Two Fave Spring Trends

I always gravitate towards stripes in the spring and summer. It’s partially due to the amount of stripe-y stuff the stores get in, partially because the warmer weather always has me thinking wistfully of that alternate universe where I’m from southern France in the 1960s. It’s not a big deal.

Stripes is a spring trend that’s pretty much guaranteed to come around, right up there with whites, florals and silks.

A trend I did see come up this year that is not as common was bight, bold red. It was all over the runway and naturally trickled down to the high-street stores. I couldn’t go into any Urban Outfitters, Topshop or Aritzia without seeing pops of red sprinkled into the denim and neutrals like freckles.

I love this trend. Red is such an eye-catching colour that looks fantastic on everyone. It’s classic, it’s modern, it’s timeless. Aside from black, it’s the colour of femme fatales around the world.

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I’ve been looking for ways to work both of these trends into my wardrobe this season. Stripes was easy because of full pieces like a striped shirtdress or a pinstripe jacket. These pants I found at Topshop are another perfect way to style stripes, and are a great summer pant to wear when wool trousers are just too constricting and heavy to survive in.

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I actually found the red bag before the top. It was a lucky find at Forever 21, something I thought would be perfect as a pop of colour on monochrome outfits. Imagine that bad boy accessorizing all white? Killer.

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On another fateful day I saw this red linen top at Oak + Fort and then rest is history. A flattering neckline and the best colour for the season.

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Pairing these two together was a no-brainer. Since the pants have a stripe, I’ve been wearing them with solid colours, but wearing them with straight black or white doesn’t quite cut it. Likewise with the top, tucking it into a little skirt or trouser is the perfect way to wear it. Throw in a pair of converse and the aforementioned little red bag and I’ve got a good out-on-the-town weekender vibe.

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Sure, I’ve yet to time travel to 1960s and magically be born as a sophisticated French lady, but this outfit has me fully in my summertime mindset, you know the mindset where you magically forget all of your deadline and responsibilities and play “Island in the Sun” on repeat.

[And yes, I did dye my hair blonde!! We’re back to the light side.]

OUTFIT DETAILS

Top – Oak + Fort (Not available, but pictured here with co-ordinating pant.)

Trousers – Topshop

Shoes – Converse

Bag – Forever 21

Watch – Vintage

Sunnies – Aldo (Similar)

What the Heck is Occasionwear Anyway?

The budding trees and blooming flowers of spring coincide with another annual event that marks the foray into the warmer months. It’s not a natural phenomenon so much as it is a social one. It’s wedding season.

Working in retail, I get so many women who come in looking for something to wear to a wedding. For some, it’s a fruitless search, trying on dress after dress only to leave empty-handed and frazzled. For others, it’s a hunt and conquer operation. They find one item, try it in two sizes and leave with the correct one. Often, these customers remind of Say Yes to the Dress, except it’s guest edition. (Actually, writing that is making me think of the spinoff Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids. I don’t even know if they air it anymore but if you can find an episode, watch it for the drama alone.)

No matter if you’re a world-weary wedding veteran or a nervous newbie, the task of picking something to wear to the big day can be daunting, judged usually by your relationship to the couple. Distant cousins’ wedding? Dressing appropriate only to avoid family gossip. Best friends’ wedding? The pressure is on.

Aside from weddings, spring and summer are the seasons of events. I’m not saying things just stop happening the rest of the year, but somehow there seem to be more graduations, birthdays, farewells and general gatherings of merriment than during the winter months. And most want to take advantage of the agreeable weather to look fly AF.

When choosing an outfit for these events, I’ve had my fair share of panic attacks. Like, what does business casual actually mean? How formal do I need to go here? How informal is this supposed to be? OH GOD THE PARTY IS OUTSIDE AND IT’S 35 DEGREES WHAT DO I DO.

I’m no wedding or big event veteran. I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some go-to outfits and tips for when you’re stuck on finding the right balance in occasionwear.

The Dress

Let’s start with a dress, because a lot of us start there. You want to find the right length, depending on where you’ll be. You won’t want to wear white if it’s a wedding (unless it’s specifically in the dress code.) You want something you can sit and move in. Something that won’t drive you nuts after an hour.

These requirements aren’t actually too tall an order. Most summer dresses are comfortable when the sizing is correct and there are so many gorgeous minis or maxis for whatever hemline you need.

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With this dress, I liked how it was a mini-maxi. The long outer layer is contrasted by a short slip, with eyefuls of leg balanced by cutouts in the dress.

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I found the minty green colour perfect for spring and summer events. It’s a popular shade at the moment and looks good on every skin tone.

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I paired this dress with some neutral heeled mules and simple gold jewellery. Since the dress itself is such a statement piece, I wouldn’t want to overload it with accessories. The mules are a perfect summer party shoe. It’s a heel, but it’s comfortable enough to wear all night.

Outfit Details

Dress – Anthropologie

Shoes – H&M (Similar)

The Jumpsuit

If you don’t want to mess around with colour, if neutrals are really more your style, then basic black is your friend. It’s a classic for a reason, even in the summertime.

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Instead of a black dress, though, I picked a jumpsuit. I’m a real jumpsuit gal. I love wearing wide-leg trousers this time of year and I think a jumpsuit is a really fun alternative to a dress. You’ll be comfortable, you won’t have to worry about sudden gusts of wind and you’ll definitely stand out.

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This jumpsuit is a classic colour and shape, but the back cutouts give it a little something extra and make it more event-worthy and memorable.

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I paired this piece with a simple white shoe and silver jewellery. Again, it’s a low block heel because that’s just my style and I want to be able to walk home after dancing.

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Even if you don’t go with the black, I’d recommend trying out a jumpsuit if you never have before. It’s the perfect gateway to that “effortless chic” gal you’ve always wanted to be.

Outfit Details

Jumpsuit – Topshop (Similar)

Shoes – Zara

Watch – Daniel Wellington

The Other Dress

So, we have our long formal dress, a good choice for a wedding maybe. But what about a garden party? What about a more laid-back outdoor event where the sun is hot and the drinks are free-flowing?

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I love this short linen-blend dress for moments like that. The neutral colour is perfect for summer and so easy to style. Some would argue this isn’t the most flattering silhouette. Maybe, but I’m also set if there’s a buffet.

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To style this dress, I went with some very low, casual mules and more gold jewellery. However I do think this is one where you could wear a pair of colourful earrings or a statement bracelet to dress it up a bit more.

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I tend to prefer a looser silhouette in dresses, but I also believe in the summer months it’s more comfortable to have something that doesn’t cling too much to the body. And having a cute, short flow dress in your wardrobe will be a godsend when you need something last minute for a family barbecue or a day out at the park with friends.

Outfit Details

Dress – Aritzia (Not quite similar, but other suggestions here and here.)

Shoes – H&M

Gold Bracelet – Oak + Fort

Another Brunch Date

I’ve said it before, ya girl loves a good brunch.

What I love even more is when that brunch coincides with Mother’s Day, and I’m able to spend the day gallivanting around town with my older sister and mom in tow.

Last weekend was a whirlwind of food, art and wine. Just the right side of luxurious. Aside from all of that, I love my mom dearly and my family is very close. Spending the weekend together was the best part.

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My mom, my sister and myself.

And, yes, our extravagant girls’ weekend did include a Mother’s Day buffet brunch at Epic in Toronto, and let me tell you I am still thinking about their Belgian waffles.

While deciding on an outfit for this occasion, I had two things in mind. Firstly, I wanted to look nice for my mom. Secondly, I wanted to be comfortable, as we had plans to traipse around the city that day.

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The median found with this look is decent, especially with the added bonus that these trousers have an elastic waist, so I was good to go to town on the buffet.

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It was a gorgeously sunny day on Sunday and to honour that I really wanted to stick with a light colour palette. As much as I love wearing black, there are some days that call for pastels and creams.

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I felt terribly spring-like and entirely prepared for mom day activities, which included walking to the AGO and making us stop so my sister could take these pictures of me.

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But, really, my true outfit validation came, naturally, from my mom, when she saw me and said,”You look so nice.” That was good enough for me.

OUTFIT DETAILS

Blouse – Aritzia

Trousers – Oak + Fort (Similar)

Shoes – Urban Outfitters (very, very old, definitely not available anymore)

Sunnies – Black Market Vintage

Denim Jacket – Topshop

Bag – Urban Outfitters (Similar)

Cinema Style Ep. 2

For our second round of Cinema Style, I’m going to take you guys into a very, very sad period piece. Seriously, I was sobbing in the theatre. But even through my tears, I took notice of the costuming.

You probably already have an idea of which movie I’m talking about, but I’ll tell you anyway: Atonement.

If you’ve never seen it, the movie is directed by Joe Wright and based off of the book by Ian McEwan. It stars Keira Knightley and James McAvoy as Cecelia and Robbie, two young lovers torn apart in 1935 by a lie Cecelia’s younger sister Briony tells. Because of this lie, Robbie is taken to prison and only released four years later under the condition he joins the army. Tragedy and pretty crying ensues.

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Gif via Tumblr

I felt a lot of emotions when I saw this guy in the cinema with my mom back when it came out in 2007 (10 years ago!!!) I was, in my core, sad. I was pissed at Briony, well actually, pissed at everyone in that movie because if you all just took a second to THINK THEN THEY COULD HAVE BEEN TOGETHER DO YOU THINK IT MAKES IT OKAY THAT YOU WROTE THEM INTO A HAPPY ENDING????

Anyway.

Through this roller coaster of emotions I, like many others, did take notice of the movie’s superb costuming. Or, to be specific, the dress. 

You can’t talk about Atonement without talking about Cecelia’s green dress. It’s an icon in and of itself, hugely memorable on its colour alone. Emerald Green.

 When you think of classic dress moments in movies, you think of a little black dress, maybe a red dress, maybe pink à la Marilyn in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. These are the Hollywood starlet/femme fatale looks. Green is a weird one. It’s barely used in cinema on account of it supposedly making audience members uncomfortable. Remember Tippi Hedren in The Birds?

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Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Source.

Keira Knightley is so stupidly beautiful and willowy that she could pull off anything, but this dress was a special case.

Costume designer Jacqueline Durran, nominated for an Oscar from her work on the film, created the dress from scratch based on Wright’s vision for Cecelia at the fateful dinner party. Durran and Wright had previously worked together in 2005 on Pride & Prejudice, which, incidentally, also starred Knightley.

The dress was tailored to fit Knightley perfectly and moved with her as she walked. The descriptions of the dress in the book were taken to heart when the dress was designed, and certain features of it, backless with a train, are in line with 1930s gowns. The dress fits into the setting perfectly yet completely stands out.

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Photo via Tumblr

When you look at the other costuming in the film, it is starkly different to this dress. Briony, also being only 13 in the early scenes, wears the shift-dress shape of the 1930s in light colours.

Cecelia too wears lighter colours and materials in the early scenes, then when we enter wartime, she don’s the nurse’s uniform. Her silhouettes become more practical, her colours more muted.

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Cecelia in 1935. Photo Source.

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Cecelia during wartime via Pinterest

The dress itself stands as more of a fantasy, made more bold through Briony’s recollection, perhaps. Like they’re supposed to in any movie, the costumes tell the story. You could break up the styles into before the dress and after the dress. Plot-wise, that refers to before the dinner and after the dinner.

A quick search online can reveal many people looking for replicas of the dress. Since it was a custom creation, the original now moves around museum to museum. Back in 2012, it was at the V&A in London.

If anyone does find an excellent replica, let me know. I’m definitely not Keira Knightley, and I definitely don’t have an affair with the handsome young gardner on at the moment. But, you never know. Maybe I’ll wear it grocery shopping and recreate the library scene in the frozen food aisle.

Sources

IMDb

Clothes on Film

The Costumer’s Guide

Fashion & Power

 

 

Nobody Likes You When You’re 23

Yesterday was my 23rd birthday.

All I can think about is that one Britney song “Not a girl, not yet a woman.” In my mind, hitting 24 and 25 is when I’ll truly need to start having my shit together. Whatever that means. My dad likes to joke that I change the year as I approach it. Before soon I’ll be saying, “79 is when I’ll really need to start getting my shit together.”

Little more than a week ago, my sister turned 27 and I asked her how she felt. She told me about how she was excited to get older, how aging doesn’t freak her out the way it does some folks (myself included.)

I envy my sister that, her excitement for her 30s and for the decades after that. I have, completely unsurprisingly, a lot of anxiety about getting older, but it’s not necessarily about aging. It’s about wondering when I’ll finally land a big girl job, if I’ll ever achieve all the goals I’ve laid out for myself, if I’ll ever get a dog. Responsibility is a weight I doubt we ever fully become accustomed to. If I’ve learned anything from my parents, it’s that even grown ups have their days where they’re not entirely sure what they’re doing.

So I’ve got worries. But I also had a nice train ride to Kingston to think about the other side of aging — to look at how much I’ve grown in the last few years.

When I think about how I was in high school, even at the start of university, it seems like the Natasha of then is a completely different person. If you can believe it, she was even more insecure and prone to pigheaded-ness.

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I’m half-kidding, but there are a lot of changes I’ve noticed in me. I mean, yeah, I know how to dress now, or at least, I know how to dress in a way I feel good in and think works for me. I’m way better at makeup than I was. Those are only the superficial things, but since my journey in how to dress myself led to a love affair with fashion, it’s important to note.

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I’m more self-aware. I’m better at considering the consequences of my words before I speak. Better, but not perfect. I value my friendships so much more now that I’ve moved. I’m a little more open towards others and a little more forgiving towards myself. I care less and less what people think of me every day. Maybe I’m happier, I don’t know.

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In short, every year that passes brings more changes, physical and otherwise. Looking back at myself, even when I was eighteen, nineteen, I see how everything I’ve experienced has shaped me a little differently, how every person has left an impression. I have anxiety about getting older, but I also have some excitement on how I’ll look back when I’m 27 or 28 and see how much more I’ve changed. It’s cliche, but it’s a bit comforting to know that there are so many more people to meet and things to experience.

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For now, I’m 23. I’m 23 and I went to Ottawa for a weekend to celebrate with some pals. We took poorly-lit basement photos and get uproariously drunk. As my esteemed colleagues Blink-182 say, nobody likes you when you’re 23. You’re still so young, but you have a lot of the responsibility of a full adult. All we can do at this weird crossroads, when we’re not kids but not quite grown-ups, is do our best to be kind to ourselves and the people around us. And, if we can, try not to fuck up too much. At least not more than is necessary.