Growing up in Bangkok, Thailand, Karina Tong was wild about patterns and color. In fact, she had dreams of studying fashion design in college, but her father said no. If she wanted to draw, she should study architecture, he said. And so she did.
While earning her bachelor’s degree from Chulalongkorn University, she participated in a “work and travel” program during the summer months. The program brought her to Galveston, where she got a hostess job at Happy Buddha restaurant. It was there that she met her husband, Adam, and she moved to Galveston permanently in 2010.
Tong now is working as an intern at Milton Architects in Houston. She just wrapped up designing a home in Magnolia for former Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak. She also is taking a class in pipe drafting to learn more about the oil and gas industry.
But the most exciting thing going on with Karina and Adam Tong at the moment is the anticipation of welcoming their baby boy, Aiden, due Oct. 21.
Tong has not let her growing belly keep her from staying trendy and fashionable. Quite the opposite. Her love for wild patterns and color is stronger than ever, and she’s got the closet to prove it.
In her two-story island home, shoes are stacked on a downstairs bookshelf according to seasons; purses hang on a nearby coat rack.
Upstairs, more purses are in full view atop a shelf in the master bedroom; earrings are pinned on cork bulletin boards, while matching necklaces in vivid jewel tones hang on hooks inside closet doors. Shoes on floor racks resemble a box of Crayons — bright orange patent leather 6-inch heels from Charlotte Russe, hot pink ones with gold-tipped toes from Target, and red chunky heels from Nine West.
Clothes in cool colors are on one side of the closet; warm colors on the other.
Bold, colorful dresses of royal blue, yellow and orange by Peter Pilotto, known for mixing florals and stripes, dominate. A bright Pilotto sundress with huge, red flowers on a blue background stands out. Other eye-catchers include Zara floral dresses, a vibrant zigzag design by Derek Lam and a Cambodian tribal dress.
Q:So, obviously less is not more for you?
A:No. More is more.
Q:Do you have a favorite color?
A:Just anything that is bold with lots of pattern and print.
Q:Why do patterns/prints speak to you?
A:Plain is boring. With patterns and prints, you have lines and movement, coordination of colors — it’s just more fun.
Q:Do you follow fashion blogs?
A:Yes. The Blonde Salad (Chiara Ferragni) and Song of Style (Aimee Song).
Q:Today’s pregnant women rarely shop in the maternity section and opt to accentuate their bellies. Do you find that liberating?
A:Yes. I recently wore a Bodycon dress by bebe. As I grow, I will be wearing vertically striped maxi dresses, belts under my chest to give me shape, cute stretch dresses and shirt dresses paired with leggings.
Q:Do you have any shopping secrets?
A:I like to shop for designer collections that collaborate with retail shops, because you get well-designed clothes from high-end designers at affordable prices. For example, Phillip Lim designs a line of purses for Target that start at $49, but at a designer shop, a similar purse would cost over $1,000. Derek Lam and Vera Wang have a line at Kohl’s; Isabel Marant and Anna Dello Russo design for H&M; Jason Wu and Peter Pilotto are in Target. I got a Mulberry purse for $79 at Target (they can go for up to $2,000).
Q:What other places do you like to shop?
A:Zara (they have good blazers), bebe, Michael Kors, Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe. For shoes, Nine West, Aldo and Coach, but now that I’m pregnant, I’ll be wearing more Crocs, FitFlops and wedges. For handbags, I like Louis Vuitton because they are strong and last a long time; Michael Kors — great design and affordable. Also, Coach — they are classy, sporty and fun.
Q:Any fashions secrets?
A:Yes, putting bright colors behind dark colors. When dressing for work, I can wear a really bright patterned dress with a dark blazer over it. So I still look professional, but after work, I can remove the blazer and be ready for an evening out.
Q:Do you have a dream handbag?
A:Chanel lambskin quilted classic because it’s elegant and timeless.
Q:What diaper bag will you be using?
A:I’d like a Louis Vuitton Neverfull, but only if someone gives it to me.
Q:How does one stay fashionable and sexy while pregnant?
A:Just have fun with it, because being pregnant is a wonderful time in your life. Don’t be afraid to grow.
Necklace/earring sets: 40+ (J. Crew and Zara)
Shoes: 60 pairs
Dresses: 100+ (big fan of Peter Pilotto)
Handbags: 30 (Michael Kors, Coach)
Bikinis: 20+ (many from Victoria Secret)
One: Derek Lam monokini sexy cutout bathing suit