Sibylle’s Style Diary: Heather Won Choi on Being an Asian Audrey Hepburn in the Service of Her Community
This week’s style diary guest is the beautiful and very sweet Heather Won Choi. This Korean-born, naturalized American, who came to New York as a young student to study at the Manhattan School of Music, is an accomplished violinist.
She is happily married to a husband she adores and lives what appears to so many like the perfect life. But things have not always been as easy as it seems. She and her husband went through the struggle of losing a child. With grace, resilience, and strength, she is dedicating her life to helping others in the tri-state area and mostly in New Jersey where she lives. A guardian angel and an inspiration to so many that strives to always look chic and be kind to people.
Sibylle Eschapasse: Describe your style? If a close friend were to describe your personality in three words, what would they be?
Heather Won Choi: I like to describe my style as an Asian Audrey Hepburn. My friend would say in three words: Unabashedly stylish! Trendsetter!
Ms. Eschapasse: How did your style evolve since you were a teenager? What is the wildest thing you ever wore?
Ms. Choi: I have had a true fashion revolution. One may consider me a trendsetter. Classic, yet fashion forward. As a teenager, my life revolved around being a classical violinist. I was a disciplined student, with an enormous amount of pressure to be flawless. This discipline has greatly influenced the woman I am today, it made me ‘Heather Choi.’
After attending a ‘ritzy’ event in the city, I was invited to a barbecue. I showed up, and was so over dressed, it was a ‘pig roast.’ I was so embarrassed, I sat and tried to remove my makeup and jewelry. This event taught me to always confirm the dress code for all events. Always ask the hostess for the dress code!
Ms. Eschapasse: How do you dress on workdays versus weekends?
Ms. Choi: I don’t limit myself to the day of the week. I dress actually for the occasion, as my days are dynamic.
Ms. Eschapasse: What are three accessories you can’t live without, and what’s one item that makes you instantly more confident?
Ms. Choi: I need ‘proper’ watches, earrings, and a pocket book; of course, I also need the perfect shoes. My rings give me confidence.
Ms. Eschapasse: Who have been your greatest fashion influences? Who is your style icon?
Ms. Choi: Audrey Hepburn! I love and respect her. Surely, I love her look and fashion sense, but I respect her commitment to give back to humanity. I love that she wore her wrinkles, she was authentic. I want to be like that, true to myself.
Ms. Eschapasse: What does having style mean to you? In other words, please define style.
Ms. Choi: To me, true style means being confident enough to stand out and being able to enjoy being noticed.
Ms. Eschapasse: What is one purchase you’re most proud of? What would you pay a lot of money for, and what would you never pay much money for?
Ms. Choi: When my husband was a medical student, he didn’t have enough money to buy me a ring. He got a loan from the bank to buy me a ruby ring—one needs glasses to see the tiny stone—and yet, it is my most cherished piece of jewelry. Fortunately, I feel very blessed to be able to buy whatever I want so I would say it’s more about the moment and how I am feeling.
Ms. Eschapasse: When you go on the red carpet, how do you want your outfit to make you feel? Which designers can achieve that?
Ms. Choi: Just thinking about the red carpet makes my heart beat like crazy. I want my outfit to make me feel tall and stylish, make me look super fashionable. Definitely Oscar, Oscar de la Renta.
Ms. Eschapasse: What do you think of how others dress and what’s your advice to people who would like to develop their personal style?
Ms. Choi: I think, for one to look better, you must know your body and personality. It’s less about what you like and more about what likes you. Seek out your fashionable friends, use your mirror, and when necessary get professional advice.
Favorite color: Black and white. But, I have a special appreciation for purple; it’s my husband’s and son’s favorite.
Favorite perfume: I don’t have a favorite designer, but I have a preferred scent—flowery.
Favorite restaurant in NY: The Mark at The Mark Hotel
Favorite drink: Greyhound–Grey Goose and fresh grapefruit juice–low calorie drink
Favorite movie: “Holiday in Rome” (Audrey Hepburn)
Favorite book: I enjoy books on psychology
Favorite quote: “We are not given a good life or a bad life. We are given a life. It’s up to us to make it good or bad.” —Ward Foley
Sibylle’s “Style Diary” is a column that explores style from the perspective of choices, and what that means for different people, with personal advice from some of the most stylish people in New York.
Sibylle Eschapasse is from Paris and now lives in Manhattan. She is a journalist and a contributing writer to various publications. Sibylle is also the author of a children’s book, “Argy Boy a New York Dog Tale.” She may be reached at [email protected]