Even if you’ve never watched the 2004 season of MTV’s The Real World, don’t follow The Hangover franchise or haven’t caught an episode of Once Upon A Time, Jamie Chung is probably on your radar. The reality-star-turned-actress’ always inspiring outfits have landed her spots on all manner of best dressed lists and celebrity sites; images from her own lifestyle blog, What The Chung?, are a constant fixture on Pinterest. People just can’t get enough of the way she puts things together.
For me, it’s that very innate ability to mix and match that’s most refreshing about Chung’s look. Instead of relying on this season’s It item or a straight-from-the-runway ensemble to look good, she takes the time to hunt down special pieces that feel true to her. Some of her all-time favorites have been from her all-time favorite store, T.J.Maxx, with which she’s now partnered to talk about her personal style evolution and shopping secrets. She shared some of those insights—from the fashion moment she most regrets to Korean skincare tips to the celeb closet she most wants to raid—with me last week. Read on for the scoop, and check the slideshow above to see how her wardrobe’s changed over the years!
Lucky: Most people first know you from The Real World. What’s changed about your style since you were on the show? What’s stayed the same?
Jamie Chung: I was so young on that show! My style has evolved over time, but I have always stayed true to who I am, expressing my best self every step of the way. That said, I had that creative fashion spark as a child and started dressing myself pretty early on. I’ve always been attracted to a girly look—I’m a big fan of the color pink. As I’ve matured, my biggest transition has been finding quality designer pieces that show off my more refined style. Places like T.J.Maxx are perfect for finding those pieces that are truly me.
Do you have any fashion moments you’d like to forgot?
The bandana top. I think I wore two of them to two different proms. NOT appropriate.
With all your work travel, you must have packing down to a science! What’s always in your carry-on?
Sunscreen, a good book, my camera and comfortable shoes. I’ll usually pack some daytime looks as well, and some pieces I could wear to a nice dinner/cocktail party.
Although you only recently began working with T.J.Maxx, you’ve actually been shopping the store since you were a kid. Any tips for finding great stuff at a designer discount store?
Yes, I have been! It’s a ritual I shared with my mom from a very young age. My secret to scoring at T.J.Maxx is that I go often. Each store gets more than 10,000 new items each week, so I never know what new designer pieces I’ll stumble upon without breaking the bank! What’s better than that?
What was your first ever designer purchase?
Funny enough, it was for one of my final Real World interviews. I had purchased these beautiful Stuart Weitzman pointy black heels.
Anything you’re on the hunt for right now?
Most recently I was on a hunt for the perfect dress to wear to the Godzilla premiere in L.A. I ended up finding a gorgeous designer canary yellow silk cocktail dress at T.J.Maxx that made me feel so confident and comfortable walking the red carpet. I wish I would have worn a different color heel, though, so now I’m on the hunt for a killer pair of strappy stilettos that I can wear with the dress for a friend’s wedding this summer.
What five beauty products can’t you live without?
As an actress, you’ve got a spend a lot of hours in a full face of heavy makeup. What do you do to keep you skin from freaking out?
This is why I can’t live without my Clarisonic. Even after I wash my face with cleanser I still end up having a layer of makeup on my face. I have to use my Clarisonic. I promise I’m not endorsed by them, but I feel like I should be! I’ll also use a really gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer. At the moment I’m using one by Pur-lisse.
You were born and raised in California—how would you describe California style? What are some big differences you’ve noticed between East and West Coast style?
I really like to keep things casual and effortless when it comes to my fashion choices, which I think is a true reflection of the Cali girl inside me. For example, I’ll pair distressed jeans and a white t-shirt with a standout red blazer and designer shoes to glam it up a bit. But now that I’m also an East Coast resident, I’ve noticed that my style is a bit edgier. I’m taking more risks and mixing and matching patterns and colors. I just feel the freedom to get a little more experimental with my fashion.
Although you were raised in California, you’re second-generation Korean. Korean beauty is really having a moment right now—are there any great beauty brands you use, or tricks you’ve learned from family members?
Well, pale skin is greatly desired in Korea and my mom has always been a huge advocate of that. I’m following suit only because I don’t want skin cancer! I am very active outdoors so I pile on the SPF. I’m also trying to grow out my eyebrows. I feel like Asian girls are on point with their eyebrows! The thicker, the better—and it also makes you look more youthful.
You’re engaged [to actor Bryan Greenberg]! Any ideas on your wedding look yet?
It’s still early and I’m busy traveling/working. Bryan and I promised we would start our planning as soon as we get back from Asia. We have plenty of time!
If you could trade closets with any celebrity, who would it be?
I love Olivia Palermo’s style, she’s innovative with it—constantly mixing things up, incorporating high and low! I also love Miranda Kerr’s style, though I’d have to get everything hemmed because she’s so much taller than I am!