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So I’m crossing something off my bucket list and having a quintessentially Canadian weekend by seeing the Hip at Butler’s Barracks in Niagara-on-the-Lake on the eve of Canada’s birthday, which also happens to be mine and Mr. Hunter’s fifth wedding anniversary. In terms of style, let’s just say it wasn’t Coachella but I did spy a few cute outfits with festival flava. Here are some pics of myself, my fellow concert goers (my sisters and their men), and some of the “street style”. Happy Canada Day everyone!

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Winner’s dress; vintage straw purse; Zara sandals; Joe’s Jeans studded belt; Marc Jacobs sunglasses; assorted bracelets

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I like the look put together by the girl on the right.

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This Hip fan’s colourful romper and bright blue purse stood out from the crowd.

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This girl’s high waisted shorts, burnt orange top, long hair, and giant feather earring, exude 1970s cool.
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Very vintage sunglasses courtesy of Ziversa Godfrey

I was at my dad’s house last summer when I spied these glasses perched on his mother-in-law’s head. I told her that I liked them and Versa (the spryest nonagenarian you’ll ever meet), whipped them off her head and into my hands. This week has been their first real test drive and while I like their exaggerated shape, it’s hard to get used to the fit. The bottom of the frames press into my cheeks.
I’m also wearing my favourite new lip colour, Mac Viva Glam Niki, and that mass of hair on top of my head is courtesy of a sock bun. I am so in love with the trick that I’ve been using it since I watched a YouTube how-to demo last week.

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Zara sandals; Costa Blanca cropped pants; Gap tank; Forever XI satchel pendant; Winners bag

I got everything I’m wearing for a steal! The pants are a new purchase from the Costa Blanca store in the underground on Bloor. The store is closing so everything is on for 40% off the original price. Costs Blanca’s shady return policy (they basically don’t have one), and their less than stellar quality usually keep me away but I couldn’t resist these cheap and chic pants for $15. At that price I won’t lose sleep if they only last me one summer. The army green tank was $12 when Gap had a 30% off sale several weeks back (as they so often do), and the purse was $34.99 at Winners (even though I saw the very same purse at regular price at a major department store). The pendant is an old purchase so I’m not even counting that in my outfit total, which comes to a respectable $61 (excluding the Zara sandals but they don’t count cuz I wear them everyday and I’m a firm believer in cost per wear–BUT I did just see the little studded beauties for $10 off the regular price at the store’s semi-annual seasonal blowout sale–on right now!)

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Husband’s Neil Young t-shirt; Betsey Johnson sunglasses; and Gap straw hat.
On Viggo: Gap v-neck t-shirt; H&M straw fedora

If you’re like me, when it comes to T-shirts you’re on a perennial hunt for The One. My search has taken me everywhere from stylemint to Joe Fresh, and while I’ve scored some tees that are on permanent rotation in my closet, I’ve yet to find a tee that boasts the perfect neckline and that worn-in, airy thin-ness, in a neutral shade. So the search continues, but in the meantime I have discovered a close second, or rather, I have my pick of about forty close seconds–every t-shirt in my husband’s drawer. They are all authentically worn-in–the perfect weight, which is something I rarely achieve in my own tees, tossing most of them aside after a season of wear. Careful to avoid the ones crested with bands who I know too little about to wear with confidence (I don’t want to be a poser afterall), many of Mr. Hunter’s t-shirts have found a permanent home among my wares. I wear them solo with cutoffs, under a blazer, or with more girly pieces like my floral palazzo pants or pink Gap skimmer jeans to give them a bit of an edge. So next time you’re in a t-shirt lurch, try raiding your husband’s/boyfriend’s/brother’s closet (unless they happen to be Nickelback fans in which case, ALARM, ALARM, ALARM!)

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In March my life completely changed. My husband and I welcomed our amazing baby boy, Viggo, and he is now my trusty sidekick when it comes to all things retail. Together we’ve clocked thousands of kilometers on his CityMini, hoping to strike sartorial gold (without having to spend it!). Lucky for us, this winter has been mild and on the few days that have actually been inclement, Viggo has soldiered on, taking in the sales—I mean sights—from behind the safety of his clear plastic weather shield. He’s every shopper’s dream baby. The good natured kid has endured his mother in all manner of dress (I swear I thought I heard him say “utility blouse” the other day), and in moments of indecision I have found myself shamefully interrupting his happy reverie to ask his opinion.

“I know the sad day will come when he’d rather do anything than shop with his mom…”

What follows is a frenetic sort of dance whereby I hold up one garment, then another, over and over again while trying to decipher his sounds and gestures as expressions of either consent or dissent. And while I can’t speak for him, I am loving every minute of his free wheelin’, I’ll-follow-mom-anywhere-as-long-as-she-sings-me-a-few-lines-of-I’m-a-little-teapot, joyful baby stage. I know the sad day will come when he’d rather do anything than shop with his mom and I’ll be back out there on Bloor the streets, baby-less, stroller-less…alone. And all without the Mommy Hook on which to hang my heavy heart haul.

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So I have this here blog and I feel like the first post should be the obligatory personal style post. I, like I imagine most other people do as well, have a guttural reaction to certain cuts or fabrics—things that just make me hum. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a penchant for baggy tops but—I have to say it—I was doing baggy long before Rachel Zoe handed LiLo a shirt with batwing sleeves to pair with her oversize Balenciaga. I was the kid who thought Dorothy was the best dressed Golden Girl for goodness sake! Anyway skinnies and baggy tops are my fallback—an easy combo when I haven’t had a chance to actually think about what to wear. But rewind to three years ago: one of my best friends was getting married and got me an appointment with an image/wardrobe consultant as a “thanks for being my bridesmaid gift.” At the time, I, like the rest of the TLC-watching world, dreamt of Stacy and Clinton creeping up and surprising me while I was unknowingly waiting for the subway or [insert mundane activity here], with a cheque for $5000.* I’m no slouch when it comes to styling myself and I’ve even gotten paid to do it (for others—not myself), but she thought the experience would be fun and so did I. A chunk of time dedicated wholly to me and my wardrobe!? Self-interest alive and well, I was on board!

I was smug as I followed the image consultant’s pre-appointment preparation instructions, laying every garment and accessory I owned out on my bed/floor/dining room table. She’s going to get here, see my shit and be like, “whoa girlie, you don’t need any help. Congrats.” But I was remiss in my assumption. She took one look at my army of jeans, baggy blouses, and tunics and summed up my closet like so: “you have a lot of dramatic tops and skinny pants…all dark…mostly black. You need some colour and there are some closet staples that you don’t have, like…dress pants.” Frack. I hate “dress pants” unless you’re talking about some drop-crotch, gathered ankle, interesting hybrid of dress and harem pant. Otherwise,  no thanks! I count myself as lucky to have worked at jobs that allowed for—even required—idiosyncrasy when it came to style (unless you count my stint in retail at Club Monaco where our uniform was a white shirt and their signature Tex pant. That was the first and last pair of dress pants I’ll ever wear threadbare at the crotch. Mark my words). Anyway the consultant gave me a list of must-haves, re-emphasized the need for colour in my mournful wardrobe and it was onto phase two: meeting her at the (unnamed) department store where she was newly ensconced as the in-house personal shopper, with the purpose of filling in my hole-y wardrobe.

“…if you squinted your eyes the display looked like every shopper’s nirvana—sparkling accessories, glossy leather bags, jewel toned dresses, and filmy blouses…”

 

I arrived to find that she had preselected outfits and accessories and laid them out over the entire surface area of a private dressing room in a sartorial display so gluttonous, it made my heart skip a beat. And yeah, if you squinted your eyes the display looked like every shopper’s nirvana—sparkling accessories, glossy leather bags, jewel toned dresses, and filmy blouses galore BUT upon closer inspection NOTHING would I have ever picked for myself. “Relax, that’s the point of this little experiment,” I calmed my inner rebelious (read: stressed and worried), voice. After a lot of prodding, doubtful opinions (from me), and positive affirmations (from her), I ended up with a multi-colour silk top with cap sleeves, an ivory sleeveless top with tiered ruffles down the front, a black synthetic bow-neck blouse, a pair of brown, nubbly tweed, high-waisted pants, and the ubiquitous black dress pant. And I’m lucky I was po’ at the time or I surely would have purchased more of these misfit pieces. Not that I didn’t like them per se—turns out she was damn good at fit and proportion. But I liked them in a way that if I saw someone else wearing them on the street I would probably think, “that girl looks surprisingly nice in her business casual office apparel” and that’s it. Still, there I stood at the cash desk, garments and credit card in hand. I couldn’t help it. The pressure to “right” my wardrobe was strong. I was in a panic. Was this why it seemed I never had anything to wear when XX event arose? I needed to clean up my act. Must. Buy. Stuffy. Pieces.

“Three years and a load of hindsight have afforded me this: I know what I like and I’m not going to buy anything that doesn’t scream my name.”

 

To this day I have worn each garment only once with the exception of the tweed pants. Three years and a load of hindsight have afforded me this: I know what I like and I’m not going to buy anything that doesn’t scream my name. Don’t get me wrong. There is always room for refinement and I find myself developing my style all the time. She was right in telling me I could use some colour and there were holes in my wardrobe, which I have filled with pieces that mesh with my look. Her folly was simply that she underestimated the power of personal style.

 * For the sake of clarity, I would still readily welcome an ambush by Stacy and Clinton. Just sayin’.

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