Month: August 2010

Essential fall pieces

On Tuesday, I wrote about some of my favourite fall 2010 runway trends, so I thought I would also mention some of my real-life key pieces for fall. These pieces are the opposite of trendy — they’re things I pull out of storage each year as soon as summer starts winding down, and mix with my then-current/trendy pieces for updated fall looks. 

1) The trench 
This one tops a lot of style mavens’ list of key pieces, pretty much irrespective of season. It took me some time to realize why; the true “fall season” is often so brief in Edmonton that it seemed pointless to invest in outwear that would be practical for only a short period of time. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. The trench can be a transitional and even year-round piece in the right circumstances. I’ve worn it as early as April, as well as on cooler summer days over a lighter dress, and I’ve worn it well into October over my office attire. Starting in September, it goes into heavy rotation. 

It works with pants, and it also works with skirts and dresses, although you have to be careful about length — if your trench stops around the knee (like mine does), skirt length shouldn’t be more than a few inches longer at best. I like the traditional camel and beige colours for trenches, but black is also a good (dressier) option. Even if the classic Burberry is out of your price range, it’s worth paying a little bit extra for a good quality trench — it will last for years, so the cost-per-wear will be practically negligible. The more classic the design, the better as it will take you through season after season without looking dated. 

You can find nice, affordable trenches at any number of stores, including Winners and The Bay. I quite like my GAP trench, which was under $100 but not short on style. Because GAP and Banana Republic are under the same corporate umbrella, their trenches are very similar in style and quality, but the price favours GAP — something to keep in mind if you are a BR fan.

2) Boots and booties.
Having finally met with success in my quest for the perfect riding boots, I’m quite excited about fall. I’m also looking forward to bringing out the booties I acquired last winter — I was a late recruit to the booties’ side (skeptical about their ability to flatter people not blessed with mile-long legs) but I’m definitely a convert now. I love to wear boots with skinny jeans and leggings, and booties with short skirts; the shorter, the better — booties seem to have a sort of sobering effect on the more risque skirt length.

3) Leggings 
I know — some people still contest their legitimacy as grown-up apparel, but they’re a godsend for our cold climate. Luckily, leggings don’t show signs of disappearing from the pages of fashion magazines just yet, so it’s still safe to wear them … even those of us who have seen the other side of 30. It does require some discretion and careful editing — after all, the goal is not to look like a teenage girl, or Lindsay Lohan.  I stick with plain black — no frills, no lacy bits, no wild colours. Even better, you can now find stretchy legging-style pants (peggings?), which have the streamlined look of leggings and offer a little more warmth.

4) Leather jacket 
The leather jacket is the trench’s sexier, bad-ass cousin. Realistically, you can probably wear a leather jacket all summer long around here, but fall is when it comes into its own. I like motorcycle jackets and similar, slightly cropped styles best, but regardless of preferences, the fit is key. A leather jacket should ideally fit you like a glove and, subject to any ethical or personal objections, should be real leather, not plastic. [I don’t intend to enter into or entertain that debate here, but I respect the right of any individual to make his or her own informed decisions on the subject.] 

These days, it’s possible to find affordable leather pieces at Winners, as well as specialized stores like Danier; we’re talking about the $150-250 range (as always, sales are your friend). Although black is always popular, neutral colours can also be very versatile and chic; my leather jacket is a sandy beige colour, and it goes with practically anything. Bright colours are also making a comeback, though I haven’t been blown away by the selection I’ve seen in stores so far.

5) Chunky sweater 
I’m not generally a fan of bulky clothing, but a chunky sweater is both a necessity come fall (and winter) and a useful styling piece. It can create a nice contrast to more delicate pieces, thereby transitioning them into the cooler seasons. The volume is also a nice counterweight for slimmer silhouettes, like leggings. I’m currently try to find a chunky sweater coat (mid-thigh length, belt optional) in a cozy neutral colour to supplement my fall wardrobe. So far, I’ve seen a couple of candidates in the Joe Fresh fall line-up, but I’m waiting for a few more stores to start bringing in their new collections.

Here are some of my fave pieces, mixed and ready to go:

Trench, GAP; dress, Club Monaco,
earrings, Banana Republic Outlet; shoes, Stuart Weitzman
 Jacket, Danier; skirt, Club Monaco; booties, Nine West;
scarf and earrings, Winners; tank top, Tristan; tights, H&M.

Sweater, Jacob; top, Zara; pants, Parasuco;
boots, Dublin; necklace, Alfani.

For a trendier counterpoint, you can check out InStyle‘s 8 key pieces for fall, here

What are your fall favourites?

Big hats, big hearts

Clearly, I am not the only one of my friends who harbours an inordinate love of hats.
A couple of my friends attended the Horses, Hats and Hope event at the Northlands last Friday, and reported back to me on the masses of fun they had doing it. The gala event and fashion show was in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, and it anticipates the Canadian Derby, which will be held this Saturday at the Northlands. Forward-thinking derby fans could thus take care of their fancy-hat needs in advance of the big day. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend and, as such, did not get to experience the hat extravaganza first hand, but was highly entertained nonetheless by my friends’ colourful descriptions of the equally colourful hats that were on display.
They also raved about one of the local designers who showcased her clothes in the fashion show, Kelsey McIntyre. Her Serendipity label is available at Meese in St. Albert, as well as on her website, which you can check out here. The Jane Austen dress is so, so lovely … I am convinced that its famous namesake would approve. And then there is the Grace Kelly dress which, in my world, would have to be filed under “Prettiest Dress Ever, The” category in the fashion dictionary. Love it!

One classic, three ways

I was chatting with a friend about fall shopping the other day, and couldn’t resist mentioning my recent fall-centric acquisition of two classic, button-down shirts from Joe Fresh ($12 each!). I hadn’t been a big fan of collared shirts before, but I’ve been seeing them pop up in magazine quite a bit lately, and decided to give them a try. Joe Fresh was, naturally, my go-to place because — hello! — low commitment (did I mention they were $12?). Well, consider me sold! I love my new shirts, and clearly can’t stop talking about them. 

So my friend decided to put my enthusiasm to the test. She challenged me to test the awesomeness of my precious shirts by incorporating them into at least three different looks — work, evening and casual. I think she thought I wouldn’t bother, or maybe feel daunted by the prospect. Not so, my friend. I can do this … and so can my shirts … with a little help from some knits.