Personal Stylist and author, KC Leyco Mempin, shares what it means to be chic and what led to her writing her book, Always Be Chic.
Please tell me about yourself.
Hi! My name is KC, but people call me Miss Kayce. I’m a personal stylist and have been one for over 15 years. That’s what made me decide to write my expertise.
Noong una (At first), I thought maybe people would not really need it because some people think fashion or dressing up is just mababaw (shallow). I’ve always believed it’s a good tool to use for something more than just the physical. More so with how you feel inside. So I thought I might as well do something like this. Maybe people will discover the power of dressing up to give you that confidence you need.
What influenced you the most as a writer?
I actually didn’t imagine myself as a writer but knew that I wanted to be someone credible so that I could speak about my advocacy. Since I’ve been doing a lot of speaking engagements and upon doing some research, I found all these great speakers have books. So I figured, I should also have a book. *laughs*
It so happened that the night I was doing my research, I saw the PaperKat Books Program. So I enrolled in that mentorship program and now have a book. It was really that I wanted to reach a lot of people and influence them on my advocacy. The book is a great tool for that.
Okay, you keep mentioning your advocacy. What is your advocacy?
It’s to slow down fashion consumption.
A lot of the times when you do a lot of shopping, we’re not very intentional. We’re not mindful of the purchases that we make, and we end up with a lot of clothes. And all those clothes, when you’re done with it, or when it’s served its purpose, or you use it just once, it becomes textile waste, and it hurts the environment if we don’t dispose of them properly. The fashion industry has been one of the biggest contributors to this problem.
It’s affecting our environment, and I love nature. And I was like, “How can I enjoy something when I know it’s hurting our planet?” So I thought you could still look good without contributing to the whole pollution and climate change. I cannot make big changes immediately, but maybe I could start influencing people. I’m starting with small habits and have this mindset of slowing down fashion consumption.
And one of the ways that you can do so is by building your capsule wardrobe and mastering the art of styling because when you know how to style yourself when you discover your personal style and create a wardrobe that you truly love, then there’s no need to keep on buying clothes.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe consists of a small number of pieces of clothing you can mix and match. And it’s usually a very small amount, less than twenty or to the extreme; some people would have just ten pieces that they can rotate.
I just use the concept of the capsule wardrobe and have them pare down the number of clothes they have to those they truly love or those that speak to their authentic personal style.
If I just push them to do a capsule wardrobe right away, a lot of the time, they will be overwhelmed. And if they are overwhelmed, it’s not going to be sustainable. They just do it for a few weeks, maybe a few months, and then return to their habit.
So it’s more like just teaching people how to curate their own wardrobe so they’re happy with it. They’re able to sustain it and have many clothes to wear because they already know how to mix and match.
So tell us about your book and the inspiration behind it.
My book is about solving the problem of “What do I do? I have nothing to wear.”
Because a lot of times, even if you have so many clothes, you always end up saying that.
I wanted to bring back the joy of dressing up because most of us would always feel overwhelmed with there’s so many clothes, I don’t know what to wear. Or the other way around, I don’t have any clothes. I have nothing to wear.
Ultimately addressing the problem of not having anything to wear but also being able to tell people that “You know what, you don’t need to buy new clothes. You might be forgetting that there are other ways to have something to wear.” And that I wanted people to use that – dressing up – to bring back their confidence as well and present it in the best way possible.
The inspiration behind this is my mom. When I was growing up, my mom was always super chic, super dressed up, and super fabulous, even when we were at home. She always told us, “You always need to look good, no matter what, wherever you are going”. And so that’s where I came about that philosophy: Always Be Chic – which is the title of my book.
What part of the what part of the book was the most fun to write?
It was fun to write the whole book, actually, because it’s like I always have a lot to say about fashion and styling, and it was a journey.
It was written during the pandemic, so I think the fun part was that I always dressed up whenever I wrote something. Because if I didn’t dress up to write, I didn’t feel productive. it’s like, “I’m a stylist, and I’m writing something about this, and I’m not dressed up. I’ve got to be dressed up for this.”
Whenever I meet people, whether online or in person, I always look my best, as much as I can cause you never know. What if we decide to take a picture, or take a screenshot? I have to look good. We always have to look good. It just really gives you a kind of energy that translates into what you do.
That’s why I think that’s my favorite part, where I think it’s the most fun. To write the book while I’m getting dressed up or I’m dressed up while I’m writing.
What were the challenges in bringing this book to life?
Well, I wrote this during the pandemic, so there was a lot of stress going around. There were days when I didn’t feel like writing anything positive. I’m supposed to be writing something positive, and feel so down. But the biggest challenge was when we were about to publish it – launch it – my mom passed away.
We did a pre-order launch in November- my birth month – so that I could take orders, and our marketing strategy was, “Order now so you can give your gifts for Christmas with this book.” A week before the launch, when I approved the final manuscript – the next morning, my mom passed away.
She inspired the whole book. It was hard for me to think of what to do next, what’s gonna happen. I’ve dedicated time to the book during the pandemic, especially. She was my inspiration. So sobrang down ako noon (I was really down).
Buti na lang (It’s a good thing) Kath (Kath Eustaquio-Derla of PaperKatBooks) was so patient and understanding because she knew what I was going through. She suggested I write about my mom, adding a chapter to the book.
We finally got to release the book in my mom’s birth month – April – of the following year, 2021.
In total, how long did it take you to write the book?
Probably six to eight months.
What is your writing style?
It was very much patterned in how I do my workshops. During Kath’s workshop, I already had the chapters in my head, as I segment my workshop and what I talk about. So it was just a matter of putting titles to each segment or chapter.
It’s more like a friend talking to you, telling you this is what it is. I really just wanted everything to be simple. Even the title, I wanted ABC kasi nga (because) it is easy to remember.
In the book, it’s always just three things. Nothing more than three because it’s easy to remember if it’s just three points. Even for the chapter titles, I tried to keep them to just three words.
I wanted the tone to be something very friendly, you could relate to. Maybe a coach or someone you like listening to and they understand very well. It is not overwhelming, full of fashion terms or jargon they wouldn’t understand because fashion shouldn’t be intimidating. Style is for everyone, and I wanted the book to be very much relatable.
Do you have any other projects in the works at this time?
Currently planning on writing my second related book. I do have other non-writing-related projects in the pipeline. But it’s all connected to my advocacy of slowing down fashion consumption. Working on pushing small local and sustainable businesses and brands. Hopefully, those will be part of my second book too.
How many pieces should a person have, ideally, in their wardrobe?
That’s tough. It really depends on what your lifestyle is like. The average minimum number of pieces would be 30 to 35. That includes your shoes and your accessories already. You’d have about two to three pairs of shoes, a dainty necklace, and a couple of earrings. Accessories and shoes would be about ten pieces. The rest would be clothes. You’d probably be doing laundry a lot.
When I hear people say, “I have nothing to wear”, I think maybe you just need to do your laundry.
So you advocate mixing and matching?
Yes, and also outfit repeating. Can we please normalize outfit repeating? Because of social media made a lot of people feel the need to show something new. At least on your social media, it all looks so different. It’s a lot of fake life. A lot of people don’t want to post that they are wearing the same things. They think it always has to be new.
Does nobody want to repeat their clothes? I love repeating my clothes. On my TikTok, on my Instagram, it’s all the same.
But there’s a lot that you can do with a shirt. You can restyle a T-shirt into a tube top dress, a sleeveless top, or a skirt.
Yeah. I’m not sure why people now…a lot of the young generation are very creative but not into wearing it in as many ways as you can. They just like to have a lot of new stuff.
A lot of the fast fashion brands are very affordable – sometimes, too affordable. If their clothes get ripped or have a hole, they think, I’ll just buy a new one instead of having it repaired. It’s cheap anyway. They have that kind of mindset. They don’t like to find a solution, such as to fix it first. Maybe just bust attach a new button to make it work again. They just resort to buying because of fast fashion or ultra-fast fashion because it is cheap and accessible. Some shops offer same-day delivery. As fast as they can acquire it is how fast they can dispose of it.
It’s not like if you saved up to buy this really gorgeous dress. You would want to wear that dress as many times as you can.
Yes. Definitely. Cheap clothes are usually made with cheap materials, cheap labor. They don’t last.
The one you saved up for is so precious that you want to wear it over and over. Even if you do, because it is made of better quality, it really lasts longer. You have that certain love and care for that item that you’d even have it dry cleaned.
Where do you recommend shopping?
I really love thrift shopping at ukay-ukay (second-hand shops). My top today is from an ukay-ukay.
I discover small local brands on Instagram. One of my favorites is Candid clothing. They have reversible tops you can wear in two ways.
There’s also Lazy Fair. They are very comfy. They’re very basic but very good fabric. Their styles you can easily mix and match with your wardrobe. They can easily be restyled so your clothes are more elevated.
In the book, there’s a checklist. You also talk about transitioning. For example, shifting from being a student to becoming part of the workforce. So following the checklist, we should be able to identify our personal style, right?
Yes. It’s really discovering also what is going on in your life when you look at a person’s closet. If it is not reflective of a person’s current lifestyle, then that’s why you always end up not having anything to wear. Because it doesn’t match your closet, lifestyle, or needs.
You may wear some items, but kulang pa (it’s insufficient) to complete your outfit. You may need an update and an upgrade of your wardrobe to match your current lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean donating everything in your closet.
The checklist will help you discover what works for your personality.
People are so concerned with what suits their body shape. I can teach you that. But most of my clients discover you must adapt to your body shape because it constantly changes. What you want to learn is how to balance proportions and how to create harmony in your outfit. That’s why I like to base it on personality. That’s more sustainable, whether you gain or lose weight.
In your opinion, how much do you need to create the perfect wardrobe?
If you’re a good solid wardrobe that’s not too expensive. It’s also a mix of thrift shopping and other sources. Maybe ten to twenty thousand for very basic stuff only.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Don’t worry about perfection. Don’t worry about getting everything done right away. If you’ve got an idea, write it down at that moment. Pour your heart into every detail. Your words should be felt, and you can make them count.
Yung perfection, saka na yun. Kasi may editor pa naman. (Perfection can wait. That’s what you have an editor for.)
Just write everything first.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
I’m very active now in my socials, especially on TikTok. You can follow me @MissKayceStyles.
My Instagram and Facebook is MissKayce.
You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
What would you like to add?
I hope that you enjoy your wardrobe journey. That people get a copy of my book, so you get inspired and follow me on my socials. I’ve really put effort into making fun content, but really helpful tips to take up the stress whenever you’re dressing up.
I always end my Lives with, “This is Miss Kayce, your favorite personal stylist. Always reminding you to Always Be Chic. I Love you guys. Thank you.”