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Porter
Art of Style

Get dressed with Yoyo Cao

Singapore-based designer, stylist and entrepreneur YOYO CAO’s unwaveringly chic aesthetic has international appeal. Keen to inject your own closet with her singular brand of effortless elegance? These are the styling rules she swears by…

Fashion
BOY MEETS GIRL
Cao dresses depending on her mood: girlish one day, androgynous the next

START WITH ONE SPECIAL PIECE

“My style is pretty eclectic. I would say I’m a minimalist but, to be honest, one day I might feel super-girly and gravitate towards lace dresses, and the next I’ll be feeling androgynous and wear a suit with loafers. It really depends on my mood. When I’m styling a look, it always starts with a single piece. For example, if I really want to wear a certain pair of shoes, I’ll create an outfit around them. My fall-back piece is an incredible Sacai dress that designer Chitose Abe gave me; it’s a sleeveless, pleated shirt dress that works with everything in my wardrobe. I can wear it with sneakers or heels and layered over a rollneck or under a jacket. For a night out, I’ll usually go for a hi/low look, such as a fun one-shouldered top by Attico, finished with jeans and strappy sandals. The contrast makes for a really modern evening look. I love wearing jeans – I basically live in them.”

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EMBELLISH LIBERALLY

“I have a few special pieces of jewelry that I never feel fully dressed without. There are my custom-made gold rings from Popular Jewelry in New York (it’s this little shop in Chinatown – ASAP Rocky and Beyoncé are fans), and my husband recently gave me a stunning Spinelli Kilcollin ring, which I’ve been wearing every day. I don’t have pierced ears so, until recently, I had never worn a pair of earrings, but I just discovered these amazing clip-ons by Kenneth Jay Lane and now I finally understand why the statement-earring thing is such a huge trend. Even if you’re just wearing an all-black outfit, the minute you add that little bit of glitter or crystal, it really takes your look to another level. I’m so late to the game but I can’t wait to experiment some more with earrings.”

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

“Mastering the art of packing is all about frequency. I travel so often for work that I can now pack for any trip in 30 minutes flat. I actually maintain three separate toiletry sets – one for home, one for in-flight and one for my luggage – which means the only things I need to add to my suitcase are clothes and shoes. My in-flight ritual is pretty low-key; I put on my La Mer hydrating mask just before take-off – it’s so rich that it lasts for an entire long-haul flight – then when I wake up, I’ll wash my face. I never wear makeup on airplanes. When it comes to packing for fashion week, I always prepare my outfits in advance. I’ll take a picture for reference and put each look in a separate zip-lock bag, so I always know exactly what I need. Basically, I love sleep, and being this organized means I get more time in bed every morning!”

PACK SMART
When vacationing or traveling for fashion month, the street-style favorite pre-plans all of her outfits

PUT IN THE GROUNDWORK

“I am all about skincare. I recently started using Seed to Skin Midnight Miracle facial oil every day and I’m obsessed, it honestly works wonders. I also swear by facial masks – cleansing, clay, sheet – I use a different one every single day. In my opinion, makeup is secondary. Clear skin is the best possible base. I don’t think I’ve ever had any awful style mishaps, but I have had a few dodgy hairstyles in my time. I’ve had my hair really layered and, at one point, I even had a perm. I love adventurous styles but I’ve realized they just don’t work on me. Now I am finally back to my default – long, straight hair that’s all one length. In the past, I wasn’t that interested in haircare, but after I had a baby, I suffered from quite bad hair loss and realized I needed to up my game, so I began using Sisley hair oil. It’s so gentle and restorative.”

SHOP WITH INTENT
Whether it’s great outerwear or timeless basics, quality wins over quantity for Cao

INVEST WISELY

“There are a lot of women who have had an impact on my style, but none more so than my mom. I learned everything from her. She buys timeless pieces, some of which she’s had for 20 years and is still wearing, and they still look impeccable. She’s so chic. When I was young, she literally had every style of Versace jeans in every color. Her passion sparked my interest in fashion. The most special piece in my closet is a classic camel coat by Max Mara she gave me; I wear it any time I visit a cold country. It’s gorgeous but also so practical. Nowadays, I only invest in quality pieces. When I was younger, I would opt for ‘trendy’ pieces without thinking what they were made from or how long I’d wear them, but as I’ve got older, I’ve realized that having strong staples in your closet is the most important thing.”

PLAY FAVORITES

“I really love what Jacquemus is doing. It’s so unusual. I recently attended his incredible 10th-anniversary show – it was held in a lavender field and was truly spectacular. I am also very into Daniel Lee and what he’s doing at Bottega Veneta – he’s almost creating a kind of futuristic minimalism. Nowadays, a lot of the collections you see are so homogenous, but there are a few unique designers with a totally different point of view.”

The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown.