Real Cool

I have no idea what it means to be cool. It’s a pretty abstract concept when you think about it. What makes it? Style? Attitude? Aloofness? James Dean’s red jacket in Rebel Without A Cause?

Whatever it is, it’s pretty open to interpretation. For myself in high school, it meant trying to be exactly like the popular kids. As can be expected, that method wasn’t too successful.

Later in university, it meant doing whatever I wanted and TO HELL with the consequences and what everyone else thinks. I am, however, not nearly confident or badass enough to properly pull that off, but the thought was there. Because, let’s be real I care very much about what other people think.

In life, maybe being cool doesn’t actually exist because deep down we’re just a bunch of dorks.

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In style, I think the key is learning to be confident in your own decisions. Maybe you know that what you wear isn’t everyone’s taste but you do it anyway because you love it. I’ve been working on this for years while trying to make my wardrobe a little more interesting. Whenever I come across a piece that’s a little different than my usual threads, I think, yes, this will be so dang cool. But then, every time I’m getting dressed, I bypass it for something much more standard.

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These jeans are a small example of that process. The whole time I was trying them on, they kept making me think about it. These aren’t even strange, but they’re a step away from my usual black skinnies and mom jeans When I got them, I made a pact with myself that the only way I could justify buying them would be to wear them as much as possible.

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Styling them is proving to be a bit difficult, firstly because they’re not a high-rise fit (which just feels weird to me) and secondly because they’re a straight leg jean and I want to keep the proportions balanced.

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My most successful attempt is this: a plain white button down and a long coat. Simple but effective, and I feel really good in it. Further staying attempts will continue, of course.

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Author’s Note: I should mention this blog post was originally going to be about just how freaking cold it’s getting in Toronto, but I realized I should probably take it a bit deeper than that.

I do stand by that point, though. It’s getting hella cold. It was snowing on me when I took these pictures. I know it’s seasonal but. bro.

DETAILS

Jeans: Levi’s (from Anthropologie)

Shirt: Aritzia

Coat: Topshop

Hat: Aritzia

Necklaces: Oak + Fort, Anthropologie

 

 

My Favourite Toronto Shops

I am, by no means, an expert on anything Toronto. I still take transit like a tourist, have no idea how to interpret true Torontonian directions (North-West?? The hell??) and don’t know any of the cool bars nearby.

However, I have lived here for about seven and a half months now, and naturally one of the first things I did upon arrival was to discover all the cool independent shops Toronto has to offer. (To compare, I grew up in Kingston, where it was a massive deal when we got an Urban Outfitters.)

If finding alternatives to chain stores if your thing, then Toronto has seemingly endless possibilities. From local zines to  menswear to accessories, we’ve got it all.

And while it will take me a long time to visit every small shop and boutique around, I do have a list of the favourites I have managed to visit in my short time here.

(A lot of these places are in the west end, solely for the reason that they’re near my neighbourhood.)

Victoire – 129A Ossington Ave.

I was introduced to Victoire back in Ottawa. I stumbled across it entirely by accident while traipsing through the Byward Market and I fell a little bit in love with the gorgeous clothing and jewellery. Not to mention, Canadian content.

Victoire sells womenswear and accessories designed by independent Canadian designers and most of the products are manufactured in Canada. Because of this, the price point is higher, but you pay for the quality and source of the items.

Birds of North America, Darling and Stay Home Club are just a few of the dozens of Canadian brands they carry.

The store in Toronto on Ossington in particular, is on the cutest little strip with ridiculously hip shops and restaurants. Arguably too cool an end of town for me to enter.

Tribal Rhythm – 248 Queen St. W

I. LOVE. THIS. STORE.

Let me break it down for you: vintage stores are either like entering an eccentric aunt’s car trunk or your grandmother’s walk-in closet. Both of these options are appealing to me for different reasons and Tribal Rhythm is definitely the latter.

The store is carefully curated, so instead of picking through a massive store for hours to find the best things, the best things are already set aside for you. I have had some sick finds here, including a Clueless-esque plaid blazer, a vintage Lacoste jacket and a hilariously inappropriate anti-drugs t-shirt. There’s also a selection of gloriously luxe faux-fur coats that I moon over every time I’m in the store.

There’s mens and women’s clothing, accessories and a selection of dresses specially set aside by decade. There are dresses from the 1940s. I shit you not. I would probably own all of them if I had a tiny waist. Alas.

Black Market Clothing – 256 Queen St. W

Black Market is the other option of vintage store. You know, aunt’s trunk. Or uncle’s.

I did just talk up the fantastic curation of Tribal Rhythm, but there’s also something to be said for getting lost in the massive basement that is Black Market and somehow spending hours looking through endless racks of clothing.

And everything is ridiculously cheap. I’ve found leather jackets there for $10, and they only had one small rip in the lining each. I’ve bought t-shirts for a couple of dollars apiece. And there are so many mom jeans. Mom jeans as far as the eye can see. It is truly beautiful. There’s also a barber shop in the back, which, when I first saw it was so odd and out of place that it just somehow worked.

Basically, Black Market is the best and I know if I had grown up in Toronto, I would have lived in this place throughout high school.

Likely General – 389 Roncesvalles Ave.

Likely General was another place I stumbled across completely by accident.

Here’s the situation: I had been sent down to Roncesvalles by my mom to pick something particularly festive and German from a particularly German shop. (The Old Country Shop, to be specific.) While I was on this mission, I realized that section of Roncesvalles was another delightfully quirky Toronto strip filled with a variety of national cuisines, a Church and the Likely General.

Just looking in the window I thought that this store would be my kind of place. Upon entering, I was greeted by a massive, smiley dog and I knew for sure it was my kind of place.

Likely General is another small store filled with local goodies. From zines to tees to tarot cards, the majority of the merch is Toronto-based and everything I came across had a bit of a feminist flair to it. It truly was my kind of place and honestly, I can’t wait to go back. Firstly, to spend more time checking out the zines and secondly, to pet that dog.

Outclass – 1122 College St.

Outclass is the type of menswear brand that the really cool guys wear. Their shop on College is the type of store where, if I had a boyfriend, I would either make him shop there or buy him gifts only from there.

The brand Outclass is sold at a number of locations in Toronto and across Canada, but the small boutique on College is a pretty sick place to pop into.

To put it simply, it’s the goddam coolest menswear store I’ve found yet. I can’t say too much else about menswear, but I desperately need an excuse to shop there, so fellas hit me up.

Northwood General Store – 800 Bloor St. W

Northwood General Store is quintessential Canadiana, but the hip, stylish version. Outdoorsy, minimalist, leather (or faux leather) goods and some awfully covetable accessories.

Not everything at the Northwood General is Canadian-made, but the selection is just so good. They’ve got Matt + Nat, BauXo and No Fun Press, who, by the way, have made one of my favourite t-shirts of all time.

If you’re in desperate need for some quirky and cool gifts for your quirky and cool friends, this is absolutely the place to go.

The Dot – 687 Bloor St. W

As I write this, I’m starting to realize I stumbled across most of these places by accident. The story with The Dot isn’t super glamorous, but it is absolutely true.

One night I walked home from an evening of sweaty dancing at Dance Cave. It was around two in the morning and it was during the summer. Kids, don’t do this unless you have a buddy with you.

The point of this story is I passed by The Dot and saw some hella cute stuff in the window. I made a mental note and also an actual note in my phone of the address so I could check it out later.

The Dot carries the clean, minimalist womenswear style that I’ve been trying to achieve for years. The clothing is structured and simple and the accessories are equally minimalist and beautiful.

If you’re looking to update your look to something fresh, this is a pretty good place to start.

 

 

 

 

 

Three Winter Coats

Winter dressing is hard.

It’s hard to feel enthusiastic when all you want is to pile another blanket on top of yourself and retreat further into your character study of an aging king in the midst of the harshest winter the kingdom has seen in generations, etc.

It’s hard to feel cute when you’re wearing at least three layers and you’re simultaneously cold and sweating a little bit.

It’s hard to look ~winter aesthetic~, like the tumblr version, when there are snow drifts up to your thighs and winds gusting to 60 km/h.

I’ve spent every winter of my life in Canada, and one thing that has remained the same, save for the snow and cold, is the combined mood of every bus stop in every city, the looks on everyone’s faces saying: as soon as I can afford it, I’m moving to California.

And when the weather gets bad, generally, we have one coat. We have that one parka that could survive Hoth, the one that turns us from a fully-formed humanoid into a shapeless amoeba just floating through time and space. I have one of these coats, and as much as I like to try and be ~winter aesthetic~, I whip that thing out all the time.

That being said, I have amassed a small collection of coats and jackets because I do, in fact, like winter dressing when it’s not extreme winter dressing. Think the kids from the show SKAM: lots of grey, burgundy and olive with scarves expertly layered.

I have a couple of “spring and fall” jackets that see the outside world only a couple of times a year, only when the weather is exactly right for that week-and-a-half in April or October. But I also have a few non-parka winter jackets that are surprisingly warm and wearable in Toronto right now. (I feel like as I write this we’re on the verge of a snow storm, so I may eat these words.)

Once again, shout out to my beautiful friend Emily for taking these pictures! Check out her Instagram and show her a bit of love!

Coat One

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Half inspired by Twin Peaks, half envious of every woman I know who has a long peacoat, I found this particular coat at ASOS and didn’t stop thinking about it for three days before I decided to get it.

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It’s not black, which went against peacoat tradition for me,  and it has gorgeous wide lapels and a loose fit. It’s the 80s power woman coat of my dreams, basically.

Coat Two

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I have wanted a faux fur coat for years, but it was one of those things that was a pipe dream. I would probably never wear it, and it would be so expensive for nothing. I mean, who the hell did I think I was, Katherine Hepburn?

When this navy faux fur jacket went majorly on sale at Anthropologie, I lost my damn mind. It’s so luxurious on that it feels a little indulgent, like wearing the equivalent of buying yourself a slice of cake just because.

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I will also say this: this jacket is hella warm, to the point where I was genuinely surprised by how much so. I won’t put it to the test or anything, this is definitely more of a going-out piece, but it did stand up to an extremely windy and cold day. Who says you can’t look glam and warm at the same time?

Coat Three

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A biker-style lined coat was something else I’d had my eye on for a while. Naturally, I was looking for one that wasn’t real shearling because firstly, I wouldn’t buy real shearling and secondly, I would so not be able to afford that.

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I came across this guy in the sale at ZARA and was intrigued at first but hesitant about the colour. Once I tried it on crammed behind a rail in front of one of the store mirrors, I loved it. It feels like a bear hug when you wear it. So warm and cozy. Initially I wanted it in black, but the more I looked at the white, the more I liked it. It stands out, and it’s different than anything I’ve ever had before. All I have to do is try my hardest not to spill coffee on it and we’re good.

 

 

My 2017 Style Resolutions

Is this a thing? I’m making it a thing.

  1. Go with your first instinct. Stop second guessing every single outfit and learn to be confident in your own taste.
  2. Invest in good pieces. Start saving up for well-made core pieces of clothing and accessories instead of continuously buying cheaply made renditions. And to follow up on that:
  3. Stop buying things just because they’re on sale. Why do you do this??? Why??? YOU WILL NOT WEAR IT. EVER.
  4. Wear primary colours. Match a bold, medium blue with a red. Wear yellow and blue together. Who gives a fuck.
  5. Stop hoarding clothes you never wear. Honestly. Why do you always say, “I may need it sometime.” You haven’t needed it yet, and you’ve had it for a year. Donate it, sell it, give it away, just get rid of it.
  6. Completely ignore “dressing for your body type” articles in magazines.
  7. Find jeans that actually fit.
  8. Don’t try to pin your style into one category. Just wear what you like and take it from there.