Lai pairs a Preen (preen.eu) skirt with a Creatures of Comfort sheer polka-dot tank. “It’s my favorite piece from last season,” she enthuses of her top. “Two of my friends told me that they each wore it to a New Year’s Eve party and saw someone else wearing the same [thing].” She layers on a Ys (ysclothing.com.au) wool cardigan and insulated Heattech tights from Uniqlo(546 Broadway between Prince and Spring Sts, 917-237-8800 • 666 Fifth Ave at 53rd St • 31 W 34th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves • 877-486-4756, uniqlo.com) for added warmth.
Even Lai’s feet stay cozy in these Robert Clergerie (robertclergerie.com) suede platform flats.
Proving how versatile her cold-weather staples can be, Lai swaps in a Marni (21 E 67th St between Fifth and Madison Aves, 212-257-6907 • 161 Mercer St between W Houston and Prince Sts, 212-343-3912 • marni.com) dress with her Ys cardigan and Uniqlo tights for a completely different look.
Friendship bracelets that were gifts from close pals, vintage bangles and a cage cuff Lai purchased at a Mexico City craft market make for an eclectic mix when stacked together. An understated glass-and-gold ring by Maison Martin Margiela(363 Bleecker St between W 10th and Charles Sts; 646-664-1655, maisonmartinmargiela.com) allows the arm candy to be the focus.
These slingback wedges are also from Robert Clergerie. “I mostly wear flats since I run around a lot, but I am trying to wear more heels these days,” she says.
Lai juxtaposes a Melissa Joy Manning amethyst earring with a less expensive American Indian stud she purchased at Western Spirit (395 Broadway at Walker St, 212-343-1476).
Rather than split a pair of turquoise-and-gold studs between both ears, Lai wears them beside each other on one lobe.
RECOMMENDED: Most stylish New Yorkers
Jade Lai, 34, Nolita; creative director and owner of Creatures of Comfort(205 Mulberry St between Kenmare and Spring Sts; 212-925-1005, creaturesofcomfort.us)
Her personal style: “Eclectic, fun and easy.”
Her inspirations: “My environment and my mood.”
About her store: “It’s certainly fun and eclectic, but also functional and understated. It carries everything from Bernhard Willhelm (bernhard-willhelm.com), Cosmic Wonder (cosmicwonder.com) and Arielle de Pinto (arielledepinto.com) to A.P.C. (apc.fr), Isabel Marant (isabelmarant.tm.fr) and Faux/Real (fauxrealnyc.com).”
Favorite stores: “Narnia(672 Driggs Ave between Metropolitan Ave and North 1st St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn • 161 Rivington St at Clinton St, 212-979-0661 • narniavintage.com) has some really cool, funky ’80s dresses. I like to go into Matter(405 Broome St between Centre and Lafayette Sts; 212-343-2600, mattermatters.com) and drool over everything. There is this marble table with brass legs that I really want one day. Melet Mercantile (84 Wooster St between Broome and Spring Sts, 212-925-8353) is the world’s most amazing and expensive vintage clothing store. I go there for inspiration. De Vera(1 Crosby St at Howard St, 212-625-0838 • 26 E 81st St at Madison Ave, 212-288-2288 • deveraobjects.com) is a house of curiosities, featuring some of the most beautiful things you can dream of.”
Her style motto: “Be yourself.”
Favorite NYC designers: “I have too many! To list a few: Ninh Wysocan (ninhwysocan.com), who is a sculptor making jewelry. I love working with her on custom pieces. Thomas Chen of Emmanuelle (emmanuelle-nyc.com) has a very simple and understated aesthetic [for his women’s clothing]. I also love him as a dear friend. Victoria Bartlett of VPL (store.vplnyc.com) has an amazing sense for color and a great sense of humor. Her collection gets better every season.”
Her New York style icon: “Diana Vreeland, only one of the most stylish women in the world! She was worldly, individualistic and decadent.”
How her style has evolved: “It’s not too different, actually. It has verged on the extreme here and there, but remained the same at the end. I think now my taste is just a lot more expensive.”
Favorite salons: “I have been cutting my own hair for the past two years, but I really miss Cervando Maldonado, my stylist at Byron’s Beauty Room (byronbeautyroom.com) in L.A. I always ask for Nick Mahrer at Great Jones Spa(29 Great Jones St between Bowery and Lafayette St; 212-505-3185, gjspa.com) for a Thai massage. It’s close to my house, and there’s a sauna and a steam room. There’s also a Jacuzzi, which I am not into unless the place is empty. And I never go on the weekends—it’s coed, so there are sleazeballs there sometimes.”
How she describes NYC style: “Functional, highly aware and expressive.”
Follow Cristina Velocci on Twitter: @cvelocci