This month’s chat about life and all things style is with someone who’s style we have admired as soon as we started our business and Instagram account @monikagoestowork
Please introduce yourself
My name is Monika Mandal, I am 51 and am a Mum of three. I am also a vilamah* – we lost our youngest child last year at the age of 14. I have a full-time job in Investment Banking and a Computer Science degree so I like to encourage girls and young women into STEM. I also weight-lift and try to go to the gym four or five times a week. I started strength training when my youngest was six months old and I had stopped breastfeeding, so it’s been a good few years now. I find that strength training not only makes my body stronger, it helps with my mental strength too and has helped me grieve.
*Vilomah is a Sanskrit word that means ‘against a natural order’. It took years of pondering, research, and discovery for the word vilomah to come into the forefront. It’s used to describe a person whose child has died. It’s a complicated concept wrapped up in a small but powerful word.
How do you describe your signature personal style?
I would say that my style is quite classic but with a penchant for colour. I love tailored clothing and I try to buy the best quality that I can afford but am equally happy to mix pieces from the high street. I feel that my wardrobe is a collection of curated pieces that I simply love and will wear for many years to come. I recently started a new job and, instead of having the stress of buying a new outfit, I opted for one of my favourite suits that is about five or six years old!
Who’s style are you inspired by? In real life or online?
I am inspired by other people’s style that I see around me in real-life: someone walking past me on an escalator, sitting near me in a restaurant, as well as online on Instagram or whilst watching my favourite Netflix show. I am constantly being inspired and reaching for my phone to see if I can cyberstalk that item!
If you had to pick your favourite piece from the Just Add Style luxury silk scarf collection, which would it be and why?
That’s easy, it would be the ‘London Fashion Luxury Silk Scarf’ as I was born in London and I adore fashion and it’s a beautiful scarf in terms of quality silk and the pop of colour around the edges is the epitome of my signature style.
How did you become a fashion influencer?
Haha, I really don’t think of myself as an influencer. I started to share my looks for work after returning from a career break. I couldn’t find any petite Asian workwear bloggers that looked like me. I find that now it’s a creative outlet that I enjoy and the instagram algorithm challenges me. The online friendships that I have made are also incredible. I know that it’s called social media but I never dreamt of the amount of amazing women I have managed to meet through this little app.
Which three Instagram accounts do you currently love and want to recommend?
I love Yamiko Lloyd, @yamiko_ she is a mum with two young children and trained as a lawyer. She has absolutely impeccable style and sophistication and she decided to follow her passion and started her own label @yamiko_lloyd and I keep buying her pieces – so great when someone asks you what you are wearing? “Oh this piece was designed by my friend, she has her own label!”. I also love @thesilverkat. Kat is a hairdresser and her fingers are magic, but I love her style and silver hair styling tips. Finally, Alice from @alice_inthe_looking_glass, she is a professional stylist and is incredible at styling different body shapes.
Follow Monika and her chic workwear style @monikagoestowork