Mom-Style: Christine, the Manila Fashion Observer

Preppy, cool, simple, fashion savant.  That is how I would describe this stylish mother of one after getting to know her through our online interactions and from following her exploits shared on her popular blog site.

Swingin' Singapore is where home is, and this young and well-traveled mom shares a slice of her life with Mom-Friday's Mom-Style -- meet the mom on the spotlight this month, Christine Dychiao of the Manila Fashion Observer.

Mommy and baby at the beach on Jersey Shore

1. Please share with us what your typical day is like?

Since I am primarily a homemaker (my friend Cherie prefers the title "domestic engineer") and mom to a toddler, my schedule isn't very rigorous yet.  Maybe it'll get crazy when Berry starts pre-school, but for now we love how we roll with her Kindermusik and soon, play school activities.

I am up by 9 am to discuss the meal plan, to do's and errands of the day with Berry's nanny. We see Dada off to work, then I eat breakfast with Berry. We usually watch her current favorite video after,  chat with the grandparents & family on skype, and do our chores. Mornings are usually relaxed, we often head out to meet friends for lunch or do our errands after lunch so we can be home in time for Berry's naps. Yes, my day schedule revolves around Berry.
Toddler playing with her toddler-sized kitchen
Dinner time and evenings are Dada & family time. Berry plays with her Dada, we talk about how our day went, watch a movie on HBO, plop on our bed with our iPads discussing interesting articles we read that day, and we also make time dreaming up future plans.

I squeeze in some time to "work" i.e. write articles (for my column in The Philippine Star plus other freelance work), do a post for my blog, coordinate with suppliers, retailers, press contacts whenever I find pockets of free time throughout the day. Usually, when Berry is napping, or during my "me time", which is late at night, when all my domestic duties are done and Dada and Berry have turned in for the night.

Weekends are spent for "group dates" - trying out new restaurants, often with friends or visiting family, although we always have that one day of the weekend dining at P.S. Cafe in Dempsey Hill, our current fave place for brunch!

2. What do you enjoy most about your current occupation?

Apart from my writing, to keep me busy, I started a venture selling baby-safe/ eco-conscious products from the US and Singapore.  I also got the rights to bring FEED Bags to the Philippines - a project of model/activist Lauren Bush and UN World Feeding Program executive Ellen Gustafson, wherein they create socially conscious products that help FEED the world (coming soon!).  I also do consulting for retailers - I take care of their marketing & social media strategies and work with them in bringing  exciting new products to the Philippines (i.e. Cambridge Satchels, 78% bags, edgier styles of Jeffrey Campbell, etc.) and Singapore.

I like that my "projects" still keep me on my toes in terms of being in touch with what's new and happening, while allowing me to spend time in being a hands-on mom to Berry at home.

3. As a follow-up, can you share one or two practical tip/s or advise in relation to what you're doing right now?
  1. Keep your eyes open - just because you are busy with family, chores and work/pet projects/errands doesn't mean your life should revolve around those alone. 
  2. Cultivate your interests, read up on current events and whatever is new. 
  3. Dress up or at least make an effort to look nice. 
  4. Indulge in a creative outlet, go for whatever sparks your interest - be it art, fashion, music, dance, design, food, etc. 
  5. Have something to look forward to - a weekly family date, activities for your little one, play dates with friends with kids. 
  6. Socialize too, learn from other moms, chat & gossip with your girl friends - basically, have a life outside your home. 
  7. Don't let the mundane things take over your life. Yes, life can be a grind, but that's if you choose to think of it that way.  Spice it up your own way! 
  8. If you think you don't have time - make time. Seriously, dishes and dirty laundry can wait. Besides for those in the Philippines, that's what your platoon of yayas, drivers and helpers are for! 
And remember, when mommy is happy, the family is happy ;)

4. I launched Mom-Style to feature mothers with style and substance, and I believe you possess those qualities.  So what's your Mom-Style?
Describe your mothering style and personal style in fashion, or design philosophy.

My mothering style is very hands-on.
Berry & I started out without a nanny. So we spent her first year & a half practically joined at the hip. We do everything together, she goes wherever I go, I go wherever she goes. I talk to her like an adult. For a toddler, she is engaged, conscious and aware. She socializes well with her peers, with older kids, as well as with adults. She feeds herself, is well-behaved. I'd like to think that by engaging her in our daily activities, she has absorbed more than most kids her age.

While we have a routine schedule, we do not let it dictate our lives. There's always room for contingencies (i.e. an extended nap, bad weather, etc.) so when things don't go to plan, I don't let it stress me out. We like being spontaneous too, even if it means just going down for rice balls & soy ice cream at our neighborhood soy place.

In terms of personal style,  I have the same relaxed attitude.
I dress according to my lifestyle, and that requires comfortable clothes and shoes. I believe in quality not quantity, so for somebody who is into "fashion", I don't have a closet groaning with things.  Everything I own is a piece I love and that I feel comfortable wearing. I am not a fan of disposable fashion -- I choose styles in fabrics/materials that will last (I have an aversion to polyester that whenever I touch it, I can practically see it go up in flames in a snap).

I will not spend on shoes that look painful even if it's pretty. I own my look (which I often say is inspired by downtown NY & French girls - understated, relaxed, does not require effort) so I don't fall for each and every trend.  I like to accessorize with carefully chosen shoes, bags & baubles to keep my look from being boring. But I do not over accessorize. Always, quality not quantity.

When it comes to the home, it's still the same -- relaxed and casual.
I like a lot of wood and earthy fabrics like burlap, cotton and leather. It's inspired by Pottery Barn & Restoration Hardware, interpreted via IKEA =).

5. Who are your Mom-Style icons? (why?)

Mireia Oller of My Daily Style
She was my peg when I got pregnant. She really enjoyed dressing up as her belly grew and I decided to approach my pregnancy with the same enthusiasm.

Emee Foussard
She's a Filipina who owns a showroom in SoHo. She takes her son every where from Moroccan souks to vintage shops in Palm Springs, when not spending summers traipsing around Europe - their beach house in Biarritz as home base. I learned a lot from her, about the fashion business, about being a mom and exposing children to design, about keeping ones eyes open all the time.

My mom
Because she tirelessly taught me about quality over quantity ("You don't need a lot of shoes/bags/etc. Isang magandang-maganda lang that goes with everything, ok na!")

You're living one of my dreams Tin!  How I wish I could delve into the fashion business.  Your work inspires me as well as your personal style which is unpretentious, very simple and classic. I agree that you own your look -- your style is timeless.  More than that, you are proof that it's possible to fulfill your personal and creative endeavors while raising a family.

Check out Tin's popular fashion blog:
All photos courtesy of Christine Dychiao
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MOM-STYLE : a special feature for mothers with style and substance. 
To highlight their diversity, expect the same questions for each mom on the spotlight.

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