How Now Brown Cow

In which our cow is always browner on the Normcore side.

Cow being me.

Brown being soy chai latte.


This passing post branches from a few questions I’m constantly asked by fellow University students (in their New Balance and cropped chinos, no less): What does one wear to pass as somewhat style-conscious during the Winter months? How does one wear a tracksuit to class without people passing judgement? What do you wear to the library? How cold does it need to be for me to wear UGG Boots out of the house? What do you think about Normcore? Don’t your feet hurt wearing heels all day? Do you think you’re mega-cool, drinking soy chai lattes? Why do fashion people take themselves so seriously?

That, and the fact that I just spent my entire day (save Day 2 of my 30 Day Bikram Yoga challenge) sitting on my backside with my nose in a Property Law textbook, and my face all up in my laptop.

I get it. The last thing you want to do when the going gets cold at the crack of dawn is to think about what the hell to put on your body, let alone crawl out of the toasty burrito that is your bed, and deal with all of the fools who choose to drive at such an ungodly hour.

Fashion does not actually take itself as seriously as one might assume – the illusion is cast to keep the club looking glamorous, while the heels come off under the table, and the image is cropped at the ankles. It’s an industry of businesses. People work damn hard. Work does not happen if you’re not comfortable. Comfort is as much a right as WiFi.

Not – and I repeat, not – to be confused with Normcore.*

While VOGUE has already declared the anti-fashion movement to be done and dusted, the same was so declared for Sports Luxe, which didn’t go anywhere for a full four seasons, and has yet to be purged completely from the high street (I, for one, never want to see a leather baseball cap again). Indeed, the trends do have their similarities – primarily vested in their seamless hybridism with sleepwear, sweatwear, and housewear (I’ll agree that there is something deliciously sinful about wearing a sportsbra with stilettos), and both are a radical-libertarian feminist’s societal dream. Where Sports Luxe holds is ground is in those stilettos, or a dress with sneakers – the sexy is not yet lost. Meanwhile, as much as your boyfriend will tell you he likes you better in pyjamas than a bikini, there is no sexy in Normcore, save the vague reference of your jersey sweater to being in bed, and your crotch dropped so low that you could fit a baby in there, as my Mother so generously put it when she saw my study outfit du jour.

So here’s the key: invest in anti-basic basics that would still pull their weight in a more sartorially focused ensemble, like this skivvy with a skirt, these trousers with a dress, and these ace flats with anything ever. Embrace the fluffy, the wool, no stilettos, yes, but, as Sports Luxe taught us, never underestimate the power of leather, patterned coffee cups and couch handbags. Right-click-save the look and wear it sparingly, as long as the UGG boots and tracksuit stay in bed together.

And, yes, that’s a soy chai latte.

And, yes, it was damn tasty.

H&M Australian Exclusive Shearling Vest – Celeste Tesoriero Wool Skivvy – Camilla and Marc Leather Pixel Trousers – Tibi Denni Loafers – Jaggar the Label Travel Mug – Benedetta Bruzziches Carmen Leather Shoulder Bag

*or being starkers – I wouldn’t suggest nudity unless you’re in Corsica.

  • Bernadette Williams

    Oh my god Margaret you have me in stitches!!! Your writing is so witty.

    And I never even thought about leather drop-crotch pants – those Camilla and Marc ones are now beating new UGGs on my wishlish lol

  • priyanka gupta

    HAHAHAAH “Do you think you’re mega-cool, drinking soy chai lattes?”
    people are so stupid…

  • amazing outfit and sunset pic !

    • Helena Hu

      did you even bother to read what she wrote, or are you just trying to get traffic?

      • (y) hahaha. there are so many of them. just ignore them, if they don’t bother reading this absolutely interesting post.

  • What a beautiful photo! I really like the h&m vest!

  • rhiannon butler

    it frightens me, sometimes, how articulate you are. No Fashion Blogger should be allowed to be this smart. Though you’re not the standard fashion blogger, that’s for sure…

    • Chelsea Dunstan

      haha the other airheads definitely don’t know what a radical-libertarian feminist is.

      anyway – great post MZ. Love your take on the anti-basic-basic… definitely better than anti-fashion-fashion! and so devastated that those Tibi loafers are sold out! do you happen to know if they’re coming back in stock?

    • Chanty

      Have exactly the same thoughts Rhiannon! :) I think there are just too many mediocre blogs that the general public are seeing thus the comments! I have full respect to bloggers like Margaret, we only see the glamorous side but the time, effort and content put into the blog is indeed hard work and passion. Cheers!

      And oh yes, I love the anti-basic basics advice. Practical indeed for normal people like us!

    • Shaelah

      This is precisely what I love about Margaret, and why it’s my favourite blog hands down! I am sick of fashion blogs that expect me to deeply care about the exact same thing that the other 50 fashion blogs are talking about in the exact same way that completely lacks personality…. Shine by three features beautiful photos (but never too many of them); intelligent, articulate commentary; and it’s funny! :) Thanks for always making the visit to your site worth it, Ms Zhang.

  • This look is too cute, hehe:)

  • Love your advice! The anti-basics basics sums it up rather well. I think of it as a basic with personality. Whether that’d be texture, color, or cut.
    Great look sipping your latte.


  • Lol!! This was great! Love your style and personality!!

  • monkeyshines
  • You are just so interesting to read. Your personality is so amazing! I love people who are witty. Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence and you… Inspirational girls with beauty and brains! You are truly inspirational

  • Loved reading this (almost as I love those shoes… but not quite!!) I am also a student, and sometimes my mind is blown how so many young people from so many different cities/countries can all look so similar – good, but the same! Is that the same at your Uni??

  • I absolutely love the style of you writing which contains sass and wit. I can’t say I was not one to have lazy days but never to go so far as to purchase UGGs (never understood wearing slippers outdoors :/). :)

  • Avanti

    Margaret you are honestly too funny! Have finished my morning exercise by laughing at what you have written.
    You are very talented MZ!


  • Pingback: How Now Brown Cow | StyleBuzzStyleBuzz()

  • Jeans Please

    Love ur pics so much!

  • Pingback: How Now Brown Cow | RUNWAY LUX()

  • Alexandra Aimee

    #ProblemsWeDontHaveInLosAngeles….. But as a result of us not having cold weather I think we tend to fetishize it a bit. We think of it as all snow flakes and toasting marshmallows. This post definitely reminded me what it’s REALLY like, lol!

    — Alex at Cashmere Kangaroo

  • Your writing is the best ever!

  • such a great post !! love your writing

  • Laura Lama F.

    Nice post girl!


  • You are so intelligent, talented and everything! I aspire to be like you.
    PS: Your uni outfits are every uni student’s (at least fashionable ones) dream. I can’t bring myself to wear my lace camis or fur coats as I feel overdressed and kinda uncomfortable at times so I always opt for the same pair boyfriend jeans :(

  • Pingback: Gear Up | RUNWAY LUX()

  • Pingback: Fancy Footwork | RUNWAY LUX()

  • Pingback: Fancy Footwork | StyleBuzzStyleBuzz()


Margaret Zhang 章凝 is an Australian-born-Chinese director, photographer, consultant and writer based between New York and Shanghai. Since establishing her website in 2009, Margaret has gone on to work with global brands including CHANEL, UNIQLO, Swarovski, YEEZY, Bulgari, Gucci, MATCHES, Under Armour, and Louis Vuitton in a wide range of capacities both in front of and behind the camera, while completing her Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws at The University of Sydney. Margaret’s directing, photography, and styling has been employed by the likes of VOGUE, L’Officiel, Harper’s BAZAAR, NYLON, Marie Claire, GRAZIA and ELLE internationally. She has been listed in Forbes Asia’s 30Under30 and TimeOut’s 40Under40, and her work has been recognized as shaping the international fashion industry by the Business of Fashion BoF500 Index for the past four consecutive years. She went on to be the first Asian face to cover ELLE Australia. In 2016, she co-founded BACKGROUND, a global consultancy for which she specialises in Western-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-Western cultural bridging for a range of luxury, lifestyle, and brand initiatives. In 2017, she exhibited a series of 39 unseen photographic works as a solo show in Sydney, and premiered her first short film – a 15-minute exploration of her visceral relationship with classical music on both performance and abstract planes – to critical acclaim.

For project enquiries
General enquiries