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

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)

Brunch Date

I have never, in my life, turned down a brunch invitation.

Going out for dinner is one thing: it’s dark, everyone is more well-dressed, the menu is more expensive and a much more extensive and pretentious drink list is involved. Dinner, I could take or leave, but going out for brunch is my jam. (There’s a breakfast pun in there somewhere. Laugh with me.)

Coffee. Hash browns. Eggs. Six dollar mimosas. Honestly, how could I refuse?

When I got an invite to go to lunch with three of my friends, I was excited for the whole week leading up to it. A little pathetic? Maybe, but I mean business when I say I love going out for brunch.

This post is quickly turning into a game of how often I can write the word “brunch” in 400 words.

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The four of us met up at Lola’s Kitchen on Church Street, and we had our six-dollar drinks and consumed copious amounts of breakfast foods. Bliss.

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In anyone is wondering, I had the curry tofu scramble.

Naturally, when I’m planning a brunch date, I’m automatically thinking about what I’m going to wear. My first thought was to go casual, to wear something low-key for a Saturday morning breakfast outing. My second thought was I still needed to look cool. It’s absolutely ridiculous, but since I became interested in fashion I feel like I’ve built this reputation for myself around my friends, where they always expect me to be dressed to the nines, or to have some painfully cool look put together.

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It should be noted, since I am currently writing this wearing grey sweat shorts and a sweater with a bear on it, that I am not always put together. I don’t always looking like I put any effort in.

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This train of thought nagged on me while I was getting dressed, but it got to the point where I was running late and I realized I was being ridiculous.

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I decide to go understated: high-waisted jeans, cream shirt and converse. It was gloriously warm and spring-like that day, a truly luxurious weekend, so I put on a long sweater. Since the look was so casual, I went heavy on the gold jewellery but the overall effect (I hope) was easy-breezy-weekend-brunch-esque.

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If I pulled that off, great. If I didn’t, well, I enjoyed a cheap mimosa and ate my weight in hash browns, so either way I count that day as a win.

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OUTFIT DETAILS

Sweater: Aritzia

Top: Black Market Vintage

Jeans: Urban Outfitters

Sneakers: Converse

Bag: Urban Outfitters (Similar)

All rings from Urban Outfitters & Forever 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Rain & Another First Day

On the first day of my new job, it rained. Or rather, it poured.

Initially I took this as a bad sign, mostly because the cool shoes I wanted to wear to impress everyone can’t get too wet, so I threw those suckers into a bag and wore rain boots.

I just thought, is this the way to start a new job?

And since it was raining, I had to take my outfit pictures indoors. I cursed the heavens silently.

I was, of course, being overdramatic, a very on-brand quality if I do say so myself. My first day was fine. It rained really hard, and my first day was fine.

This new job is still not a grown-up job. I consider a grown-up job the day I get a pension plan and for-real vacation time. No, this job lands me back in the Wonderful, Wacky World of Retail. I’m back, bitches.

I’ve officially retired my ice-cream scoop for cooler shoes. Tips for staff discounts. Screaming children for screaming adults. So it goes.

Retail can be the absolute worst, but since my heart belongs to clothes, I have a feeling I’ll be much better off here than at the ice cream parlour. Free ice cream is good. A 60% off discount is real good.

So what does one wear on the first day of a retail job? One that has a struct dress code and is in a pretty nice end of town?

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Denim, obviously.

Listen up kids: I stand by what I said on one of the first posts for this goddam blog. Somehow you have to try, but not look like you’re trying too hard. I wore jeans. Now, according to the dress code of my new workplace, I have to ~elevate~ the denim. I have to make it more ~fashionable~.

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Plus, these jeans from Urban Outfitters are so comfortable and fit so well that I’m wearing them all over the dang place.

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To me, this clearly meant I needed to don a simple blouse and my heeled old-man shoes.

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To be fair, once I put this look together, I actually really liked it. Probably will be repeating it in the near future. It also passed the true test, which was I spoke with multiple managers and no one said I wasn’t adhering to the code. Success.

Outfit Details

Blouse: Topshop

Jeans: Urban Outfitters

Shoes: Asos

Watch: Daniel Wellington

Rings: Topshop and Aldo

 

Natasha Does TURF

Split-second decisions sometimes yield great things. Last Friday was proof of that.

My sister came across a deal from Blundstone to get day passes for TURF at a discounted cost. We decided right then and there to go, but only picked one day. Friday. My sister could see Explosions in the Sky and I could see James Bay. Done and done.

Turns out, those VIP passes were cheaper than general admission the day of. They also, somehow, got us access to the front of stage area-extra VIP-so I could embarrass myself right smack in front of the performers. (I did NOT cry during James Bay but I screamed a lot and kept getting side-eyed by security. Which was, you know, fair.)

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RIP Natasha, died this day the 16th of September due to James Bay exposure

It was a little strange. Having gone to Osheaga, I’m used to having to either camp out for hours at the front of the stage or nearly literally fight someone, or probably both, to get a good spot. When Explosions in the Sky were on, the crowd wasn’t huge. We wandered over to the front of stage area and hung out with maybe a dozen other people. As far as music festivals go, it was bewildering.

Other than the great performances, my sister and I made it our mission to sample from as many food trucks as possible. In the span of a few hours, I ate mac and cheese, an ice pop, vegan ice cream and a beaver tail. There were no regrets until the next day. Then there were a few regrets.

I wore what I consider to be “festival attire” – the mild version. A look that says, “Hey I’m here to listen to some cool music because I too am cool” with a side of “I copied this entire look from Instagram.”

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I wore boots because 1) they are the most superior footwear and 2) the most protective when there’s garbage and drunk people around.

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It was a disgustingly perfect day for a music fest: warm but not too warm, a gorgeous sunset and a cool evening. I had to steal my sister’s scarf while waiting in line but she came prepared.

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Sisters, doing it for themselves

TURF was probably one of the most low-key music festivals I have ever been to. If I’m being honest, it was a really nice change from the complete insanity of big-ticket shindigs. Those weekends have their time and place, but so do fests like TURF, where it really is all about listening to some good music. And eating. Obviously.

OUTFIT DETAILS

Top: Zara (Not available!) – Similar

Backpack: Zara (Not available!) – Similar

Jeans: Urban Outfitters

Boots: Zara (Not available!) – Similar

Sunglasses: Black Market Vintage

Watch: Daniel Wellington

Choker: Urban Outfitters

 

August Rust

When I was in elementary school, I had a package of pencil crayons and one of the colours, a rusty orange-red brown, was called “Burnt Sienna” and I remember thinking, what a stupid name for a colour. It’s orange.

How young and naive I was. Fast forward developing an interest in fashion, becoming enthusiastic about makeup and having a design student for a roommate, I now reference colours with the weirdest names, trying to describe exact shades.

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If I wanted to name this look anything else, I would call it just that: burnt sienna. August, for me, is usually about three things: my mom’s birthday, the upcoming school year and the impending glory of fall.

Now as a luckless post-grad, I’ve lost one of those landmarks. My mom’s birthday still happens at the beginning of August, and by the middle of the month, I get excited every time I feel a slight cool breeze.

One of my favourite things about fall is the colour palette. One of my favourite things to do in August is incorporate that palette into summer dressing. As it is, it was 30 degrees yesterday and I could barely put clothes on at all.

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That’s the mindset this look came out of. Bodysuits are a big fave of mine lately, although going to the bathroom can be problematic. Still, they’re cute. I used to be cared of long skirts. Well, not scared, really, just apprehensive. In my mind, I would look like a land mass in a long skirt that would just hang off of my wide hips and give me no definition. This was ridiculous thinking for obvious reasons. Long skirts are great. Just show a little ankle and you’ll drive the masses wild.

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But I do like the versatility of a longer skirt or dress. In this look, I wore it with a bodysuit and Keds, but I easily could have worn heeled sandals and a nicer top. I also happen to have plans to transition this skirt into the early fall with brogues, because of course I do.

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I’m not even going to pretend I didn’t co-ordinate my makeup to this look because I so did. But when I walked into the weekly meeting for my internship, one of my colleagues said, “I love your colour palette today. It’s very autumn.” I’m not saying I was smug, but I was smug.

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DETAILS

Bodysuit: Urban Outfitters

Skirt: Asos

Sunglasses: Black Market Vintage

Sneaks: Keds

Watch: Daniel Wellington

Moon Ring: Twisted Whimsy

 

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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