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What You Need To Know

(Khmer) សម្លៀក​បំពាក់​ចូលរួម​ពិធី​អាពាហ៍ពិពាហ៍ – ដែល​អ្នក​គួរតែ​ដឹង​

Monika S. Stylist gives us the inside scoop on wedding styling. She had numerous clients in Phnom Penh, Cambodia asking for her expertise on what to wear, sizes, and colors for wedding attire. Styling is her forte and she does it well! Here a few questions many have during wedding season and she graciously answered our questions.

Hi Monika you are a professional stylist located in Phnom Penh, correct? What are things ladies need to know when finding an outfit to attend a wedding as a guest?

Hi Grace, I am indeed a stylist located here in PP.
When looking for the perfect outfit to wear to a wedding, I think it is really important to take into the consideration the location of the wedding- will it be in a church, on the beach or on a vineyard. You want to make sure whatever it is that you decide to wear is appropriate for the occasion, practical and of course stylish. Another thing to consider is weather; there is nothing worse than wearing a dress that the hem comes up in the wind or wearing fabric that stores heat. Again, it is finding the right balance of style and comfort.

What is the best way to know what looks good on someone?

I find the best way to determine what styles look good on someone is to of course ask them what they always tend to wear. Everyone knows what suits their body as well as what makes them feel good.

From a stylist’s point of view, we have to consider:
1.​ ​Shape of their body- what cuts and styles to wear and to avoid. How to accentuate the assets and proportion the body.
2.​ ​Colour of their skin tone- what lifts the skin (gives you radiance/glow) rather than a colour that dulls it.
3.​ ​Lastly fabric, not many people take into consideration or realise choosing the correct fabric for what you wear, elevates and completes an outfit more than any accessory or high heel could.

How far in advance should someone go to a tailor or stylist before the day of the wedding?

As I always encourage 2-3 fittings, I would say at least a month in advance. If you have an existing dress and are getting alterations or restyling 1-2 weeks is generally okay.

What is something someone should never do at a fitting?

There are lots of things people can do wrong at a fitting. Instead, I always make sure to ask my clients to have the appropriate undergarments on (bra and panties) because this gives the perfect size when re-adjusting the bust, also you can see whether it is visible under the fabric or not. Also to bring in the heels or know the heel height to help determine the length of the hemline on the dress.

Do you recommend getting a new outfit or restyling an old outfit for a wedding?

I always encourage and am a huge believer in investing in a versatile dress. I love the idea of designing a bridesmaid’s dress that can be worn after the wedding- whether she restyles it or not. A service I do offer is restyling old outfits. You can change the length of the hem, reconstruct the bodice and bust, add or remove fabric, focus of details- it can be beading or lace, the possibilities are endless! Basically having an old dress restyled, cost a fraction of the price of buying a new dress plus you don’t feel so guilty about wearing something just the one time.

Why is it handy to have a stylist to help with what to wear?

Having a stylist is helpful as we give our professional opinion on what looks good on you and what doesn’t. Having said that, we are able to determine what is going to look amazing on you just by seeing the colour of a dress or feeling the fabric. We know what cuts and styles accentuate the body, select different and a variety of different “look” based on their physical attributes. One example of how stylist can be helpful is we encourage you to try on something you may not like based on appearance but because we know how to dress for different body shapes, it ends up looking fantastic.

What colors should you avoid wearing at a wedding?

I think it is a custom all over the world not to wear white as the bride does but having lived in Cambodia, I have discovered that wearing black (the colour of mourning) or certain colors at weddings is a big no no! It all has to do with traditions and superstitions.

What is new trend you are seeing in your clients who just attended multiple weddings during wedding season?

I started to notice either the ladies went over the top or were too minimal. As it is a Khmer custom to use silk and lace, Khmer, Thai or Japanese silk can be somewhat of a stiff fabric, ladies often tend to stick to a few styles- off the shoulder then fitted fishtail or mid sleeves, fitted waist and peplum. Also mixing colours that would not normally contrast which sometimes works other times over powers the whole look.

You are really great at knowing what will look good for a specific body type, how? Any pointers?

Haha, to be honest I genuinely think it is something you must naturally have to understand or can be taught over a long period of time. I always remember from a young age, being able to look at someone and know what cut or colour to wear as well as how to pair the right accessories and balance the whole outfit.

Some rules to follow:
•​ ​darker colours are slimming
•​ ​lighter colours tend to highlight problem areas
•​ ​if short, choose high waisted outfits as it gives an illusion of longer legs therefore height. Also thin vertical stripes help with slimming and lengthening the shape of the body.
•​ ​petite ladies can balance and proportion the body with extra layers and patterns
I feel that colours and fabric also play an important part into what looks great on a person or not.

What do you want to see more of at weddings from a stylist point of view?

Being Khmer myself, as much as I love our traditional wedding attire- 1 piece top & skirt. I would love to see a mix of Khmer style but European fabrics or vice versa. Not only will it freshen and give a modern take on traditional wear, I also just think it would be so comfortable. I am working on a few designs with different fabric, which I hope will be ready before the next wedding season.

What if someone “wants” to lose a bunch of weight before the wedding, how do you work around that? Are some people’s standards to unrealistic?

Firstly, if my client’s goal is to slim down before the wedding, my suggestion would be to lose the weight prior to placing any orders. There is nothing more frustrating than to have a client’s weight fluctuating when you are tailoring a dress to suit their body. If they are unable to reach their desired weight, of course there are some styling tricks, choosing the right cut, colour and fabric to assist in creating a slimmer, more proportioned body shape.

What do you love about helping others by styling them or altering their garments for a wedding day?

One of the main reasons why I love dressing or creating a dress/outfit for someone on such an important day is when you know you have a flawless outfit that makes you feel sexy, elegant, classy and comfortable, it is one less thing to worry about. My nightmare would be to wear something that you always have to adjust, or hold the skirt up to keep from dragging, you want to be able to go about the day and actually enjoy your time.

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Style Don’ts

Most women are guilty are a few of these

Most women are guilty are a few of these style don’ts. Check out these no go’s in fashion for 2016.

Don’t Wear ALL the Trends
There are a lot of trends out there. Try them all out if you want but just don’t try them all out in the same look. Make sure the trend is flattering on you. Bright orange and reds are very in right now, but those colors don’t work on all skin tones. Be choosy about the trends you fit.

Don’t wear the same Bra all week without washing it
You need to have bras on rotation. Every lady has done this, but try to avoid getting into this pattern. Sweat stains and wearing out the elasticity of a bra is a no-no. Have different bras and wash the ones you wear frequently, especially in this heat!

Don’t Match all of Your Accessories
You do not need to match all your accessories. It’s 2016 so don’t over think it. If every accessory is a heart or you put on only red accessories- mix it up! Matching is old school. Have fun and play around. If you’re not sure if an accessory looks good then take it off, but overall your gut knows best.

To Each Their Own
Don’t make fun of someone else’s outfit. It’s not her outfit being ugly, it’s you. Do not judge someone’s outfit, just worry about you and try to slay.

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Cohesive Variety

Donatella Versace blows it out of the water this year. The cohesive but


Donatella Versace blows it out of the water this year. The cohesive but wide variety of style and taste for different types of women: from feminine; to androgynous; to edgy; to professional is what makes this collection so seamless.

This collection “was made for International Women’s Day” Donatella Versace states. It is strong and empowering but feminine. Prints and tailored jackets that are cinched with webbing belts are a big part of this collection.

It is obvious that her favourite feature to show off is legs which are a little bit of a twist from usual women’s business attire by mainly showing a little cleavage for a hint of sexy. Hopefully this year we will see more of women professionals showing leg appose to breasts.


3.1 Phillip Lim

Phillip Lim went in a strange direction by celebrating a decade of 3.1 by installing dirt around the Spring 2016 Ready-to-Wear catwalk. Maya Lim, an impressive architect was brought on board to help bring his idea to life.

The dirt, however, was compost from Lim’s personal food waste that he has been composting for months! The inspiration as Phillip Lim puts it, “about where things start. They start from a seed. They start from the dirt.”

After the runway show the compost was dispersed to local parks. Mad respect to the innovative metaphor that also gives back to the community in a full circle of life and rebirth, which is what spring is all about; everything coming back to life; renewal.

The Collection was very green and down to earth. There was a mix of burlap nylon and floral metallic jacquard throughout, and impeccable quality all around.

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The Best of Both Worlds

I moved here to the Kingdom of Wonder almost a year and a…

I moved here to the Kingdom of Wonder almost a year and a half ago as a way of returning to my roots. Being born and raised in Melbourne, Australia I always was surrounded by a rich Khmer heritage as well as the openness of western society. I am very blessed to be able to say that I do, have the best of both worlds.

I grew up and went to school with Caucasian and European kids, I then attended a catholic high school yet I always felt a deep craving and connection with the country where my parents were born and left in 1975. It was only since I moved here that I realised Khmer heritage, customs and traditions was literally always in my blood and was heightened even further once I settled and called this place my home and meant it.

From my opinion, Cambodian people are strong believers in God- karma, the idea that if you only do good things, good things will happen to you and vice versa for bad. Even in Australia I always had this mentally, whether it was taught to me by my parents or perhaps I had always known deep down this is the correct mentality and principle to have, I can’t really remember but it has always been words that I lived by and still do. Having had the Catholic upbringing as well, when I first read the Good Samaritan bible story, I felt I could relate to both religions as we really do have the same idea and realised that we aren’t really different after all.

Cambodian people are very close to their families in the sense that they respect their parents above all and literally live together throughout their whole lives. Personally, my family have always been and are very close but we are also very European or western as well, in the sense that we are all equal. My mother always said to me, and still does, that when she was younger and her parents said no, it meant no. Where as she wanted her children, so my siblings and I, to grow up very independent and learn from our own life lessons, be mistakes or rewards, she didn’t want us to have that sheltered childhood that she had. I really believe it is not so traditional in Khmer families.

I also noticed that they are genuinely happy people, we can have so little- a job, a house, food and be more than content with life, that is the most important lesson I have learnt since allowing myself to be fully Cambodian. Back home in Australia it was very easy to not appreciate money and take things for granted. I felt we were always in a rush or competing with one another to always have the latest technology or be wearing the most high end designer clothes and brands. Western countries can be driven by wealth, whereas here in Cambodia being able to have food on the table and enjoying quality time with family is what they work for.

Being a very religious country- I have noticed there are many holidays in which people do not work (God’s day or Monk’s day- I do not know the proper name, so do forgive me). I love the richness of how much God is a part of everyday life, we see monks on motos and elderly ladies with shaved heads, full smiles with no teeth wearing white shirts and black skirts piled into tuk tuks. I also noticed almost every home has a tiny version of their home stationed out front which I believe is for the elders or guardian angels that are to watch over. As spooky as it sounds, it’s somewhat beautiful to know that everyone believes and practises the same way of living and really respect and appreciate what they know.

I remember growing up, there were always certain things that would happen and my parents always had an explanation or reasoning towards it, I do not believe it is a specifically Khmer way to think as there are also western comparisons as well.

For example
•​ ​at night I was always told not to whistle- the reasoning was that if you whistle at night, you are welcoming spirits into your home.
•​ ​Another would be that at 3am it was the spirit hour- westerners believe it as well- it’s always shown in movies, but in Cambodia, we know that dogs can see or sense spirits or presences, so do listen out if ever you are awake, you can hear them barking and howling like mad.
•​ ​I recently learnt that if ever you smell incense and you know that you haven’t burnt any it meant that an ancestor or deceased family member was trying to contact you or perhaps just visiting.
•​ ​Less superstitious but full of reason, if you are speaking and you choke on your saliva, it means someone is talking about you. Same as westerners we say biting the tongue or when our ears burn it is the same.
•​ ​Khmers believe that when you sneeze someone is missing you or thinking of you, western society believes that when we dream or constantly dream of someone they are thinking or missing us.

One that my parents had always instilled in my brothers and I, is to always respect and love those who are older than us and in doing so everything in life would be great and fall into place. I am sometimes guilty of being annoyed and raising my voice at my parent and being reminded that if I continued with such disrespectful behavior that literally my business would fail. I do not know if that has anything to do with the balance of life or the idea of the karma is being put into play or perhaps it could just be my parents way of wanting us to be more kind and loving towards them, either way it all stems from the goodness of having a pure heart and our parents wanting us to live happy and successful lives.

Either way, if someone were to ask me where I like living more, I cannot say specifically, for the time being it is here in Cambodia, but then again it is because I am able to live my western lifestyle and still understand and appreciate the Khmer way of living too. I cannot say this enough, but I do feel very blessed to have been brought up in Australia but I am also very proud to say that I am Cambodian.

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