Photography: Jenna Potter Words: Georgie Abay
Given she used to be the Head of Asia-Pacific for online fashion retailer My-wardrobe.com, its no surprise that one look at Fay Rees and you immediately want to shop her look. The glamorous British mother is always impeccably dressed, even with a 10-month-old baby boy in tow. I have always loved fashion and used to buy fashion magazines at university instead of getting much-needed groceries, says Rees who recently relocated with her husband and son Bailey from Sydney to Singapore. My style has always been classic and is getting more so. I prefer to buy fewer investment pieces and I have a huge passion for accessories, particularly bags. I love shoes but they always need repairing, they experience more wear and tear overall whereas I can have bags for years and years. Nowadays she keeps her look simple. I have to put away the dry-clean only items for when I have a break from Bailey! I keep it really simple nice flats, easy-to-wear skirts and soft T-shirts for day. If anyone can tell you what essentials you should fill your wardrobe with, its Rees. Her staple items include a Bruuns Bazaar nautical top and skirt; Splendid T-shirts; an Issey Miyake pleats please navy skirt; Joseph and YSL black leather skirts and Theory silk shirts. Fashion aside, Rees says the best advice shes ever been given about motherhood is to follow your own tune. Everyone does it differently and there is no right or wrong but women tend to second-guess themselves so much and I think intuitively we know best how to look after our own children. And on surviving the first few months, she says routine is key: We got through it by getting into a routine and engaging a lovely baby nurse who gave us some great tips to get him sleeping. I think the only way to get through the first few months is to give up the rest of your life for a few weeks at least I tried to do too much have visitors etc when I wasnt really ready. I think if you can cocoon yourselves and sleep whenever you can, thats the only way. My husband was also amazing and never hesitated to support me at night so I didnt feel alone. Fresh off the plane, we visited the inspiring and stylish mother in her new city…
“Motherhood has taught me resilience, strength, the ability to love and patience. The best advice Ive been given is to follow your own tune. Everyone does it differently and there is no right or wrong but women tend to second-guess themselves so much and I think intuitively we know best how to look after our own children. Try and relax! Easier said than done I know. I think the hardest part is the relentlessness never a day where you can just switch off and recharge. The best part is the joy of loving your baby and enjoying them.
On her beauty routine:
It has definitely become more succinct! I am good in the morning, cleansing, moisturising etc but lazy before bed-time. I love products by Dermalogica, Sanctuary Spa and Shu Uemera and old favourites including Nivea and Dove. If Im feeling tired, I cheer myself up by using nice body lotions like Jo Malones Red Roses. I used to save them up for special occasions and realised that I just need to live and enjoy little pleasures everyday. I always manage to put on some makeup, usually when Bailey is sleeping so that I dont scare myself for the rest of the day.
On her exercise routine:
While I was pregnant, I was pretty sick until about 24 weeks which hastened any exercise routine. I was also anaemic so felt awful even walking too enthusiastically. Then at the end of the pregnancy when I felt better, I was diligent about exercising (lightly) most days. Since having Bailey Ive really struggled to get into a routine or to prioritise the time. Having just moved to Singapore from Sydney, Im trialling a new Pilates reformer class, which is what I used to do before having Bailey. Its great to have an hour to myself and to start to feel stronger again.
On her diet:
I should watch what I eat more than I do. Running after a very boisterous little one has kept the weight off, but I am not always as healthy as I should be! Im starting to get better at eating proper meals as early on with Bailey I didnt have the energy to feed myself properly but I know what a difference it makes to how you feel. Ill often have a decent breakfast eggs, toast, avocado and then a protein-based lunch fish, chicken, soup, salad etc. For dinner its a free for all – we eat everything and being in Singapore now there is so much choice so it has been great to try some new dishes.
To be completely honest I really didnt enjoy being pregnant at all. I felt so ill and was vomiting for much of the initial six months it felt like a permanent hangover without any of the fun of the night before. And it lasts morning, noon and night. I was pretty miserable. I also lost my father unexpectedly at around six months pregnant, which was devastating to my family and meant that what should have been a very happy time for us was tinged with great sadness. My father knew that I was expecting a baby boy, which he was delighted about and in a turn of fate, Bailey was born on what would have been his 75th birthday in the UK, so I know he is watching us. It is also why Baileys middle names are Francis Eso, after his grandfather.
I follow routines more for me than for Bailey to give my day some structure and maintain some sense of sanity. Ive always been quite routine-driven so its definitely easier for me. Im not so strict that things cant adapt though and with our recent move to Singapore Ive had to ease off, as we dont have set things to do each day as we did in Sydney. Wake-up times, naps and meal times are always pretty much the same each day though, which provides an anchor for both myself and Bailey.
On sleep deprivation:
I didnt really cope! I felt awful and with no family support there wasnt really anyone to turn to. We got through it by getting into a routine and engaging a lovely baby nurse who gave us some great tips to get him sleeping. I think the only way to get through the first few months is to give up the rest of your life for a few weeks at least I tried to do too much have visitors etc when I wasnt really ready. I think if you can cocoon yourselves and sleep whenever you can, thats the only way. My husband was also amazing and never hesitated to support me at night so I didnt feel alone.
On shopping for childrens clothes:
I love Petit Bateau, The Little White Company, Marks and Spencer, Seed and AlexandAlexa.
On her mother must-haves:
Cross-body bags I need my hands at all times! And my iPhone as I get lost all the time in a new city. It has also been a great tool connecting me to other mums.
On her career:
I started my career in management consultancy with Accenture, primarily focused on retail clients and eventually morphed that solid business experience into working with an online luxury fashion retailer, My-wardrobe.com, where I headed up the Asia-Pacific region. Unfortunately just before I had Bailey, despite the buoyancy of the business in Australia, international operations were closed due to cash-flow issues in the UK. The timing was very difficult given the pregnancy and the passing away of my father, but it also allowed me to focus on my new baby. Now in Singapore Im looking at getting into fashion retail/eCommerce again.
On achieving balance:
I dont think I have found balance yet quite honestly. I try but I always feel something is dropping. At the moment I dont feel I am using my business brain which I would love to do again.
Brands I love include Theory, Splendid, Vince, Joseph, Bruuns Bazaar, Carven, A.P.C and 3.1 Phillip Lim.”
Fays little list of loves:
Baileys cheeky laugh.
Listening to my boys splashing in the bath.
A moment to myself.
A morning latte and an evening glass of wine.
Being in the sunshine.
Chatting to my mum and sister.
Receiving a call/text/email from a friend Nala, our British Blue shorthair cat.
Unwrapping online purchases (guilty pleasure).
A chance to read I have missed finishing a book for the past year!
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it’s nice to hear (read) someone say i haven’t got everything worked out.
also, i was vomiting til 35 weeks with my first pregnancy and 20 weeks with the second – i feel you sister 😉
I loved reading this honest story. I had a very similar experience with my pregnancy and new baby days. I also lived in Singapore with a toddler. Enjoy it! We look back on our time fondly and even though at the time it was stressful it is also a time to relax and enjoy each day as it comes. Thank you for the story. A great mum xx
I had my eldest daughter whilst based in Singapore. I also experienced crippling post partum depression there. Don’t be afraid to seek out help if you do not feel your moods lift. I don’t know if you were assessed but had I been, I would have had every red flag there is but no one did, and I never saw it coming. First baby to a high achiever with no family support, no prior experience with children, a traveliing husband and dealing with a loss. That was me! So be very gentle on yourself. ( I went on to have… Read more »