Feb 5, 2017
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.
Nov 30, 2016
About the Program
The subscription helps you wear with confidence the clothes you already own. It’s a collaborative online program which comes with your own Virtual Closet (that only you can see!), stylist-curated outfit suggestions, and one-on-one support.
It's everything needed to get control of the closet. It’s easy to update your own Virtual Closet as new pieces are purchased.
When you go shopping, there's also hand-picked suggestions you can have on your phone so you know what to look for.
All subscriptions have access to:
Email and text support available for those wardrobe questions that arise...
Quarterly subscription: $90 (3 months access to Virtual Closet and support)
Yearly subscription: $300
note: yearly subscriptions are $25/month; quarterly is $30/month
If this is of interest, feel free to connect and I'll let you know how to get started!
Jul 25, 2016
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 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.
Jul 4, 2016
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:
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:
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
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:
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?
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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!
Apr 2, 2015
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.
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
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
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
Feb 3, 2015
I just had a birthday and my new(ish) man hit it out of the park. Not only did he treat me to the most fabulous day, to top it off, he excitedly presented me with a Bon Jovi shirt from the offical fan store. If you didn't know, I am the ultimate fan.
It got me thinking about different ways to style concert shirts (or any other graphic tee in a wardrobe...I do have a few fun librarian ones such as "shhhhh" and "read" that could definitely be worked into rotation on a more regular basis).
Here is a little inspiration from a style blogger:
Images courtesy of: Babble
And from the styling team at Lucky Magazine:
a) styled for weekend; b) styled for dinner out; c) a relaxed work environment
We went out the other night with friends, I was excited to bring out Bon Jovi.
What I did learn from the cut of the shirt, is some fans are probably more comfortable rocking a little cleavage (I tend to be ultra-conservative in this department). So, I pulled out the "backwards stylist trick" I referred to in my last post.
At the end of the night, we realized we hadn't taken pictures. Apologies for the poor qualitiy of these, a few that we took at the beginning of the night when texts were flying around with girlfriends regarding wardrobes for the evening (ie: What are you wearing? Should I wear a dress or jeans? you get the jist...).
Guess I'll just have to wear it again soon - but until then this gives the idea:
It's rare that I wear all black. But throw in a little texture, shine and the spirit of a fabulous '80s hair band I've loved for 30 years, I am good to go. And very happy (and not just because of the shirt).
Jan 5, 2015
I have always considered myself a rule follower. Perhaps this is because I grew up with the ultimate rule follower, my mum. Though we’ve given her the gears about it over the years, it certainly has its perks. Not only does she follow rules; she listens, and is a stickler for detail. She is the #1 fan of Stylesmarts; internalizing every tip and trick I’ve picked up along the way.
Here is the icing on the cake. She is also one of the most thoughtful and generous gift-givers I’ve ever met. While I am definitely happy with my own sense of personal style and ability to find unique pieces that align with my taste, personality body type etc. If I am being completely honest, the ones that garner the most compliments are usually met with this response, “Oh thanks - it was a gift from my mum” or, “My mum found it in a little boutique...”.
So after another wonderful Christmas, I am beginning 2015 with a few new, lovely gems to add to my wardrobe courtesy of Stylist Mum (though I shouldn’t forget to mention my dad; her amazingly patient sidekick who is there for backup, morale support and chauffeur services).
Because I spend a lot of time in overflowing wardrobes which I believe make it more difficult to put outfits together, I have this rule for myself. Whenever I have a few new pieces to add to my closet, I must also get rid of (and hopefully donate) some in order to avoid the overcrowding/confusion problem. The new year is a great time for this. For some of my tips for a closet edit check out my recent Q&A with the North Shore News.
Here is an unusual stylist trick I’ve been experimenting with lately to try to breathe new life into some pieces that I have been perhaps avoiding due to overall fit or unflattering neckline. I’ve found with some dresses, tops or sweaters; wearing them backwards can actually work better for me. Not saying it works for everything or everyone (obviously not pants...and you really have to play around with it), but give it a try with something you may be on the fence about before tossing it on the donation pile. Plus, it is always fun to experiment with new silhouettes.
For those pieces that do ultimately make it in the pile, I am so glad I have a colleague at work who is always keen to give them a new home. I love seeing them styled a different way. Clothing in good condition that I know won’t work for her, is always donated to a local charity either in the bin or Dress for Success.
Always a good rainy day activity and chances are there will be a few of those in the weeks to come.
As I write this, I am receiving fashion blog links and updates from Stylist Mum via text and email- maybe it’s time she start her own business...I'll share the link if it ever happens.
Oct 5, 2014
photo credit: Bake photogrpahy
On the last few days of my stay in New York City this past summer, I stumbled upon an adorable little boutique that for some strange reason all my prior research failed to uncover.
This place is a gem (Darling NYC). My eager shopping partner and I purchased a couple of unique, reasonably priced pieces (that we fell in love with) and decided to go back once more before heading home as we overheard the owner chatting about a new shipment. Our curiousity was piqued.
When working with clients I always suggest considering the following when debating whether or not to purchase an item. Note: if it fulfills all the critera my instinct is usually to go for it, even if it wasn’t technically on the shopping list...
When we returned, a collarless, zebra print coat caught my eye. Less than $150, could be worn for at least 3 seasons of the year definitely over several years, fit like a glove, could easily be worn to work, on the weekend or dressed up, I loved it.
Sadly, I walked away. It was hard to wrap my head around buying such a warm piece on a hot, NYC August day. Imagining it fitting inside my already stuffed suitcase was another concern.
But now the weather is changing and I am seeing all of the fabulous statement coats out there, I continue to think about how well it would have worked with my wardrobe and lifestyle.
I wish I’d followed my advice on this one.
A statement coat is an easy way to take a basic outfit to the next level. There are so many to choose from right now at terrific price points. Here are a few that have caught my eye:
Animal print never goes out of style and is an easy way to add visual interest to an outfit.
The Robe Coat:
The wrap or robe coat is very on trend right now. Easy to wear. I have shown them here in grey, but they are cropping up in every colour or in interesting textures as well.
Colour and texture:
Shearling or faux fur is very on trend at the moment (I always love a little texture!). Infusing colour is also a way to add personality to a look. Pastels continue to be having a moment and are quite refreshing as the weather gets cooler.
A couple of additional picks:
Couldn’t help zooming in on this sweater coat from Anthro - knitwear is everywhere right now, so cozy and stylish. This raincoat caught my eye. Let’s face it - it gets wet here, and we might as well embrace it in style.
And here are the statement coats I do I have and love because I actually followed the above criteria. So glad I did. Will keep in mind next time before walking away.
Aug 16, 2014
Above image source: Bake Photography
Back after spending another incredible month in NYC. Energized and exhausted at the same time. Happy to be home, but also sad I won’t be seeing the city for a while. New York holds such a special place in my heart for so many reasons. Topping the list is the fact that it allows me spend quality time and make memories with people I love. As usual, this summer brought a rotating crew of friends and family all keen and eager to hit the town - and, believe me, we put in some miles!
It’s true, I always end up making some purchases when I am in New York. But for me, the trip is never really about shopping. People watching becomes a daily sport - on the subway, the street, the markets, the theatre, parks, in restaurants and cafes. Style inspiration is everywhere - in the architecture, galleries, street performances and fabulous window displays in all of the flagship shops and unique boutiques.
I have never been one to advocate buying according to trends, though I do like to keep up with what is “in” each season; and think it is important to have pieces that keep us looking modern and current. My trips to New York are always a good way to see the unveiling of the upcoming Fall fashions.
When I unpacked yesterday and laid out my new items, I realized one of the Fall 2014 trends I had read about in several style blogs had unintentionally infiltrated my suitcase...blue. Every new piece had some shade of or at least a little bit of blue.
My new blue: pastel blue dress with lace detail (Think Closet, NYC), leather jacket/vest with removeable floral sleeves (Darling, NYC), navy polka-dot waterproof windbreaker (Uniqlo), bold floral skirt (Anthropologie), elephant print blouse (Think Closet, NYC)
So I guess at times when I am missing the city, donning one of these will help me channel NYC and conjure up some of those fabulous moments.
I have always loved this colour, so this was an easy trend to accidentally fall into this Fall. Good news is, it was shown in such a wide range on the runways from navy, to cobalt to pastel there is something out there for everyone if you are feeling a little blue too!
Apr 12, 2014
I have come to see style as art. I love how basic pieces can be mixed and matched to make new and unique looks. How clothing can create optical illusions and transform the shape of a body. How it allows the wearer to express or take on different personalities. A beautifully crafted outfit always evokes some sort of response. Firstly from the wearer who might walk a little taller, with confidence (rocking the look) causing others to take notice, perhaps yielding a compliment or two...
Yes I see style as art and people-watching a sport. Style inspiration is everywhere if you look for it.
I am lucky. I can always count on a daily dose the moment I enter the library and see my teaching partner who has such a cool, unique style. A knack for finding interesting pieces and combining them in ways you may never have considered, but just work.
Honestly, I could devote an entire blog to her sense of style. But I know that would be a lot to ask (even of a very close friend). I felt the need to snap a few pics to share this particular outfit as each piece is fabulous, with possibilities to be worn in so many ways.
Leather crop top.
That should be enough said. Leather always adds something to an outfit. Some edge, some texture, some style. This piece could be worn year-round and easily dressed up or down. It would work well with denim, skirts, trousers, or over a full skirted dress. I love how she has layered it over a tank. You can attain the crop look without baring a midriff. The piece is subtle and soft reminding us that leather doesn’t always have to be black. And it has the exposed zipper - an extra detail on the back is always an added bonus.
The ease of these pants truly make them a wardrobe workhorse. They can be professional, dressed up for evening, or pair well with sneakers for a casual look. Plus they are comfortable (just like yoga pants but so much more stylish and pulled-together). She also has a pair in cheetah print - the kids at school love them...and so do I.
Embellished neutral flats:
Netural flats don’t have to be plain. These are covered in small gold studs which add a pop of metallic (a vibrant neutral). A fun compliment to so many outfits without stealing the show.
A little vocab and DIY:
Scrolling through twitter the other day this quote caught my eye:
“Somebody who looks totally perfect would be a little bit boring.”
I tend to agree so I clicked the link which led me to a NY times fashion/style interview with a 57 yr old french style-icon, model, author and designer's muse. At one point in the interview she describes how she likes to customize articles of clothing to make them her own. The word used was bespoke (I have to admit that I needed to google the definition).
The morning after reading the article, one of our adorable new teachers came into the library to prep for an assembly showcasing work her students had just completed on polar bears. I couldn't help but notice what she was wearing...
I immediately complimented her on this top - which I think is really cool. Not your typical teacher thematic-wear (which can err on the side of cheesy). What a surprise to learn it is the product of a do-it-yourself creation.
She explained that she had found the image on-line and went to the “Bang On” shop to get transferred onto a shirt. Because she didn't love the basic Ts available, she sourced out and purchased one in a style she preferred (I believe from the Gap) before returning to complete the ironing process.
A fairly easy DIY and perfect example of bespoke, or customized clothing. Don’t you love that she and the bear are sporting the same glasses? A brilliant illustration of making a piece your own.
*Coincidentally I just returned from a baby shower where someone had done a similar process for a onesie. The mum-to-be is an avid skier (as no doubt her new little bundle will be as well). Needless to say this was a hit!
Apr 6, 2014
When I took part in Stacy London’s stylist training seminar in NYC, I had the opportunity to hear several guest speakers from various realms of the style and fashion world. One session I found particularly interesting was with a bra expert who had been part of Oprah’s Bra Revolution and had worked the show where they fit the entire audience in new bras - the transformation was astounding.
We spend so much time thinking about what we wear but sometimes forget the impact foundational garments have on the overall look. Wearing the right bra can make you look 10 lbs lighter (and yes the wrong one can make you look 10 lbs heavier!).
During the session, I realized I was making several mistakes when it comes to bras. Research cited stated 8 out of 10 women wear the wrong bra size. I am pretty certain I am not alone in this so am hoping you find some of the tips I took away useful...
You should be professionally fitted every 6 months.
This was not the first time I had heard this and, to be honest, I know myself well enough to know I am not going to be fitted every 6 months. It is a good reminder though, that our bodies are constantly changing and that this is something that we should do more frequently.
The lifespan of a bra is 6-8 months.
I fail on this one too. I keep my bras much longer even if I know they are not fitting quite as well, or have lost a little life. This was a reminder that I need to make an effort to replace them more frequently or have a couple more in my daily rotation.
Like shoes you should be aware your bra is on, but it shouldn’t be uncomfortable.
This was a good analogy for me. The bra is a support garment so if you can’t feel it, it probably isn’t doing its job.
The fullest part of the breast should fall between the shoulder and the elbow.
When I get dressed, I am eyeballing for this one all the time now. Don’t panic - this is only when wearing a bra!).
Bras can be worn 2 or 3 times before washing but should rest between wears.
It is best if you hand-wash bras or machine wash in a mesh bag. Always hang to dry. Using a gentle product such as Forever New or Ivory Snow will help with the care of these garments.
Signs that you need a new bra:
I always advise clients to consider cost-per-wear with their purchases. Bras are a no-brainer. Invest in them, they will owe you nothing. I promise.
Mar 28, 2014
I have always loved pink and am so glad it is having a shining moment in the fashion world right now (along with so many other suagary sweet, powdery pastels!).
This coat has been hanging in my closet for a few years, but feels like it has breathed in some new life as the "it" pink of the moment. A great little find from a small NYC boutique while shopping with my friend/teaching partner late one afternoon (after a day spent at a Librarian conference in Brooklyn - yes Librarians love to shop too!). She spotted it first, but kindly offered it up realizing the fit wasn't right.
The sign of a true friend.
To be honest, if you saw me close-up, you would realize the fit isn't exactly perfect on me either. But, it is one of those pieces I throw on and instantly feel pulled together. It is unique and makes a statement (and often yields a compliment or 2 - great on those days when I am feeling a little blah). It is the perfect piece for a run-around kind of day.
When stumbling upon this kind of find, snatching it up is a must (even if the garment isn't technically on your shopping list - you'll thank yourself later...plus you deserve it, right?).
It feels Chanel-inspired...and this is the closest to Chanel this girl is ever going to get!
Note: If you love this shade of pink but find it doesn't work on your skin-tone, why not try it in a skirt/pant, subtly in a print, or incorporate it into some fun accessories?
Images courtesy of Bake Photography