what i can't live without

What Beverly Nguyen Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist. Photo: Sean Davidson

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hair spray and the electric toothbrush. We asked Beverly Nguyen — fashion stylist, owner of the homeware shop Beverly’s, and kitchenware brand Materials latest collaborator — about the pens she keeps in every purse, the suitcase she uses to transport clothes (and chicken), and the “very serious” scissors she recommends for left-handed people.

When I started working at Vogue, I visited the YSL office and they had these really beautiful pencils and I just was like, I need to adopt a uniform pen. What pen do I really like? Ever since then — that was probably 2013 — I was just like, I’m committing to a pen and that’s it, and that’s the Pentel. This pen brings me so much joy. I buy them in hundreds, so there are at least two or three pens in every bag — and I change my bag every other day or every day, twice a day if I’m going to dinner or something. I find comfort in knowing that if my phone dies, or if I need directions, or if I need to write somebody a note, I have it. During Fashion Week, actually, it happened so much. My phone kept dying and my purse couldn’t fit my Mophie charger, so I just started writing down on paper where I was going next.

The Berkey water bottle came about when I was living in L.A. a few years ago. I grew up in California, but I hadn’t lived there in seven or eight years, and I forgot how bad the tap water is. I was basically living with a monk and he introduced this whole sustainability, compost, camping lifestyle. We broke up, but I was like, There are some things I could really take away from this. And that was the Berkey. It’s a beautiful ritual, actually. You place the charcoal filter at the base and you don’t really need to replace that for — it depends how often you’re filling it up — but it’s six months usually. Then you pour in the water at the top and you let it come down. It’s almost like a drip coffee system. Then from there you have fresh filtered water, but it keeps it cool, too, which I think is great.

This suitcase is extremely important to me. I pretty much use it every day. I’ve been traveling so much for work and for summer, I’m also still styling, or I’m moving things from the store. I’m constantly filling up this suitcase because it’s so easy to carry around and nothing can break in it. I’m even putting chicken in it [for a food event]. I’m cooking out of a different kitchen and I need to store these compact Tupperware. I’m just going to pile them into the carry-on bag because it’s going to go into an Uber and it needs to be sitting a certain way.

Fragrance is really intimate to me, and it’s important that everybody has their scent, I think. For me, it can really calm my nerves or anxiety. The smell itself is a bit masculine, but it’s clean. I’ve been wearing it for ten years. I originally found it in a tiny little shop in London. I was in my early 20s and I don’t even think I understood pounds to U.S. dollars. I was just like, Oh my God, it’s so expensive for everything here. But I wanted to get a token of my trip. The shop had a few of the scents and I remember picking it up and it was like, I am obsessed with the smell. I need to have it, and it was in my price range. I put it on and I knew, and it’s been with me ever since.

My Chanel hand cream reminds me of my mom, who used to always carry Chanel fragrances or lipstick in her purse. My parents came from Vietnam. They met on a boat to America as refugees. They had zero dollars. Then their business — they worked in fashion, they’re manufacturers and they sew for a living — finally turned around and they were able to afford a bigger house and more things. [This hand cream] is very moisturizing and extremely addictive. It’s so pretty, too. It’s the perfect little indulgence to put in your bag.

I have a sick addiction to scissors. I think it’s very important, along with new underwear, that as an adult, you should have a ton of scissors laying everywhere. You should definitely have two scissors in the kitchen. You should have a pair in your office. You should have a pair in the closet. These Guggenhein ones are just extremely durable. Especially working around clothes all the time, I just love having this very serious, industrial-strength pair in any kit of mine. They’re in the Rimowa. I’m left-handed, so I feel like I really need something that’s actually very durable and makes me feel like I have control, and these definitely do that.

This company has this beautiful paper packaging that is so fun to rip apart. My favorite thing is when people really consider packaging in their product and design. I often give Mater soap as a housewarming present. I like the roughness of the bar. I have the rose one by my sink and the mugwort one in my shower. After you use it for a little bit, it molds into your hand. It’s not like a Dial soap where the ridges kind of come through and then it’s falling apart.

My foam roller is an extension of me. I need that foam roller every chance I can get it, even if it’s for one minute. The first time I discovered a foam roller was probably on my third or fourth award-season run. I was styling a bunch of people in L.A. and I was flying out every Thursday, and then a redeye back on Sunday night, and my body was just ripped apart. I was starting to do Pilates and there was an instructor who was like, We should just send you a foam roller to your hotel room. Now I do it all the time. I run outside and it’s pretty hard on my body, so I need it for my calves, lower back, and neck. Honestly, you have to do it alone because it’s embarrassing because it hurts so good. It’s like Q-tipping. You’re ashamed of the pain, but it feels so good, and you have to just let yourself sink into it.

The first time I wore this bra, I didn’t take it off for a couple of days. I have nine of them now. I’ve been dressing women for a decade, doing red carpet events. I grew up with two sisters and a mom, and I think for body image, how lingerie holds us together is really important. I struggle a lot with underwire and padded bras, and I struggle a lot with the dainty, simple triangle bras. I also have a really long collarbone distance to my chest, so I also can’t wear bras that are too high up either. The Balconette does this perfect half-corset fit that I think is always really flattering.

[Editor’s note: Nguyen modeled in Cuup’s latest campaign.]

I’ve been working on this for a year. I’m biased, because I obviously created this collaboration with them. I just love the team behind it. They’re also both Asian American and they’re wonderful. If you know anything about blades and sharpness and the intricacies of design, these knives are pretty much as good as it gets, which is super impressive. This colorway is new and something I selected and came up with, and there’s also a new knife guard that covers the blade. They usually just use paper with a matte finish, but I designed one with this indigo light denim material with a red embroidered spiral that has the Beverly logo and stitching around the edge.

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What Beverly Nguyen Can’t Live Without