down to me. She is generous, brave, strong, a dreamy mother and completely beautiful inside and out – I’m so lucky to know her.

Actual twins no? The Lee ladies ❤ #TheUltimate, blessed to know you both


SS: What is one lesson that you’ve learnt in the past year?

JL: You have to go for what you want unashamedly. I have never been good at shouting about my achievements, nor am I vocal enough about telling people what I feel I deserve. Being new to the working world has been a huge learning curve for me where I haven’t always backed myself with conviction when it comes to things like promotions. I think women in general need to be better at this, and being brave and bold is something I’m trying to focus on – let’s close this gender pay gap! [Floored by all the wisdom here, amen, amen, amen! We are both huge fans of Lean In, the recent ’20 Percent Counts’ campaign they ran has loads of practical insight and wisdom on negotiating pay and the bottom line benefits for businesses in closing the gap, see more here.]

SS: Do you have a favourite podcast?

JL: There are so many good podcasts out there, but my favourites would probably be Desert Island Discs and Strangers. I am known as someone who asks endless questions because I want to know all the little things about the people I meet [lol YES this is such a J Lee trait that we all know and love, the most eternally inquisitive girl I know]. These podcasts provide unique insights into individuals and their stories which I find so interesting.

Image result for strangers podcast
‘Each episode is an empathy shot in your arm, featuring true stories about the people we meet, the connections we make, the heartbreaks we suffer, the kindnesses we encounter, and those frightful moments when we discover that WE aren’t even who we thought we were.’

SS: The first thing I do when I wake up is:

JL: I’ll hit the snooze button about three times and then check Instagram before getting up. In my dreams I’m the ultimate morning person who does sun salutations when I wake, has time to eat my breakfast at the dining room table and goes to the gym before work – sadly I’m more of a night owl than a lark.

SS: What is your guilty pleasure?

JL: Word play, cheese jokes, emojis and memes – they’re things that brings me so much joy but annoy the people around me endlessly… [Jess has a meme for every situation and will send them accordingly – classic example below – it’s a talent].

Buzz buzz bitch @mybestiesays

A post shared by Lola Tash and Nicole Argiris (@mytherapistsays) on


SS: If you could travel the world in a day, what pitstops would make and why?

JL: I would start the day with breakfast in the company of giraffes at the Giraffe Manor in Kenya [Omg this looks insanely magical], pop over to Japan for my favourite sushi and ramen with friends for lunch, and then visit my family in Singapore for dinner. Time in between would be spent sunbathing in the Maldives. Dreamy times.  

giraffe manor kenya 5
Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, image by Travel For Senses

SS: Any final words of wisdom?

JL: Roald Dahl once wrote ‘watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’. Where we live in a world of so much sadness and uncertainty, and where many of us end up stuck in the same old routine life, I think it’s really important to look out for the magic that surrounds us and take note of even the little things that bring joy.

Wow, couldn’t think of more perfect and adept words to end this interview with than the above. A lot of people don’t believe in miracles, but there is actually miraculous in the everyday, we are just too often distracted to see it. Thank you Jess, for reminding us to unravel the mysterious and the beautiful in the moments of each day.

Follow Jess @instagramjessica and Galstronomy @Galstronomy 

No Fear In Love

No Fear In Love

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks

Image: Nasa, This supernova remnant is located 160,000 light-years from Earth.

I went to sleep last night with such a disquiet in my spirit and when I woke this morning the heaviness on my heart just continued to grow. I am sure many of you reading this feel similarly, I live in London, and have a close friend who lives on the doorstep of the attacks that occurred here last night (he is thankfully safe and well) and so these events are particularly upsetting for me on a personal note. However, across the world just this weekend alone, 37 fellow brothers and sisters died in a human-led disaster wrought on a casino in Manila, reportedly due to debt and addiction, Al Jazeera is reporting that civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq by US-led coalition attacks are horrifically higher than official numbers have suggested (not forgetting that each of these ‘numbers’ is a life with a story and interwoven with so many others’), these three cases are deeply depressing and disheartening and yet they still barely scratch the surface of human suffering caused by other humans in this very moment.


As my phone lit up and buzzed last night with messages from some of my closest girlfriends speaking of fear, deep sadness and empathy for the situation happening in our city and I woke this morning feeling anxiety about even leaving my house and going to church in central London, something I do every week, I realised I had to arrest my thinking: “We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 Amplified). Take your thoughts captive.


I was talking to one of my best friends en route to church (via voice note lol that’s kind of our thing) and she was essentially asking me how I can believe and trust in a God that seems to protect some but not others (the victims of the attack). I am not saying I have all the answers at all and this is not about to turn into a preach or some apologetics argument, but I basically said to her that we as humans need to recognise our own agency and capacity for perpetrating love and evil towards and against each other. As a church we always pray for global events, over global leaders and of course on such a sombre morning over our own city where some of the congregation had friends in hospital who were injured last night. On a personal level, I have been praying fervently for a while now for interception in the hearts of the perpetrators, in no way diminishing prayer for the victims and their families, but the real solution we need is prevention, not cure. We do not live in a vacuum, who is to say what motivates people to commit such horrific acts against fellow humans who they do not know? Who have been dehumanised to a target in their minds and become happy to sacrifice their own lives for what is perceived to be a higher cause? I have seen with my own eyes systemic racism rob young people of hope for a better future in a society where they are already underprivileged in one of the cities I have lived in, I am not saying this justifies actions, but I am saying we need to look at and address the root cause of what incites us to act in every single area of our lives.


Wherever there is a void or a lack, as humans we will fill it with something. This works on a primal level with lust to a deeper spiritual level, there is a desire for ‘something more’ inherent in our design. This is why I pray and will continue to for the heart of those who are contemplating or in the midst of planning acts of terror against their fellow generation to turn (I say generation here in the sense of everyone alive right now, breathing in and out the same atmosphere on this planet, all 7 billion of us). As I was worshipping this morning, singing with my fellow lovers of God and humanity louder and more joyfully than we even do usually (which was so beautiful to witness) I was asking God for words, words directly from His Spirit to mine. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” is what I heard. I looked it up (thank you Google) and there I have lighting up my screen Jesus, the man himself (for this purpose any personal beliefs about who he is are not relevant) and he is PREACHING (said with hair flick) as only he could. He’s a funny guy, the things he said were equally profound and perplexing, sometimes he would explain them in more depth and other times leave us to still be pondering them some 2000 years later. He is there, in front of “a large crowd” of men and women, from all over, and one of the many things he said essentially translates to that phrase we love to toss about in our everyday [speak from the heart, write from the heart, say what’s on your heart]: A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45). In other translations from the Hebrew it reads: For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. So I’m taking this space to speak life into being, “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates” (Hebrews 4:12).


Whatever we are full of and allow to speak into our minds and hearts, whether it be your Twitter feed, your closest friend, your Instagram audience or even the most well-meaning relative, will be the place which we operate from, react and act from. As I write this new terror plots are being hatched (not to be dramatic but just to be real), bombs are being built, atrocities are taking place and hatred is sinking deeper in the hearts of some. All I know to be true and stand upon is that perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18) and that not one of us is called to act from a spirit of fear or timidity but that in actuality we have the choice to harness the real Spirit of power, love and self-control (or sound mind) that we have been given (2 Timothy 1:7). None of us know when our earthly lives, or those we love, will come to an end, but we all know that our days are numbered. It makes me so sad, it literally has made me weep to read of and see unfold the theft of life, attempts to spread fear, violence and heartbreak that we inflict upon each other. We cannot let fear cast out love in the face of such brutality. I don’t understand much to be honest, I think the older one gets the more you realise you really don’t know much about life you know (the real essence of it), but I do know that there is nothing new under the sun and that evil and human atrocity ain’t a new phenomenon. I grew up with my mum telling me stories that her mum had told her, about Chinese women and their unborn babies being killed, stomachs, uteruses and unborn children ripped out in the name of war, land and earthly “power”. My mum arrived in this country in the midst of fleeing from the terror that was perpetuating her home at the time. However, as darkness creeps closer in our neighbourhoods it is integral that we guard our hearts and incite those in our community to guard theirs.


Maybe these are just words to you, but hey, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, so here are my thoughts, broken and poured out as a living sacrifice, or as David once said: “My heart is stirred by a noble theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer (Psalm 45:1). I felt compelled to share a few things that had been impressed upon my spirit. Let’s not only care and remain vigilant, offering practical and spiritual assurance when it is on our doorstep, let’s pray without ceasing, intercepting where we can, and damn it, let’s be better human beings to one another in the little and large, full stop.


Let’s love harder, hold faith above the storm and: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life”, everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).


Another key Proverb to remember and allow to take root: Words kill, words give life; they’re poison or fruit–you choose (18:21).


All in love, always.

Jenn x

A Woman’s Worth

A Woman’s Worth

You are, actually, worth fighting for
You are worthy of selfless friendship
You are worthy of unexpected kindness
You are worth a good night’s sleep


You are better than giving them another day of your life
You are more than less than


You are allowed to take up space (especially when you got there first)
You are allowed to be more educated
You are allowed to walk in your desire
Be entitled to.


She is worthy of shelter
She is worthy of freedom to bleed
Without interruption to her everyday month
She is worthy of understanding the world
She is worthy of still being able to feel
Electricity between her thighs
She is worthy of owning
She is unworthy of being owned


No, you don’t have to always make room for him
No you don’t have to accommodate
No—it actually doesn’t mean yes


You are worthy of not crying yourself to sleep
You are worthy of being accommodated
You are worthy to serve


You are worthy of taking the time
You are allowed to take a breath
You are allowed to be breakable
You are allowed to dream, please do
You are allowed to not know


You are worthy of not being prey


She is entitled to your respect
She is entitled to her feelings
Yes, she is worth your unadulterated fidelity
She is every woman you love
Yes, maybe she is better off without you


You are worthy to serve
One another in love
You are worthy to be treated
In love as you treat others


Yes, you are.



— Jennifer McGeever

Ed note: The symbol on the envelope above is a (badly scribed) Chinese character for ‘female’.

Women of Style & Substance: Alice Trow

Women of Style & Substance: Alice Trow

Feature image: Jack Sain


Alice is a fireball of energy and light. It’s hard to describe unless you have met her in person, but she one of those rare people whose energy brings warmth to a room and radiates positivity. Funnily enough myself and a good friend who doesn’t know Alice very well but has met her a few times (via me) mentioned how incredible an aura she has just the other day. I think you will see what I mean via her words on this page.

As a general rule of thumb, I avoid saying what people ‘do’ in a 9-5 sense in this series as I think we tend to place too much value today upon the identity of someone through their doing rather than their inherent being. However, in this unique case, Alice’s passions and personal interests overflow so much into her work life that I couldn’t help but mention them. She is an incredible actress who I love watching in her element, an inspiring yogi (check out her classes at Blok, Frame and more via ClassPass where she unsurprisingly has rave reviews), part-time fairy (yes, wonderfully and seriously) and a full-time giver who sprinkles a little glitter and fairy dust wherever she goes. She inspires me as she is beating her own path and breaks every and any preconception you may have of how life and work should look and intertwine. She has the hardest work ethic of anyone I know and her energy is effervescent.


Image by Naina Bajekal. Taken at the amazing art-deco era Bouillon Racine bar in Paris
Alice and I in Paris, 2012 (I remember that spectacular skirt or hers made her the subject of a fashion blogger’s street style pics that day!)


We met through mutual friends way back when we were about 16 (!) and were also in some of the same dance classes, becoming sisters in a friendship that has endured, deepened and blessed my life in countless ways ever since. Crazy to think that it’s been almost a decade since our stars aligned, but she is most definitely someone who I know in my bones I was meant to meet, a kindred spirit, fellow fighter and a woman who has blossomed and flourished before my very eyes. She is someone I can enjoy getting my nails done with as much as I can sharing a bottle of wine and an intense DMC (deep, meaningful conversation). We’ve shared many adventures together and she’s graced me with her presence in my adopted homes of Paris and Singapore over the last few years. My love and respect for this woman are ever-growing; I hope the little and large things that shape her thinking below will resonate and inspire you. She is so generous and giving in every way, that I am truly privileged to be able to honour her in this small way.
SS: What did you last Google?
AT: The actress Emma Thompson. I was explaining how amazing she is to someone who knew little of her. She is definitely one of my idols. Infectiously adorable and powerful on and off screen/stage. She’s one intelligent woman, effortlessly beautiful and elegant. She’s managed to balance an incredible career with family life that I feel is in itself so impressive and inspirational.



Emma Thompson, image courtesy of Hamilton Hodell


SS: What’s one app you love that we might not know about?
AT: I have so few apps. I’m an old fashioned girl and try and embrace the ‘less is more’ approach to most of my life, including my phone. I avoided all dating apps, for example, for numerous reasons but mainly because I didn’t want or need another reason to look at my phone! I would say though that I’m a fan of ‘Y plan’. It gives you great, alternative day or nighttime ideas on how to spend your time. It’s also great for date inspiration too, for when you meet people in the actual flesh right?!


SS: What is your happy place?
AT: Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath have always been my happy places in London. So close but yet so far from all the hustle and bustle. I’m a born city girl but have a thirst for nature and need space to clear my head and simply breathe. Primrose Hill gives me a bit of both. A patch of serenity and space in what feels like a snow globe city.


Time to learn something. #education #bookhunting #profound

A post shared by Alice Trow (@alicetrow) on


SS: What book are you currently reading or did you most recently finish? Would you recommend it?
AT: The last book I bought but haven’t yet read is called ‘Assholes – A Theory’ by Aaron James. I bought it in America at the best bookshop I’ve ever been to – Powell’s in Portland. I was instantly drawn to it by the title and how there is a concept behind people’s behaviour that simply makes them assholes [Ed note: hilarious! Mental note, must visit this bookshop when in Oregon!] I was intrigued. I look forward to reading it. I’ve been studying a lot of yoga recently so my reading time has been taken up by that department [Ed note: Alice is always teaching me so much beautiful yoga knowledge from her learning and teaching. Most recently the sacred heart mudra which acts as a meditation by using a physical gesture to connect with your heart and consciousness.]





SS: Who embodies style with substance for you?
AT: It would be a crime if I didn’t say Sarah Jessica Parker! Being the avid Sex and the City fan-since-birth that I am, it would be fundamentally wrong to not bow down to her on and off screen. She breaks the rules without trying to make a statement. It’s always done with grace and subtlety that I truly admire. You don’t have to be loud to be heard, you don’t have to push to make someone feel and I believe that is the same with fashion. When something grabs your attention for all the right reasons it doesn’t need to be abrasive or aggressive to get a message across. [Amen!!!] Her style is expressive but approachable. However not always affordable. The day I can easily afford 12 pairs of Manolo Blahniks will be a momentous day. [Yes, yes and yes again!]



SS: What is one lesson that you’ve learnt in the past year?
AT: Patience. Simple as that. Patience really is a virtue.


SS: Do you have a favourite podcast?
AT: Yes. Check out Greg Proops – ‘The smartest man in the world.’ I had the pleasure of watching him live in Portland at The Helium Comedy Club and he was both hilarious and fascinating. He’s a satirist and hands down gave me the best low-down of the US election I could have possibly wished for having been there at the exact time that sh!t was hitting the fan. He knows all the facts and is determined to spread them with laughter and anger running through his veins. A truly outstanding three hours were spent listening to the man hammer down on white supremacy, racism and misogyny.


SS: The first thing I do when I wake up is:
AT: Look outside.


SS: What is your guilty pleasure?
AT: Chocolate. I’m addicted. It’s a problem and I’m working on it. It’s all about control.



SS: If you could travel the world in a day, what pitstops would make and why?
AT: I would love to spend half a year ‘chasing the sun’. So I would start in Italy where I feel my heart belongs, in the summer (probably the Amalfi Coast) and continue eastbound through Asia and Indonesia. I’d have to spend Christmas on the beach in Australia and then find my way to the West Coast of America, drive all the way across until I find Manhattan and then back home. My yoga mat would be my companion.


SS: Any final words of wisdom?
AT: Have me as I am, or don’t have me at all—you are enough. That’s it.


I can’t think of a better thought to start the new year with (calendar and Lunar!) Wishing you all a blessed week wherever you are in the world, thank you Alice for sharing so honestly, hilariously and beautifully!

See Alice’s yoga blog and class schedule here. Follow her adventures on Instagram @alicetrow