Having embraced the suburban life and no longer being of an age to sample Edmonton’s nightlife with any regularity, Whyte Ave is a summer-weekend-only destination for me. Now that summer looks like it’s finally on its way (after a few too many false starts if you ask me), Whyte Ave is once again the place to be on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. What better time to put together a guide to some of my favourite places on Whyte? Let’s go for a stroll!
Starting on the east (back) side of the Ave (across the street from the railway tracks), you have of course the Strathcona Farmers’ Market, open on Saturdays. Best place to get delicious fudge … and, like, vegetables and stuff. If you’re willing to venture another street north, you will hit the New York Bagel Café, a great for grabbing some brunch (shopping for fudge can be exhausting, you know). Ask for a patio table, it’s a cozy spot. Across from the farmers’ market, there is the Varscona Theatre, home of awesome improv theatre, including the always-worth-checking-out Die Nasty.
A block south of Whyte, across from the Iron Horse, you will find Old Strathcona Books, a used bookstore that is a must for any bibliophiles looking to expand their libraries. They have a good collection that includes classic and modern literature, non-fiction, history, philosophy and science. On Whyte Ave proper, you have the Wee Book Inn, where you can trade in your paperbacks. If you drop in, say hello to the cat. 
If you are a bead-head like me, check out Beadworks in the old Dominion Hotel Building. It’s behind Two Rooms Café, which also happens to be a nice lunch spot.

Beadworks has an amazing selection of beads, as well as semi-precious stones and other jewelry supplies, but it’s definitely on the pricier side. [Ask for a card, it gets you $10 worth of merch once you spend $100. And, if you’re anything like me, that won’t take very long at all.] If you prefer to buy, rather than make, your jewelry, check out the Plaid Giraffe. Their (costume) jewelry is fun and funky and very affordable (although I’ve noticed recently that their prices have gone up a bit). Lately, I’ve also come to really like the jewelry selection at Avenue Clothing, especially for silver pieces and colourful brooches (only $15 a pop!).
Once you hit Calgary Trail, make a slight detour to your right. There’s C’est Cera, which has a nice mix of higher end labels, including Sweet Chemise. Sweet Chemise dresses are a weakness of mine; they’re very feminine and fit incredibly well. The only downside is the price, so it’s definitely worth waiting to take advantage of C’est Cera’s 50, 60, 70% sales. [First item is 50% off, second is 60% and third is 70%. The staff are usually happy to help you maximize your savings.] Across the street, there is Robes and Relics. While it’s not my favourite consignment store in Edmonton, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the neighbourhood. I remember seeing designer pieces (like Marc Jacobs and Holt Renfrew) for very reasonable prices. It’s an eclectic mix, though, so be prepared to browse.
Back on Whyte, just a few doors down from the Second Cup, there is Eden Lilly. The flower bouquets they sell are absolutely gorgeous, although they will certainly set you back a few bucks. For a special occasion, though, this is the place to go. (Hmm, maybe I need to start dropping hints about this closer to home …) On the same block, there is the Junque Cellar, which is a ‘must’ stop for anyone who loves vintage, and When Pigs Fly, for cute kitschy stuff (great for gifts). 

Just past 105 Street, right next door to the Chapters, is The Tin Box, where you can find everything from home décor pieces to funky modern jewelry. Also a good place to browse if you’re looking for reasonably-priced gifts. 
On the other side of Whyte Ave, you have Army & Navy. From time to time, it can be a veritable treasure trove for shoes, though you have to be really patient and persistent (and not mind coming away empty-handed 8 times out of 10). Heading east, make sure to stop at Block 1912, one of the best places to grab gelato in the city. As coincidence would have it, Block is almost directly across the street from Marble Slab, favourite of many ice cream afficionados in Edmonton. Their proximity invites you to ponder the age-old dilemma – ice cream or gelato? Me, I’m definitely a gelato girl. Dulce de leche and Hazelnut are my go-to flavours, but don’t be afraid to try the Chocolate tofulati – it tastes great! 
That pretty much concludes the tour of my favourite places on Whyte. Of course, it’s entirely subjective, so feel free to point out the errors of my way and nominate some of your haunts in the comments.

The style directory

One of my fave fashion magazines at the moment is InStyle. What I appreciate the most about it is the absence of first-person articles about the search for the perfect couture gown to wear at a weekend hunting party on a ducal estate, or the greatest spa experience on a privately-owned island, or … well, you get the idea. InStyle has no fancy journalistic pretensions and it’s all the more enjoyable for being honest about its real intent – selling you stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. And when it comes to magazines, I’m a lot like a 2 year old. Just show me pretty pictures.
One of the best parts of the magazine is the “Instant Style” section that shows you how to put together looks for different occasions. For example, the article in the June issue was all about dressing for different kinds of vacation destinations (beach, city, spa, romantic). I love looking at these types of photo collages because they’re often full of interesting ideas that can be easily translated to suit one’s own style, wardrobe and budget.
Especially budget. That’s one of my other pet peeves about a lot of fashion magazines – page after page of stuff that only a very small percentage of the population can realistically afford. “Everything under $500” will scream one headline. Gee, thanks! I guess I can put that $300 t-shirt right next to my gold-dipped mink coat. To be fair, I think Canadian magazines tend to be less indulgent in that regard, which is one of the reasons I’ve started switching my subscriptions. InStyle is pretty good, too, about mixing high and low stuff. Still, I would love to see more spreads that have capped budgets – each entire outfit for, say, $250 or less.
That gave me an idea, though. Why not try for something like that here?
So, first up … date night.
The First Date
Now, there are all kinds of dates, but none probably as important as the first date. They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I haven’t been on a first date in a long time, but I remember that the key was always to be (physically) comfortable. You want to feel relaxed and confident – and not worry about how this or that looks – and to highlight your best assets without looking like you’re trying too hard. The reality is that, in Edmonton, you will also face at least one additional limitation, most of the time – the weather.
With all that in mind, probably the most sure-fire first date outfit consists of jeans and a cute top. It’s versatile, weather-wise and location-wise. You can dress it up, down, or as warm as the thermometer dictates. I’m a big fan of camisole-type tops because they tend to be cut so as to skim the body, without being clingy; you can tuck into your dinner without having to worry about your Spanx. As Cosmo likes to remind you, boys like girls who enjoy their food. [The important thing about camisoles, especially the baby-doll types, is to pick the right length in the torso — you don’t want it cutting your vertical line at a weird spot. It’s best if they hit right above the widest part of your hips.] While cardigans are a cover-up staple (and especially great for layering in colder weather), I’m really loving leather jackets right now as a spring/summer alternative.
My take on the first-date outfit set me back about $230
(most of which was the jacket, which is the kind of item worth splurging on).
The Romantic Date
So, you’ve successfully navigated your first date … and a few more after that. It may be time to celebrate an anniversary or some other special event, and you want to take it up a notch. As far as I‘m concerned, that’s a perfect opportunity to go full-on girly and bring out your secret weapon – the date dress. Black’s too safe for this kind of occasion, especially in the summer. Instead, pick colours that really complement your features (hair colour, eye colour, tan, etc.) and fabrics that feel luxurious. The goal is to feel like a million bucks.
Easy, breezy … this one was a budget doozy: $102
The Marrieds’ Date
Just because you’re married, doesn’t mean that the two of you don’t get to go on dates anymore. It might just happen a little less frequently that’s all. [At least it does around here. Hm.] So you might as well take a fashion risk or two. Wearing lingerie as outerwear, for example. There are very few times when this option presents itself as even remotely feasible, but a date with your partner in wedded bliss is one of the exceptions. Keeping things interesting never hurts …
The key piece here was the bustier/corset I picked up at H&M for $20.
The grey helps to tone down the ‘risque’ factor. Total cost was about $210.
Your comments, as always, are welcome.  What are your favourite date night outfits?
Next up … ideas for the office.

Sartorial dilemma

White jeans. Yes or no?
I’m so torn about white jeans. On one hand:

                                                                         Kate Bosworth

On the other hand, I don’t like high maintenance clothes, and I have a suspicion that white jeans are inclined to be prima donna-ish. I also suspect that they’re not a match made in heaven for someone as klutzy as me; they’re practically begging for pen marks or ketchup stains (and I don’t even like ketchup). And that’s not the end of the trouble with white jeans. One also has to take into account the fact that white is not a particularly forgiving colour nor, in most cases, sufficiently opaque.
On the other (other) hand … how hot does Kate Bosworth look?
So my next question is: where can one find really great white jeans?