Style Spotlight: Mel Tong

Style Spotlight: Mel Tong

When it comes to fashion, Burberry styling editor Mel Tong has her finger on the pulse. Here, she talks us through her career, her personal style and some of the outfits she’s loving right now…

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My style is usually tailored around my mood and environment. I love modern tailoring, but with an unexpected twist – be it a voluminous sleeve, cut out detail or an element of asymmetry. The nature of my job as a stylist means I’m always on my feet, so I need to make sure I’m dressed comfortably. During the summer, I gravitate towards printed silks and linen sets, while in winter I tend to keep things tonal with earthy shades.  

I’ve experimented with several looks throughout my adult life. Some more cringeworthy than others! Having said that, I now switch between loose tailoring and considered casualwear, but always with a playful element. I much prefer being in something oversized as opposed to something very tight fitting.  

My job heavily influences the way I dress. Being constantly surrounded by beautiful clothing and accessories, plus always working a season ahead, gives me a great insight into future trends. Certain colours and styling tweaks have definitely found their way into my everyday wardrobe. 

Becoming a stylist was a natural evolution for me. I’ve always been drawn to clothes and the power they have, and the story they can tell. Being able to create something that emotionally strikes a chord with someone is what drew me to it as a career. I’m a very visual person, too, so I find it much easier to convey a feeling and mood through clothes. 

One of my best styling tips is to always carry a lint roller with you. In my opinion, there’s nothing worse than seeing a garment covered in fluff. Second, layer, layer, layer. You can be as playful with your combinations as you want, but it’s all about experimenting with length and textures and thinking outside of the box. It helps your looks feel more personal. 

My biggest style crush is Christine Centenera. She always looks so incredibly put together, but in such an effortless way and she’s never afraid of making a statement. She’s also mastered the art of elevated basics – evidenced by her brand Wardrobe NYC. 

I love MODERN TAILORING, but with an UNEXPECTED TWIST – be it a voluminous sleeve, cut out detail or an element of asymmetry.
I love MODERN TAILORING, but with an UNEXPECTED TWIST – be it a voluminous sleeve, cut out detail or an element of asymmetry.

The best piece in my wardrobe is my Haider Ackermann collarless wool coat. The silhouette and length almost drown me, but it goes with everything. It’s my go-to ‘lazy’ outfit – something I can throw on immediately, day or night. 

When it comes to splurge-worthy pieces, you can’t beat Loewe. Jonathan Anderson (the brand’s creative director) has the most incredible eye for colours and season after season, his designs always hit the right note. Whether it’s subdued earthy tones or bright pastels, there’s always something from Loewe to lust after. 

On the high street, Cos and Joseph are my go-tos – especially for wardrobe staples like a roll neck or a t-shirt. Even though these brands fall under the high-street umbrella, the quality is always impressive. 

When it comes to splurge-worthy pieces, you can’t beat LOEWE. Whether it’s subdued earthy tones or bright pastels, there’s ALWAYS SOMETHING TO LUST AFTER.

There are some lesser-known brands worth knowing about. The first is Christopher Esber, one of my favourite Aussie designers. He creates the most subtly seductive pieces in gorgeous, slinky silhouettes. Secondly, VienSo is a London-based brand whose philosophy is rooted in heritage and longevity – think sexy satin blouses and two-tone suits.  If I could only wear one brand for the rest of my life, it would be Peter Do. The Vietnamese designer’s collections have plenty menswear-inspired pieces that really show off his skills. I’m obsessed with his wide cuff trousers and waisted blazers. 

Great jewellery is always a worthy investment. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learnt to really appreciate fine jewellery and treat it like art. I’m much more emotionally attached to my jewellery than anything else, and there’s always a story or meaning behind each piece – they act as reminders of all the special moments in my life. Saving up for something you may one day hand down to your daughter or a loved one is so special.  

When it comes to sustainable brands, BITE Studios is great. They’re a Stockholm/London-based brand and all their pieces are made using natural fibres – plus, 95% of the materials in their collections are either organic, recycled or have a low environmental impact. Casa Raki is another one of my go-to brands for clean, simple and effortless resort wear and in their most recent collection, the brand used 100% GOTS certified organic linen from Belgium.  

My shopping philosophy is always think twice and let it marinate. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional impulse purchase, but the best practice is to ask yourself “Do I still want this? Do I still need this?” Wait for two-to-three weeks after you first see it – more often than not, the answer is no. 

The trends to look out for this season are: netting – this is such a great layering technique for adding unexpected dimension to your look. I’m particularly excited about seeing what I can do with a loosely netted roll neck. Also, a new bralette – a slightly trickier trend to pull off but worth the challenge. Just keep it pared back – think high-waisted trousers and chunky sandals, with an oversized blazer on top. Finally, really oversized shirts – I love this trend because it’s so accessible. Opt for one with pastel pink or blue stripes, and wear it in a very nonchalant manner over some boyfriend jeans with some loafers. 

There are some things on my spring wish list. First is a classic boxy bag, but in a fun shade like sherbet green, plus some enamel and crystal rings by Bea Bongiasca. I love their playful take traditional fine jewellery. Another are the KAZE Origins ‘Vogue Series’ facemasks. They’re super breathable, comfortable and add a bit of fun to any outfit.

Photography by Alicia Waite

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