We visited Lesley and her mother in their home, and it’s easy to see some of the interior’s influence reflected in their style. Filled with wooden furniture, and accented by patterned rugs and an eclectic mishmash of artwork and other items, it feels a little like a Balinese resort. Their attire for the day is also suitably laidback. “My mom used to have a bit more of a bohemian style when she was younger,” Lesley says. “I’ve not-so-secretly gone through her boxes of jewellery and found turquoise earrings, burnished silver cuffs, and worn leather bracelets. Her closet is also full of printed vests and loose-fitting pants, like the ones I’m wearing today, which are actually hers!”
Shentonista (S): Would you say that your style has been influenced by your mother in some way?
Lesley (L): I had a bit of a boho phase a few years back as well; I loved paisley prints, foxtail charms, dreamcatchers, and anything that was in navy, brown leather, or had turquoise in it. I think my style has become a bit more sporty and minimal (read: lazy) of late, but I’ve been thinking about reworking bits of that boho feel back into my look.
S: What are some of your mother’s pieces that you really like?
L: These pants, which she doesn’t wear anymore, and her collection of vintage jewelry. I like that she’s into silver more than gold, and isn’t one to go for super-blinged-up pieces. She’s more understated.
S: Can you envision your mother in a different look/style?
L: I would love to see her relive her boho days but in a more sleek, refined manner. Similar to The Row, perhaps — sleeveless, long silken tunics over trousers.
S: Can you remember a time when your mother would pick out outfits for you to wear?
L: I have photos of when I was just a kid and I still remember the outfits I’m wearing in those photos. They tended to be matching, two-piece printed sets. Also, I was a bit of a tomboy back in primary school and was always in t-shirts and shorts, so I used to hate wearing skirts and dresses, but my mum would make me dress up for special occasions and I don’t think I liked it very much.
S: What do you think of Lesley’s dressing?
Lesley’s Mother (M): She likes black and white! Her style is on the whole still quite casual, she doesn’t really follow trends. She basically dresses more for comfort.
S: How do you think Lesley’s dressing has changed as he/she grew up?
M: When she was a teenager her clothes were more colourful; there was more colour in her clothes. Now it’s mostly black, white, and greys. The way she dresses hasn’t really changed so much, it’s more her choice of colours. She was never really into the girly-girly kind of clothes, she never went for pinks and all that.
S: Is there a certain way you would like Lesley to dress? What do you wish that he/she wore more of?
M: I don’t there’s a particular way that I want her to dress, she dresses quite sensibly. She doesn’t wear a lot of revealing clothes so there’s nothing that I wish she wears more of. Because I don’t dress up that much myself!
S: What is one piece of clothing that Lesley wears that you don’t really like/understand?
M: The pyjama tops that she wears out!
S: What is something you’ve learnt from your time at work that you would Lesley to know?
M: It’s been so long ago, but I suppose basically, when you’re working, just do the best you can. Not that you have to be a perfectionist in your work, but if you feel that there are things you feel you can do better yourself, then you should do it instead of delegate it. And you should get along with your colleagues. Ultimately, you should be happy with what you’re doing.
S: Do you think working life has changed your relationship with each other?
M: I don’t think so, except that she’s a lot more busy, even at home. Other than that I don’t see any significant changes.
L: I think she would like me to come home for dinner more often, and I do miss her home cooked meals. But working has also made me want to spend more quality time with her, and to realise the importance of this quality time — whether it’s doing mundane stuff like going grocery shopping, or just sitting next to her in front of the TV after a long day at work.
S: What is one thing that you’ve learnt from each other over the years?
M: Aiyo, just one thing? I think one thing that has changed is dependence. When she was growing up, she was more dependent on us, but now it’s come to a point where we have become, in a way, more dependent on her, especially when it comes to technology, and when we’re travelling. I think it’s now more of a interdependent kind of thing.
L: That your family always has and always will have your back. Even through misunderstandings and moments of pain or anger, they’re the ones who love and accept you no matter what.
S: Do you have one particular memory of each other that really stands out? It could be funny, touching, or even silly.
M: For me, it was the time when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had to stay in the room a lot because I was so afraid of getting bitten by mosquitoes, because that was the time when we had the first bad dengue outbreak in Singapore. So I would stay in the room and Lesley would bring my dinner in for me on the tray, and when I was done she’d come and take the tray out.
L: I think it was also the time when she got sick. Maybe I didn’t realise or understand the severity of it back then, but she went for her chemotherapy and radiation sessions all by herself because me and my sisters were all too young to accompany her, and my dad was working. So looking back, she must have been really strong to go through all that by herself.
S: Can you think of three words to describe each other?
M: Level-headed, a conscientious worker, and a well-adjusted, happy person.
L: Strong, independent (except when it comes to navigating technology), dependable.
S: If there was one thing you’d like to say to each other, what would it be?
M: I’m glad you are my daughter, and I love you.
L: Thank you for always being there for me.