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 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?