The Last Days of Summer

[Hello everyone, I’m back! Did you miss me? I wound up going on an unplanned hiatus but have now returned with a new look on the blog and new content! I’ve yet to determine if I will be posting weekly again, but my goal is to produce more high-quality content if I take more time in between posts. Stay tuned to this channel.]

When you’re a kid, the last days of summer are the worst. All you do is attempt to squeeze as much adventure and fun out of waning time while avoiding an onslaught of back-to-school advertisements that seem to keep coming earlier every year. You stay out later, see your friends more or laze around the house more. You relax with desperation. You are utterly inconsolable when your parents take you to Staples for new pencils.

As an adult, my calendar has changed from the September-June focus I’ve known for the majority of my life. It’s still hard to get used to. Every September I feel like I need to be doing something, that something’s missing. That feeling has manifested in hair or wardrobe changes, but it still doesn’t sit right.

What I’ve been trying to do this year is experience the last days of summer the way they’re meant to be experienced: languidly and luxuriously. As someone who generally loathes certain qualities of summer (heat, bugs, everyone wanting to go the beach) and relishes the transition to fall (it’s the best season don’t @ me) I’ve been genuinely enjoying this tail end of summertime. And for me, this enjoyment resulted in a wave of inspiration. One of the reasons I had taken such a long break from the blog was a complete lack of post ideas and loss of confidence in my style. I wasn’t sure how or when to continue. Maybe it’s the amount of folk music I’ve been listening to, or the amount of gin and tonics I’ve been drinking, but August somehow sparked my creativity again, into making a lookbook.

I wanted to create outfits that represented this time of year. To me, the haze of August heat and the buzz of cicadas create a fever dream in shades of gold and burt orange, and I wanted my colour palette to reflect that. It’s still intensely hot and humid here in Ontario, but fall is coming, and for me that combination results in an odd feeling of utter laziness with expectation. The silhouettes range from wide and billowing to short and structured, all worn while squinting into the burning sun.

And that’s all of the inspiration that came into this end of summer lookbook. Enjoy.

LOOK 1

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Jumpsuit — Oak + Fort

Bralette — Victoria’s Secret (Similar)

Sandals —  Heel Boy (Similar)

Short Necklace — Anthropologie

Long Necklace — Etsy

Bracelet — Oak + Fort

Watch — Vintage

LOOK 2

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Dress — Kiss the Sky (via Asos)

Sneaks — Converse

Choker — Urban Outfitters (Similar)

Sunnies — Anthropologie

All rings from Victoire and Urban Outfitters

LOOK 3

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Tee — Free People

Skirt — Vince Camuto (Similar)

Hat — Rag & Bone

Sandals — Heel Boy (Similar)

Necklace — Etsy

All rings from Victoire and Urban Outfitters

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

Three Summer Hats

As far back as I can remember, my mom has always told me, “You’re a hat girl. You can always rock a hat.”

Because of that, I decided I wanted hats to become my thing. Though, that was hard to do because I didn’t own anything other than a ball cap and a toque for the winter.

Every time I go into a store with hats on display, I try on at least one. They’re easy to throw on, to pose in front of a mirror and think, yeah, I could rock this hat no problem. Thing is, hats aren’t always the easiest thing to wear if you don’t consciously decide to wear them. What I mean is, I liked hats, but I liked the idea of them. I never actually wore the damn things.

Now, as a semi-almost-nearly adult, I’ve consciously started to wear hats for a few reasons:

  1. Bad hair days magically disappear. What bad hair? You never saw bad hair here.
  2. I’ve experienced a sunburn on the top of my head once and I’m never doing it again.
  3. Instant cool. I feel like I always say that a certain fashion piece makes you instantly cool but I really mean it. A hat could be instant mystery – is that Carmen Sandiego? Or it could make you reach instant rockstar status – that girl’s wearing a hat, maybe she’s in a band.
  4. Now that I’ve said instant cool I realize I also wear hats that are more grandmother-ly in vibe, but I work that look.

And in my growing hat collection, there are three that work perfectly for this late summer time of year.

The Floppy Hat

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This was one of the first hats I ever bought. I wanted one of American Apparel’s felt hats for ages, and when I finally got my hands on its sweet neutral glory, I couldn’t wait to become “the girl in the hat.” And I did. I wore it to my brother’s university graduation and I really felt like I was that girl. I consider this to be my spring/summer, watching the polo match hat.

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The Fedora

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This hat was inspired by too many pictures of cool-looking girls in brown fedoras on all of the autumn blogs I follow on Tumblr. Believe me, I recognize all of the cliches in the sentence. Once I got the idea in my head that I too needed a hat like that, I went on the hunt for one. I found this bad boy at the Nordstrom in Ottawa back when I was in school. I got it in August, and every year around that time it begins to make appearances until the end of fall.

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The Straw Hat

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With all of these felt and wool hats, I realized I didn’t own a single straw hat. I always borrowed ones from my mom at home, and up until a few years ago I thought straw hats were lame. How young and naive I was. With how unbelievably hot and sunny it’s been in Ontario this summer, the only option sometimes is a straw hat. I picked up this hat at a vintage store in Toronto, and while it has given me insane hat-hair, it has also given me a brief reprise from the brutal sun. The shape is a little old school, a little matronly, but I actually really like that. Straw hats aren’t sexy, but they are useful. Right now, that’s all I care about.

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What I Wore: Saturday Night

In the question of, “How 70s can this girl possibly go,” the answer is, actually, quite a lot.

Mind you, I am missing the Farrah Fawcett hair.

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Sometimes I find things in my wardrobe that I realized have not seen the sun (or the streetlights) for quite some time. These pants are a perfect example of that. I bought them I believe two summers ago now, and I don’t wear them nearly as often as I should. That being said, every time I think about giving them away, I’m like hell nah.

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I do love these pants. I don’t have the skinniest legs, and while that’s hardly a problem I do have days where I’m feeling a bit self-conscious and I think: why not cover up with some billowy-satin goodness? A wide-leg trouser is just so universally flattering. This past Saturday, that was the exact thought process I went through went I got dressed to go out. I donned those bad boys and a backless plunge bodysuit because why the heck not.

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I like to call this look vintage sailor/disco queen realness. Good for a Saturday night on the town. Heck, good for any time of day depending on how comfortable you are having 1/3 of your boobs hanging out.

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DETAILS

Pants: Zara (similar, in a crop)

Bodysuit: American Apparel

Necklace: Bloody Mary Metal (similar)

Watch: Daniel Wellington

 

Bright Lipsticks for Summer

I’m a person who generally likes to wear makeup. Not everyday, depending on what I may be doing, but I like do it. I spend arguably too much time watching makeup tutorials online and mooning over Sephora products I definitely do not need. I love makeup, but I don’t always love wearing it in the summer.

I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog post, but I get really hot. I tend to run pretty warm all year round, but in the summer I’m a human furnace walking through a furnace planet. Sweat happens. Makeup doesn’t seem like such good idea when it’s probably just going to melt off of my face.

That being said, there are still those days where I’m feeling a little glam. Those days where I want a little something extra. I’m a big believer in people finding confidence in themselves without makeup, but I’m also a big believer that some days, all you need is a little bright lipstick to take you out of the dumps.

Since it’s summertime, it’s also the perfect time to rock a ridiculously bright lip. Not that you can’t do that all year round, but I personally gravitate towards the dark and moody shades in the colder months, and the summer is all about bight and neon.

Under the cut are some of my favourite bright, bold lipsticks to rock in the summer.

Lipstick 1

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MAC – “Flat Out Fabulous” Retro Matte and “More to Love” Lip Liner

When I first picked this lipstick up at MAC, it was more of a spur-of-the-moment purchase than anything else. This dark pink-ey shade? Really? When am I going to wear this? Turns out the answer to that is all the freakin’ time in the spring and summer. I think this is a super fun shade that is nice for casual daytime activities but still adds that pop of colour, yanno?

Lipstick 2

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MAC – “Heroine” Matte Lipstick

Unlike Flat Out Fabulous, I knew exactly what this lipstick would be for when I bought it. Summertime going-out lipstick, babeh. Oh yeah. And I have worn this out so many times going out with friends on those summer nights. Usually every time I wear it, I get at least one person asking, “Is that Heroine by MAC?”

Lipstick 3

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Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in “Mischevious” 

Budget lipsticks are good lipsticks. I love MAC and Bite Beauty and NARS a whole heck of a lot, but when you’re on a budget there’s just no way to get all high-end all the time. Let’s be real. The Revlon Colorburst lipsticks have been around for ages, and they’re still great. The matte balms aren’t totally matte. They still have a bit of wetness to them, but that means they’re also not completely drying like other mattes can be. I’ve had this coral shade for about three years. And because of that, actually, I’m still using it even though it’s down to the smallest nub. That’s how much I love this lipstick/how lazy I am when it comes to replacing it.

Lipstick 4

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Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in “Persimmon” 

I love me a good red lipstick. I loooooove it. I love. Back when I had my white blonde hair, I was all about it. The contrast mad it such a look I’m telling you. Even now as a brunette, I still gravitate towards dramatic reds. To me there’s just something so classic and striking about a red lip. It takes me from my awkward self to a mysterious, probably dangerous femme fatale. In theory, anyway. In the fall, it’s about those brown-based reds. At Christmas, obviously ya girl is going for a blue-based bright red. In the summer, it’s all about the orange-based red. It works perfectly for the season and gives you those Bond-girl-on-vacation vibes all the time.

What I Wore: Summer Dresses

Summer here is hot. Really hot. There are days of blistering sunshine and nights with the windows thrown open and fans on full blast. Booming thunderstorms break up the sunlight but thrive on the existence of a humidity so thick you feel as though you are walking inside of a latte.

If winter is for putting on as many layers as possible, summer is all about taking them off.

There’s an ease to summer dressing you’re hard-pressed to find in any other season. Maybe I simply don’t dress to impress as often because I can’t find the energy amidst the heat. We become shapeless in the summer in an entirely different way to the hulking, tightly wound figures of winter. In summer, we are shapeless in loose fabrics, bare skin shining, stretched out onto the grass in indiscernible shapes.

I hate and love summer dressing. I love it because you can throw on a single piece of clothing: a dress, a romper, a swimsuit and call it a day, usually with no makeup because otherwise you may just sweat it off. I hate it because I feel like I never look as put together as I do in the fall, when my aesthetic turns from 90’s street trash to otherworldly being. Or maybe I always look the same and I’m just projecting right now.

Either way, summertime is throw-it-on-and-go time, and I’m of the belief that one of the best things you can throw on is a lightweight dress. Easy. Breezy. Beautiful. *whispers* Covergirl.

(This post is not sponsored by Covergirl.)

What’s not to love about throwing on a dress in the summer? You can still look pretty put-together while getting a nice crotch breeze. I realize the phrase “crotch breeze” is not an elegant one but I think it’s probably the most effective way to describe it. You know what I’m talking about.

Dress One

 

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Is it a dress? Is it your grandfather’s nightshirt? Does it matter either way?

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This is a linen-blend dress, so the long sleeves aren’t too stifling. Buttons all the way down the front and a really loose fit because 1) ya girl has a big butt and I didn’t want that getting tight at any point and 2) the looser the fit = the higher the comfort factor. Obviously going too loose on certain dresses can give more of a potato-sack-esque vibe, but that’s a look in its own right if it’s what you’re going for.

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Dress: H&M

Shoes: Vans

Sunglasses: Quay Australia

Dress Two

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When I wore this dress to my university graduation, not only did I look cute, but I didn’t get overheated under the robe because it’s 100% linen.

 

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This dress makes me feel like a badass fairy princess when I wear it, or something like that. It’s white, which is terrifying, but it also has pockets, which is a game-changer.

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Dress: Aritzia

Shoes: Vans

Sunglasses: Quay Australia (Similar)

Styling Trousers for Summer

If you are like me, and are a human furnace, you also probably balk at the idea of wearing trousers in the summertime. Because, come on. I can’t even wear pyjama pants to bed in the winter. I get way too warm and end up stripping down. During the summer I’m basically a 24/7 sweat machine.

My not-going-out-today uniform from June to early September is a cotton romper or just straight-up underwear in order to stay alive. Having to wear proper clothing to be around polite company can turn into a chore, and it absolutely boggles my mind when I see people casually walking around in trousers and seeming perfectly fine, while my butt is so sweaty it’s sticking to the seat on the bus.

The key is the material. I own a couple of wool trousers for colder months, but those will not fly with me in July. Linen and cotton should be your best friends during the summer, and most people know that. Or rather, I feel like my mom knows that and is always telling me that, but I’m just grasping the concept now. Natural, lightweight materials will keep you cooler but covered.

When I went prowling around for trousers that fit these descriptors, I found two. One is full-length, the other is cropped and both are made of linen blends.

The first is a dark green, which is badass and a step up from black but still looks great with lighter colours. I went with a white tank top because, let’s be real, your girl needs to avoid armpit stains.

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Top: Asos, Trousers: Aritzia, Sunnies: Quay Australia

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Since the trousers are full-length, I thought sandals would be a good shoe to keep everything summery.

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Shoes: Zara

I can confidently say I took this look on a test run on a sweltering day and am still alive, so it worked.

The second pair are cropped, white trousers from Oak + Fort. When I first tried these on, the elastic waistband made me nervous because that does not always look cute, but these look great.

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Top: Aritzia, Trousers: Oak + Fort, Sneakers: Vans

The fit is loose, which I like (skinny jeans in the summer is a form of hell) and the colour is nice for summer and for making things exciting, i.e. I hope I don’t sit in anything coloured today. Since I’m all about wearing colour now, I went wild and wore a yellow top and white sneakers as well.

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Watch: Daniel Wellington

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I may possibly give off a staring-into-the-sun vibe, but it’s summer, bitchez. Work with me.