Let us Style You

P1140451We’ve all been there. That sinking feeling. That moment when you look in your closet, see it packed from one end to the other but you can’t find anything to wear? Let’s add on the dynamic of having to leave the house in 5 minutes!

let. us. help. you.

What we love, love, love to do is help your girls find something to get out of bed for. The feeling you get when you put on a trendy outfit head to toe and you feel like a rock star…. that’s what we like to create for you. Our favourite experiences are when you come in and let us dress you a new style – something you haven’t tried before.

Right now we’re outfitting clients in skinny bottoms (Lysse luxury leggings or JUST USA skinny high rise jeans), a modern flat (Chinese Laundry’s Easy Does It is perfect) and large unstructured blouses. We top it off with a statement necklace. It replaces the low rise denim and long fitted tees topped off with hoodies.

So the next time you have that sinking feeling, come and see us, we will be so happy to help you find something that puts a little extra swagger in your step.

Happy Spring!

The Leg Silhouette

MPlooksJAN-169I recently did a buying trip for Spring 2014. Buying trips grow my perspective on micro trends that last a season or two, and macro trends that can last years, possibly decades. Right now we’re in a skinny bottom macro era, likely combined with a high rise macro era. I first noticed it in LA, 2010. American Apparel took out huge billboards for the high rise skinny jean. It’s starting to pick up steam and will likely stick with us for a good decade. I think back to Toronto, 2006 when flare pants came back. I would say they were still available until last year at many major retailers. Let’s call that a 15 year stretch.

What I like about the high rise skinny is what it does to the create vertical line. When the legs look thin, we look taller. The top can be full and straight without darting or belting and the line will be uninterrupted from head to toe. If you stack that with a bun, toque, a choker necklace or a long strand, it would be an enhanced vertical line. The low rise cuts us horizontally at the wider part of our body. That creates horizontal line, not the most flattering for 90% of us.

I don’t like new cars. It takes me a long time to warm up to the design. But once I do, I can appreciate the elements of design involved. I suspect that it will take some of us time to warm up to the concept of the high rise skinny. But we’ll likely have a decade to do so. Next up, shoulder pads.

p.s. you can always come in and play with our skinnies. We love to help find what works for you. If the Mink Pink floral denim skinny (left) is too patterned, we have all the solids covered for you too.

Line Launch 101

  • design school: checkshapeimage_1 (4)
  • inspiration: check
  • Alva dress form: check
  • Bernina sewing machine: check
  • jet-threading auto tension Babylock serger: check
  • pattern-paper: __________
  • work table: ____________
  • coverstitch machine: ________
  • sell blind-hemmer in back of shop to buy coverstitch:_______
  • renovate back are to accomodate work table: _______
  • sketches: _______________
  • production business case: ____________
  • labels: draft miter edge, 2 colour print draft completed

Lots to do but I started to tackle them one by one. I am making progress inch by inch so that someday I will have something in the store with my own label on it. Speaking of labels, I drafted a version and while it is in my nature to procrastinate a final decision I am trying to live by the edict that the best idea is an executed idea.

If I decide to change the brand identity later, it’s only a question of money.
For now, I just need to inch it forward.

It All Starts with the Dressform

P1030883In Just USA jeans, it means you will fit a size 3 if your waist is approximately 23” inches around. But if we’re talking about Skunkfunk, you’re probably a 27 – 29” inch waist.

Every fashion brand decides at some point what dress form or block to use when they construct their garments. If the line is using old dress forms made from measurements garnered from the 1930’s (no joke), then you’ll probably feel like an overgrown amazon goddess when you put on one of these dresses. If you put on a dress from say, Skunkfunk, which appears to use a dressform designed from the newer measurement study, then you’ll feel like a wonderfully shaped modern woman of average to tall proportion.

So each line, uses different dress forms. At our store, we will have a good idea which lines will suit your fit. Now if you find you love the look of a line but not the fit, your tailor can work miracles. Just remember to fit the largest part of your body and have them take in the rest. You can’t fix a piece that is too small but you can always take in a piece that is too wide or too long. Once you make peace with tailoring, your apparel world will open up.

Emerald Green

Four years ago I had just finished my first and only class in Colour Theory. I learned to mix paint, every hue and value I would ever need. It was fascinating. It changed my life. I look at autumn trees differently now. I see light and dark where I before. I wear colour now. Thank you Doug Meyer.

Prior to design school, I knew of Pantone. But I had no idea they chose a “Color of the Year”. And I had no idea their colour swatch books cost more than a pair of Louboutins and are the only things that should be kept in a dark, dry closet (thank you Miss V.).

Without digressing into the merits (or lack thereof) of having a COTY, let’s look at this year’s colour. It is made of 99% cyan, zero magenta, 69% yellow and zero black. Pretty pure colour as far as the primaries go. Pantone offers several adjectives to the image: Lively. Radiant. Lush. It’s the colour for babies born in May, my Mom and oldest brother for example. It is the pervasive colour found in nature. To the human eye, it occupies the most space in the visual spectrum than any of its colleagues. It is apparently the second most favoured colour (blue is first). It is the colour of the heart chakra (got me there, it thought it was red). The Irish, I am certain, invented it and then loaned it to the transportation industry (I do hope they negotiated royalty fees).

As a political junkie, I am not sure … yet … how this emerald colour reflects the current era’s socio-economic conditions. Is it an obsession with financial issues around the world? Is it a reflection of the “vibrant” level of social media around the world? Or perhaps it is more literal than subtle and the folks at Pantone simply love emeralds more than their peer stones.

As it pertains to fashion, we can expect to see a lot of emerald green this year and into next while the textile mills scramble to mix dye to fit the whims of designers paying homage to the COTY. I can visualize large eyelet patterned short sleeved blouses, metal-toed flats, chunky bracelets, and maybe even a peplum dress. Since mint is already so prominent in the spring lineup, a deeper hue will not be a stretch.

I quite like the colour, to look at. It would be a first but I would welcome having it represented in my wardrobe. So I will hunt around for something to share with you at the store. I would love to hear from you: how many pieces of emerald green do you currently have in your wardrobe? And if you have none, will you be considering one for this year?

Merry Christmas

shapeimage_1 (3)To all my friends, family, colleagues, clients, vendors,

Peace be with you.

On Christmas Eve, a friend of the store was passing by as I was closing up (behind schedule of course with family awaiting). I stopped what I was doing, waved her in, unlocked the door so I could wish her a Merry Christmas. Her red, teary eyes gave way to the story of her first Christmas without her parents, because work is too sparse to fund the trip home. On my way home, I called one of my dearest, closest friends only to find she was in Toronto spending time with her dear friend who is fighting a brain tumour. Another friend and his family are facing their first Christmas without his father who passed in November. My uncle, the Vietnam Vet, also fighting cancer possibly due to Agent Orange or maybe the cigarettes they issued him while on duty.

My first friend was quick to recognize her ego’s role in the tears, wisely finding perspective. My second friend was quick to recognize reality while holding on to hope for all involved. My uncle, strong from all the challenges he has endured was grateful to be home for Christmas, surrounded by family.

They are all facing their fears with grace and dignity. They are finding peace. I think we are all finding peace, either in creating turmoil to learn about lack of peace or by creating peace where we can or some combination thereof.

I have peace the moment I unlock the door at the shop everyday. I have peace when I hug my daughter. I had peace when I accepted design school. I had peace when I heard Marcus Mosely sing Holy Night last night at St. Augustines. Wait, maybe that was bliss.

So tonight, Christmas night, when all is calm and bright, I wish for you …. peace.

Vegas baby, Vegas

LasVegasSignI went to Magic (and all it’s compadres) last week in Vegas with Kathy (of the most excellent Modest Goddess). I don’t really know where to start. It was overwhelming.

Magic is the wholesale fashion tradeshow, possibly the largest in the world. Imagine football fields of clothing, shoes, accessories, spread over 3 convention sites (because 1 doesn’t even come close to big enough to hold all the samples). Then imagine hour long lineups at Starbucks in the morning just to get the coffee you so desperately need to counter the effects of the previous night (what happens in Vegas….). Then layer onto that 4 straight days of walking from 9am until 6pm or even later in our case. Last but not least, you need to layer in the most stylish people concentrated in one place at the same time. And it’s all in Vegas baby where the taxi cabs play Steve Winn’s video extolling the virtues of the Winn hotel (who is this guy??); where people smoke EVERYWHERE indoors and; casinos pump “perfumed” air into the buildings… so kind of them.

Enough digression. Here are my takeaways from the show:

  • the assymetrical, aka the hi-low, aka the mullet hem is not going anywhere for a while. So invest now and a year from now you’ll remember you were an early adopter.
  • wedges too are not going anywhere. The soles are getting more interesting (clear acrylic or textured soles for example)
  • chiffon anything (silk, poly, you name it)
  • plasticized, coloured and graphic denim. Ooh la la. Ours will be here soon so save some room in your fall shopping budget for this one. We found some amazing stretch ones.
  • NEON. If you don’t love it, put a little neon green cami under a white shirt. You’ll be on trend without competing with the local neon billboards.
  • Platform Oxfords. With rolled up, coloured, skinny jeans and button down collared shirts. 50s revival.
  • digital print bottoms and dresses, ooh-la-la

The general look is anything long and skinny on the bottom and large oversized tops. Dresses are either 50s revival or feminine and flowy with the hi-low hems. Chunky heels a must to make it all look more like 2013 than 1983.

I can hardly wait for our orders to come in! It was so fun to buy for fall and spring and I hope you will enjoy some of the pieces we bought for you all. So, there you have it. Magic, Project, Pool, Platform, Vegas, Kathy and me. I want to thank Kathy for being such a great travel partner and a amazing person all around. (Oh and if you come to the store ask Kathy about our new pal Pamela).

Mother’s Day

P1020859She passed away a year ago. The first Mother’s Day without her…. I was pretty numb. So this one feels different.

Everything she did was perfect. La Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture would have appreciated her sewing. A clairvoyant once told me she sewed in previous lifetime for Louis XIV… which would explain more than just a few things. Her cooking was phenomenal, her petit-point and penmanship won contests, her book-keeping always reconciled to the penny and she always looked lovely.

She got distracted too, so I came by my distraction honestly. She wanted to be a nurse at a young age but it was not written in the cards. She lost more babies than she was able to keep, 5 out of 9 pregnancies. She adapted and built new dreams. She was incredibly strong and fought hard through her cancer. But her heart was tired from battle.

I know some of you know what it is like to lose your Mom. You think to call her and then remember she’s not there anymore. A smaller Sunday dinner table. And that void on Mother’s Day. I suppose we could be grateful we are not starving in some ravaged corner of the earth but it takes me a lot to get there. So this Mother’s Day, I will remember mine quietly, deeply and I will be ever grateful she was mine.

One Month Into It

P1040041I spend the month of March in buying mode so we have a lot of new pieces in for the start of a new month …. and hopefully spring.

Covet – amazing dresses with assymetrical hems and beautiful waist fitting.

Religion – this line is on-trend with a British style. The dresses came in strong with a lot of intricate back cut outs.

Mink Pink – some beautiful prints combined with unique silhouettes, not to mention the famous jean shorts.

SkunkFunk – we are strong on dresses right now, some of the bold print and architecture that defines this line and some with basic lines but pops of colour. Oh, and the bags! This spring we have some interesting bags… you won’t find these anywhere else.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

My Design Journey

junk BI 2It was around the fall of 1984, fresh from a year in Montreal, when I started picking up mags, analyzing outfits, wishing I could look as nice as the girls in the photos.

I tried to draw. I didn’t like the results. Two things I wish I knew back then:
1.the crippling effects of perfectionism
2.the art of drawing can be taught and most often is taught

I did well enough in high school, algebra was my favourite subject. University was in the future but I couldn’t see combining my interest in clothing with a post-secondary education. If I dig deep, deep, deep into my subconscious, I remember something about a school in the states, Texas maybe. The $25,000 tuition seemed unrealistic.

I didn’t really know what to do, so in Grade 12, I decided to take off to France instead. Procrastinate the decision (sooo typical of a perfectionist).

France came and went. Reality hit. It was time to register for University. It took me 8 semesters and a virtual gun to my head to decide I better go to Business school, it seemed logical, a practical thing to do.

Thankfully I got a job once I graduated. Fast forward to 2001. Basically with 8 years of telecommunications experience under my belt, I found myself unemployed. Not to mention I was a new single Mom in the midst of a divorce. My life was completely upside down, haltingly. Now what was I supposed to do? Someone told me I should think about what would make me happy? Happy? What a concept, it was almost laughable. I realized I had just missed enrollment at Helen Lefeaux. Maybe I should just stay in my comfort zone. If I had known then that learning how to design clothes was not going to leave me alone… I would have done it right then but hindsight is a unique form of mental abuse so I tell myself instead that I had to stray from my path to find my path.

Fast forward to the universe presenting me with another opportunity to go to design school in 2008. Brittanie (my daughter) will tell you I cried tears of joy when I found out I was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.

I learned how to mix paint, colour value, how balance makes for great design, how to make patterns, create a collection and how to avoid wedding cake dresses with too many elements (thanks to Mr. Zwiatec). Suze Zarate, forever my hero, taught me to draw. (The drawing on the side was for one of her classes at FIDM). I had amazing teachers and will forever be in their debt. It was a blessing to get my Design degree, I hope everyone has that sense of peace, whatever path they had to take to get there.