As a mama, it can be hard to feel like the clothes you wear necessarily reflect the real “you”… If you’re like me, you’ll have a few pre-pregnancy clothes that probably don’t feel quite appropriate for your new mama identity, a whole truckload of practical items for running around in, and a trunk of old maternity clothes shoved away under a bed somewhere. It’s hardly what fabulous wardrobes are made of, and when it comes to inspiration, the fashion magazines that you once poured over no longer feel as relevant… Just what is a mama in her thirties or forties supposed to do to achieve being stylish without zipping into uncomfortable dresses or towering stilettos?
Well, it’s Hong Konger Jess (above left) and native New Yorker Pier (above right) from The Changing Room to the rescue! These Hong Kong mamas are a dream team when it comes to all kind of services related to your wardrobe – they’ll go through your current clothes, help you re-work old pieces, rediscover long-forgotten accessories and show you how to put whole “looks” together. They were lovely enough to come over to help me with some maternity outfit ideas, and transformed what I thought was a fairly barren selection into a vibrant catalogue of put-together looks. I wondered if having two strangers in my bedroom, rooting through my closets would feel uncomfortable, but within just a few minutes of chatting Jess and Pier had put me at my ease, and I felt like part of their gang — although it was hard to stop myself apologizing for the dust bunnies and occasional fairly disgusting garments (or massive errors of judgment!) that they came across. I had also been a bit worried that they would tell me to chuck out everything and start again, Trinny and Susannah-style, but in fact they were at pains to explain that is NOT at all what they do. In fact, it was incredibly helpful to be able to ask them honest questions like, “do you think these shoes have had their day?” and get a straight answer. As we pulled out all my clothes and went through them, I was amazed how many items I had that were stained or badly fitting in a way that could be easily fixed by a trip to the dry-cleaner or tailor. All these items that were just sitting in my wardrobe taking up valuable real estate and never getting worn!
The partnership between Jess and Pier works very naturally and is a lively dynamic. One of the services they offer are shopping trips to pick out new pieces to fill those gaps in your wardrobe (mine were identified as a pair of smart-casual pants that aren’t jeans and a tube skirt) and also help you hit up the sales to bag a bargain. I’d imagine as well as being helpful this would be lots of fun. They don’t recommend Shenzhen shopping at all when I asked if they run trips there — they told me that most of the items they end up clearing out of clients’ wardrobes are so-called “Shenzhen Specials”! They know all the best addresses in Hong Kong for picking up great finds, and say that in their opinion there is an absolute wealth of options out there, it’s just all about knowing how to shop.
The best time to book in for an appointment with Jess and Pier? Well, they don’t recommend jumping into trying to refine your style too quickly post-partum, even though it can be tempting at this time when it can feel especially challenging to get dressed in the morning. They advise waiting until you’re back in shape (both physically and mentally) to get the most out of your The Changing Room experience, though in the meantime they’d always encourage you to experiment with stocking up on fabulous accessories and shoes (which needn’t be expensive – their top shoe tip? Zara).
Once we’d created an absolute whirlwind in my bedroom and established my personal style (feminine and romantic), we went through photographing the different looks they had put together. Clients then receive their own personal look-book which they can then use to save time in the mornings — priceless! I was amazed at how many combinations they suggested that I would never have even considered, but by encouraging me not to be so “matchy-matchy” they gave me a sense of freedom about my options. I ended up trying lots of things I wouldn’t have thought of as working for maternity, like pulling skirts up over my bump, or belting dresses at the empire line. Since their visit, I’ve found myself trying out different combinations and making an effort to accessorize more. For the first time (and without buying ANYTHING new) I feel like I have lots of clothes, rather than the classic, ‘nothing to wear’. And that mamas, is why getting The Changing Room girls round for a visit is worth its weight in gold!
Contact Jess and Pier by emailing [email protected] or by calling Jess 6094 6533 or Pier on 9175 9756.