Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Where are we going?

The fashion world's preoccupation with predicting trends is akin to some people's fascination with having their future told to them. Just this morning I had a brief conversation with a colleague about "Lorraine the clairvoyant," the mystic woman who reads tarot cards and tea leaves every Tuesday night at my local coffee shop. She really plays it up too -- head wrapped in a muslin scarf, flowing blouse, sitting by herself in the corner of the room beckoning those who need to know: What's going to happen next?

The future never happens -- we can only live in the present. So why the need to predict?

The answer is clear -- pure, uninhibited curiosity. How boring would it be if the world lacked soothsayers, fortune tellers and forecasters? Part of the fun, admittedly, is hindsight and the capability of seeing how wrong most predictions were. How wrong do most of the trends from the 1980's look now? But, then again, how right did it feel to lust after and then finally obtain the latest hypercolor t-shirt that was not yet available in Canada but luckily found on a family trip south of the border? I regress....

Looks like wing motifs are big on the fall runways. Could work. But I see a lot of possibility for big bird disasters if this trend falls into the wrong hands. (You know who you are).

Marchesa Fall 2008

Also Prada's new shoes look like Home Shopping Club Capodimonte. Kind of desirable, but how will it translate when real shoppers open their purses?

Prada Spring 2008

For years I've been thinking that the sailor look is going to be the next big thing. While I will forever love this style, will I also forever look like a captain with no ship?

Ricky Zayshley Spring 2007

Needless to say, Spring will come and pass -- same with Fall, then Winter -- and the furiously fashionable will predict, act, then reflect. But I say, as long as you're living in the moment and feeling the age (or Zeitgeist, as we like to say at FQ) and truly experiencing your environs, that's all that matters. Non?

Monday, July 30, 2007


You know how some women just own their looks? I'm honoured to be best friends with that type of gal. My friend Caitlin can pull together like none other. No matter what she's going for, she looks good. When I first met her, she was an 18-year-old, more-beautiful-than-thou ballet dancer. Dancing up a storm, whipping all the boys into a frenzy with her blonde hair, glowing skin and knee-high boots. But she quickly progressed into a chic young lady who lunched. With me! She shed her mini skirts for a more demure, refined look. And it worked even better than before. It's not that she changed, she just evolved. And she hasn't stopped since.

A day in the life of Caitlin is chock full of activities we all wished we did, but don't have the energy to do. I'd often spot her along Queen Street East walking her dog, Jasper with a coffee in hand, or jogging in Lulu Lemon, or driving her silver Vespa. She works out almost everyday, but also loves to eat copious amounts of Rice Krispy treats that we make together. She would often invite me to do her makeup for a night out on the town. We'd scour Kevin Aucoin's book Making Faces and choose her look. Then, makeup completed, she'd don a fabulous dress a killer pair of heels and depart for a night out on the town.

But what makes Caitlin so chic is her personality -- it's totally unexpected from such a physically beautiful person. She's actually quite brilliant; however, I don't think I can fully describe her genius. In top form, Caitlin is a better wordsmith than Dario Fo, a better social commentator than Perez Hilton and smarter than a Harvard grad.

A couple of years ago Caitlin went through her biggest transformation. She shaved her head. Bald. Every lock of hair that dropped to the ground was like every notion of femininity and gender that had been pressed upon her. What emerged was a woman who was confident with whom she was inside, ready for life as a social worker, activist, bombshell and friend.

Caitlin, Jon and me

Since then, she has grown back her hair, this time to a style with bangs. She still looks great and she still lives the life we all wish we could live, but now she lives on the other side of Canada from me -- Victoria. It's hard when such a good friend moves away. When I was younger I accepted transience much more. It was expected that everyone would move away, it was a part of growing up. But for the past couple of years I have made a concentrated effort to lay down roots and stay put for a while. I didn't expect my best friend to move on! But it was the right thing for her to do, and I wouldn't expect Caitlin to stagnate in any way. She keeps on moving, looking good and being my best friend. Bijou.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Top Five Style Tips for Men

I'm no James Bond, but I do think I'm quite versed in the world of men's style and I'd like to impart a bit of my wisdom to the gentlemen. A lot of this stuff is trial and error, but the catch is most men could care less to figure out what works for them. That's where I'd like to step in. I care. I shop. I read. I impart.

Here are my top five tips:

5. Look at your feet. Don't be afraid to invest in good footwear. Go for what appeals for you or what suits your lifestyle. I love loafers and simple, supple shoes -- Cole Haan, Gucci, Tod's and Hermes all make amazing shoes, but don't exclude brands like Aldo and Town Shoes. Also, don't be afraid to go barefoot in your car shoes.

Tod's Loafers

If you wear socks, make them interesting. Richard James, Decamp and Paul Smith make great socks, but H&M also makes some real lookers.

Paul Smith Socks

Take this one seriously, men, many of my girlfriends have told me they gauge a man's style by his footwear. Anyone can walk into a store and buy a head-to-toe look, but only those truly in the know pay attention to the details.

4. Scent. The first thing I notice about a person (besides that initial visual hit) is how they smell and that memory lingers in my mind far after they've left -- be it good or bad. The best scents are not obvious; rather they seem to exude from within. Spend some time finding your signature scent. Go to a good department store and start sniffing. I'd avoid any scent named after a celebrity, as a rule of thumb. Also, I find the current unisex, clean scents to be tired and cliché. I tend to stick to classics. It's harder to go wrong with brands like Hermes, Aqua di Parma and Creed.

Terre d'Hermes

Two scents that work very well for me are Terre d'Hermes and Acca Kappa White Moss, but, really, it's just a matter of taste, err, smell.

3. Grooming. A good haircut, clean nails and a close shave are like icing on the cake. In the same way ugly shoes can ruin a total look, so can poor grooming. After years of trotting off to dozens of stylists and never really being happy with the cuts I received, I recently decided to source out a top-rate barber. I chose a great place called Truefitt & Hill in Toronto, but there are great equivalents everywhere. A good barber specializes in men's haircuts so you can be assured you will walk out with a safe, masculine cut. Hair as art isn't my style, so if you'd like a stylized cut, stick to reputable salons like Vidal Sassoon or Aveda.

Truefitt & Hill Storefront

If you are keen and have a bit of time to spare AND you want beautiful nails, skip the manicure at a salon and invest in some good cuticle cream and a nail buffing stick. I'm quite brand loyal to the Body Shop's buffer -- it has three steps -- one for removing ridges on the nail, one for cleaning the nail and one for shining. I like the look of a shiny nail and the real glossy look fades in a day or so. The outcome is clean and refined.

I've used the same shaving routine for years: Kiehl's Blue Eagle shaving cream and a Gillette Mach 3 razor -- a truly inspired combination. You can choose anything you want according to your needs; however, the standby drugstore staples have never worked for me. I find their scents overpowering and the results irritating. A close, clean shave feels good, looks good and keeps your skin exfoliated.

2. Tie the tie. Ties are a fact of life in a man's wardrobe. I personally love them and my collection is growing year by year. Ties allow men to decorate their otherwise often drab outfits. Lately, labels such as Paul Smith, Etro and Ralph Lauren have been showing men how to mix textures, colours and patterns in their suitings and a good tie finished the look perfectly; however I wonder if many men know how to tie the tie. I much prefer the half or full Windsor to the oft' used "four in hand." The Windsor varieties are great because they give the tie a symmetrical look. See the difference:

Four in Hand

Half Windsor

Here are step-by-step instructions to tying the Windsor knots (and a couple others):

1. Good manners. Some types of refinement can be bought -- a nice car, great clothes or a beautiful home; however, some types cannot. No amount of money can afford a man good manners. That means limited blackberry use while in the company of others, limited road rage, a great sense of humour, eye contact and respect for others, great and small. I've met many gracious men in my lifetime and the lasting impression I often get from them is not their outfit but the way they treated me.

One man that exudes good manners is Alistair Mitchell. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting him, you'll know what I mean. He's truly dashing. Silver hair, well heeled, athletic and successful. But his true magnetism lies in the way he treat those around him. How refreshing!

Alistair Mitchell

Friday, July 6, 2007

I wish I was a woman...so I could wear this!

Blumarine, Fall 2007

I've been begging and pleading with my girlfriends to wear head coverings for years and nobody seems to listen -- but the runways are proclaiming the look for this fall, so girls, heads up! Wrap up! It's not a look men can translate into their own wardrobes so easily, so I must live vicariously at this point.

Head coverings have been popping up on the runways for a few years now. Recently we saw veils and last year Prada bombarded us with turbans. Not so easy to wear to the supermarket. The great thing about babushkas is that they are super chic, and rooted in practicality and even mystery. Sport a head wrap with a killer trench coat and throw on a pair of your favorite sunglasses and people will wonder who you are. It's not something you see everyday, especially not in Toronto, but I'd like to see it a lot more. And who doesn't want to keep their head warm on a chilly October day?

You don't have to wait for fall though, start with your favorite scarf -- I like Pucci or Missoni for high end and Echo or vintage for a more affordable option, classic Wayfarers by Ray Ban and a slick of red lipstick. Wear this combo with capris and a t-shirt or a raincoat and Wellingtons.

Insects on Parade by Echo, $98

Ray Ban Wayfarers

Who doesn't want to look like Audrey Hepburn?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Guardian of Greenwich

Don't you just want to eat him up? This little man was perched on his owner's window sill and Natalie and I had the pleasure of seeing him after brunch at Pastis. We had such an amazing morning. After a wonderful brunch at New York's chicest spot, we hopped into Christian Louboutin, then Donna Karen's new charity shoppe on route to Bliss SoHo for our manicures.

New York City is truly magical and it's made me think differently about life and living. Every step of the way I kept saying to myself, "I don't want to leave!" How could I ever go back to Toronto? This city is filled to the brim with talent, energy, vim and vigour.

But you know what?

So is Toronto or any place if you bring all those things to the table. I think living is an art and as and aficionado you must develop your eye and your senses. Like a curator of life, you must appraise each day and recognize the beauty that surrounds you. And not just the obvious. Trees and flowers and blue skies are wonderful, but sometimes the true pleasures in life reside in potential.

Hate to wake up in the morning? You wouldn't if you know the finest cup of coffee or the most fragrant cup of tea is waiting for you. Hate the transit ride to work? Why would you if you're reading Vogue or your favorite novella. Can't find an amazing restaurant? Learn how to cook.

Seems to me that New Yorkers are good at making the most of the potential that their city offers them. It could be a dismal place if they let it be. And I'm sure there are plenty of dismal people there. But the overall effect is pure energy!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Good looks for the summer!

Here are a few of my essentials for summer:

1. Clean and fresh skin - Skip over tanning and opt for natural skin. Your face will get hits of sun naturally all summer and that looks much better than all-around bronzing. If you must bronze, go for a light misting of a high quality self tanner -- my favorite is Sublime Bronze by L'Oreal or dust some good powder across your forehead and cheeks. Some good brands with strong bronzing powers are Bobby Brown, Clinique and Armani.

Use foundation and concealer sparingly -- or better yet, just dot a small amount of foundation where needed in place of concealer. Lip gloss is your best summer friend -- try Lancome or Kiehls. Eyes can be minimal -- a light layer of mascara is fine.

2. Clean and fresh hair! Nothing looks better than a well coiffed pony tail when the humidity and temperature rises. Stay away from getting 'summer' dye jobs or streaks. Natural is always best.

3. Why not try a wide-leg linen trouser and a simple white tank top or tee? Finish it off with a wide brimmed straw hat and a slouchy, big bag. You'll look like a million bucks and feel ten degrees cooler than people in hip-hugging denim.

Paul Smith, Spring/Summer 2007

4. I'm not even sure if they're in or out or whatever, but I LOVE espadrilles! Whether they're flats or wedges, low to the ground or dangeroulsy high, I think they are amoung the best options for summer. And this is an area of footwear where you can spend little or lots -- although I don't see why the Payless options should be excluded:

Payless - 20 dollars!

Monday, May 21, 2007

What is be-spoken?

You may ask? Bespoke means custom made (usually in relation to clothing) -- and I always love a play on words so I added an 'n.' Wittily enough, I've now made two meanings -- custom made clothing and the act of speaking. Catching on?

To be honest, I'm tired of sites that tear down people's personal style and demoralize the masses. What I intend to do is celebrate fashion, style and the courage to dress. For I think it is a sign of true joie de vivre to take the time to look good everyday.

Armed with my trusty digital camera (and my Nikon SLR if I ever figure out how to use it) I'm going to display what I think is right and good in the world of STYLE. Oh, but I won't be limited to clothing because style transcends the clothing on your back, it takes shape in the way you live.

Perhaps I'll even sit down with my favorite fashionistas and ask them to impart some of their wisdom on my readers. Enjoy.