Ask Sissy: Our New Fashion Editor-at-Large

Looking for a way to break the rules with a few new ones to live by, we teamed up with Sissy Sainte-Marie last year for a series that broke us free of skin-tight jeans and body con, and made us appreciate coat season a whole lot more. If you’ve been following along, you’ve probably already met Sissy and taken a few notes. So we are beyond excited to announce this rad lady is now our Fashion Editor-at-Large. She will be penning a column every month and sharing her sage style advice, and signature deadpan. Man, we love her.

To kick things off, we compiled a few of your frequently asked questions and outfit woes for her to answer.

Q. I’VE READ A LOT THIS PAST YEAR ABOUT THE CAPSULE WARDROBE. WHAT CLOSET STAPLES SHOULD I REALLY BE INVESTING IN? – Christine, Washington, DC

A. I am a person who dreams night and day of the ease of a daily uniform and a capsule wardrobe. But, I love clothing and tend to lack impulse control in acquiring more and more of it. In my line of work I get offered a lot of gifts, store credits and trade. Sometimes I end up impulsively choosing things I never end up wearing more than once. Or I pounce feverishly on one item that goes with nothing I own and end up buying four more things to build an outfit around that thing I didn’t need in the first place. An overflowing closet paired with a depleted bank account is never a good look.

I know I’m not the only one going through this cycle of absurdity. I think the renewed focus on a capsule wardrobe is a reaction to the relentless flow of trends we are bombarded with ad nauseam. It can get to a point where we feel suffocated by our stuff and begin to radically reject the constant pressures of consumerism in order to protect our mental health, our savings and our planet. It is only natural to see an interest in buying less, choosing versatility and practicality over ephemera.

When you find that perfect black turtleneck sweater. Isla Sweater by Shaina Mote
When you find that perfect black turtleneck sweater. Isla Sweater by Shaina Mote

 

The particular items for your capsule wardrobe should be determined by your individual lifestyle, tastes, and day-to-day needs, but I can give you some guidelines for investing. I have actually been devising a point system for smarter shopping because I’m a geek like that.

The questions:
– IS IT A STAPLE? CAN IT BE WORN ON A REGULAR BASIS / EVERYDAY?
– IS IT APPROPRIATE FOR A VARIETY OF OCCASIONS AND SETTINGS?
– DO YOU NEED IT RIGHT NOW?
– IS IT VERSATILE / ABLE TO BE WORN WITH AT LEAST THREE THINGS YOU CURRENTLY OWN?
– IS IT WEATHER APPROPRIATE RIGHT NOW?

Scoring: 1 point for each yes answer. Prioritize purchases accordingly.

TIER 1: 4-5 points (Example: a black turtleneck, canvas sailor pants, black ankle boots, a trench coat)

TIER 2: 3-4 points (Example: a warm coat, a white cotton shirt or blouse, vintage jeans)

TIER 3: 1-2 points (Example: low heel pump, suede sandals, a black dress)

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White shirt, black pants, never goes wrong. Lemaire Two-Pleat Pants.

 

Fine tuning:

Buy now or later? Determine what to buy now and what to save for later. I know I will need some new sandals soon, but today I’ll buy black ankle boots to replace the ones I wore to oblivion over the last two years.

Buy this one or that one? Determine what’s the most practical and durable. I had my eye on four white prairie-style blouses. I opted for the one with the least embellished neckline and I chose cotton over silk. Avoid items that require dry cleaning and feel fussy on your body or too fancy to wear in your daily life.

Is it too similar to something I already have?
Unless it’s a second black turtleneck that you need for rotation due to frequency of wear, avoid buying redundant items. Instead, purchase something that fills a gap in your wardrobe rather than say, a fourth leather bucket bag. Maybe a camel sweater, but not a forest green one, or Kamm pants in a new neutral color, if that’s what will round out your capsule wardrobe.

Is it a safeguard? Sometimes we must make precautionary purchases that will provide peace of mind when the inevitable day comes. Rain boots, sure, but more importantly heels. You’ll no doubt need a pair of heels for more formal events and occasions. Invest in a simple closed-toe pump in black. Whether or not you end up wearing them as often as loafers or boots, they will be essential in a pinch and you’ll be glad you have them handy when you get that last minute invitation. Same goes for a party-ready black dress or jumpsuit.

Is this right for my lifestyle? Can you wear beautiful flowing wide leg trousers on the daily or is a fine cotton twill more your bag? What’s the dress code at your place of employment? Do you attend a lot of meetings and events for which you need to look spiffy? Or do you need to get down and dirty at work? Be careful to not buy clothing that doesn’t suit your needs. It will end up unworn and wasting space. Buy what you’ll get the most use out of.

But…but… Do I just like it and want it despite it being completely impractical and something I’ll only wear fewer times than I can count on one hand? Sometimes a “yes” answer to this question trumps the point system, moving an item to the top of the cart. You gotta have a little fun! But these purchases are only advisable once you have your capsule wardrobe firmly in place. Without starting the cycle of suffocating consumption all over again, strive for 90% practical and 10% trophy items–or whatever ratio brings you the most peace of mind. So, if you really want that tassel choker, honey, you go and get it!

Try it now. Go fill up your Garmentory cart with anything that strikes your fancy and follow the steps outlined above. I can’t wait to see what you choose!

Shop Sissy’s Picks >

 

Q. HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN A TREND IS RIGHT FOR YOU? IT’S FUN TO TRY SOMETHING NEW BUT HOW DO YOU KNOW IF IT WORKS OR IF IT REALLY DOESN’T? – Laura, Toronto, ON

A. Well, I think it simply comes down to how you feel in it. I never thought I’d be a jeans person until I tried on the right pair. I wish I could be a sneaker person, but I’m just not feeling it, or any sportswear for that matter. But I sure love seeing it on other people who wear it well. Somewhere between being in a style rut and being a try-hard, there’s a world where comfort meets courage at the heavenly axis of our own truth. I do advise looking to runways, street style photos, print magazines and Instagram influencers for inspiration and fresh ideas. You may want to try a small fraction of them. But when you’re in front of the mirror, search for an honest feeling inside. You should always feel at ease, and unapologetically fabulous in what you’re wearing. Weather you are walking on Bic lighter heels or cushy Air Max soles, you should feel like you are walking your in your own lane. Always keep in mind this quote from Iris Apfel: “The worst fashion faux pas is to look in the mirror and not see yourself.”

Have you given off-the-shoulder tops a go? Signature Annie Top by Sincerely, Tommy.
Have you given off-the-shoulder tops a go? Signature Annie Top by Sincerely, Tommy.

 

Knowing who you are style-wise may take years to master through trial and error. That is why I advise trying things on just for the hell of it. How else are you supposed to know? Avoid trips to anxiety-inducing, big brick and mortar stores with their overly crammed racks, tiny dressing rooms, bad lighting, and pushy salespeople. Impulse buys under these circumstances will be a set-back on your journey. Take advantage of the sweet return policies of online retailers and order up a storm of trends so you can try whatever you want in the privacy of your own home at your leisure. Do this alone. Don’t go taking polls from your friends, family, roommates or social media followers. It needs to look and feel right to you and you alone.

What you find may surprise you. A beige linen suit that you imagined would be so conservative and mumsy on you, might feel radically fresh and unexpectedly rebellious in it’s smart simplicity once you give it a whirl. A modest, oversized dress may make you feel more dignified than dowdy. You may feel more tough and empowered in a waist cinching sundress than a borrowed-from-the-boys ensemble. That Issey Miyake that looks all crazy on the hanger might touch you in all the right ways and be your magic portal into a new style dimension. Or, you might try a bra top over a button down shirt and say, “I look like a frumpy dumb dumb.” Ah-ha moments abound with an adventurous spirit and free returns.

Shop Sissy’s Picks >

 

Q. I LOVE LOOKING AT ALL THE BRIGHT HUES DURING FASHION WEEK, BUT I HAVE A PRETTY SEVER PHOBIA OF COLOR IN MY OWN WARDROBE. HOW CAN I TRY IT AND FIND WHICH COLORS WORK FOR ME? – Shannon, Minneapolis, MN

A. Funny you should ask because I was on a similar journey in 2016. My go-to palette mostly runs the gamut from cream to beige, but like you I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to get outside the box, even dedicating a Pinterest board to colors and combos.

When I was a kid, all the moms and grandmas went to these Color Me Beautiful parties to determine their “season” which would act as a guide to which colors looked best on them. (Peach and turquoise if you were lucky in 1985.) Since you’ve already admitted to being color-phobic, taking Carole Jackson’s season analysis quiz may only serve to induce a panic attack if periwinkle and magenta show up on your swatch of advisable colors.

To start, ease into color by opting for garments and accessories in muted tones like sage green, mustard, plum, garnet and amber. These tones can act as new neutrals, pairing well with black, brown, beige and ecru currently in your closet. Evolve into brighter colors starting with accessories such as lime green sandals or an egg-yolk-yellow bag. These colors will also pair well with more traditional colors like charcoal, navy or olive, likely already in your wardrobe.

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Pairing a bold skirt with neutrals softens the blow. Maryam Nassir Zadeh Renata Pleated Skirt in Acid.

 

Once you’re ready to take a further plunge into bright colors, don’t start mixing it up right away. First opt for a dress or jumpsuit in a bright color that looks good on you. Remember all the chic ladies who were photographed wearing the tangerine-colored Rejina Pyo dress during fashion week? You can do it, too. Get yourself a brightly colored dress or jumpsuit to wear to an event or occasion this spring. Feel good? Feel powerful? If so, start wearing dresses and jumpsuits in similar colors for everyday. Then try pairing it with with statement footwear.

After you feel a sense of mastery with dress/shoe combinations, you’re ready to move onto separates. Try pumpkin-orange pants with a sky blue top and fire engine red shoes. (But please don’t wear khaki pants with a red top unless you work at Target.) If you’ve found your calling, you’ll soon be playing sartorial-jazz like you’re on Alessandro Michele’s Gucci catwalk, piling on prints, textiles and accessories of every hue. If, on the other hand, you felt like a Teletubby in that chartreuse pant suit you wore to your cousin’s wedding, let yourself off the hook and run back to those ride-or-die neutrals. Bright colors aren’t for everyone and that’s okay. We can’t all be as fly as Miss Frizzle. True style is about knowing what works best for you. But, at least you can say you tried.

Shop Sissy’s Picks >

Have a burning style question you want answered? Comment below! Our Ask Sissy column will be back in the Spring.

How To Dress Up Your Pants

In the summertime, you throw on a dress and you are good to go. Well, we think that mantra should be carried into every season. All you have to do is add a pair of pants. Seriously, it’s that simple. And yes, you can totally pull it off. The silhouette plays a starring role for Resort 2017 too, with designers like Apiece Apart, Suno and Tibi showcasing the look. Wearing dresses over pants is not only just a fresh styling trick, the pairing is totally practical. Pants keep your legs warm – even warmer than those tights that are always catching runs and getting holes in the toes. They’re avoiding tights for as long as possible over on Man Repeller, and taking note from the dress-over-pants queen herself, we’ve learned that it pays to be adventurous while keeping things comfortable. We’ve pulled together some of our favortie dress and pants pairings so get creative, take your pick and put down the tights.

 

THE DRESSES

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BLACK CRANE PAINTER DRESS

With generous cocoon proportions and an above the knee length, this dress is pretty much perfect for layering over pants. It’s one of those styles that will work with everything, but we especially love this with a wide leg pant like these. Plus, who doesn’t love a raw edge?

Shop It >

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DEVLYN VAN LOON SWEATER DRESS

This dress is a step up from your usual sweatshirt but still has that comfy feel. The rolled sleeves and baseball hem keep it casual, so pair it with your fave jeans. Try these B Sides patchwork denim for an all around easygoing look.

Shop It >

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VOZ SILK TWO-PANEL DRESS

This dress is perfect for when you feel a little fancy. The soft, billowy material and slit at the front makes it easy to pair with almost any pants, but we’ll be pulling these ones on for a night out. We love how the long length will keep your covered while the high slit shows off your pants.

Shop It >

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WOLCOTT : TAKEMOTO HAMLET DRESS

We can’t get enough of this classic t-shirt dress. It’s a great basic to throw on with any pair of pants, just an elevated take on your usual t-shirt and jeans. The side slit would be perfect for showing off the patchwork on these jeans. Plus, the subtle button detail adds a little extra something to an outfit.

Shop It >

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CARON CALLAHAN MARIA SHIRT DRESS

We’re loving this feminine take on the classic button-up shirt. It’s playful, flattering and has endless styling options. You could even wear it to the office, guys! Keep it buttoned up and pair it with the Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s perfectly draped pant for a complete contemporary look.

Shop It >

3 Ways To Wear Our Exclusive French Terry Gary Jumpsuit

You know the saying: beauty is pain. Well, we’ll let you in on a little secret: that’s a lie. There’s nothing better than looking good and feeling good, and with a jumpsuit, you get the best of both those worlds — they are ridiculously easy to pull on and you literally don’t have to do anything else to style them up, unless you really want to (a cute shoe, some jewelry and a hat go a long way). Not to mention, you pretty much feel like you rolled out of bed and you’re wearing your pajamas in public, but in the most amazing way possible. Right now, we’re living in our Ilana Kohn Gary Jumpsuit. Sleeveless with a scoop neck, drop crotch and cropped leg, it’s the Brooklyn designer’s signature silhouette, only this time she’s done it for us in a super soft French Terry fabric that’s so lightweight it keeps us cool through sticky summer days, content on balmy nights and looking on point at all times. Imagine wearing your favorite gray sweatshirt, but all over your body. Sounds amazing, right? It is. Think weekend dressing that can seamlessly translate to the everyday and the evening. And with tracksuits trending this season, it’s also right on the mark.

For a little extra inspiration, our friends at One of a Few boutique in Vancouver styled the exclusive Ilana Kohn French Terry Gary Jumpsuit three ways. This is how we wear it.

Ilana Kohn jumpsuit layered look

Worn with Assembly short sleeve tee, Martiniano Glove in White and Clyde Room Backpack in Golden Brown.

Ilana Jumpsuit weekend look

Worn with Rachel Comey Zia Trench, The Palatines Caelum Slide in Black, Building Block Cylinder Bag in Black and Clyde wide brim gaucho hat.

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Worn with Martiniano Glove in Black, Andrea Wong Rendezvous Clutch (similar here), Muraco Wolfe Macaroni Bracelet, Catherine Hartley silver rings (similar here) and neck cuff.

Trend We Still Love: Culottes

“They’re the most comfortable pants I own,” Amee Kim muses. “I think style has evolved away from the super tight and form-fitting. We have more options than just skinny jeans, and trousers and culottes are definitely trending.” The Los Angeles-based Instagram star is just one culotte advocate you’ll see scrolling through your feed this season. Originally made to help Victorian-era women ride horses without having to risk their lives side saddling alongside the guys, the pant style comes from a pretty traditional and stuffy sartorial heritage. But when they made their first fashionable return in the ’70s, the idea of showing off your boots and shoes with a crop was immediately appealing to everyone. “They’re so dang easy to wear!” Andi Bakos, owner of West End Select Shop, chimes in. “They can take on many shapes and forms, they can be masculine or feminine, casual or dressy. And depending on the fabric, they can be styled and worn year round.”

 

How to go oversized without looking oversized

Brooklyn designer Ilana Kohn on why she loves the oversized look: “It’s so casual and easy. And you never have to suck it in.” Pretty much sums it up to the tee. That and the fact that when it’s a million degrees, out all you want to wear is a sack, and you CAN. The oversized look has been an underdog trend in fashion ever since women rejected the corset in the 1920s. Coco Chanel’s elegant and fluid silhouettes followed, then over the years there was always some kind of champion for things that left everything to the imagination, often led by Japanese designers like Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons. “I used to only wear oversized dresses with a really slim pant. Now I wear oversized dresses with oversized pants. My mom thinks I’m crazy, but I really like it,” admits Garmentory co-founder Adele Tetangco, our resident oversized champion.

So how does one wear the oversized look without losing your shape? A few tips from the experts:

  • “Balance it out with things that are more form fitting,” says Ilana. “Like skinny jeans and sandals or a ballet flats with an oversized shirt.”
  • Adele is a fan of a little DIY. “The trick to not looking too hippy in an oversized dress is to remove the pockets.”
  • “Pay extra attention to length,” Ilana warns. “A couple inches too long, an oversized dress can become frumpy. But cropped just above the ankles or mid calf, it can be perfect.”
  • It’s all in the bookends of an outfit for Adele. “Adding a heel slims the look (if that’s at all possible), so does putting your hair up in a high bun.”

So there you have it. Clothes you can swim in for the win. Go forth and conquer the look! (A little inspiration below.)

What to wear to a wedding

It’s wedding season. Whether you’ve got nuptials to attend every weekend or just the one where your ex will be in the wedding party, you’re gonna need a dress. We’ve rounded up nine dresses that can take you from a city ceremony to a beach wedding and everything in between. Even better, more than half are under $200. Plus, we guarantee that they’ll get you past the reception and into another party on the calendar this summer.

 

Beauty Trend We (Still) Love: Pastel Hair

Whether it’s bold lilac locks or going gray, this hair color trend has us hooked. Kelly Osborne has been rocking shades of purple for years, Sienna Miller tried it out in 2013 and Helen Mirren confirmed just how rad she is when she stepped out onto the red carpet with a pink pixie cut. Everyone from Nicole Richie to Cara Delevingne has gone technicolor at the salon, but what works for celebrities and fashion runways isn’t always easy to translate into the real world. So we called up a few experts to get the lowdown on pastel hair IRL.

IT CHANGES EVERYTHING. “My natural hair color is a dark brown and I’ve never had this drastic of a change, but I love it,” says Lily Piyasthaisere of Gamma Folk who has been trying out a few colors over the years. We fell in love with her grayish purple when we visited her studio in Greenpoint this year. “I feel like it’s pretty bold so I will wear more solid color clothes. I do have to say wearing black is much more fun now than when I had dark hair.”

IT’S KIND OF LIKE AN ACCESSORY. “I started with lilac, went pink soon after, and I’ve pretty much tried every color available since!” Alyssa Garrison tells us. Her candy colored hair has become synonymous with her style blog Random Acts of Pastel. “My biggest issue will be choosing what colour have it for my wedding!”

How to get cropped pants just right

If there’s one thing fashion agrees on this season, it’s that the ankle is the new it zone. The Spring/Summer 2015 runways showed a ton of variations of pants – from swingy culottes to high waisted flares – all with a crop that hits above the ankle bone. Now before you get flashbacks of capris from the early 2000’s, this new crop is a key part of the new silhouette of pants and is a trend with serious legs. To find out how to get cropped pants just right, we got in touch with the beauty behind the cool UK-based fashion blog Style & Well Being, Brittany Bathgate. She’s a master of the crop so we quizzed her on why she loves them, how to wear them and her DIY tips.

How to pick art for your home like a boutique hotel

As a full-service art consulting firm, Vancouver’s Farmboy Fine Arts is a team behind the scenes of some of the world’s biggest hospitality chains and coolest boutique hotels. Their role? To curate art collections and dress up the decor with some incredible graphic work and design. Every time we travel we wonder how we can bring a little of that boutique hotel feel home, so we quizzed Design Director Craig David Long to give us a behind the scenes look at the hotel art world and how we can expand our horizons beyond Ikea Klimts and MoMA posters.

ARE THERE ANY MOVEMENTS OR TRENDS IN THE ART WORLD RIGHT NOW? It is very hard to pinpoint thematic or aesthetic trends that span the art world at large, because art is such a vast and expansive thing. Art can be decorative or conceptual, contemporary or historic, and there is great variety within between artistic practices, such as style, medium, or what an individual artist’s thematic interests are. There are also many regional differences between art communities, based on social and cultural factors, the local market’s appetite for art, and the maturity of that artistic community.

Within hospitality, however, that is definitely where trends start to emerge. For hotels in the three- and four-star range, we are beginning to see some departure from traditional hung artwork, like framed art and canvases, though those will always be present. We are seeing art take on more architectural applications, such as printing imagery on substrates like metal, glass, mirror and textiles; the trend toward large graphic wall murals; as well as incorporating three dimensional and modular wall art in the guest rooms and public areas.

At the higher end, we have definitely seen hotels really begin to understand and appreciate the cultural, social and investment value of collecting fine and contemporary art as a long-term strategy. Our company has been a long believer that collecting fine art originals not only enhances the guest experience, but it can also foster dialogue with the local community and even yield financial return over time as well.

 

Tight Club founder Keighty Gallagher on looking good while working out

From twerking to boxing in a night club, a workout with Keighty Gallagher is anything but predictable. The personal trainer behind Vancouver’s Tight Club Athletics is renowned for her inventive classes that are consistently packed with the city’s style set. She’s also known for cracking jokes between tabata sets and for making her clients sweat, like crazy. But even on the third set of burpees, Keighty manages to keep her platinum locks in check and look amazing. We had to know her secret, so we asked and she answered.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR APPROACH TO WORKING OUT? Don’t take yourself too seriously. Let’s be real. Most of us aren’t training for the next summer olympics. Laugh at yourself, work hard, be nice and do it right…(and tight).

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE TIPS TO LOOKING GREAT WHILE GETTING SWEATY? 1. Focus on form. You can be the hottest babe at the gym but if you squat like a granny, I’m sorry, it’s not a good look. Know your exercises and do them right. Own your movement! 2. A hot pair of Nike kicks in some hard to find color way. Got my hands on a pair of Flyknit Racers last year and you can’t get my feet out of them. 3. Wear black. It’s slimming, timeless, and you’ll look faster than everyone else.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BEAUTY ROUTINE. Getting up at 5:00am every day is not pretty. I’m not going to lie, I put on a bit of makeup to make me look less dead. Here is how I look and smell alive:

LOOK AWAKE
Step 1: I call this my spa minute – I put a dollop of Sage “Fresh Start” Facial Cleanser on my Clarasonic cleansing machine thing and boom! My face is awake!
Step 2: Apply Murad Essential-C day cream on my tired-ass face. It’s got some SPF and I’m down with that. While it absorbs I start making coffee because a morning without coffee can make or break this pretty face.
Step 3: A little liquid foundation by Napoleon, a dusting of bareMinerals, and some MAC mascara to top it off. By this time my coffee is ready and I’m good to go.

SMELL FRESH
Step 1: I use this Sage Organics spray deodorant for pits. I may smell like a hippy for a hot sec, but once the initial scent wears off it actually keeps me stink free.
Step 2: Can’t forget about the hair! I don’t have time in the morning to fight the hairbrush in a knotty hair battle. I always apply this AG leave in conditioner for tangles, and a bit of AG BB Cream to protect it from the sun and pollution. Ultimate hair secret? Beat the hair elastic bump with a silk scrunchy. That’s my jam!

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