Content creator Clara Hong used to be a fashion victim. “I used to follow trends all the time. That tie-dye top? Check. Ooh, that zebra print dress? Another check. I didn’t ask if I could see myself wearing this in three years’ time,” admits the 24-year-old.

But after watching Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus in The Minimalists on Youtube and listening to them on Spotify, she’s a changed woman. “I ask myself, ‘Is this an impulse buy?’ If the answer is yes, I’ll sleep on it for a couple of days, and I’ll most likely make the purchase only if I’m still thinking about it,” shares Clara.

“Keep a lookout for the sort of fabric that’s being used in your clothing. Go for natural fabrics as much as possible.”

The visual arts graduate now aims to downsize her wardrobe to pieces that she genuinely loves. How? By prioritising quality pieces that tend to last longer, and investing in wardrobe staples that are more minimal and classic. “This might mean that I’m making a bigger dent in my wallet, but it really has helped me shop way less!” she says.

As a fashion lover, Clara admits that she loves a good statement piece, but if she’s going to wear it only once to an event, she would consider renting over buying. And she pays attention to the type of fabrics used, opting for natural ones as much as possible. Her go-to e-tailers include DISSH, Alohas and Cult Gaia. Locally, she shops at multi-label store Goodluck Bunch, Singapore-founded brand Beyond The Vines, and Oasis Skin@Joo Chiat (which promotes a low-to-zero waste lifestyle) for vegan skincare.

Clara has made some lifestyle changes such as using reusable straws and bringing her own bags when out shopping.

Scroll through her Instagram feed, and you’ll see a consistent neutral palette, with functional and comfortable fashion choices that are pared down and clean. And that aesthetic is translated to the new multi-label concept store, Whattowear Studio, that Clara manages. “I’m constantly learning the nitty gritty of running an online business and curating new monthly drops. It’s a pretty steep learning curve, but I’m enjoying every moment of it,” she shares.

Clara hopes to inspire others to curate a simpler wardrobe by showing that it’s possible to still have fun with fashion – with the right accessories. “I usually wear neutrals, so the party usually happens at my feet. I love injecting a splash of colour with sneakers,” she says. “I also love a good bucket hat – it’s functional yet stylish. It blocks out harmful UV rays and adds some pizzazz to your outfit.”

“Finding sneakers that are versatile and can fit any outfit in your wardrobe is key to reducing your carbon footprint.”

And jewellery is a must as it’s an instant way to switch up your look. “You’ll never spot me without jewellery. It can definitely transform an outfit from sloppy to chic in seconds,” she shares.

Clara’s Five Fashion Essentials

White Tank Bodysuit

Annibody has the softest bodysuit you will ever own. I literally wear this everywhere, from the beach, to brunch, to a nice dinner spot. It’s so versatile.

Classic LBD

My favourite is the strappy midi A-line dress from Basis Clothing as it’s so flattering.

Versatile Sneakers

I wear the New Balance 990v5 in grey with dresses, pants, skirts – you name it. It’s also great for workouts.

Crisp White Linen Shirt

Linen is one of my favourite fabrics as it’s extremely breathable – a must in Singapore’s hot climate. It also gets brownie points for being sustainable. My favourite, which has a slightly cropped silhouette, is from The Editor’s Market.

A Bag That Holds Everything

My go-to is The Mini Tote Bag from Marc Jacobs. It’s practical yet chic at the same time, and the neutral beige hue goes so well with many outfits. The best part? It has so many compartments – a lifesaver!

Text: Debby Kwong/HerWorld