For those who grew up watching Chinese dramas on local television stations, you would probably remember Vicki Zhao Wei most fondly from her breakout role as Xiao Yanzi in (or “little swallow”) in hit Chinese period drama My Fair Princess (1998-9).
Since then Vicki has played many memorable roles — from baker turned tai chi soccer player in Stephen Chow’s Shaolin Soccer (2001) to espionage specialist in So Close (2002) alongside Karen Mok and Shu Qi and a nation-saving heroine in Mulan (2009).
Happily married to Chinese billionaire Huang You Long, the mother of one daughter also found success across different mediums including theatre and television, and has even released seven studio albums, the latest of which is We’re All Great Directors (2009).
But beyond her talents, Vicki has also been noted for her sense of style; from her off-day selfies to gala events, Vicki always finds a way to execute a flawless ensemble. As we celebrate Vicki’s 43rd birthday on March 12, let’s take a look at her best looks and dissect what made them great so that we can all learn a trick or two.
Happy birthday Vicki!
1. Play with silhouettes
Not only did this midnight blue polka dotted number show off Vicki’s svelte figure, the interplay between silhouettes also added dynamism to her outfit. The structured and form-fitting dress with the burgundy waist sash was offset by the loose and flowy ruffled tulle that enveloped the piece, which added an air of ethereality.
2. Get radioactive
Neon green is really big right now, but this highlighter shade isn’t for the faint-hearted. While black is a universal colour that pairs well with this radioactive hue, it can grab too much attention as black accentuates the brightness of the tone.
Instead, like what Vicki wore here, you can pair neon green with a forest green pencil skirt. The green tones balance each other and reduce the intensity of the neon colour, while still enabling you to look your best self.
3. Dress up a monochrome outfit
A monochrome scheme looks chic and put together, but it can risk looking one-dimensional and flat. Like Vicki, you can amp up an already chic one-colour outfit by accessorising judiciously — with a diamond-studded watch, a pair of statement earrings or even going delicate with small bracelets, rings and clutch bag. A perfectly-styled ‘do is a must, too.
4. Channel casual chic with a statement jacket
Whether it’s airport fashion or you’re just heading to the nearest shopping mall, there’s no reason to look shabby and less than your fashionable self. Take a cue from Vicki and throw on a statement bomber jacket to up the ante on a simple, casual outfit. If all else fails, throw on a pair of statement footwear and distract people from looking at your off-day look.
5. Cross check your outfits
Wearing clashing prints is intimidating to many, especially since the look can go south very fast. Take pointers from Vicki’s well-executed ensemble: Here she combines checkered prints of varying sizes, keeping the smaller ones at the torso and the chunkier boxes below the waist. This helps draw the line of perspective downwards, making her look taller. Similar, she kept the colour palette cohesive by opting for blue tones of varying intensity. We like.
6. Back to white
While black is slimming and professional, it can look a little too business-like and cold. Skirt that issue by going with an all-white pantsuit like Vicki — it still channels the boss lady vibe but in a sleeker and more chic fashion. Best paired with a bold red lip and coloured jewellery to help introduce colours to break up the monotony. If not, pick a white shirt that has extra details like the tie-front printed shirt she wore. Or do them all, because you’re a boss.
7. Mix and match translucency and opacity
In this monochromatic outfit, Vicki played with textures by juxtaposing a structured jacket against a long, flowy gown. But another tip you can cop from this is how she used the translucency of the skirt to her advantage. Her top is covered and modest but it slowly gets more revealing as the sheer skirt extends beyond the inner mini skirt.
This interplay makes her limbs look extended while keeping in line with colour palette. You can also employ a similar tactic by matching a bodysuit or a mini dress with a sheer tulle skirt (and go with nude pumps if the skirt is nude-coloured).
8. Introduce visual interest and optical illusions
Two styling tips can be learnt from this sharp pantsuit ensemble. Firstly, ditch the regular and plain work shirt that all your other colleagues have and opt for one that comes with unique details: Think ruffles, bows and balloon sleeves.
Secondly, note how despite Vicki is decked in a neutral-coloured ensemble of white, grey and black, she chose to place the lighter colours at her torso, pairing those pieces with a pair of sharp tailored black trousers. The gradation of colour helps direct the eye seamlessly from head to toe, creating an illusion of a taller stature. Well done.