Styling

Duffield Design spring 2016

February 26, 2016

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This is a post about three makers creating a fashion look book. This past summer, I had the honour of putting together Duffield Design‘s spring 2016 look book. I did the same thing last year, what seems like eons ago, and I love how each shoot has its own personality and ambiance. Read More

Fake vs. real winter fashion

February 19, 2016

Ottawa had a record-breaking one-day snowfall this past Tuesday, a whopping 51.2 cm (to be exact) in less than 24 hours. Yeah sure, we’re used to it, but the downtown core was mayhem because workers were let out early, the city didn’t plan for enough snow plows to be out and city buses were delayed. We’re talking thousands of people out at bus stops, all at the same time. I was “lucky” enough to be home with a sore throat, but we’re still feeling the aftermath of the snow-mageddon.

This real winter weather reminds me of the silliness that is “winter” fashion. Granted, all of the fashion week cities are only mildly cold in the winter months, but this means that real winter fashion isn’t properly represented on the runway. I admire the beautiful street style shots of fashion week attendees wearing their best of winter 2016, but they make me chuckle because runway winter and real-life winter are very different – well at least in Ottawa they are.

Case in point:

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Tips for “mindful” shopping

February 15, 2016

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My mom is an English teacher, and every so often, a certain new catch phrase or word du jour rubs her the wrong way. I don’t blame her. New “it” words are used so often, they lose their, dare I say, gravitas, and become filler for peoples’ weak vocabularies. When I was in high school in Saskatchewan, everyone said, “that’s so clutch.” In university, everyone started saying “literally”, like, literally all the time. Nowadays, (and I’m certainly guilty of this), everyone is mindful.

You have to eat mindfully, be mindful of your thoughts, live a mindful life, etc., etc. It comes as no surprise to me that she is tired of hearing about how mindful everyone is these days. Well Mom, I’m sorry, but it’s pretty useful for me right now. It is, for me, another way to say conscientious or thoughtful. But I promise, I’ll try to be mindful of how I speak and use all of these synonyms. See what I did there? Sneaky.

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Struggling with your capsule wardrobe?

November 14, 2015

main collageSo am I. The struggle to maintain a capsule wardrobe is the opposite of struggling to maintain a, dare I say, “regular” closet. Instead of worrying about what new and trendy item to add to your ever-growing collection, or fretting about ways to increase storage space, capsule wardrobe enthusiasts have to try to avoid adding more clothing. I know, first world problems for sure, but hear me out. I have a hard time keeping my capsule a capsule because I get clothing as gifts (thanks Mom xo) and I sometimes lug bags of clothing home with me when I help family and friends out with their own closet clean outs. Is that so bad? Of course not, but it means I find myself sorting through my clothing more often than I’d like to.

As for the shop, we want to provide a carefully curated capsule collection of no more than a dozen pieces per season. Each piece will be selected for its quality construction; natural, durable materials; comfort; versatility; timelessness and fit. Have I made starting an online shop that much harder with this small collection? Yes and no. Yes, because I have to choose well and no, because the Canadian designers that I have my eye on deliver on all of the shop’s criteria. Now back to my personal closet issues.

I love sorting through my closet, but I’d rather be putting together new outfits than purging all of the time. I’ve come to learn that staying small isn’t always easy in a world where more is always outside your door. You have to stick to your guns, stick to your shopping list of items that you need, not just want. Need some tips on how to keep your closet lean?

Keep your shopping list handy

I use this great to-do list app called TeuxDeux to keep track of items that I’m missing in my closet. These are items that I often wish I had on hand when I’m getting dressed in the morning, and items that would help me make use of a few other pieces in my closet.

Whether you keep your list in your phone or on a piece of paper in your purse, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you avoid making impulse purchases. If you give in, you may very well find yourself with a poor-quality piece that doesn’t go with a single thing in your closet = money wasted. True, you could get lucky and impulsively buy an item that ends up being one of your fave go-to’s, but more likely than not, it’ll be in next year’s donation pile.

Store seasonal clothes as the weather changes

Most North Americans will understand that those of us above the 49th parallel experience four seasons. Each season calls for its own wardrobe, but the transition times between seasons do too. Many Canadians find themselves constantly sorting and storing their clothing from one season to the next within a matter of weeks, not months.

For example, it’s fall right now, but we’ve been experience warmer than usual temperatures (+15 degrees Celsius!). When fall hit, I put away my summer items, kept a few light tops to wear under cardigans, and brought out my fall stuff. A few weeks later, a cold spell hit us and I brought out the heavy winter sweaters and my parka. Now, I’m back to early spring items. I don’t think this can ever be avoided, but what I can give as a tip is this: layer.

Keep two to three spring tops that you can wear under sweaters and cardigans. If you get too hot, you can remove a layer. Don’t store away all of your warm-weather pieces because you’ll end up sweating like a pig on an unusually warm fall day, as I have a few times already this season.

Take note of your go-to or “uniform” pieces

These are items that you wear almost every week. These are your “uniform”, or your essential pieces. If you still have some spring items in your fall closet that are never worn because you always opt for one of your essential pieces time and time again, store those spring items away!

I finally stored away a spring, floral blouse that I was keeping this fall in case I wanted to add some colour to an outfit. But you know what? I never reached for it. It was so colourful, it didn’t go with much in my fall closet and come fall, I only want to wear warm turtlenecks and sweaters, not light blouses (even if they’re layered under a cardigan). This leads me to my last note.

Be honest about your likes and dislikes

I’m guilty of keeping things in my closet that I never wear, just in case. I’m not talking about formal dresses and going-out skirts, those are for special occasions, so it’s OK if they’re not often worn. I’m talking about that one shirt that you can’t let go of even though you have at least another two that you can easily wear in its place. Let it go my friends, just let it go. I promise you, you won’t miss it.

If you’re anxious to donate your precious items, store them away in a special box for three months. If you haven’t thought of them in that length of time, say goodbye.

Inspiration outfits for my fall capsule wardrobe

aran sweater

Photo credits from left to right: Fashion Gum, Honestly WTF, Styloholic.

Photo credits from left to right: Elements of Style

Photo credits from left to right: Elements of Style

Photo credits from left to right: Vestiaire Collective, Where to Get It, Absolu Paris Blog

Photo credits from left to right: Vestiaire Collective, Where to Get It, Absolu Paris Blog

Photo credits from left to right: Late Afternoon Blog, People and Styles

Photo credits from left to right: Late Afternoon Blog, People and Styles

Photo credits from left to right: Brooklyn Blonde, Closet Full of Clothes, Pinterest

Photo credits from left to right: Brooklyn Blonde, Closet Full of Clothes, Pinterest

New fave blog on my “mind”

November 3, 2015

I can’t remember how, exactly, but just last week I came across Into Mind while I was browsing the Interweb and I wanted to share my new favourite blog with you. Talk about a beautifully designed site. Creator Anuschka hails from Berlin and writes about how to achieve minimalism in life. The site design itself is a perfect reflection of Into Mind’s minimalist aesthetic. Each post is thoughtfully put together, she obviously spends a lot of time on each post, and her loyal readers share in their appreciation for it.

Check out this helpful guide on eco-conscious shopping. Into Mind is full of thoughtful how-to lists, tips and graphics and I am definitely reaching out to her to do a guest post for you. We’ll see if she’s up for it!

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I lied, the blogging continues

October 14, 2015

Mixing floral prints - Malorie Bertrand - EF Magazine - How to match colors and patterns in your clothes - Simple styling tips to help you make the most of your wardrobe

You may or may not know that I’m starting a small business. I stopped blogging here for the past couple of months to give me the head space to finish my business plan (I’m pressing SEND in a day or two for funding, fingers crossed!). I thought that I would stop blogging on EF altogether, but I realized that you would be the best readers to share my experiences with. The business is a natural progression from the blog, so why lose you as readers when you might really dig what I’m working on, you know?

I’m one or two blog posts away from being able to make the official announcement with bells and whistles. Until then, I’m incredibly excited and petrified to announce that I’m launching an online boutique to sell mostly Canadian-made sustainable fashion and accessories for women. Zee name? COMMUN – a sense of wear (shopcommun.com coming August 2016). Props to my mom for the slogan. Catch the play on words? I’ll post about the name and branding in the weeks to come.

Over the next ten months, I’ll post regularly about the ins and outs of starting up a business. I hope it comes in handy for any of you who are thinking of doing the same. The posts will also help me share with you all of the fun behind-the-scenes of shopping trips in the New Year. I’ll share images of the clothing I’m considering, highlight designers I’ve discovered, and share any meltdowns I might have as I near launching this baby. Should be quite the trip.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a blog post I wrote on styling as a guest for Rose & Fig, a wonderful sustainable lifestyle blog written by my friend Jess Hunt. By the way, she just got hitched and I think you’ll love the photographs. Missed Jess’s guest post on DIY beauty?

This post was inspired by a chat we had over Skype about how it may be easy to downsize your closet, but the styling afterwards is often what trips people up. I put together a post about matching because it’s often what challenges my clients most during wardrobe consultations. The outfits I chose were chosen less for style than to provide a clear example of matching do’s and don’t’s.  Now that I see them on the full screen I think: “Gah, I should’ve ironed my shorts!”, but I think you’ll forgive me.

Canadian tuxedo: a thing of the past?

June 3, 2015

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I THINK NOT!

I was going to start posting warm spring outfits. You know, with skirts and dresses, but Mother Nature decided to turn the temperature back down to the +5 range overnight. My poor, poor veggie garden. But I digress! Spring can be a tricky season to dress for, especially if you are like me and like to rotate your clothing season by season. Right now, I have a few summery pieces mixed in with long-sleeved shirts and sweaters, what gives? This take on a Canadian tuxedo is an easy, casual outfit to wear out to a pub or running errands in a market. I’ve kept the matchy-matchy vibe with second-hand leather sandals from Value Village (only $5.00) and a leather bag I got in Italy a few years back. It does take a bit of daring to wear denim and denim but I think sporting a white shirt underneath breaks up the blue and makes it wearable out, thoughts?

Outfit pieces

White, button-up blouse – Everlane
Jean vest – Value Village
Leather purse – Bought in Italy
Jeans – Mango
Sandals – Value Village

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Leather fringe coat spring outfit

May 16, 2015

 

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Wearing the same bottoms and shoes as in my last outfit post, but I’m switching things up and going a bit Western. I recently bought this great leather fringe coat from Value Village and I can’t wait to wear it. I don’t think it’s work appropriate (except for Fridays) so I’ll try it out tomorrow since the weather hasn’t been so hot. To keep with the Western/tribal vibe, I’ve added this ever-lasting purse that I bought at a garage sale years ago. I can’t even remember where or when exactly but this baby is so sturdy, I can pack as much as I can into it and it won’t tear or give way one bit.

With a simple, white button-up, this somewhat “loud” coat becomes a classic early spring/fall outerwear.

P.S. Mind that dang outlet that snuck into a couple of the photos. Now that the weather is nice, I’m going to start shooting outfits outside. No more outlets!

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Items:

Leather fringe coat – Value Village – $20.00

White, button-up – Everlane – $60.00

Jeans – Second Clothing – $120.00

Purse – Vintage

Shoes – Zoe Lee Shoes

Minimalist spring outfit

May 15, 2015

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I basically put this minimalist outfit together to show off this pair of new shoes I bought back in September while on a trip in Paris. They’re designed by Zoe Lee, a talented shoe designer and owner of her own lovely boutique in Le Marais district of Paris. The shoes are not at all within my regular budget but I took advantage of a pre-season sale and while in my “how soon will you be in Paris again” mentality, made the purchase. Zoe Lee shoes are all handmade in a small, family-owned factory in Italy. She sources the finest Italian leathers and materials. Only 25 pairs of shoes are made per style. A Zoe Lee shoe is truly a work of art and a quality piece to cherish for years to come.

Enough about all that, what do you think? I chose these black booties because of their versatility and the heel is the perfect height – not too high, but just enough heel to make them fun.

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Items:

Shirt: gifted, vintage velvet top (I have a matching skirt to go with it that I’ll showcase next fall/winter)

Jeans: Second Clothing jeans, a great Montreal-based company that makes the best yoga jeans around.

Clutch: Vintage

Shoes: Zoe Lee

Ten pieces, tons of looks

May 14, 2015

infinite outfits-main

*Please note that the Need Supply Co. link below is a Skimlinks link, meaning I will receive a small commission on any sales made through this link. 

You may know by now that I am constantly trying to reduce my wardrobe to get it to that perfect number, that ever-elusive ideal amount of items that fulfill all of my style needs. It’s not just about the number though, it’s also about the style and quality of the pieces. I could have the leanest wardrobe of only 37 items but if they don’t fit properly, if their colours wash me out, if they don’t match each other and if I don’t like them, it just won’t work.

So, keep in mind, when you’re donating items that you no longer want, to take note of what you’re donating. If you’re pulling out your only cardigan and you’re a big fan of cardigans, like Mr. Rogers big, than make note of buying yourself a cardigan that you will love. It should go well with at least three other items in your wardrobe, it should be of high-quality material, it should fit well and it should be something that you enjoy wearing.

Above is a stack of clothing items that I pulled from my current spring wardrobe to try and put together into as many outfits as I possibly could. OK, I lie. Into as many outfits as I had the time and patience to that day.

From left to right: a black jumper that I bought off of Need Supply Co. last year. It is soft and comfortable BUT I have to get the straps fixed. My chest just isn’t big enough to fill it out so whenever I wear it I have to use double-sided tape, which just plain sucks. BUT, it’s in this pile because I will wear it all of the time once it’s fixed (mental note: get jumper fixed) and when I don’t want to see the top part of it, I can cover it up with another top and voila, a new pair of comfy black pants.

Second, is my lovely grey, silk camisole from Everlane. Grey goes with everything and this top is often worn to work under my black blazer or out with jeans or a mini skirt.

Next, your good ‘ole pair of light, blue jeans. I bought these at Mango while in Europe last year. Not an ethical choice but I had forgotten pants on the trip so I made the choice to buy durable jeans that I’d wear all of the time.

Then, my aubergine, jersey midi dress from H&M. It’s easily worn to work with a blazer or worn out to run errands. It’s super soft and sometimes, when it’s really cold out, I wear it to bed as a luxurious nightgown.

In the middle you’ll find a pair of white shorts form H&M, easy-peasy, simple white shorts that go with any summer top. I’ve had these for two years now and I wear them all of the time. I use baking soda to get out any stains because, yes, they do stain a lot.

Beside the shorts is a grey sweater that I bought from Lord&Taylor a few years back when I wasn’t as hard on myself about buying from ethical and sustainable sources. It’s great to throw over button-up shirts for that layered look but it’s also a cute “crop sweater”, if I can use that term.

The brown, cap-sleeved button-up is a neat piece my sister gave me from her closet. It’s long, great for layering but it has enough cuffs and buttons to be work appropriate with the right pieces.

The black pleated skirt from American Apparel was a second-hand purchase and it is such a great piece for me. I often wear it to work in the fall/winter but it’s light enough to wear in the spring. I’ll put it away in the summer though. I don’t like to wear too much black in the summer. I’m worried it’ll scare the sun away.

The second-last item is my beloved salmon silk button-up from Everlane. It’s my fancy dress shirt but I often wear it to dinner parties too.

Lastly, a striped tank that I bought at Value Village. I just love stripped tops and this one reminds me of something my mom wore when she was young. I must’ve seen a picture of her with something similar on from a family album.

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Here’s a good Saturday errand-running day paired with cute sandals but you could wear it to a bar that night with some fun booties.DSC_0015

Switch the above outfit up on Sunday with white shorts to make it more suitable for warmer days and a stroll along the canal.DSC_0018

Tired of solids? Add some stripes because, you know, why not live dangerously, right?DSC_0023

And now, switch your shorts for a skirt to wear out to dinner Sunday night.DSC_0026

Wait a minute, the weather is turning a little chilly overnight, put on your jumper under your top and work those bottoms. These look great with strappy sandals.DSC_0028

Why not throw on a sweater if you really need some wind protection?DSC_0032

Let’s go a little more “worky” for Monday and sport the brown button-up under the sweater. It’s cute and preppy.DSC_0036

Work day is over, time to put on the jeans and meet up with a friend for wine.
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Rise and shine, back to work with some layers. I know, lots of colour blocking.DSC_0048

Tired of layering? Just wear the sweater. Black and grey, natural best friends.DSC_0055

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