Feb 9, 2018

Clothing Swap

Clothing Swap

I attended my first clothing swap this week.  I didn't know what to expect, but am always happy to have a reason to edit items I seldom wear.  And, more importantly, I love any excuse to spend time with fabulous women, drink wine and chat...with the added bonus of doing a little free shopping at the same time!

Our hostess was so gracious and well-prepared.  She rented racks so the clothing could be displayed for us to peruse. There was delicious food and drink - we got right into it.  While we sipped, we scoped out our picks.


I am pretty good about consistently clearing things out that I don't wear, or love.  That being said, there is always something I've held onto with the intention of wearing, but for some reason it never makes it out the door.

Here is a sampling of what I brought:

Club Monaco striped sweater


This was a gift.  I really love Club Monaco so I wanted it to work.  However, every time I've worn it, I've known the fit isn't right on me. Also, in order to make it look good, I had to think about styling it strategically.  A basic piece like this shouldn't be that difficult. TIme to pass it on.

It got eyed up a couple times, but again, the fit didn't work. Happily, I received a message from Shauna (our lovely host) that she claimed it at the end of the night as she spotted it while she was packing up.  It's fabulous on her!  Also pictured in the photo is an Aritzia scarf I also brought to the swap. I love the print and weight of this one - just not the right shade for me.  Glad she snagged them both.

 Wrap-style long cardigan from Anthropologie

 I bought this piece for my trip to Italy.  I wanted something light I could have in my purse to throw on to cover my shoulders in churches.  I loved the idea of it, however, I have not worn since as browns aren't my colour palette.  My friend borrowed it for a trip to New York before I wore it to Italy so at least it is well-traveled.  Cost-per-wear may be low, but good memories attached.  That same friend actually ended up with it at the swap and I think it works so well on her.  And I will always have this picture of it at the Vatican...

The system was simple.  We each drew a number out of a bowl which determined our order for selecting our finds. I was #2 which got me in there right at the start.

 Here is what I ended up with:

 Tweed/fringe Zara top

Ok, the fit isn't perfect.  I will need to layer it to make it work.  But, I love the texture, colour and details.  

 Tweed, black panel pencil skirt

Obviously I am drawn to texture and print.  This is an easy one that I can wear to work.

Navy hoodie


 Just cozy.  Great for after work on the weekend.  And I do love navy.


After the first couple of rounds, we realized that because we are all so different (shape, style, colouring, lifestyle) we were all gravitating toward different things.  At that point, it became a free-for-all where everyone worked together to help each other find what would best suit.  Women can be so fabulous that way.

A couple of shout-outs:

Most cohesive haul overall


This shopper definitely got top marks for ending up with the most cohesive collection!  We had been chatting throughout the night about the concept of a capsule wardrobe and how great it is to have versatile pieces that easily mix and match. Her picks meet this criteria - a palette of navy, red, white and grey with classic prints such as stripes, dots and stars. 


 The biggest haul

This swapper ended up with the biggest haul of the night. Here are a few faves from her pile that caught my eye:

Not everyone can wear this bright orange, but we all agreed she is the right person to wear it.  The print is so eye-catching and such a stylish silhouette.

This pic doesn't do it justice, but I am so sad I overlooked this striped "Apres Ski" T-shirt.  Didn't look like much on the hanger, but was adorable on. She also found a fabulous fitted black jacket (as well as several other blouses, bags etc.).  


Throughout the evening it was so fun to chat about style and see how the garments looked on each wearer.  And the joy they brought their new owners! 

All clothing that wasn't claimed will get a new home through donation to local charities. 

Thanks again girls for such a wonderful evening - highly recoommended for anyone considering a similar event. 




Feb 3, 2018

Some style math

Some style math

I talk about cost-per-wear a lot. I factor it into my decision making with so many purchases, feel good (even excited) when I am driving down the CPW on a garment, and encourage clients to consider this theory when waffling on pricier or investment purchases.  

Here is the forumula in its most basic form:

Cost/Wear (ie: how much you paid divided by number of times worn)

This comes in handy with pieces that are going to be workhorses in your wardrobe; or that you are going to wear over several years.  They may be more expensive, but, if you invest in good quality they will serve you well over time and should end up owing you nothing.  Watches, classic jewelry, leather jacket, quality footwear, winter coat etc.  

Here's an example from my own closet.  A couple of years ago, I was in the market for a new pair of dark skinny jeans.  I knew I would wear them a lot, and that comfort and fit were key.  I did my research and ended up splurging on a pair of the Paige Transcend Denim as they got stellar reviews on the ultra soft fabric and shape-holding technology.

At the time I paid around $200.  On average I wear them about 3 times a week (weekends and some week nights) in all months except summer.  I have already had them over 2 years and they are still going strong.

$200/240 approx wears so far = .83 cents per wear

So, I am already less than a dollar per wear with a lot of wear left in them.  That is math that makes sense to me - and I feel good about the purchase.

Last March, I was in New York with a girlfriend.  I came across a cropped denim jacket with lace detail. I felt it was a splurge at almost $200 (USD), but I was on vacation and the piece made me happy.  Another thing I tell clients is, if it brings you joy (yes, I am drawing upon the Marie Kondo tidying philosophy), there can be some justification in that as well.  

Little did I know, it would quickly become one of those pieces I wear all the time, and that I would be congratulating myself on its cost-per-wear.  And, because I don it so frequently, it's cropping up in many photos that have special memories attached.  There is added value in that for sure.  Joy, memories and multiple wears driving the cost down. 

Here is the jacket in our engagement photos:

Family dinner at Disney:

Cheese and wine tasting tour in Paris (on our honeymoon)

Looking at these photos, I know there is also something to the concept of love-per-wear which I recently read about in a blogpost by Modern Mrs. Darcy.  This equation isn't clear-cut.  It is a...you feel it in your gut kind of  thing.  Some pieces may fall in both categories like my denim jacket (it brings me joy, has wonderful memories attached, and I wear it enough to see financial benefits over time).  Others, will never be like that, but pack such emotional punch - you don't regret a penny spent.

Here are some of my own recent examples:

Embroidered dress bought to wear to my bridal shower:  

Cost: $250/4 wears = $62.50 a wear

Ok, not the best $$ return yet and most likely never will be.  But, when I consider I wore it and felt fabulous at my shower, at the Ovarian cancer gala, to another work gala with my husband and for dinner at the Eiffel tower...my gut tells me it was a good investment.  And, it is hanging at the ready in next time I need a pretty dress to wear.

At my bridal shower:

At the Ovarian cancer gala:

Dinner in the Eiffel Tower:

And lastly, this example is the easiest of all for me, and where I realize you have to think about love-per-wear when justifying purchases.  

Wedding dress:

Cost: $1200/1 wear = $1200 per wear

Worth it for how I felt on that day (though maybe I should plan a party where everyone wears a wedding or old bridesmaid dress to start driving the cost down...).  But, in the meantime, I will justify it through the endless enjoyment I receive from the pictures.  That's got to count for something.

I agree whole-heartedly with Modern Mrs. Darcy's words:  "The maximizer in me loves CPW, but I also want to open my closet and see clothes I love.  Love per wear:  it's a real thing".  

So now when I talk fasion math with my clients - there are 2 very important and rewarding equations to consider.  I see value in both.

Jan 28, 2018

Statement necklaces - simple style

Statement necklaces - simple style

I've been working with a lot of clients lately who want easy, versatile wardrobes. Comfortable pieces that mix and match without having to put in much effort or thought. 

That being said, they still want to feel polished and pulled-together, without breaking the bank. 

Accessories are the perfect way to add personality and interest to a look. A statement necklace easily adds dimension and style to the simplest of outfits. They can also be a great styling trick. If you want to elongate your frame - go for a longer or pendant style. If you want to draw the eye upward (maybe to balance out larger hips or bust area) a choker or bib style could do the trick.

There are so many options out there - the catalog below hi-lights a few that caught my eye recently. These feel versatile enough to take you from work to weekend.

Click here for my catalog of statement necklaces.

image above courtesy of Collage Vintage

Jan 10, 2018

Outfit Planning

Image courtesy of Pretty Chuffed

One thing I have been working on (and will hopefully continue to improve on in 2018) is weeknight meal planning. It's never been my thing.  Maybe because I was single for so long, I would just sort it out on the fly (frequent visits to the corner sushi shop or the local soup guy).  And, let's be honest, my creativity lies more in the closet than in the kitchen.  But now it's no longer just me, we have been working on being more organized so we don't have to grapple on a daily basis with the "what's for dinner?" question.

So many of you have this down.  Organized, creative and whip up delicious dinners with ease.  I love learning new tips and getting inspiration - slowly, I'm getting there.  

Many people experience their quandry at the start of the day.  Blankly staring at the closet:  "what am I going to wear?".  "How can I have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear?".  This - I can help with.

As with meals, some advance planning can lead to stress free mornings, getting you out of the house feeling pulled together in a timely fashion.

Set aside time:

On Sunday, before the start of the work week, I set aside some time to put together outfit combinations. This takes me about 20-30 minutes but feel free to give yourself more or less.  Have fun with it - this is a time to be creative and shop your closet.  It is difficult to feel inspired and come up with innovative ideas first thing in the morning.  Planning ahead usually results in more interesting looks and maybe even help you gain a few extra zzzzs...

Check the weather:

I would do this anyway.  I like to know what to expect for the week.  Before puting together outfits, I always do a quick weather check so the looks I set aside align with what is going on with the elements.  If it is going to be really chilly - maybe some cozy sweaters. If the temps look like they are going to climb (it will happen), maybe some layers.  You get the idea.   

Start with a few looks at a time:

Above:  an example from my closet.  In the corner, I always set out a series of outfits.  Here I have:  1)  printed embroidered dress with printed bomber jacket 2) red striped blouse with pinstriped pencil skirt 3), metallic sweater, black shell blouse, animal print pencil skirt, pendant necklace 3) embellished cardi-style jacket with knit dress 4)  over sized blue suede cardi, black knit dress, plaid fringe scarf

Starting with a week's worth of outfits might feel too much when you are getting started, so maybe begin with 3.  I usually set aside at least 4, so I have options in the morning depending on my mood.  I may have put an outfit together, but for whatever reason, am not feeling it on a particular morning.  Mid week - I look at the outfits that remain and how I've been feeling and quickly add in a look or two.

Consider the 20/80 principle:

I know you've heard this and when I work with clients I've found it to be pretty accurate:  most of use wear 20% of thier wardrobe 80% of the time.  When planning outfits you will definitely have your basics and go-to pieces.  But, this is a time to bring out those gems that you have (but rarely wear) and try and work them into a look.  Planning outfits might lead you to start to wear more of the garments hanging in your wardrobe.  Shop those before spending more $ on new pieces!  Also, if you are taking the time to make outfits and still don't wear these pieces, it's probably a sign to let them go.  

Complete looks:

When putting outfits together don't forget to add in a completer piece (this could be a blazer, cardigan, light bomber jacket etc.) to add dimension to the look.  Think about your accessories (this is where you can express your personality) and footwear.  


If creating outfits doesn't come easily, remember you can always look to others for inspiration.  Magazines, blogs, style apps all can help.  A lot of my clients are loving the virtual closet - they look at outfit combinations I've made for them using their own clothing via an app they can access on on their devices.  It's like I am in the closet with them, they just need to pull the outfits that speak to them each week.

Above:  sample outfits on ipad using the Virtual Closet service

Fail proof looks on hand:

It's good to always have a couple of go-to looks at the ready that you feel amazing in and that are easy to throw together.  These could be comprised os some of your favourite basics or neutrals.  Some mornings, all you need is comfort and something familiar despite your fabulous pre-prepared outfit creation.  

Let me know how it goes - hopefully if you set a side a little time in advance, the start of your days will go that much more smoothly.  And I will continue to work on my evenings (with a little help from Jamie Oliver - my New Year's gift to myself).



Oct 9, 2017

Virtual Styling Subscriptions - a personal style coach at your fingertips

Have you ever considered hiring a personal stylist, but weren't sure if you were ready to invest the time and effort?  But, then somehow you end up aimlessly walking through shops, or wish you had a second opinion in the fitting room?

I'm here to help.  Based on feedback I've been getting from my clients who have been using the Virtual Closet service and app I provide, this is a tool that definitely makes getting dressed and navigating the wardrobe so much easier.  

I am offering virtual style subscriptions on a monthly basis.  This is a light introduction to working with a stylist on your own terms - and from the comfort of your own home.

Here's how it works:

1) click on this "let's get started" link and fill out the questionnaire so I get to know a bit about you and your style needs

Let's get started!

2) I'll send you a link to your own "virtual closet".  Set aside a bit of time to photograph everything in your wardrobe.  Once you've taken the photos I'll take it from there!

3) I'll sort the items in the closet and start to make outfits ("looks") for you - in the subscription service you will get 5 new personalized looks every month.

4) With this service, you can email me questions about looks you are putting together, send photos from the changeroom or text me your style quandries.

5) I will be keeping a close eye on your wardrobe and making recommendations on pieces you might want to consider for your next purchase.  These recommendations will come to you on a personalized shopping list with direct links - so you don't even need to leave your house!

Monthly subscriptions start at $20 a month.  

Feel free to email me if you have any questions.  Look forward to chatting with you!  Lori xo

Sep 24, 2017

Nostalgia and the Closet Edit

What to do with Great Aunt Gladys' squirrel fur coat? This has been a question in my family for over 25 years.  

My aunt passed this on to my mum sometime in the 80s when I was a teenager.  My mum always talked about how it had been so fashionable when my aunt donned it.  It was very expensive.  High quality.  Perfect for a small-town mayor's wife to wear to dress up functions.  That sort of thing.  

It's true, my aunt was very particular, had good taste, and liked to wear nice things.  So - I did kind of believe her, even though it was made of squirrel.  And in my eyes, very ugly. 

My aunt stopped wearing it in her senior years and gave it to my mum.  I made it very clear that she absolutely could NOT to wear that coat in public.  My 14 year old self would die of embarassement.  She agreed - but did opt to wear it on chilly winter mornings while pulling the garbage bins down the driveway...it was "just so warm".  I was thankful she was fast at that task, and hopeful no one would notice.  Or, on the occasional winter power outage this was definitely her garment of choice.

To be fair to the coat, my aunt was almost 6 feet tall and my mum barely 5"3 so it was overwhelming on her frame to say the least.   I tried it on this weekend, while visiting with my dad.  I'm also around 5"3, so you get an idea of the fit - oversized.  

sOver the past few months my dad and I have chatted about what to do with this coat.  But, have never gotten beyond that point, because even though no one in the family has really ever liked it, there is some true nostalgia and humour wrapped up in the whole thing.  

I come across nostalgia pieces so often when working on closet edits with clients.  There are usually those garments that take up space, aren't being worn; but carry some powerful memories or emotion.  Depending on where the client is with the piece, I often recommend setting it aside in a separate area of the closet (or in a box) with other memorabilia pieces such as: grandma's old scarf, grad dress, bridesmaids dresses etc.  Eventually clients know when they are ready to part with something, but in the meantime it is good to move it out of prime wardrobe retail space.

This piece hangs in the downstairs coat closet in the family home in Squamish.  We are ready to part with it and now have devised a bit of a plan.  Research has shown it was custom made by a local furrier who had a shop on Robson street in the late '50s through early "70s.  I am guessing my aunt probably wore this one throughout the sixties.  I absolutely love her embroidered initials on the lining.  That's special and kind of cool.  

There are a few Max Dodek Furs on vintage sale sites and on Etsy.  Before the year is out, for the fun of it, I plan to list this one to see if there are any takers.  My aunt was a huge supporter of the Red Cross so if happens to sell, we'd donate the $$ to that cause (I realize it won't be much, but I think both she and my mum would like that plan).  

If it continues to sit both physically and virtually, I do have a friend who does a yearly play in her Grade 2 class about a wolf - this coat may be destined for theatre...

In the meantime, I feel good that we are getting a little closer in having a plan for this piece.

I just wish I had a photo of my mum wearing it on one of those cold, winter garbage days.  But, I do have it etched in my memory - it's vivid and always makes me smile.  

Sep 10, 2017

Fall 2017 - Trend Update "Red"

Fall 2017 - Trend Update "Red"

This quote by fashion designer, Bill Blass, certainly rings true this season.  Click the link below to see some red that has caught my eye so far...


If any pieces are of interest, just click on them for further details.  And if there is something that is an absolute must-have you can purchase on-line right there.

I've already added something red myself this season - you'll see it in the catalog.

Hope you are enjoying these last days of summer!


Aug 15, 2017

Hitting the shops of Paris - my personal shopping experience

Hitting the shops of Paris - my personal shopping experience

No one says you have to spend every moment of your honeymoon together.  Halfway through our stay in Paris, we parted ways for a few hours.  Me, to do a little shopping...those adorable boutiques couldn't wait any longer.  Mike checked out the Steve McQueen style exhibit (he is a HUGE Steve fan so needless to say we were both pretty excited).  

Before our trip, I had decided I wanted to take on some Paris shops with an expert.  Being a personal shopper/stylist myself, I knew there would be great value in this investment.  I was so right.  Not only was I exposed to shops I would have never found myself; the experience was fun, fruitful and informative.  

If you are going to hire someone to take you shopping, research is needed.  Especially in Paris as a quick google search brought up endless possibities.  Fortunately I came across the website:  Dress Like a Parisian.  Reading through the stylist, Alois' bio these words resonated with me:

My motto: Buy less, dress better. When you know how to pick the right clothes, you only need a few to look your best.

I knew we would be a perfect match as this is my own style philosophy.  I quickly sent off an email and received a prompt response.  Unfortunately, Alois was going to be on holiday, but kindly arranged for me to shop with Diane, one of her trusted stylists.  

Shopping with Diane instantly felt like I was shopping with a good friend.  Not only was she warm and engaging, she had a lot of stamina and was determined to make the most of our time together.  In just 2 hours we visited  several boutiques (all of which she had visited in advance to check out the merchandise - something I do as well which I really appreciated), and while walking between stops she chatted about various french brands she felt might be of interest for me to watch out for during the remainder of my trip.  She had a fabulous eye and was keen to mix up outfits and show how pieces could be worn in a variety of ways.  

It was fun to be a client for a change.  I was game to try anything passed my way.  You need a lot of energy for these appointments and I had a new-found appreciation for everyone I have taken shopping who has enthusiastically powered through in the fitting room.

Diane kindly took photos which were helpful in the decision making process.  Here is a sampling of what I tried, along with the verdict as to whether I passed or purchased:

Stop 1: 

Lace top:  pass

This was the first thing I tried.  Clearly it needs a cami, but that aside, I really liked it and was tempted to purchase.  Great colour for my skin tone, versatile piece and good fit for me.  Unfortunately it was priced far higher than I would be willing to pay for an item like this.  I decided I would keep my eye open in shops like Zara for something similar.

Printed/embroidered bomber jacket:  purchased

I was instantly drawn to the print on this jacket.  It felt unique and interesting.  The colours work well with pieces I already have in my wardrobe and I felt I could wear it for a variety of purposes and seasons.  Because it was our first shop, I asked to put it aside.  I continued to think about it throughout the shopping trip, so we returned at the end and I picked it up.  Back at our apartment I had the pleasant discovery that it is also reversible.  Such a score.

Orange mixed material jacket:  pass

When Diane brought me this interesting jacket to try, I so hoped that it would work for me (knowing it woudn't).  I loved the interesting fabrication and details.  However, it is the wrong colour for my skin tone and too long for my frame.  

Stop 2: Sandro 

For the second stop, Diane chose a more popular designer French brand, Sandro.  Her rationale was that even though it is a higher pricepoint, you can find those special pieces that stay with you a long time.  Cost-per-wear, I speak her language.  I explained that I don't usually shop designer, but was up for following her lead.  Sandro is also a brand we can get here in Canada so I thought it would be worth seeing how the line worked for me.

Very cool high-waisted navy skirt:  pass

Puffy-sleeved white t shirt:  pass

Don't get me wrong, I loved this skirt.  It's hard to tell from the photo, but it was very cool.  Such a great silhouette.  Very different from anything I own. But, the fit wasn't perfect and for an investment piece (or any piece, really), it needs to be perfect.  Too short to wear to work, felt a little snug in places.  I just knew it wasn't for me.  

I love the whimsy of these puffy sleeves. But again, anything here would be an investment due to the price, and I knew a trendy white top didn't fall into that category.  I will keep an eye out for something simialr in Zara or H&M though.  

Pink flared textured skirt:  purchased

This skirt was on the Sandro sale rack (and when I actually went to pay for it, it was further reduced - another score).  I love the shape of this one and the fabric is a weight that could be worn in multiple seasons (bare legs or opaque tights).  Diane had me trying a variety of footwear.  The colour of this skirt combines well with what is already hanging in my closet.  It won't be tricky to put together outfits - something I always encourage my clients to think about. 

Printed dress - pass

Lace dress - pass

Loved the fun print of this first dress and it is a trendier silhouette that I wouldn't normally gravitate to.  Fun to try, but for my lifestyle dresses like this are better found in those cheap and cheerful fast fashion shops.

The lace dress was beautiful (here Diane was pairing it with a trendy sneaker to illustrate how you can mix up dressy and casual).  However, since I just got married, I recently purchased some dresses for events which I have worn several times and am loving.  Not in the market for a new one, but good to know that this is a line I could check out in Vancouver if the occasiona ever arises.  

Stop 3:  

White t-shirt with relaxed shape - purchased

Printed necklace on black ribbon - purchased

This adorable little boutique in the Marais district carried many lines from Spain.  This tee was on the sale rack.  Loved the shape of it and very soft.  The necklace comes on a long black ribbon and can be adjusted for length.  Great price, unique, something I wouldn't easily find at home.

Printed ruffled knit top:  purchased

Loved the print on this one.  A very easy piece to wear with jeans or to work with a pencil skirt or slim pants.  Also on sale - one I think I could wear during most of the year.  

Stop 4:

By this point, we were nearing the end of our 2 hours (and I was pleased with my purchases).  But, Diane didn't want to waste a moment and whisked me into one last Marais boutique.  She grabbed this blazer for me to try.

Cream and gold blazer:  pass

I loved the texture of this and colour for my skin tone.  I passed for a few reasons.  First, I have several jackets in my wardrobe and don't need a new one.  Also, it felt a little long for my frame.  Thirdly, again, more than I would be willing to spend for this piece.  

Stop 5:

On our way back to pick up the bomber we had placed on hold, we ducked into a local shoe shop.  There was nothing there that caught my eye at the time, but she chatted about various footwear brands that may be of interest at a moderate price-point.  

We turned the corner and Mike was there at our meeting point.  I was sad for it to end, but so thrilled with my finds and happy that I was able to spend 2 hours chatting about style with someone so knowledgeable and talented (Diane worked for Christian Dior and also does some designing in addition to personal shopping and styling).  It was also fabulous to be introduced to shops I would have never found myself.  

I left this experience energized and excited to get back to doing some of my own personal shopping and styling (now that the fall/winter season is here - and the wedding is behind us).

And, as you can tell - Mike was pretty stoked about his experience too.

Feb 5, 2017

Thanks Mum

Thanks Mum

I've been looking through my closet since my mum passed a few weeks ago and realize most of my favourite pieces were either a gift from her, or purchased while we were on some sort of shopping excursion.  Chances are, whenever someone compliments me on something I am wearing my response is usually "oh, thanks - my mum gave this to me...".  

When I was young, my mum and I figured out that whenever we found a garment she felt I really had to have, all we needed to say to convince my dad was, "this would be perfect for church".  Over the years, this became a favourite ongoing joke.  We would pull out this line whenever we came across something we loved such as the oversized acid-washed jean jacket from West Edmonton Mall in the mid-eighties.  I ended up with the jacket.  It didn't make it to church, but my dad appreciated our ridiculous attempt at humour.  

I know this line came up a few years ago when, in a Toronto boutique, she was trying to make the case that this cashmere sweater with the skull on the back really was a necessary Christmas gift for me.  I'm so glad she persisted - I love it!  My dad now admits she was right.  It's been worn countless times, and my mum so enjoyed me recounting all the compliments it's garnered.

At mum's service last week, ongoing themes arose such as her extreme kindness, generousity, incredible research skills, and how she would advocate tirelessly for those she believed in.  She was my biggest cheerleader.  When I started Stylesmarts, she was so enthusiastic.  She promoted me to anyone who would listen and sent countless articles, websites and books which complimented my area of interest.  I loved reading her thoughtful, positive comments to any blog or facebook post I shared.

She became a proponent of the cost-per-wear philosophy and took pride in putting visually interesting outfits together.  I love how this is illustrated in the photo at the start of this post which was taken last year, just a few weeks after her chemo treatments ended.  She loved colour, mixing prints and accessorizing - and was even able to rock a fashionable head scarf into the look.  

For me, true style connects to who you are as a person.  Perhaps that is why I always thought she looked so stylish.  She had good taste and nice things, but it was so much more than that.  Her love, kindness and sense of fun radiated.  

So yes, I certainly have some gems in my wardrobe that I will continue to wear and love courtesy of mum.  But, it's all the other gifts I treasure the most:  memories, friendship, unwavering support and, of course, the love.  

Thanks Mum xo

Note:  This photo was taken on the last shopping excursion I had with mum.  We went out in search of my wedding dress and found it on the first try - she was definitely my lucky charm!  It was such a special day.  Not only did she have fabulous advice and help me find the perfect dress; but her excitement toward the experience and my upcoming wedding will stay with me always.   


Jul 25, 2016

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale - think:  investment pieces and cost-per-wear

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale - think: investment pieces and cost-per-wear

I don't promote a lot of sales, and I have no affiliation with this one.  However, I do always talk about cost-per-wear and taking good stock of what you have/need in order to build a versatile, well-rounded wardrobe that works for you.

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is a good chance to take advantage of those investment pieces that are pricier, but end up owing you nothing as you wear them so frequently and for a long period of time.

Here is a catalog of just a few pieces that caught my eye.  It's on for a couple of weeks, so think about anything lacking in your wardrobe and try and snag some of these deals while you can...

Jul 12, 2016

The Comfort Walking Sandal - Womens

The other day I went on a search for the perfect walking sandal for an upcoming trip to Italy - hopefully one that had at least some style.  Click on the link for my findings which are displayed in catalog format.  If there are any that catch your eye - click the image and it will direct you to the retail link.


Happy Summer!

Jul 4, 2016

Loving the Virtual Closet - How It Works

Loving the Virtual Closet - How It Works

Cher in Clueless was on to something over 25 years ago with the Virtual Closet.  Ever since being exposed to this technology for styling while taking another course in NYC last summer, the services I am able to offer my clients has transformed.  It is as if I am actually in the closet with them putting outfit combinations together or making suggestions for future shopping trips based on what is already hanging in their wardrobes.

Some signs that the Virtual Closet Might Be for You:

  • you have a closet full of clothes but often don't know what to wear, or feel you have "nothing to wear"
  • you have a lot of pieces, but are unsure as how to put them together
  • you typically style garments the same way, or feel in a rut
  • you have no idea what you have/need
  • you shop without a focused list
  • you tend to buy the same things
  • you like the idea of basically having a stylist at your fingertips selecting personalized outfits for you based on what you already have...

Here is a snapshot of the components within the Virtual Closet:

1)  The Closet:

It all starts here.  If I do a Closet Edit with a client, we take photos of all the pieces that are working.  These are then sorted into categories so it is easy to see what is there.  If I am just communicating with a client on-line, they take the photos and upload them to the closet I have created.  This is an easy way to keep a current inventory of what is there and identify gaps in the wardrobe.  

Sample section of Jackets/Vests/Cardigans in a Virtual Closet:

2)  Personalized Lookbooks

This is probably my favourite part of the Virtual Closet.  Once all the garments are uploaded into the closet, I can make various looks based on what they already have.  Sometimes clients ask for a collection of work outfits, weekend, or evening looks.  Often it may be providing various ways to style a particular piece such as the neon jacket or floral cardigan below.  Through this tool, I can also have a dialogue with the client offering tips on how to wear, or responding to questions she may have about the outfit. 

Neon Jacket Sample Combinations in Lookbook:

Floral Cardigan Sample Combinations in Lookbook:

3)  Finds:

Once everything is uploaded into the Virtual Closet, it is easy for me to make suggestions as to possible gaps in the wardrobe. These become a priority list for future shopping trips.  No more wandering aimlessly around malls.  Clients have expressed that this has really helped them spend their money wisely.  The Finds section includes suggested links so you can either purchase right there, or often just serve as inspiration.  If one of the Finds is of interest, I can show how it will combine with what is already hanging in their closet using the Lookbook section.

If this piques your interest, feel free to fill out the questionnaire below and we can chat about how it can work for you!


Apr 5, 2016

Outfit Planning Strategies

Outfit Planning Strategies

When I go into a closet during an edit (once we have decided what is staying), one of my favourite parts is helping clients make outfits from what they already have.  I've been told that this time spent "shopping the closet" is invaluable.  Fresh eyes can definitely breathe new life and spark inspiration.

As we are playing with possible looks, we chat about outfit making strategies.  Here are a few that work for me:

Visual interest

I know I have said this repeatedly, but I feel it always rings true. Interesting outfits have visual interest: colour, texture, print or shine. This can definitely apply to more than one piece in a look.  When purchasing new garments, try to keep this in mind: exposed zippers, leather piping, a printed shoe etc. can be a small, subtle way to kick an outfit up a notch!

Build Around a Star or Hero Piece

Aim to make at least one piece the focal point of your look.  From there, you just need to find complimentary supporting players (and they can certainly have some visual interest as well).  That was my strategy in the outfit above - can you guess the star?  You got it, the incredibly bright, tailored blazer!  This piece felt like such a steal when I stumbled upon it in NYC last summer (at $30 felt I couldn't walk away).  However, while I love to play with visual interest in my outfits, this is a much louder hue than my regular colour palette.  As a result, I have shyed away from it for a long time.  This week I was determined to make it work.  It certainly makes a statement on its own, but I am glad I incorparated a complimentary print and metallic shoe (metallics are a neutral).  Why not try the same strategy building an outfit around pieces such as a printed pant, a vest, or a bold jacket?

Plan ahead

I find it hard to make decisions first thing in the morning.  Before the work week begins, I always dream up a few possible outfits (after checking the weather) and set them aside in my wardrobe.  I don't always wear them all, but it certainly helps with inspiration and speeds along the getting-ready process.

The Virtual Closet

My new favourite stylist tool!  During a closet edit, we photograph all the garments kept in the wardrobe.  This makes it easy for me to help clients with outfit combinations when they feel they are in a rut.  After "shopping the closet" I send lookbooks of what we created together, but always have access to view their closets and make suggestions when needed.  

Nov 8, 2015

My Fall Fashion Misstep

When it comes to making purchases, I am methodical.  I follow the advice I give my clients.  I take stock of what I have each season and make a focused, intentional shopping list.  This usually consists of one or two staple pieces which could be more of an investment (cost-per-wear) as well as a couple of less expensive which may encompass a trend so my wardrobe feels more current and updated without receiving an entire overhaul. 

I do my homework. 

That being said, I feel compelled to share my 2015 fall fashion flop.  Hoping my reflection might help in your thinking process when debating whether a future item is right for you.  

On my list this fall, was a new blazer or cardigan.  Something versatile with visual interest.  I was in J Crew during a weekend sale and found what I thought was the perfect piece.

Link for sweater on J Crew website

My rationale:

  • looks like a jacket but is actually a sweater; comfortable, could easily be dressed up or down
  • has Chanel-type vibe
  • I love navy and black, this has both.  The metallic threads also were a selling feature.  I envisioned it pairing with my work trousers, skirts, dresses and jeans
  • the fringe detail made it feel current - I always look for interesting details

I snapped it up, feeling triumphant with the flash weekend sale price and my additional teacher discount (love love love that J Crew celebrates teachers).  I went home envisioning all the ways I would wear my new go-to piece.

But this didn’t happen.  I’ve had it 2 months and worn it twice.  Both times, I haven’t loved it (or really even liked it).  I paid $110, I am at $55 per wear.  

My issues:

  • I liked that fact that it is a cardigan, but when it isn’t fastened, the shape is boxy (as you can see from the image)
  • rather than buttons, there are hooks.  I hadn’t thought about how these hooks would catch on my staple pieces such as lace trousers or textured skirts.  Leaning over, I get stuck.  Statement necklaces also get tied up in the clasps
  • when buttoned up, it has more shape but feels very warm.  The hooks pop open easily, another frustration

Admittedly, the kiss of death for this sweater probably came when I was watching a recent episode of Young and the Restless.  A guilty pleasure.  I enjoy a lot of the styling on this show and can align my taste with a few of the characters.  But, I was horrified when the least stylish character (Esther, the longtime maid who rarely gets to wear anything other than a traditional black and white maid uniform...and when she does her outfits are usually devoid of style) was called to testify in a jury trial and she stepped up wearing...my J Crew cardigan!

Image courtesy of The Young and The Stylish

How had I missed the mark so terribly?

I’ve gotten over that shock and am still not giving up on the sweater.  

I’ve since read reviews that reveal other customers experiencing the same frustrations.  On-line reviews for stores like J Crew or Anthropologie are very useful, if you are ever on the fence about an item this is definitely a great resource.

Despite all this, it is now part of my current fall/winter wardrobe and I am determined to drive down its cost-per-wear.  

Sometimes we miss the mark.  This fall misstep is forcing me to work the same sort of magic I attempt with my clients’ wardrobes when they can’t figure out how to style a garment they’ve purchased.  I always enjoy that challenge, so am keen to put this sweater to the test.

I'm going to take a page from style guru, Tim Gunn and try to "make it work".  

Wish me luck!

Nov. 10 - update

Gave it a go today...cost-per-wear down to $36.66 

Aug 31, 2015

The Virtual Closet

The Virtual Closet

It's hard to believe it has been 20 years since we were introduced to Cher's virtual closet in the movie Clueless. 

This summer, I spent another couple of glorious weeks in New York.  I always take so much away from that city in addition to the precious memories of time spent with family and friends.

This year, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a new network of stylists and designers when I took part in a Menswear workshop (I promise I will share some of the great tips for guys in some upcoming posts!).  Through this, I was exposed to some fabulous technology which I have integrated in my own work with clients.  

Cher's virtual closet is a reality.

Here's just a snippet of how it works (but the possibilities are endless and very exciting!):

1)  The Closet

- during a closet edit I can photograph, upload and sort all clothing into categories.  This makes it so easy to see what one has (and identify gaps in the wardrobe).  The virtual closet can be accessed at any time.  If you don't feel the need to work with a stylist during your closet edit, you can upload the photos yourself and I can sort and categorize from there...

2)  Personalized Lookbooks

- once items are uploaded, I can create personalized lookbooks showing various combinations using what is already in the closet.  Having trouble styling a particular top or skirt?  Let me know the item and I can show various ways it can be worn based on what is in the virtual closet.  Need to know what to wear to a special event or on vacation?  Fire me an email and I can put together looks.  Buy something new and aren't sure how to integrate with what you already have?  Upload it to the virtual closet and I will show ways it combines with what you already have.

3)  Gaps in your Wardrobe

- at the end of a closet edit with a client I always make a specific list of "gaps" so there is a focused shopping list for future purchases.  Once clothing is uploaded, I can easily make suggestions on pieces one might want to consider to round out the wardrobe.  I send links to garments and the technology allows a dialogue: I can say why I think the piece might work, the client can respond as to whether or not they like it etc.  Shopping can also be done directly from the links.

If you intruigued by the possibility of basically having a stylist with you when you get dressed every day - contact me for more information, I'd love to show you how it works!

May 20, 2015

Driving down the cost-per-wear

Driving down the cost-per-wear

Yesterday it was very warm in the library.  So, when planning my outfit last night (yes, I always set out what I'm wearing the night before), I knew a summer dress was in order.  I reluctantly pulled out this one.

When I bought this dress in Brooklyn 3 years ago, I fell in love with it.  It felt very tea party/Parisian.  I loved the fit and flare style, the structure and perhaps most of all, the toile print.  To be honest, I just learned the proper name of the print today from a friend who used the same motif as inspiration for some of her home decor. 

At $200, I knew it was a splurge.  But I envisoned myself wearing it regularly.  Classic and unique at the same time.  The thing is, 3 years later, I've maybe worn it 4 times.  Once (possibly twice) to work, to a friend's shower, and today.

 So, I am looking at over $50 a wear to date.  Yikes.  What would the financial planners who I am presenting to regarding wardrobe in the workplace think about this investment? 

It's good I have a new-found love for this dress as I am determined to get its cost-per-wear down drastically.  If the weather holds, my plan is for it to be worn a lot.  Fingers crossed.

Apr 25, 2015

What's on your shopping list?

What's on your shopping list?

It's no secret I love fashion and style.  But the more that I learn, the less I shop.  Well, I should rephrase that...the less I actually buy.  

My mum and I were at Park Royal recently.  She has great taste.  She was pointing out really fabulous pieces but I kept saying things like “I don’t need that right now” or “I have something that I would wear for the same purpose”.  


The thing is, once you know what you need; unless you fall absolutely in love with something, it is so easy to walk away.  Sounds kind of like a good life lesson in general...

Recently, I’ve been posting about the concept of the capsule wardrobe.  This isn’t revolutionary; but more and more, I think a pared down wardrobe of core pieces that fit, flatter, and suit lifestyle and personal style is the way to go.  

Think about when you have packed really well for a vacation.  It is so much easier to get dressed having just what you’ve brought without all the excess adding confusion to the mix.  The goal is to make getting dressed easier, and not to waste your hard earned $$ on things you don’t really need (I say save those nickels for a well-deserved vacation!).  


Before embarking on a shopping trip, it is essential to take stock of what you have (and what is working).  Really think about what you should add to prime closet real-estate.  This varies from person to person depending on the current state of the closet. 

I’ve taken a good look at my Spring/Summer wardrobe and have devised my list.  The images shown above aren’t the exact pieces I plan to purchase (but an idea of what is on my radar).  I rarely on-line shop, rather gravitate to smaller boutiques.  But, I will definitely also be hitting up stores like J Crew, Club Monaco and French Connection where I also usually have some luck.

My list:

Chambray/Denim Dress

- the chambray shirt is a multi-season staple (mine owes me nothing).  I have my eye out for a versatile dress in a light, soft chambray fabric.  I can see this being part of my summer uniform.

Double-duty skirt

- one I can wear to work or casually, I always look for something with interesting fabrication or details.  This J Crew skirt has piqued my interest - not sure about the midi length on me, but curious to try (if it fits will use my J Crew teacher-discount!).  The texture reminds me of a black skirt I have as part of my fall/winter rotation that is definitely one of my staples - something like this could be its warmer weather counterpart


- I love prints, so am happy to add this on-trend one to my wardrobe in some form (thinking either in a blouse or a trouser), it's a classic so even when gingham isn't in the spotlight I am sure I'll love it


- "completer pieces" add dimension to outfits, so I have my eye out for a vest that I can wear to work on warmer days in lieu of a blazer or cardigan - that could also be dressed down with a summer dress or shorts

Flats (with a very slight wedge as I don't like too flat, I'm short enough...)

-in a light colour, print or metallic (neutral with some visual interest).  Something a little more substantial than a ballerina flat, but definitely not a flatform.  I'll know them when I see them (will be checking out some of my favourite brands:  Chelsea Crew, DV, Seychelles and Miz Mooz)

Replacement and Refresher Pieces:


- I actually don’t have a hoodie in my wardrobe at the moment, the ones I had were loved to death and have been cleared out of my closet.  A great layering piece for after my barre fitness workouts, or under a denim jacket or vest

Slip-on Converse Sneakers (replacement pair)

- these will walk me through NYC, I wear them with dresses, shorts and jeans 

Tank tops

- looking for a couple of basics with a hint of visual interest

I think it is important to also note that while I believe it is crucial to shop with a list in mind, sometimes my most favourite wardrobe pieces end up being the ones I have simply stumbled upon.  They were not actually on my radar.  When you find those gems, scoop them up, even if they aren't technically on your list.  I mean the rare gems.  They don't come along very often.  These tend to end up working their way into becoming one of my core wardrobe items. Permission to go a little of course when this happens.  

If you need some help devising your list, or determining a capsule wardrobe that would work for you..I'm here to help!

Images:  J Crew, Browns, Zara, A.P.C, Alternative Apparel

Apr 2, 2015

3 Ways to Try Trends This Spring

Are you feeling springy? Ready to incorporate something new in your wardrobe this season?  The options are endless whether you decide to try a fresh print, revisit a past decade, or experiment with a modern silhouette...

Here are a few trends for Spring 2015 that might pique your interest!

1)  The print: Gingham

Floral continues to be big this spring and I continue to love it. But it isn’t anything surprising for this time of year. Gingham made a real statement on the runways this season and is a current, fresh print to incorporate into your look. This print is classic, and will serve you well over time. So many possibilities: pants, blouses, dresses, shoes, skirts, jackets or bags. Here is some inspiration from style blog, Style Me Lauren.

Images courtesy of:  Style Me Lauren

2)  The decade: the '70s

The ‘70s are certainly having a comeback in the world of fashion and style. There are several ways you can incorporate this trend in your wardrobe without looking like you are going to a costume party. Wider leg pants are in, but they aren’t as dramatic a flare as worn in the past. Rather, the width builds gradually from the knee creating a more modern version of the '70s silhouette. Personally, I am enjoying the suede or fringe pieces that are inspired from this era. Colored suede is a nice way to bring in soft texture and a luxurious look to an outfit (and it doesn’t have to be expensive). Fringe can be fun and certainly can make a statement depending on how its worn, but does not need to overwhelm a look - it's all in the styling and should reflect your personal taste. Adding it in an accessory can add a bit of whimsy or movement to a look.

Images courtesy of Stylecaster

Image courtesy of:  9to5chic

3)  The Silhouette: Culottes

This silhouette might not work for everyone and you have to ensure the right fit for your body type. But, if you can nail that, culottes are a piece that could add a new shape to your wardrobe and make you feel very NOW (and kind of fashion forward). The right pair could be easily dressed up or down, and take you right through to fall. 

Images courtesy of Wendy's Lookbook and The Corporate Catwalk

Image courtesy of:  collagevintage.com

Trends should never break the bank.  There are plenty affordable options out there right now at stores such as Zara, Forever 21, H&M, Loft, Joe Fresh and Old Navy.  Think about the pieces you already have in your wardrobe and which of these might combine well, or liven up what you already have.  

Remember, always know what's already hanging in your closet and try not to hit up the stores unless you have a list and a plan.  This lessens the chance of wasting your hard earned $ on pieces you don't need and probably won't wear.  We work too hard to make those mistakes (you know what I mean, it's happened to all of us).

Happy Spring everyone!

Mar 12, 2015

Jeans: My top picks for splurge and save


I was shopping with a client yesterday, replenishing her jean collection was her top priority.  When we went through her closet, she showed me several pairs she had bought inexpensively, but was now unhappy with the fit.  The primary complaint?  They don't hold their shape.  Because skinny jeans are a staple in her wardrobe, for casual or dressy; she felt ready to make an investment purchase (rather than continue to throw money toward cheaper pairs that aren't quite right).  

While the price of an investment pair of jeans usually sends one's head spinning, we did talk about cost-per-wear, of which I am a solid believer.  I would rather see a wardrobe with fewer pieces that fit like a glove and are actually worn regularly (and make the wearer feel amazing), than a closet jam-packed with ill-fitting clothing.  If you spend the money on something you love and will wear for years, it will end up owing you nothing.  But investment pieces require some research and time.

Her concern with the jeans bagging out couldn't be avoided with the ones she had in her closet.  In order to avoid that problem, the elastane/lycra content of the fabric should be no more than 2%.  This allows for some stretch, but will not relax as much as those with a higher percentage.  Most of the higher end jean companies, seem to follow this formula.  Several inexpensive lines also use 1 or 2% lycra, but it is worth taking the time to check.

When you are ready to invest, it is good to go to a store that carries plenty of brands and styles so there will be lots of selection for your body type.  We headed to Holt Renfrew where they have an incredible wall of jeans and fabulous service, but you can also find many of the same brands at Hudson's Bay (or if the dollar was better...Nordstroms, Macy's etc).  

She tried on a variety of brands all which looked terrific:  Rag and Bone, J Brand, Citizens.  But, the pair that ultimately won out was a pair of dark wash skinnies by Paige Denim.  When we chatted with the salesperson about our concerns with the perfect fit, she said we had to try Paige's new TRANSCEND technology.  This fabrication is soft, luxirious, and apparently features an innovative formula that will not stretch out.  There is even a guarantee.  

These look and feel unbelievable.  She went for the Skinny Skyline style which am showing here, but the TRANSCEND technology is available in various styles and washes.  These are worth the splurge.  It took everything in me to resist trying on and getting a pair myself.  When I am in the market for a new pair of jeans, this will definitely be my go-to.  

As amazing as these jeans are, we are not cookie-cutters.  It is always important to ensure that every aspect of the garment fits to perfection for you.  Almost every element of these worked for her, but she still perferred them tighter around the ankle than how they were sitting on her.  Solution?  We asked for the in-house tailor who was able to show her how they could be taken in a titch so they would be the perfect custom-fit.  Tailoring is essential at any price-point and makes all the difference.  


As we move into spring/summer, in addition to our black or dark-wash denim, it is nice to infuse some lighter hues into the rotation.  This is where you will want to look for a save - and I think I have found the perfect steal - the Old Navy Rockstar reg price under $45 and currently on-sale for $30 (and the lycra content is only 1%).  These come in a variety of washes, rises and styles.  If you want to infuse some white, pastel or distressed into your wardrobe for a season without breaking the bank, these would be my top pick.  Maybe you are contemplating giving the on-trend '70s inspired flare a whirl at $30 these will hopefully owe you nothing and could make a fun style statement!

Mar 3, 2015

Some Simple Stylist Magic

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting we stop exercising, or alter any dietary routines.

But, over the past few days I have come across two examples illustrating what I know to be true through my work with clients of varying body types - properly fitting clothes can make you look you slimmer.

I was at a client's home the other day and we were chatting about her husband's wardrobe.  Last year, I worked with him on a closet-edit and we revamped both his work and off-duty looks.  He had a lot of great quality pieces.  Still, we got rid of a ton.  Most of it was far too big; outdated in either shape or style.   His outfits didn't convey the successful, intelligent, cool guy that his wife and daughters know him to be. 

He now gets frequent compliments on his wardrobe, and people are asking if he lost weight.  The difference?  Clothing that fits, as well as reflecting his lifestyle and personality. 

And, I'd like to think, his work with a stylist. 

A few little tips and tricks about what works can make such a difference in how we present ourself, how we are perceived, and ultimately, how we feel.

Which brings me to my second example. 

Yesterday, a friend sent a photo my way of motivational speaker, Tony Robbins. This did not resemble the same Tony I'd watched in a TED talk a few months ago who wore an oversized, wrinkled suit jacket with ill-fitting jeans. Even my boyfriend who doesn’t normally comment much on style, was distracted by Tony’s look.

This Tony looks sharp, lean, modern and stylish. His clothes fit. Maybe he has lost weight, maybe he hasn’t (and his Florida lifestyle probably doesn’t hurt).

But I am pretty sure he’s consulted a stylist.

When trying to look a little slimmer, a common tendency is to dress in loose fitting, baggy clothing which actually makes the wearer appear larger. Stylists have a cure for this. An extensive tool kit of tricks.

As an Elementary school teacher, I love that it all starts with the ABCs. Through various optical illusions, a stylist can teach how to Accentuate your best features, Balance your frame, and apply Camouflage techniques. And, as in education, it is all so individual.

Obviously, it is not all about dressing to feel or look a little lighter.  It is about connecting what you wear with who you are as a person.  This brings to mind a quote I love by celebrity stylist, Rachel Zoe. 

"Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak".

A stylist can help you figure that out.

photos courtesy of:  Wikipedia Creative Commons and Ocean Drive