Invest in Clothing You Love With Policy Manager Jena Wuu

Jena is the only person I know in San Francisco with A. a walk-in closet and B. a walk-in closet that isn’t even halfway full. I envy the way she can find and invest in pieces that are wearable, but also unique. (Check out the Acne Studios Manhattan sneakers).

Learn her secrets (hint: spend time in Berlin) and how building a curated wardrobe you love takes time—and that's okay.

So, who are you? :)

Hi! I’m Jena. I work on public policy at Facebook in the Bay Area. I grew up in Alabama and currently split my time between San Francisco and Berlin, where my partner Simon lives.

I’m passionate about travel, the arts, and college football (Roll Tide!) —and I love cities.

I was a German major at Carleton College in Minnesota and fell in love with the country when I went there as a student. When I graduated, I moved to Germany to live and work. 6 years later, in 2012, I started to work at Uber. At the time, I read that Uber had launched in London, its second city outside of the US. I guessed the CEO’s email address at the time, and asked him if Germany was in the plans.  We flew through the interview process—a few weeks later I found myself on a plane to Amsterdam to launch Uber there. That means being the first person on the ground running everything to start the business. Soon after Uber Amsterdam got off the ground, I launched Uber in Berlin and Munich, and came back to the US to launch in Florida and Nashville. After that, I transitioned to work on public policy. I now work on public policy at another tech company. 

How would you describe your style?

Urban and simple. I’m also going to go with “comfortable” even though people might think it sounds frumpy. I hate that comfort is so often dissociated from style. I want to own “comfortable” because it really is the #1 most important thing to me.

Jena wasn’t impressed by my 37-piece capsule wardrobe challenge.

Jena wasn’t impressed by my 37-piece capsule wardrobe challenge.

How has your style changed overtime?

I am the younger child of 2 so I had a lot of hand me downs and my sister was a tomboy. We wore a lot of knee-length Duck Head shorts. And I was a big Atlanta Braves fan so I wore a lot of baseball caps.

Jena hangs out in a cave in her baggy jeans and sideways baseball cap.

Jena hangs out in a cave in her baggy jeans and sideways baseball cap.

I moved to Minnesota for college and there it was about layers and hoodies and doing whatever it took to stay warm. I survived my first Minnesota winter with just a thrift coat—whoops. Starting my sophomore year, I got a ski jacket and was obsessed with it because it was the first expensive piece I owned—over $100.

The favorite jacket.

The favorite jacket.

I then moved to Germany and also spent a few years in Austria, and my style adjusted with the rain and me starting to work. I thought more about how I presented myself. I was also conscious that I was younger than my work colleagues (on top of already looking younger than my age). I started presenting myself in a way to make me look older—leather boots and not wearing hoodies anymore.

To be honest, I used to really struggle with exploring fashion. First, I grew up in a time when you you didn’t see much Asian representation in magazines or movies, and in a place where there weren’t a lot of Asian people around. It felt like beauty was defined by blonde hair, blue eyes, and freckles—and that wasn’t me. So I never felt particularly pretty growing up and didn’t think it would be worth putting in effort on how I look. Second, I used to think that it was superficial to enjoy fashion and that it was somehow a badge of honor to not care about it.

But as I got older, I started to try new things and just go for it. I learned that caring didn’t have to mean that you were shallow. Once I accepted that, it just naturally grew from there. I found brands that fit me really well and started to invest in higher quality pieces.

Jena shows some photos of favorite German cities and the cities where she launched Uber. She wears a  Libertine–Libertine  skirt,  Acne Studios  top, and  Acne Studios Manhattan sneakers .

Jena shows some photos of favorite German cities and the cities where she launched Uber. She wears a Libertine–Libertine skirt, Acne Studios top, and Acne Studios Manhattan sneakers.

How do you make sure your outfits can go from work to out, to any aspect of your life?

I’m lucky to live in places that are relatively casual—Berlin and SF. And I would almost always rather be underdressed than overdressed. Maybe it comes back to the “comfortable” thing.

What are your go-to looks?

I love this first look because I can easily wear it to work when I know I have external-facing meetings during the day and still want to feel like me. This is a Libertine–Libertine skirt, Acne Studios top, and Acne Studios Manhattan sneakers.

My other go-to outfit is more casual and is all Acne Studios: sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers. Acne is a brand that fits me well and makes me feel great, and I stick with it whenever I’m in doubt.

What are some outfits that you have that make more of a statement?

I have this dress that I call my “warrior dress”. It is a Hien Le black turtleneck long sleeve dress that’s a bit tighter than my usual clothes. Maybe there’s something about the tightness that feels like armor; I wear it when I need to feel more powerful than usual.

Jena presents to all of Uber in her  Hien Le  "warrior dress". (I was the stage mom in the front row.)

Jena presents to all of Uber in her Hien Le "warrior dress". (I was the stage mom in the front row.)

Another favorite statement outfit is this tie-dye shirt dress from Reiss with a Calvin Klein white button down underneath. The cut is unique. And I don’t do a lot of color and even though it is a modest tie dye it makes me feel adventurous.

Jena wore this outfit when she met her partner Simon in Berlin. It has some good vibes.

Jena wore this outfit when she met her partner Simon in Berlin. It has some good vibes.

What has stayed in your closet? What have you happily parted ways with?

I used to wear a lot of color—reds, yellows, and bright green. But color takes more effort than I was willing to give. It is a lot easier to get dressed in the mornings now because I know everything will go together.

When I was younger, I used to think I needed a new Forever 21 top every weekend for going out. But now fit and quality matter a lot more to me and I don’t think those clothes ever fit me well.

What are your favorite brands and stores?

My favorite shop for discovering new brands is VooStore in Berlin. And as you’ve seen, I am a huge fan of Acne Studios. I also like Y-3, the partnership between Yohji Yamamoto and Adidas, and I’m into MM6, the more affordable brand from Maison Margiela.

What's your advice on finding a style and building a closet you love?  

It’s a process and that is okay. Go to places that may intimidate you and try things on—it’s okay to not buy anything. If I have to think for more than five seconds about whether I like a piece, then I know it isn’t right for me. I only buy things I put on and know immediately that I love it.

 

Thanks, Jena!