“All of my eating is guilt-free,” shares Jeannie Mai. “I work hard and eat hard. It’s the one thing that I do to indulge, to feel at ease. . . I eat everything, and I eat well.”
While we’re not sure if that diet (or lifestyle) is for everyone, whatever she’s eating hardly seems to add an ounce to her figure. In fact, the petite and slim television host is also visibly glowing, beaming and energetic, even after running from one appointment to another.
We met Mai while she was in Singapore, to shoot an undisclosed new TV show “that celebrates women”: it’s purportedly “a huge hit in USA and it’s now here in Asia”.
Best known as the host of Style Network’s makeover show, How Do I Look?, Jeannie Mai stars as the “digital correspondent” of reality TV show Fashion Star. What she does: Mai goes behind-the-scenes in her web-only episodes, tracking the backstage comings and goings of Fashion Star.
The best part of being a digital correspondent? “I get to wear whatever I want to wear,” grins Mai. “For the web episodes, I dress probably the most couture you’ve ever seen me wear on TV.”
We chatted with the busy host on style tips and tricks; she lists nine fashion rules to abide by.
1. SKIP THE LBD
The “Little Black Dress” becomes the “Little Boring Dress” if you’re always wearing it. “Pick a bright colours that radiate empowerment,” says Mai. Wear a yellow dress to emanate energy, intelligence and joy; purple for royal elegance; red, to show that you’re confident and comfortable with being the centre of attention.
Want to stand out at a job interview? Skip black, navy and blue, opt for bright shades like yellow, orange or melon green instead: “citrusy colours convey an intelligent energy.”
2. BROWN MEANS BUSINESS
While Mai feels that colours like black are too “conventional”, such basic hues are still the shades to pick for the right occasion. Such as the “underrated” brown. “Brown is earthy, grounded; it’s the colour I’ll pick when I want to get down to business,” shares Mai. “When you need to negotiate a pay raise, step away from bright colours if these make you look too young.”
3. COLOUR-BLOCKING TIPS
Pair neutral shades like grey, brown, black with neon or citrus for a modern take on colour-blocking. Think fiery shades that can easily brighten up your outfit. But “crayon red and green” is still a no-go pairing for Mai: “it’s too christmasy!” Try pairing forest green with an orange red instead, advises Mai.
4. MAKE THE “UGLY” FABULOUS
Wear an oversized, knitted “Grandma” sweater with stylish leather leggings. To Mai, it’s all about “combining an ugly piece with a fabulous piece”.
5. EYEWEAR FUN
Or grab funky glasses for a “geek-chic” look. Mai counts tortoiseshell, square-box and vintage shades among some of her many favourites. “Glasses give your face a whole new dimension,” explains Mai. “And you don’t even need makeup to achieve that.”
6. INVEST IN ACCESSORIES
According to Mai, accessories are “the number one, easiest way to transform your outfit”. These don’t need to be expensive either; in Singapore, Far East Plaza is one of her favourite accessory stops.
7. CUSTOMISE YOUR OUTFIT
Change the buttons, belt loops of your pants to create a clothing piece that is uniquely your own. For instance, Mai transformed her denim jacket into a mandarin jacket, just by swapping the plastic buttons with an oriental plait.
8. WEAR BREATHABLE FABRICS
The humid weather is still no excuse to be sartorially lazy. Mai recommends layering breathable fabrics to create a stylish and comfortable look. Her favourite label for tropical vacations? She’s a big fan of Yumi Kim’s rompers and other silk pieces.
9. PUT SOME MUSIC IN YOUR CLOSET
“Sometimes it gets intimidating to get dressed,” says Mai. “Music helps get you into the mood to play dress up.” So on days when “you feel fat, it’s too early in the morning”, play your favourite tunes to chase those blues away. Start your day right by dressing up with music — you’ll feel as great as you look.
Have a friend in need of a makeover? “Tweet me,” says Jeannie Mai. “I will call them out in front of all of my fans. . . And I will absolutely make sure that I’ll take care of it for you.”