By Anastasia Philopoulos
Rosa Gan has been a telecommunications software engineer in Ottawa for almost 15 years now, and while her job sounds rather serious, what Rosa wears to work daily reflects a warm, fun, and fabulous lady — who adores vintage fashion. When not busy solving a techie problem or colour-coding scarves, Rosa posts her best outfits on her blog What is Rosa Wearing?
OTTAWA MAGAZINE reached out to the fashionable Rosa to learn more about her style, her love of ballet, and her colourful office attire.
OTTAWA MAG: Software engineer and fashion blogger, that’s an interesting combo. Any other passions we should know about?
ROSA GAN: I have been a dedicated adult ballet student for more than 12 years. I take classes and rehearse altogether 5 times a week (in the evening and on Saturdays) at Les Petits Ballets. And I have been performing on stage twice a year since 2004. Every time I master a new movement, it is a new childhood dream coming true.
OM: Your style is very unique. How would you describe it?
OM: What kind of retro?
RG: I love the way 1950’s and 60’s vintage style wears — fitted upper body and waistline, big skirt, very feminine. The challenge is the condition of the materials. If possible, I prefer the vintage-style dresses made in the 21st century that have much better linings and zippers.
OM: What is it about vintage clothes that excite you?
RG: When I was growing up in mainland China during the 80’s and 90’s, most of the western movies available to us were produced before the 70’s. My favorites were Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Casablanca, and The Red Shoes (that started my dream of ballet). I LOVED and LOVED their look. And my dreams have come true: dresses and ballet.
OM: What inspired you to start your blog “What is Rosa wearing?”
RG: People compliment my style all the time in Ottawa, and in Europe when Richard (my husband) and I go on vacations. As his passion is photography, we decided to launch our home project in the summer of 2011.
OM: How do you choose which outfits make it onto your blog?
RG: All the photos you see (except the evening gowns) are what I wear to work every day. Richard and I shoot either in the morning before we leave home, or after work in the office building.
OM: How do you translate your style to office wear?
RG: These clothes look unusual nowadays but not 50 years ago. Because I am an engineer our dress code is flexible. All my 1950-inspired looks are quite conservative in modern society; therefore it is totally appropriate in the office.
OM: Where do you shop?
I like the Ottawa stores Young Janes, Allegro, and the bi-annual Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show. For my fancy shoes, Frou Frou is my treat. I am also a regular at Winners and The Bay. Plus whatever I find when we are on vacation in Europe.
OM: What are your style must haves? (I noticed decorative tights are a constant on your blog!)
RG: I cannot survive without tights because of the temperature. In the winter there is no choice. In the summer the office AC has no mercy. So it is a functional must-have and I decided to make a statement of it.