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Help, Please: Nhung Nguyen of Gargyle

Chief correspondent SuChin Pak finds out how other moms parent

Manhattan’s Lower East Side can feel like a small village. You know shopkeepers by name, the price of your neighbor’s apartment, and which restaurant has lease problems. And it’s always clear who has it together, like that new mom who looks freshly showered and dressed in pants with a zipper and (gasp!) heels. That’s Nhung Nguyen, one half of the duo behind chic clothing label and shopping destination Gargyle. And now that she’s a mom, I’m taking notes. — SuChin Pak

q&a!

You are raising your daughter in New York City. How the heck do you do that? What’s the secret to raising babies in big cities?
For me it’s all about 1) streamlining baby gear and 2) baby wearing. There are so many cool baby products out there, and they are hard to resist, but when you live in NYC, you need to edit down to the essentials. I like smart, transformer gear that adjusts and grows with my baby. My favorite way of getting around is walking and taking the subway with little Y-Vi strapped in the baby carrier. She is comfy and cozy, I’m mobile with both hands free, and it’s great exercise.

I’m kind of obsessed with maternity wear. I still wear my maternity jeans. Any tips on how to dress when you’re pregnant or running around with kids?
I bought a couple of pairs of maternity pants, but my favorite maternity outfit (which I still wear all the time) was a pair of baggy, nonmaternity, printed silk overalls by Vena Cava with a fitted tank top or T-shirt. Overalls are so comfortable since there is no waistband, they are usually adjustable so they will grow with you, they are spunky, and you can keep wearing them to chase the kids around later. I wore/wear them so often, I should be embarrassed, but I love them too much.

nhung nguyen!

Has your style changed since having a baby?
My philosophy is all about quiet confidence, and I think that has translated well into motherhood. My look is essentially the same as before, except I stay away from fabrics that easily snag or stain. Style wise, I’m more of an undercover mama. There is no reason to have my clothes screaming I’m a mom!

You and your husband, Don, are always the best-dressed couple. What style secrets do you borrow from him?
Uniqlo Heattech socks! They are warm without being too bulky.

Traveling is a big part of your life. Do you have any great family travel stories?
When Y-Vi was 5 months old, Don and I decided to test our new backpack carrier on a leisurely hike at Bear Mountain. I popped into the info center to ask the ranger the easiest way to the summit and started up the mountain. The climb got progressively steeper, to the point that we were on all fours up the side of a giant rock. Two hours in, we were still not at the summit and Y-Vi was getting hungry, so we found a spot off the trail to rest and nurse. This turned out to be a really lovely, hippie moment with nature. Long story short, we made it to the summit and down in four hours, encountered a snake, and realized that when I stopped at the info center, the ranger didn’t see Y-Vi because she and Don waited outside. Big mistake. Lesson learned.

nhung nguyen!

I know you still travel a lot to Vietnam. What are some Vietnamese customs you’d like to pass down?
Respect your elders, obey your parents, and love fish sauce.

What are the things you love at Gargyle right now?
I am obsessed with the Rachel Comey Jeopardy coat. It is two coats in one, great in the cold and rain, and so chic and tough. And the Gargyle Elwood bag in black and white, such a huge trend this season. It’s a fresh, classic, versatile accessory for fall and the holidays.

What was your Whoa, I’m a parent moment?
The night Don and I brought Y-Vi home from the hospital and it was just the three of us — no doctors, no nurses, no grandparents. Talk about pressure!

What was your last big parenting fail?
I was at a restaurant last weekend and tried to be MacGyver Mom and change Y-Vi’s diaper with her standing on a bathroom bench. As soon as the wet diaper came off, she peed all over the bench.

nhung nguyen!

What was your last big parenting success?
On a long car ride, I made Y-Vi go from crying relentlessly to laughing hysterically by vogueing.

Your daughter is writing a book about you; what is its title? Is Mom Wearing Her Tie-Dyed Sweatpants Again?

Your biggest vice?
I eat ice cream on the couch almost every night. I recently stepped it up a notch and bought waffle cones, too.

Parenting habit you swore you would never do, but now do frequently? Posting baby photos on Instagram.

Essential nursery item: Les Essentiels de la Vie leather tote bag. I bought it as my diaper bag. It has been so worth the splurge!

Beauty item: Sephora waterproof kohl liner.

Bedtime book: I Love You Through and Through.

Baby bath soap: Mustela.

Stroller: Aprica Presto.

Mealtime accessory: Prince Lionheart Bebepod. It’s an awesome space saver.

nhung nguyen!

Go-to baby gift: 7am Enfant Pookie Poncho.

Go-to family dinner: Rotisserie chicken with roasted veggies and couscous or rice.

Go-to gourmet dinner when you have time: Bun rieu (Vietnamese crab and tomato-based noodle soup).

Favorite app: Babycenter.

Bookmarked websites: Diapers.com.

Go-to kids’ shopping site/store: Sweet William, Cool Kids NYC, Caramel Baby & Child.

TV shows you can’t live without: The Mind of a Chef, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Real World Road Rules Challenge, The Voice.

On your bedside table: Ever since baby proofing, it has been iPhone only.

Always in your bag: A printed scarf. I use it as an accessory, a nursing cover, a bad-hair-day fix, a lightweight wrap for Y-Vi, and an emergency handkerchief or towel.

Photos: Stephania Stanley for DailyCandy