When I helped promote the Braderie de Mode Quebecoise in Gatineau this past fall, my eyes were opened to what felt like hundreds of Canadian (Quebec-based) designers. I always knew our neighbours to the east were super stylish (Montreal, I’m looking at you!), but to see so much talent gathered under one roof was pretty amazing.
One of the Canadian designers who completely captured my heart is Nadya Toto – her Italian background translates to minimalistic, yet sophisticated designs, but what I love best is the touch of whimsy and femininity. I walked away with this simple long sleeved sheath dress in burgundy. I’ve worn it many times already because it checks off all my boxes; effortless, relaxed (it’s so comfortable), and chic. This is one of those pieces where you truly reap the power of a good investment purchase. Not only is it classic, but it’s a great foundation piece from which to build so many great looks.
Give her website a browse; it will be worth it. I often fall into the trap of thinking that sustainable style and ethical fashion mean scouring the web for hours to find the right combination of style and sustainability (plug for shopeitheror.com where you can find Canadian-made clothing all in one place!) when we have some amazing Canadian designers in our own backyard.
Dress: Nadya Toto // Boots: AGL at Nordstrom (old, great alternative here) // Scarf: Toria Rose (old, alternative here) // Coat: Mackage, old and altered, but love this one // sunnies: Kate Spade at Merivale Vision Care // Good hair day (sorry, felt like it had to be mentioned!): Fiorella at Rinaldos (the power of a great cut – this is what it looks like 4 months grown out!) // pics by: Melody Iafelice
It’s the middle of winter, we’re all hibernating, and maybe you’re just feeling blah. It’s easy to scroll through your instafeed and Pinterest and get inspired by some amazing outfits and fashion and think a little retail therapy is in order to spice up your life wardrobe.
Sometimes we need to shake things up, and I believe our wardrobe has just what we need – the trick is in restyling the pieces you already have to create something new. Here are three ensembles, or outfit formulas (I think I’m going to use this word way more often) that you might not have thought of but that are easy to create from your existing wardrobe:
monochromatic: maybe you found yourself jumping on the pink train last year, or you have so many neutrals you don’t know what else to do with them – a monochromatic look is always polished, and playful if done in a fun hue. Given my limited wardrobe I kept my monochromatic look in the cream family but if you rock this in anything other than grey, black, cream or navy, major kudos to you.
Coat: Mackage / Top: Judith & Charles from ShopAlfred.com / Culottes: Thrifted but love these / Boots: UGG at Nordstrom / Sunnies: Kate Spade at Merivale Optometric
canadian tuxedo: this classic ensemble should never be underestimated. If you add a feminine element like a heel, interesting jewelry or a colourful neck scarf, your friends with think it’s groundbreaking.
Jeans: Alexa Chung for AG at schad / Top: a hand-me-down from my cousin! But here’s a great option / Booties: Club Monaco / Coat: Value Village but I love this one / Purse: Naked Vice at schad / Neck Scarf: Vintage but here’s a beautiful one / Sunnies: Kate Spade at Merivale Optometric
tone on tone: similar to a monochromatic look, this type of outfit is great if you have a lot of the same colour in your closet. A two tone outfit in a colour that suits you is a creative mix of colours that is still unexpected but easy to pull off. Again – major props if you do this in anything other than a neutral colour.
On Monday, I wrote this post about using Instagram and social media for fashion inspiration instead of envy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy, I am guilty of lamenting my lack of textured, personality-infused, and seemingly effortless pieces that invade the wardrobes of my favourites; Olivia Palermo, Blake Lively and Emmanuelle Alt. But as promised dear readers, here’s my example of pulling inspiration from a whole look and how it was put together vs. simply going bananas over each piece that creates that look. Ya feel me? Here’s an ensemble that I stumbled upon and loved, brought to us by the inimitable Olivia Palermo:
I had never thought of pairing my faux-fur vest with a simple white shirt. This is ludicrous because I wear my white button downs with literally EVERYTHING (including sweatpants), but I loved that this inspired me to put it together instead of run out and buy another white shirt or fuzzy vest. My pants aren’t leather, my boots aren’t as edgy, but I liked how the ensemble was polished enough for the corporate world and think a simple black pant and bootie achieve this look.
What do you think? Would this type of thing make you more frustrated that your outfit isn’t the same, or would you be satisfied that you were able to pull something together with your own spin on it? Or maybe you’ll realize you’re missing a staple button down … I’d love to know your thoughts!
I hope you are reading this feeling relaxed and happy after the holidays. This time of year is often associated with Pinterest boards full of inspiration, goals of all kinds and lofty ambitions. These days however – and for the stylishly inclined – “inspiration” also comes in the form of a perfectly curated Instagram feed, or those infamous style roundups that are supposed to help us get dressed when we’re feeling “blah”.
I think this abundance of style inspiration is a double-edged sword – on one hand we have an infinite source of ideas for different outfit combinations and styling. On the flip side, it is a constant reminder of the things we don’t have (this article is proof), which can turn into a perpetual feeling of needing more, and that if we acquire what’s in these photos, we too will have a fulfilling closet and will ultimately reach fashion nirvana. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of pressure to put on style – something that’s supposed to be fun.
So for 2017, instead of using social media and fashion websites as a source of envy (which – let’s be honest, I totally do, nobody is immune to the likes of the uber cool style set), I’m going to try and use them instead as what they were originally intended for: inspiration, and only that. Next time I see myself admiring another blogger’s put together look, before going all heart-eyes emoji and clicking on the link that will take me to an opportunity to spend money and acquire more stuff, I’m going to look in my closet and see if I can recreate a similar ensemble with items I already have.
The easiest way to recreate a look or style you love is about obsessing less on one particular item of clothing and paying more attention to the overall formula of the look and how the clothing is being worn. Here’s an example; maybe you like one blogger’s #ootd: a chunky knit worn over ripped skinnies and a cute heel. Instead of lamenting the fact that her skinnies are Paige ($$$) and her knit is a super cute of-the-moment-lace-up-cuff-detail chunky sweater (trend trap!), think of what is actually attracting you to this ensemble. Here are some q’s to help you out:
am I attracted to this outfit’s colour palette?
do I like the proportion play?
do I like the quirky mix of styles (in this case, casual wear with dressy – a high heel)?
do I like how the sweater/pants are styled (sleeves rolled up/pants cuffed? sweater half-tucked in? etc.)
Answering these questions can do wonders for discovering your own personal style, as well as avoiding impulse buys, and going gaga over a purchase that could end up being potentially wasteful (not to mention expensive!).
And dear readers, just so you know – I tried this little experiment prior to writing this post. The idea of posting about it actually came to me when I came across an Olivia Palermo outfit (or 1,034,876 of them, actually) that I really liked and thought – wait a minute, I can make something similar! Do you want to see how it turns out? Come back Thursday to find out what the rest of this outfit looks like and the original pic I used as inspo!
While anything associated with ‘slow’ carries an unfavourable undertone in today’s ‘now’ world, this past year I’ve come to love slow.
It happened after a Dailey Method workout when we were stretching after a session and the sun was filtering in through the trees into the studio. One of those perfect moments where everything is OK and you convince yourself that it’s going to continue being OK because of the endorphin-induced state of mind you’re in.
But that state of mind seemed to stick with me for the very last half of 2016 along with my cemented affirmation and public declaration of slow fashion. As I thought about the owners at the Dailey Method, they seemed to me a wonderful example of being able to work extremely hard to build a thriving business without succumbing to the “i’m-too-busy-to-put-pants-on-and-eat-breakfast” mantra. In other words; to me, they represented great balance in a world where the scales are forever tipped to “busy being an entrepreneur”. Maybe time is doing what it does best (as in, making me older), or maybe I’m delusional. But I know that I’m over the glorification of being busy.
So in addition to slow fashion going forward, I’m going to try and figure out a way to continue to grow in my business/career with grace, love and peace, and live slowly. Forgive me if you don’t see me at every event, or saying yes to every project – paid or creative collaboration. After being taken advantage of to my own detriment too often this year, my only goal in 2017 is to say ‘no’ when it counts the most.
Finally, I want to wish each and every one of you reading this a most amazing holiday season and wonderful 2017. I truly appreciate your eyeballs on my words and images, your support and encouragement, and I don’t think I acknowledge it enough – so thank you. I won’t be posting anything between Christmas and New Years, but will be back to regular twice a week posts (aiming for Mondays and Thursdays) the first week of January.
In the meantime, enjoy whatever this time of year means to you.
Tis the season for gift guides for the fashionista, for the man in your life, or the cat in your life. In an effort to perpetuate the message of a more thoughtful and conscious Christmas, I’ve put together a gift guide that is a combination of experiences and items that suit this kind of lifestyle. I hope you like these gifts, and please share in the comments if you know of others!
These cozy merino, cashmere and alpaca accessories are hand-knit by New York-based senior citizens, and each piece is labeled with the knitter’s name. You can find biographies on the company’s website to find out more about who made your item. I love this because it brings retirees back into the active workforce, and gives the receiver of such a beautiful gift a more personal and special connection to the garment. Find more info here.
I was recently introduced to this beautiful Canadian jewelry company called Mejuri. These delicate pieces for daily wear are ethically sourced – they only work with suppliers they know well, and I love how they collaborate with bloggers to create unique, elegant treasures. Each piece is handcrafted and comes with a personalized card and beautifully wrapped box. I don’t know about you but I love it when a business takes extra care in making their clients feel special. Find their newest arrivals here.
The brainchild of a fellow-blogger at www.becomingminimalist.com ; The Hope Effect is a non-profit whose goal is to change orphan care across the globe by building small homes for 6-8 children and two parents. What an inspiring idea that effectively builds a family for children instead of an institution. So far they have raised $250,000 for the cause – find out more about contributing here.
Chayle Cook is a local Ottawa jewelry designer and goldsmith with an aim to creating artistic, yet easy to wear pieces for the modern professional woman. Each of her designs are handcrafted in Ottawa with 100% sustainably sourced or recycled materials. You can find Chayle’s jewelry and other Canadian-made clothing and accessories at shopeitheror.com – a chic store that has curated some of the best in Canadian sustainable fashion, and founded by Ottawa’s own Malorie Bertrand. The infinity slim bangle is one of my favourite pieces – find it here.
I had the amazing opportunity to try out the Dailey Method this fall, and a gift certificate for another round of barre classes is on my list this year. Not only for the physical benefits of total alignment, but for the positivity and joy this activity brings into my life. This is a gentle yet powerful workout that suits any level of fitness. AND – they’ll be opening a Dailey Cycle in the new year; perfect for your hard-core fitness friends. Find gift certificates and packages here.
This product was recommended to me by one of the best makeup artists in the city, Melody Iafelice who swears by Get the Funk Out. I’ve yet to use it but an endorsement from Melody is all I need to share! Made of all natural ingredients, this deodorizer has multi-uses (which I love – not just for the closet!) – use it to scent up a room, spritz on your pillow, freshen up your travel clothes that didn’t get a wash … the list goes on. Better yet, it’s based in Ottawa, certified cruelty free, and you can find it almost anywhere.
OTHER AWESOME GIFT GUIDES
There are some other great sustainable and local ideas floating around the web; check out these awesome gift guides and giveaways from fab local bloggers:
I don’t mean literally in love with your closet, like having romantic candlelit dinners with it and stuff, I mean truly loving everything that’s in your closet, so much so that you want to wear it each time you pick it up off the hanger. Loving it so that you don’t have a closet full of items that you don’t wear, or with tags still on, or pieces that are just slightly too small so they seem to taunt you when you pick them up …
We are all guilty ofhaving pieces like that in our closet at some point in our lives … but why? Consumer Psychologist Kit Yarrow explains some of our silliest shopping behaviour in this great article, but like any good fashion person trying to help a sister out, here is something that will help you avoid said silly behaviour and start a path towards world domination loving your closet.
Along with some of the other smart shopping tips I’ve mentioned to help you shop sustainably and create a well-edited closet of clothes, here is one of my faves. It takes place when you’re in the changeroom of a store, having a grand ol’ time trying things on:
Only purchase a garment if you answer yes to these 4 questions:
1. Am I 100% in LOVE & do I feel awesome in this?
Be totally honest in your answer here – this will stop you from getting sucked into the trap of ignoring a major flaw in the garment. Maybe it’s a shoe that is slightly uncomfortable but so heavily discounted or a designer label you love so you buy it anyway. Chances are, those shoes will go unworn until you realize every circumstance requires you walking in them.
2. Can I see myself wearing this in 1,2,4 years time?
This question helps curb those “what was I thinking?!” purchases. If you don’t want to be embarrassed after flipping through some old Facebook albums, make sure your choice has longevity (ie; free of heavy-trend references like fringe, studs, hardware, etc.) – and you’re not just buying it because it’s on sale, or because you’re in a hurry and need to wear something new for an event you forgot about.
3. Does it reflect my personality & lifestyle?
I love this question because it eliminates the fantasy purchase. When I used to travel, I would get wrapped up in the light gauziness of resort wear and get carried away with crochet and embroidered pieces when I was in a foreign place. But the reality is that I live in Canada where I freeze 70% of the time and I love my uniform of denim and a shirt/sweater. Unless you’re buying for a travel wardrobe (I think this requires its own post), keep your fantasies in check and be realistic about your wardrobe needs in relation to your lifestyle needs.
4. Can I make at least 3 outfits with this piece?
Even if a garment is so well priced or discounted, if it doesn’t work with anything in your wardrobe, what’s the point? No matter how inexpensive an item may be, it’s still wasted money (I don’t know about you, but I love treating myself to an expensive latte) and wasted resources (It takes 2700 L of water to make one cotton shirt – all the more reason to make your choices count).
If you answer no to any of the above questions, put the garment back – wave goodbye, pat yourself on the back for being a smart shopper, doing your part for the planet by not creating additional waste, and go buy yourself a nutella latte for being so awesome. In a reusable cup. Or – you know, put the money towards a quality garment that you’ve been coveting.
Part of a streamlined closet means buying seasonless pieces, or using what you have in different ways to get the most wear, and ultimately the most love – for what you already have. Living where I do, four very drastic seasons make seasonless dressing a little more difficult, but there’s nothing wrong with harnessing a little creativity to get the most out of those summer pieces.
The time leading up to December is seemingly warmer; so I wanted to wear this maxi dress from Tobi in an unexpected way that still suits the cooler season. I’m a big fan of the black stripe down the sides of this dress, as well as it’s simple and classic silhouette which give it major flexibility in wear. I so loved wearing it this way, and I know it will come in handy during a (hopefully!) warm weather vacation. Layering is key for any transitional outfit, so all it took was the sneaky addition of a slim turtleneck and the ubiquitous leather jacket. The sneakers added a touch of playfulness and of course – the unexpected.
Is there a summer piece that you want to repurpose for cooler months? I love how slow fashion takes on serious meaning when you find out a way to wear your summer pieces for another 4 months – would you try it?
You may have noticed that the blog has taken a different direction lately. Without the fanfare of a complete rebranding (which is coming, I swear, but there won’t be much hoopla because – I don’t know, who needs more hoopla in their life!?), I am happy to announce that going forward, blog.msbeltempo.com will be a site focused on sustainable style – with content that is geared towards making more thoughtful and deliberate decisions about how we consume fashion; from our shopping habits to our daily styling.
For lack of a better term, I chose the words “sustainable style”, but the word “sustainable” is thrown around so much these days, it’s important for you to know how I’m using it in the context of this blog.
BUT FIRST, A BACKSTORY
A few weeks back, a corporate client hired me to present a “shop your closet” session during their “green week”. After researching the topic and brainstorming content for the presentation, I realized that shopping your closet is only one piece of the giant lifestyle puzzle of a conscious consumer. It was the kind of information-gathering session that kept me up for nights in a row because I was just so excited about the topic. And it wasn’t the mind-numbing and scary statistics that got to me (we see enough of those tear-inducing videos via our facebook feeds, and I don’t think guilt and shame are the right vehicles to inspire action) – it was the fact that there is a different story to tell about being kind to our planet through conscious consumerism. And so I told it. From the perspective of someone who has been shopping for a living, I went through each phase of the consumer purchase process and gave tips on mitigating the environmental impact (from a fashion perspective only – I do not claim to be a sustainability or environmental expert) in each.
You should also know that I manage a very minimalist wardrobe, (seriously, it’s about half the size of a standard closet because I live in a tiny condo – I’ve mentioned this before – and literally don’t have room for more) that started more out of circumstance, but has now become a habit. I’ve realized that I wear almost everything in my closet, and that my purchases are more deliberate by design. This has been going on for the past 5 years, but I never really thought of how these habits could be useful or impactful to anyone else. Until I made this presentation.
This culmination of thoughts and ideas got me so excited, I realized I wanted to share it on the daily via my blog, which led me to a shift in content.
SO HERE’S WHAT SUSTAINABLE STYLE MEANS TO ME
I believe that sustainable style is expressing oneself through clothing while being a responsible consumer who considers the environmental and human impact of their consumption. In addition to buying less and choosing well, I believe sustainability means mindfulness at every stage of our fashion consumption – from avoiding wasteful purchases, to taking better care and loving the clothing we do have. It means altering the perspective and eliminating this crazy notion that fashion is “disposable” because it is inexpensive. I don’t care if you pay $5 for a tee shirt at H&M or $150 for an Alexander Wang at Holt Renfrew. Each of those cotton tees cost approximately 2,700 litres of water, and several hours of human labour – among many other finite resources – so they should both be treated with care and purchased with the expectation of lasting.
There’s a heavy dose of minimalism and pragmatism when it comes to my thoughts on sustainable style. I don’t expect the entire world to suddenly wake up, realize Mother Nature is suffocating, then subsequently demand only eco-friendly products and boycott fast fashion. It’s an overwhelming narrative that can leave people feeling hopeless. So, going forward on the blog, you’ll find articles around the following:
fashion, styling, and shopping habits that can help reduce your environmental footprint (and can save you money – bonus!) like this one
caring for your clothes so they last longer (even the fast fashion pieces!)
getting more creative with what you already have so you don’t feel the need to shop for more (especially your fast fashion pieces!) like this post
thrifting and consignment outfit inspiration – like over here
spotlights on locally made, locally purchased, and ethically sourced items when they suit my aesthetic
This quote I love sums it all up:
“There’s no such thing as fast fashion, just increasingly accelerated consumption” – Dilys Williams
For the longest time, I couldn’t tell you my blog’s why. Now, it’s clear that as someone with a voice (albeit a tiny one – thanks for reading, mom and dad!) , I want to perpetuate smart, conscious shopping vs. promoting the need to constantly have that mouse hover on “add to cart”. I will still do shopping posts like this one – and I realize that the purists may not be happy, but I think it’s so important that individual consumers harness the power they have in their decision making, and if these small actions are what slowly shift our thoughts on consumption, then that’s what counts for me.
If you’re still reading; thank you so, so much. I hope whatever I’ve already posted or what I’m about to post resonates. I would love to hear your thoughts on this new direction, or if you have any suggestions or questions.
Sending so much love and thanks as always, for reading xo
As far as I know, most ladies love a fancy night out on their calendar. It’s a special night, maybe you’re bringing a date who is not your mother, and maybe you want to take the time to feel more glam than normal. It’s a fun, and fabulous occasion to channel whatever Sex and the City character you identify with for 24 hours. For all of those reasons, I totally get why you would want to shell out some of your well-earned money to feel amazing for a social soiree.
But I’ve got a little challenge for you: the next time something special comes up on your calendar, shop your closet first to see if there’s not an item already in there that you can Cinderella into something more glamorous. (yes, I just used Cinderella as a verb, she’s a Disney Princess after all) See it as a sartorial challenge if you will.
If you make a purchase with only one intended use in mind, it might end up like closet roadkill. ie; the poor pieces in the back of your wardrobe or on the floor that get completely neglected once they’ve served their purpose. Kudos if you consign or donate that piece afterwards, but what if you had never bought it in the first place, reducing your consumption of fashion just a teeny bit?
I would never offer up a challenge without a little bit of advice to get you started, so here are a couple of tips for a closet that you can count on for a chic evening – a creative alternative to making a potentially wasteful purchase that doesn’t give you the kind of joy a glass slipper really should.
1 – Invest in a few key fancy separates (skirts are useful here) – a long lace number, a fun party or ball gown skirt, or a tulle skirt are all workhorses that you can reimagine again and again. Because they are only one half of an outfit, other elements (like tops, accessories and hair) can make a drastic difference in changing your look entirely.
2 – Layer your floor-length – We typically have a maxi or a jumpsuit in our closet that we wore for a fancy wedding or event and haven’t worn since. Throwing a chic turtleneck underneath or a gamine sweater or button-down overtop can bring new life to those pieces. Don’t forget about changing up accessories too!
3 – Borrow from the boys – If you work in an office, chances are you’ve got a great pair of black slacks, a blazer, or a suit in your closet. If you’ve got a suit – you’re in luck; why not wear it with a sexy cami, some killer heels and sparkly accessories? Otherwise, throw that blazer overtop of a maxi dress or fancy skirt and belt it for an androgynous but killer look. Small styling touches will make a big difference here – roll up your sleeves and cuff your pants to keep it office inappropriate.