Style Bee - Style Profile - Elim Chu

STYLE PROFILE: ELIM CHU

12.03.18

Happy December everyone! I’m so excited to be starting the final month of the year with a new Style Profile interview featuring one of my dearest instagram-turned-real-life friends, the inimitable Elim Chu. I forget when I first found Elim on instagram but she’s been a long-time favourite to follow and her styling wisdom is truly top-notch. Her thoughts on getting dressed and item choices always give me reason to pause and think a little more about my relationship with style. When we met up for a day of thrifting and wandering along Vancouver’s Main Street and I really got to see Elim in her element. This woman has her second-hand and vintage shopping down to an art! But it’s not just the conscious closet chronicles that make Elim stand out, she’s also got her finger on the pulse of critical issues surrounding inclusivity, sustainability, arts and culture. I learn so much from what Elim shares and speaks to through her instagram and newsletter and her thoughtfulness is truly inspiring.

Elim is every bit as clever, elegant and insightful as her account suggests and in person she’s always generous with her big, bright smile and a wealth of sage advice. If you don’t already know Elim I’m so excited to introduce you to this gem of a human and if you do, well then I’m sure you count yourself as lucky as I do. Today we’re talking closet heroes, shopping mindset shifts, Elim’s recent three-month wear count experience and lots more.

So grab a cozy corner and a hot cup of tea for an afternoon chat with the delightful Elim Chu!


Style Bee - Style Profile - Elim Chu

(Photo Credit: Title Left by Kaoverii Silva | Title Right By Tess Rafferty | Above Bottom Right by Alexa Mazzarello)


A FEW QUICK FACTS


TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOUR STYLING BUSINESS CAME TO LIFE.

My love of fashion and style was discovered while playing dress up in my mom’s closet, making clothes for my dolls and watching Jeanne Beker on Fashion Television. But it was failing fashion design school in my 20’s that I learned about styling as a career. Learning about stylists like Rachel Zoe and Grace Coddington helped me find a corner of fashion that felt most natural and “familiar” to me. My business came to life after leaving my corporate role at Lululemon and as I was trying to figure out what my next career step would be. Being employee one of one hasn’t been easy. It’s a different kind of stress but it has been through freelancing that I’ve been allowed to explore interests and do work I could only observe from afar back in my corporate days.   


WHAT ARE THE 3-5 MOST WORN/LOVED ITEMS IN YOUR CLOSET?

Style Bee - Style Profile - Elim Chu

(Photo Credit: Left by Elijiah Chu | Right by Vanessa Fukuyama)


1 – WHITE LEATHER SNEAKERS

  • Where did you find them? I found the VEJA Esplar online a while back but it wasn’t until I saw them in person that I made the plunge to purchase.
  • How have they influenced your personal style? I’m a #fasterinflats kind of person. I take public transit and my work usually leads to standing on a photo set for hours. These sneakers have been super easy for me to style for work to play and helped broaden my personal taste in what “goes” with sneakers.
  • If they somehow got lost or ruined today, would you immediately want to replace it? This is such a good question because I’m mulling that over right now. I’ve had my VEJA’s over 18 months and wear them at least 3x a week. The soles are DONE. I’m hesitating because I’m thinking a lot about essentialism, cost per wear, my concept of how long something should last  and how these factor into my decision-making process. I’ll also say that another part of hesitating is in what I’ll have to do with the old pair once I replace them. I hate the thought that this ends up in the landfill. We’ve been making shoes forever, where is our responsible process for the end of life cycle?

Style Bee - Style Profile - Elim Chu

(Photography credit: Top Left by Elaine Kim | Top Right by Chloe Popove )


2 – WOOL WINTER COAT

  • Where did you find it? I purchased this coat also 5 years ago after a solid year of lusting for it online via J.Crew. I remember being tired of buying a new winter coat every season because I either chose a style I didn’t really love or because the material wasn’t warm enough. It is so reassuring for me to know that this is in my closet. I can count on to keep me warm while making me still feel stylish and put together in some of the coldest, darkest months of the year.
  • How has it influenced your personal style? The style of this coat, for me, is timeless. Seeing how a timeless design performs year after year has helped shift how I view trendier designs and the value I place on having clothes that are timeless.
  • If it somehow got lost or ruined today, would you immediately want to replace it? Hard yes. Canadian winters are COLD and I refuse to be swathed in a long puffer.

Style Bee - Style Profile - Elim Chu

(Photo Credit: Left by Barbora Samieian)


3 – LEATHER JACKET

  • Where did you find it? This piece was found online over 5 years ago when Zara launched E-commerce in Canada. When I think back to the head space I was at with shopping then versus now, the shift blows my mind.
  • How has it influenced your personal style? Having this jacket helped me learn that I really enjoy a top layer that has weight and structure. The fit of this item is also something I reference when looking at jackets or blazers. It also helped me notice with clarity how much I value the way I feel in something. To this day, when I put this jacket on, I feel like I’m ready to take on anything the world throws at me.
  • If it somehow got lost or ruined today, would you immediately want to replace it? YES. For me, a leather jacket is the equivalent to a blazer for someone else. It’s a big part of my “power suit” equation.


Style Bee - Style Profile - Elim Chu

(Photo Credit: Top Left by Anita C)


HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE IN 5 WORDS OR LESS?

Minimalist, classic, tailored, thoughtful


Style Bee - Style Profile - Elim Chu

(Photo Credit: Amanda Palmer)


WE CONNECTED OVER A MUTUAL APPRECIATION FOR CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM.
WHY IS SHOPPING RESPONSIBLY IMPORTANT TO YOU?

There are a few factors:

  • For the environment. A few years ago I downsized from living with 4 full-sized closets into a 500 sq ft apartment. Seeing the volume of clothing and footwear that I straight up didn’t LIKE was a shameful moment for me. This shame was compounded when I learned how much of our donated apparel ends up in the landfill or shipped to another country where it destroys their local textile industry.
  • For my mental health. The amount of time I used to spend on thinking, worrying or choosing my outfits was ridiculous and honestly, stressful as life got busier. After my big closet edit, I continued to observe and zero in on my lens for choosing. Getting dressed is a daily event. The more my wardrobe is comprised only with clothing I love, understand and feel my best in, the more at ease I feel. I highly value and appreciate that feeling.
  • For my self-esteem. I used to chase and follow trends, purchase the latest and greatest. Choosing and making decisions not based on my own thoughts or opinions, I found more self-doubt than self-confidence. Learning to say no or observing with clarity that something isn’t for me has helped me find confidence not only in my clothing choices, but also in my life choices.

HAS THIS ALWAYS BEEN A FACTOR IN HOW YOU SHOP?

Heck no! I used to think to love fashion meant having to dress the way the fashion industry dictated it. It wasn’t until I started paying attention to websites like The Sartorialist, Advanced Style and reading the memoirs of Grace Coddington and Coco Chanel that I realized loving fashion is being able to express oneself. Now how was I going to do that if I’m busy paying attention to what someone else thought?


Style Bee - Style Profile - Elim Chu


WE’VE BOTH BEEN CONDUCTING A CLOSET WEAR COUNT & I’VE BEEN SO INSPIRED BY HOW YOU’RE DOING IT. WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO START ONE?

Lee, seeing your little notebook full of checkmarks was so satisfying! Another reason was when I noticed a streak of buying a few secondhand pieces that I only wore a couple of times before donating or taking to consignment. Even though the pieces were preloved, I found the action still wasteful. Choosing to do three months of no clothing shopping combined with wear counting helped me observe my consumption habits and how much abundance I actually have in my wardrobe.  


HOW HAS IT BEEN GOING FOR YOU?

Surprisingly, really well. When I started to work and make my own money at 15, I’ve indulged in buying nearly anything I’ve wanted. I thought this challenge would break me but what it really did was teach me that I have other things I’d like to do with my time and larger goals to achieve with my money.


HOW DO YOU STICK TO IT?

Where I think I found success was seeing that this was also an exercise in gratitude. Tracking helped me see daily that I was not depriving myself of anything. Instead, it reminded me that I am enjoying all the things I have wanted.


HAS THE EXERCISE INFLUENCED YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO SHOPPING, STYLE OR YOUR CLOSET? IF SO, IN WHAT WAYS?

The wear count has helped me see what I enjoy wearing most and in identifying what those pieces are, I’m now observing what I would choose differently if I were to re-purchase. It’s also helped me form the habit of shopping my closet more frequently and rediscovering the fun in trying new styling ideas or making up new-to-me outfits!


Style Bee - Style Profile - Elim Chu

(Photo Credit: Bottom Right by Julie RoussyNewton)


YOUR STYLE TIPS AND TRICKS ARE SOME OF MY FAVOURITES! CAN YOU SHARE YOUR TOP 3?

  • Tuck it in. So simple yet can make all the difference if a top feels sloppy or shapeless
  • Wear a belt. This can instantly add a finishing touch to an outfit along with added confidence in the fit of a pant
  • A lippy. Whenever an outfit feels tired or “done”, I find just adding a bolder lip colour can change it up

WHAT MAKES A GREAT OUTFIT FOR YOU?

For me, a great outfit is when I feel good/amazing/myself and as soon as I walk out the door, I forget what I’m wearing.


Style Bee - Style Profile - Elim Chu

(Photography credit: Top Left by Megan Toriglia | Bottom Right by Chloe Popove)


YOU KNOW SOME HIDDEN GEMS IN THE VINTAGE AND THRIFT MARKET. WE’D LOVE TO KNOW YOUR FAVOURITE SPOTS BOTH ONLINE AND BRICK & MORTAR IF YOU’RE WILLING TO SPILL THE BEANS?

Brick & Mortar:


Online, I enjoy scrolling the curated secondhand pieces by:


WHEN YOU’RE READY TO ADD TO YOUR CLOSET AGAIN, WHAT PIECES WILL YOU BE LOOKING FOR?

Some well-considered denim and footwear!


Style Bee - Style Profile - Elim Chu

(Photo credit: Vanessa Fukuyama)


FINALLY, WHAT ARE YOU:

LISTENING TO:

READING:

WATCHING:

DOING FOR FUN:

Exploring life with my partner, hanging out with my niece, having meandering conversations with friends, doodling before bed.


Style Bee - Style Profile - Elim Chu

(Photo Credit: Britany Gill)


THANKS SO MUCH TO ELIM FOR SHARING HER BEAUTIFUL IMAGES AND INSIGHTFUL TAKE ON PERSONAL STYLE WITH US TODAY! Be sure to follow Elim on Instagram + subscribe to her newsletter because there is so much more to see and learn! 
HERE ARE SOME OF ELIM’S WORDS THAT REALLY STOOD OUT TO ME:

  • We’ve been making shoes forever, where is our responsible process for the end of life cycle?
  • Learning to say no or observing with clarity that something isn’t for me has helped me find confidence not only in my clothing choices, but also in my life choices.
  • I thought this {wear count} challenge would break me but what it really did was teach me that I have other things I’d like to do with my time and larger goals to achieve with my money.
  • For me, a great outfit is when I feel good/amazing/myself and as soon as I walk out the door, I forget what I’m wearing.

THANKS FOR READING! 

If you enjoy these Style Profiles feel free to check out past instalments: 

GABI HUTCHISON

MARIELLE ELIZABETH

JEN TAM

MORIAH MURRELL


This post is not sponsored but contains a few affiliate links. If you choose to shop through the links above I may make a small commission on a sale. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Style Bee! 

8 comments
12.03.18
Style

Leave me a comment here!

  1. Anja Hennie says:

    Loved this style profile, more of this!!? Pieces mostly is so fascinating, it differs from person to person.

    Really love your blog, the first time I came over this capsule wardrobe trend( or maybe not a trend) was with this article nyt: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/25/fashion/how-to-dress-like-an-adult.html

  2. […] this interview with stylist Elim Chu, on everything from dressing for yourself to shopping fasts and tracking what you […]

  3. Camille says:

    Love this thoughtful post. Thank you for helping us be more mindful of how we act, reminding us that our actions reach farther than we think!

    • Thanks so much for reading and for the support Camille! Elim is has been such an inspiration to me and my approach to living more thoughtfully. I’m so glad you enjoyed her feature! xo

  4. This was a wonderful profile! I was lucky enough to do an interview with Elim many years ago and she was lovely. I’ve been trying to recreate the outfit she was wearing ever since!

  5. Jamie-Lee says:

    I absolutely LOVED this style profile. Elim has such a great attitude and philosophy towards her wardrobe. Thanks so much for sharing this! 🙂

    • Thanks for reading Jamie-Lee! Isn’t Elim special? I’m so glad she was up for a Q&A and willing to share her perspective on style and shopping. Happy to hear you enjoyed the feature too! xo