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What Women Wear: June Mong

— by Alyson Walsh

Photos: Claire Pepper

At the age of 55, June Mong has decided it’s time for a career change, ‘ I’m still young enough,’ she exclaims, ‘there might even be time for another change…’ Having spent her childhood in Malaysia, June has travelled the world for work and education. As a teenager she moved to the USA to study English Literature in California. Teaching English in Cyprus and Turkey ‘to pay the bills’ on graduating; she finally landed back in Malaysia and became a stylist and fashion editor for a menswear magazine. After a decade covering the menswear shows in Paris and Milan, June was on the move again, this time to London to complete her PhD. Where her love of travel, culture and history eventually led to a position in luxury travel PR.

Now June is studying a short, distance learning course in garden design via Learning With Experts. The plan is to continue freelance PR and copywriting while developing her portfolio, ‘When life’s too comfortable, I like to shake things up,’ June admits, ‘I’ve been feeling that I need to move into a field that’s more challenging creatively. It was one of those take-a-leap into the unknown sort of epiphanic moments! Garden and landscape design is definitely on the horizon in the near future – creative, exacting, and excellent for the wellbeing and inner harmony of both me and my clients.’

Here’s June Mong’s style profile:

‘I like to keep clothes for a long, long time and what really helps me is to reorganise my wardrobe every few months and layer things up, ready-to-go on hangers. I re-jig it so that I can see what goes together, and it allows me to mix and match new combinations. My wardrobe is tiny but I create different combinations so it looks like lots of different outfits. I tend to throw together lots of colour and print to cheer me up. I like fabrics and colours that command presence, so I’m a big fan of moss green, burnt orange, navy and burgundy, and the different textures of wool, velvet, rough taffeta and silk.

The trousers in my first outfit are from Zara. My zip had broken at work so I needed to rush out and buy a pair – these were the only ones I could find that matched the top I was wearing! The blouse was my grandma’s, it is Chinese, hand-embroidered. She had about 30 different colours: blue, purple, green…every day was different. This style is called a ‘Kebaya’ top. My grandma liked seeing me wearing this and seeing it styled in lots of different ways. The Prada shoes I bought on sale when I was in Milan, I used to go there when I was a fashion editor, for all of the menswear shows. I mainly wear high street and vintage but I have a few designer pieces from that time that I bring out once in a while.

I dress to please myself, I don’t really care what people think. I’ve always dressed in a ‘tomboyish’ way – ‘sexed down’ is what we used to call it. I like to think that I’m channelling Katherine Hepburn. My dream outfit is a Bianca Jagger style tuxedo. I like a masculine look, like boyish trousers, paired with a little surprise, like stilettos, a minaudiere bag and pearls, just to challenge expectations. It’s good for those days when you want to pep things up. A big taffeta scarf is one of my essentials.

 

 

I think I inherited my fashion sense from my father – he’s very vain! He likes to dress up, in a classic, dandyish style. I still wear his cravats from back in the day. My dad is probably a feminist without knowing it. He sent me to university, so that I could have a career, and he’s always  defended a woman’s right to education. My mum is very strong minded and a force of nature. They were very good role models.

As I’m very small and have broad shoulders and not the longest legs, I look best in columnar and flowing cuts. The long dress in my second outfit is a good example of a silhouette which makes me look taller. As a university student in California I gravitated towards high street looks inspired by Calvin Klein, Bill Blass and Donna Karan. I also discovered Madeleine Vionnet in my 20s and realised that a bias-cut suits me really well. So that’s another go-to silhouette for me – I adore fashion from the 1920s and 30s, the designers Paul Poiret and Erté. My heeled sandals are from Zara. They’re great shoes for going out in, I can walk in them and I prefer just to swap shoes when I don’t want to change the rest of my outfit.’

 

What women like June wear:

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At the age of 55, June Mong has decided it’s time for a career change, ‘ I’m still young enough,’ she exclaims, ‘there might even be time for another change…’…