SINGAPORE - Sheila Sim and I have friends in common. Her friends are her biggest fans. The most common adjective used of her? "Nice", followed by "down-to-earth."
She displayed both traits the day we met.
Sim, 30, is still one of Singapore's top models, after being in the scene for 13 years, and is the creative director and a partner at modelling agency Nu Models.
She is also acting more now and is filming her second Channel 8 series. This one is about nurses called You Can Be An Angel Too, starring Zoe Tay, Elvin Ng and Xiang Yun.
International brands have worked with her - Topshop, Doctor Martens, H&M, Coach, Fendi, Louis Vuitton are some she recalls - and she said: "They (clients) think I'm suitable for their brands and I'm very lucky in that sense because it is a wide and diverse range of brands.
She also could not hold back praise for local fashion designers, saying: "Singapore is a small market. A lot of local shoppers are not educated about our brands. It's quite a shame.
"I had my own fashion brand and I know how much effort it takes to start a fashion line. I have full respect for those who stayed on and remain passionate about it.
"(Design label) Depression designs amazing, beautiful clothes. They are distinct."
"All Walks Of Life's Alfie Leong is my guardian angel. He helped me so much when I was doing my own line."
"The clothes from Womb are simple but evergreen, and Keith Png designs convertible dresses. Everything can be worn in many ways."
Sim says her personal style is a mystery, even to her.
"I don't know how to describe my style. As long as I'm comfortable, I'll wear it. If anything, I'm flexible. I can't find a word to describe.
"Being a Gemini, I can be very different. Sometimes I wake up and feel girlish, so I dress girly. Sometimes, I want to wear a suit.
"I don't tie myself down to one style. That's why my wardrobe is such a mess."
Her years as a model, dressed by the most creative minds in fashion, shaped her views on fashion.
"Being a model influenced my style, but only the technical stuff - which cutting suits me, what colour to wear for my skin tone.
"Over the years, I found myself mixing expensive and inexpensive clothes. Money can't buy style. So just because you are dressed top-to-toe in a brand doesn't mean much."
Sim points to her 73-year-old grandmother as someone who has infused her with style.
"My grandma is a brilliant designer."
"When she had better vision, she made her own clothes. She has seven daughters and she sewed all their clothes. They were made from the same fabric, but in different patterns. She's amazing."
Her grandmother keeps her grounded too, especially with her money.
"She is a very wise woman. She told me to save for a rainy day. And since I started working, I have paid for all my own things. "I had to work hard for mine, so I am more careful with it."
Her most expensive expenditure is a two-bedroom condominium unit in Queenstown.
"I was very focused on getting my own home before I turned 30. So I didn't splurge on anything else. My apartment is my dream come true."
KEEPING IT COMFY
"This is the outfit I'm comfortable with. This dress from leegendstore.com is lace, but it's also a jersey. People think I'm feminine and womanly, but I'm not. I'm actually tomboyish and chor lor (rambunctious, in Hokkien). I'm not a conventional girl.
"And that's why I matched it with a red-and-white polka dot boots from Dr Martens. Red-and-white polka dots go with anything."
TO MAKE AN ENTRANCE
"(Fashion stylist) Jeremy Tan got me this H&M dress for a SKII shoot. It's stunning, shimmery and not too loud. It's eye-catching and gorgeous.
"You can wear it at any age. You can wear it with just a belt. You don't even have to accessorise."
"I picked this outfit (again from leegendstore.com) because it shows just the right amount of skin. And colours make me happy and feel positive. And that makes me feel sexy because I'm happy."
"I hate wearing body-con dresses - I won't feel sexy because I'll be so conscious. This is not tight-fitting, but it does show the body. It's a romper that's perfect for moving around."
PERFECT FOR CASTING
"For casting, people want to see legs. This is casual, simple and it shows off your legs. Usually I'll go in tights, short shorts or a dress. Nothing too loud or overwhelming, so the client can imagine you in other stuff."
"But it's all about the attitude. Unless you have a really stunning face, if your attitude is bad, you won't get cast."
I don't know how to describe my style. As long as I'm comfortable, I'll wear it. If anything, I'm flexible.
- Model Sheila Sim
This article was first published on July 4, 2014.
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