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

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 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.  

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

Aug 16, 2014

Feeling blue - in the best possible way!

Feeling blue - in the best possible way!

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.

Slouchy trousers:

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:

  • band rides up in the back
  • bust spills over top of the cup
  • straps fall off the shoulder (band probably too wide at the back)
  • underwire digs into breast tissue
  • centre gore of the bra isn't sitting flat against the chest
  • you are wearing a nursing bra and you are no longer nursing...

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.

Images courtesy of Bake Photography and Woman's Day

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

coat: Think Closet NYC necklace:  J Crew  skinny jeans: Free people  boots: Gravity pope bag:  Jeanne Lottie from Plenty

Mar 2, 2014

Lessons learned from Cinderella

Lessons learned from Cinderella

My fourth time volunteering at the Cinderella Project and, once again, I was blown away.  The crew work tirelessly throughout the year to create a truly magical and memorable day for these young high school graduates.  I feel so fortunate to be part of the "Boutique Day" experience.  The students have worked hard, overcome much to get to this point and are treated like royalty.

As a Fairy Godmother, my role was to assist one Cinderella put together her entire graduation look - from the dress, underpinnings, shoes, accessories, hair, make-up, photos (and alterations...).  Our journey together lasted about 5 hours.  

Here are a few observations during this process that I feel extend beyond the "Cinderella Project" and are applicable to style in general, or on any shopping mission...

A positive attitude, perseverance and stamina go a LONG way: 

My student easily tried on between 20-30 dresses.  They were heavy, it was hot, and we were having trouble finding the right sizing/silhouette.  We were determined to find a dress she loved.  She was in the changeroom for over 3 hours.  During that time, we learned a lot about what worked on her and what didn't.  It is a real scavenger hunt situation but we kept at it and eventually hit gold.  She could have given up and settled for something that didn't flatter, but she was willing to put in the time to find something that made her shine.  I was so impressed with her positivity.  

Keep an open mind and try a variety of styles:

Some girls came in with a very clear idea of what they wanted, and were sometimes reluctant to stray from this vision.  Often, these types of dresses weren't available, in their size, the right colour, or didn't necessarily flatter their body type.  Once gently nudged to step outside their comfort zones, most found themselves falling in love with a dress far different from what they had expected.  There is a lesson in this for all of us to keep an open mind when shopping and to take more risks when trying on new styles, shapes, prints and fabrications.  

Colour and silhouette make all the difference:

Just because you can zip it up, doesn't mean it "fits".  I watched hundereds of girls try on dresses which further reafirrmed how critical it is to find garments that fit and flatter. Once you check off those two boxes, focus on one that makes you smile.  The triple threat - it makes all the difference.  

Sizing is NOT universal:

Today we tried dresses that ranged in size from 6 - 12 (she had said her regular size was a 6).  Some 10s were a tight squeeze whereas some 8s drowned her.  I noticed some girls focusing on the number and starting to become upset if they needed to size up a couple.  We have all experienced frustrations with sizing.  It can be so psychological.  It is better not to put yourself into a size box, rather focus on finding a perfect fit.  

Accessories add personality:

Once we found the dress, we had such fun adding personal touches with jewelry, shoes, and a handbag to make the look reflect her personal style.  The icing on the cake.

While I waited for her to have her photos taken, I enjoyed reading the messages on the grad wish tree (a few of which I have included in the picture collage).  I concur with the message of thanks above.  Cinderella is "totally awesome" and does "make dreams come true".  I am thankful to be a very small part of it.  

And now, I am thankful to be relaxing on the couch, glass of wine in hand appreciating the styling talents behind the beautiful Academy Award looks.  It's been a day full of fashion.  My kind of day.

Jan 30, 2014

Bling it up

Bling it up

This time of year, I always end up feeling the need for some kind of wardrobe pick-me-up.  The style blogs and fashion magazines give us a sneak peek of Spring (and fortunately here on the West Coast Mother Nature has gone easy on us and even hinted at it) but we aren't there yet. 

Bold jewelry offers an easy, affordable, eye-catching (and seasonless) way to rejuvinate outfits without shelling out more $$ on winter clothing.  

On trend for a few years now, statement necklaces are a quick way to add visual interest to a look.  I often tell clients that getting dressed is about creating optical illusions.  A statement piece of jewelry can distract the eye from areas you would prefer to conceal by drawing attention toward your beautiful face.  

A statment necklace can dress up a casual outfit, or add some femininity to a sporty look.  The icing on the cake that ties an outfit together by adding some dimension.

Right now, it's not just about necklaces.  Statement earrings are really shining in the fasion world.  I have my eye on a few pairs (and fortunately they won't break the bank and will also serve me well in spring/summer).

Image courtesy of: joliejouel.com

Recently Anthropologie teamed up with the affordable and creative Bauble Bar for monthly jewelry offerings (this is a collaboration to get excited about!).  Check out this month's here.  Loving this necklace...

Note:  If you are looking to infuse a little bling into your wardrobe why not think about hosting a Stella & Dot party?  One of my clients, Marla, recently became a rep and is keen to show off the amazing new pieces.  After a recent closet shopping session, we sat and admired the collection and dreamed up wardrobe possibilities. You could earn some incredible discounts...contact Marla (mlm2484@telus.net) if interested.

Photo collage image sources:

kendi everyday, Stella & DotBanana RepublicAnthropologieClub Monaco

Jan 6, 2014

2013 Trends I Loved

2013 Trends I Loved

I'm fessing up.  I began this post with a statement along the lines of:  I have never really been one to shop according to trends.

Quickly realizing I would have a hard time justifying things I have worn such as:  rugby pants, stirrup pants, leg warmers, an oversized acid-washed jean jacket (the list could go on) to any family member or longtime friend who may read this...I started again.

Ok, over the years I have bought in to trends.  I have always had a love of style and fashion and been keen to participate in what is going on out there.  

When I now work with clients, I suggest they don't get bogged down or fixate on trends.  While I think it is important to stay current and modern when it comes to our style, a particular trend may or may not work for us.  When looking at what's "in" here are a few things to consider:

  • Can a trend be worn in a way that will flatter your body type?
  • Does it align with your personal style?
  • Does it suit your lifestyle?
  • Is is possible to syle in a way that is (gulp) age appropriate?   **fortunately the answer to this is yes more often than not.  Especially if you love a trend, then we can definitely find a way to make it work!

That being said, here are a few of my favourite wearable "trends" from 2013 that I am glad to say appear to be sticking around:

Plaid:  The 90s had a huge comeback in the world of fashion last year.  I have always loved tartan and was excited to see it in pants, skirts, sweatshirts, dresses, jackets, blouses, and even shoes.  The flannel shirt is a constant star, but I also enjoyed some of the more delicate versions prevalent in 2013.  Note:  I usually steer clear of matching outfits, but I do get a kick out of this picture of my brother and I taken over the holidays.  No, it wasn't planned.  (My $49 plaid blouse has gotten a lot of mileage so far as you can see by the collage above, or if you've spent any time with me recently).

Peplum:  Peplum stepped into the limelight around the end of 2012 and continued to gain momentum in 2013.  While (admittedly) it may have been a little overdone last year, I am personally glad it seems to be sticking around due to its figure flattering benefits on a number of body types.  

Pink:  Pastels (pink in particular) were huge this fall.  If fashion forecasts ring true, this continues to be the case in 2014.  As someone who has a hard time pulling off the traditional autumn colours, I have personally loved these powdery options; and seeing them in and paired with richer fabrics and textures.  No matter what colour seems to be having a moment, it is always important to make sure we wear the right tone and shade close to our face.  If it doesn't flatter there are other strategic ways it can be incorporated.

Sparkle:  Yay!  If you know me, you know I love things that sparkle.  This year sequins and shimmer became commonplace in everyday wear (scarves, t shirts, sweatshirts, skirts, shoes...).  Paired with more casual or neutral pieces, sequins can easily be toned down for day; and always add some glam visual interest to a look.  Dare I say I bought 2 pairs of sparkle heels this year?

Note:  If sparkle isn't your thing, interesting details such as leather accents, studs, and exposed zippers/seams have found their way onto garments everywhere.

The Fashionable Sweatshirt:  Comfort is huge in Vancouver.  I get it, I like to be comfortable too.  And, yes, I have a drawer full of Lululemon and I love it (for workouts, walks and lounging).  This year I was excited to see the sweatshirt kick it up a notch in the style department.  Now we can be cozy, yet be fashionable and pulled together.  Some of the sweatshirts out there can even be styled in a way that is work appropriate.  And who doesn't love that?

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and stylish 2014!

Image Sources:




Nov 30, 2013

Rod Style

Rod Style

I was lucky enought to zip away with my mum last weekend for a quick Las Vegas getaway.  She has wanted to see Rod Stewart perform there for a long time...so we decided to go for it.  And am I glad we did.  Rod was incredible.  Every moment of the trip felt like we were experiencing what was sure to become a precious memory.  Especially when my brother Chris arrived as a surprise from Toronto.  Magic.

Wherever I go, I can't help but check out the style.  It really is a form of entertainment for me - and Vegas has it all!  One afternoon, my mum and I took a break at the Bellagio chocolate shop and I suggested we watch how many people passed by before we found an outfit that actually fit and flattered; or looked fairly put together.  It is no exaggeration to say that hundreds cruised by before a girl in well-fitting dark jeans, ankle boots, cute blouse and blazer offered light at the end of a long (and often smoky) tunnel.  Here is the majority of what we saw:

- girls in tight, short, ill-fitting cheaply made dresses with sky high heels (they couldn't walk in) that actually looked like stilts.  If you've been to Vegas you know what I mean (kind of like Granville street on a Saturday night).  

- many looked like they had just rolled out of bed and were still wearing their pyjamas.  I guess this makes sense if  you don't plan on sleeping for 48 hours.

- the namebrands - dressed head to toe in labels

- logo or vacation-style t shirts

- oversized clothing (which many think is slimming but actually makes the wearer appear larger)

- the #1 accessory?  a huge slushy-type drink in hand. Which I didn't mind...I mean, it is Vegas!  

Top style marks of the weekend went to Rod with his 3 costume changes.  All with impeccable fit and tailoring; and with a combo of colour, print, texture and shine.  And the hair - talk about a signature accessory.  Yes it is very 80s, but it's Rod.  

He capped off the evening with "Do Ya Think I am Sexy".  Behind him a huge banner with a Rolling Stone quote:  "I don't want to be singing 'Do Ya Think I am Sexy' at 50 and become a parody of myself". In front of those words the 68 year old rocked it.

 Now that's style.