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Confused rant: what now?

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I’ve been consumed with thoughts of my dear dead brother for the past couple of weeks.  I miss him, yes, but that’s not new.  I think it’s because I’ve been thinking about the rules lately.  The rules of life.

You grow up, you go to school, you get a job, you become a consumer, you start a family, you pay your bills, you raise your family, you keep consuming, your kids leave home, you retire, you die.  Throw in a few vacations, taxes, and birthday parties and there you have most people’s lives.  The rules are that you do these things properly: get the right house, the right job, marry the right person, say the right things at parties and at work…and you can choose small things to distinguish yourself like sports team loyalties and haircuts, but you cannot make up your own rules.  Unless you want to have no peers, that is.  I guess I grew up believing that I was somehow different, important, and am finding out that I’m just ordinary.  I didn’t travel the world after high school or start a commune in the west indies.  I wasn’t even involved in a dangerous but sexy real life murder mystery.   I used to want people to know my name after I die.  Now I know that for that to happen, I have to sacrifice the comfort I have become accustomed to, because no one remembers your name when you lead the life I described above.  We remember martyrs, we remember people who had ideas that were hated before they were embraced.  That makes for a tough life.  Everything has a price, especially fame.  Is it a price I’m willing to pay?  I’m begining to think that it isn’t, and that brings on this sort of identity crisis for me.  There’s a Bon Iver song I keep listening to, and my favourite line is “And at once I knew I was not magnificent”.  These thoughts make me think of Tyler, who died suddenly at the age of 22.  He told my Mom he’d be home for dinner, but he never came back.  He was living: paying bills, consuming, working, socializing…and then he wasn’t.  And the thing that gets me, is no one had any inkling that was going to happen.  I might agonize over the renovations we’re doing right now, or my stupid job, or getting pregnant, and then get in a car accident on the way to work and it’s just…over.

I’m not a hedonist, nor am I a Puritan.  I’d like to think I’m somewhere in the middle, though if I’m honest I do favour the hedonist mantra of live for today.  (I’m not a big saver, and tend to shun owning things that would necesitate upkeep and extra work.)  My problem here is one that I’m sure many before me have experienced, and many after me will experience.  How do I make my life count?  I’m going on 32, so even if I live a long life, I’m almost in the middle of it.  Or I could die tomorrow.  Either way, this is not a dress rehearsal, is it?  Tyler’s death taught me that.  Loving someone and needing them and being used to them existing does not mean that they can’t die, so it counts for me too. 

So here’s my question to myself: Am I following the rules of life as set up by the status quo?  Have I elevated the not so important to the very important?  Am I sweating the small stuff?  What I wouldn’t give for a tragedy right now to set my mind straight.  I don’t want anyone to die, but I do remember how clear I was about what was important when someone did.  I loathe my human weakness that makes me forget the important things almost every day.  I loathe the status quo.  And yet, somehow, that’s eactly what I’m living for.

Now what?

I know I don’t want to devote my life to making rich companies richer.  I know I don’t want to say one thing and do another.  And I know that if I can inspire people to see what’s important and make changes accordingly in their own lives, then I will be satisfied with mine.  What does this all add up to?  I have no idea.  But I guess acknowledging and expressing it are the first steps to finding out.  I get frustrated that my life seems to be full of new begingings, but it occurs to me from time to time that’s it’s what I was meant for.  That at least satisfies me.

I wonder what my brother would tell me to do.  I wonder what he’d be doing now.  I wonder how different my life would be if he’d stayed home from work that day.  And most of all, I wonder what all this wondering is going to produce.

Time will tell.

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Scent of a…Me.


Coco Channel once said “A woman wearing the wrong scent has no future.”  Well!  I have been searching for my signature scent for most of my life to no avail.  Yes, I wear perfume.  But I often wonder if it’s the right perfume.  I want my husband to be driven wild with desire by just smelling it.  I want it to waft by in the street and for people to say to each other “Who IS that woman???  She smells divine!”  I want it to be exclusive, mildly expensive, and chic.  A long, long time ago, when I worked in a Muffin Break that is now something else, I used to serve a man every morning who smelled so good it left me reeling.  He worked at the investment firm next door, he wore an overcoat, and I would have done pretty much anything for him had he asked me.  He smelled exactly the way a man should.  He never asked me for anything but coffee incidentally…I think I still had braces on my teeth.

Back to the search for a scent.  A few months ago I found a bottle of Britney Spears Curious in Winners.  My sister used to have it and I’d try it on every once in a while when we lived together.  I liked it.  So I bought it, wore it…and something curious DID happen.  People started to ask me what I was wearing.  They were smelling me…and liking it.  I was browsing in an antique mall when a woman walked into the booth I was in, paused for a moment and then asked  what scent I was wearing.  She said she was very picky, but that I smelled just the way she wanted to smell.  I was immediately embarassed.  “Uhhh…it’s Britney Spears”.  We looked at each other, laughed.  “Well, you could pour it into an antique perfume bottle!”  She said.  It was a good idea, I thought.  I wondered though, what’s the deal?  Did I find my signature scent?  Was it really Britney Spears?!?  I did not foresee this happening!  I don’t walk into gas station bathrooms in bare feet!  I don’t drive my kids around with no carseats.  I do not embody pop princess qualities.  Why does the scent that works on me have to be hers???

I thought about it awhile, and maybe it doesn’t matter.  I tend to build up ideas of how things will be, and make it impossible for them to turn out the way I want them to.  The goal was to find the scent that makes me memorable, and I suppose I have.  For now.  Maybe I have to learn to be happy for good results, not insist on perfect journeys.  When does life ever look exactly the way we’d imagined it?

I actually came across Britney’s newer scent, Midnight Fantasy in Winners just a week ago, and bought it.  People seem to like that one too.  At least it has a nicer bottle…

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douche maneuvre turned lightbulb moment

Friday was a pretty  good day.  I went in to the office and got some stuff together for my business trip this week, I made some calls, I printed some service agreements to get signed off by customers.  There were donuts in the conference room, and all the ladies who are usually on diets had one and told me I should have one, so I did!  It was crazy.  Then I popped over to West Edmonton Mall and got an amazing portrait collared sweatshirt at Lululemon.  Then I went to Sherwood Park and met my husband for lunch.  The sun was shining, I was driving around blasting Florence and the Machine and Jay-Z, it was a happy time.  I had a meeting at 2pm with a lady in charge of shipping at a furniture store, and I was there a bit early for that.  There was a Tim Horton’s on the corner, so I decided I’d have an iced coffee.  How lovely!  As I went in, there was a young guy talking to a woman in a parked car about why he couldn’t keep a job.  Drugs.  I was in that part of town, so I steeled myself to ignore whatever happened.  There were only 2 people ahead of me in line; I knew I wouldn’t be late for my meeting.  I got my iced coffee and walked to my car, and just as I left Tim Hortons there was a homeless man leaning against the building who wasn’t there when I went in.  I glanced at him.  “Could you spare a coffee?”  he asked me.  I automatically looked down, shook my head and said “no, sorry”.  Spare a coffee?

I thought about what he’d asked me the rest of that whole day. I had lied, of course I could spare a coffee.  I even had some extra time.  There was no reason at all why I couldn’t buy this man a $2.00 coffee; I’d just spent $120 on a sweatshirt I didn’t really need, but wanted.  Why had I said that?  I thought about the times I had bought coffee, muffins, and lunches for homeless people.  People hanging out by the Starbucks down the street from my old hairdresser or camped out in the McDonalds parking lot.  They were right in front of me, so on occasion I chose not to ignore them.  I felt pretty good about myself when I’d give them food.  That “I’m a good person” high could last for months.  Hooray for me, right?

Uh, no.  If I’m being honest the way I have to be when I write about it, there is no hooray for me.  There is however, disgust and disapointment.  The reason is that I know better.  Whatever you believe about the homeless and disadvantaged, and how they got that way and what they should do to better themselves,  they are still people.  I worked for World Vision last Christmas in the mall selling sponsorships of poor kids in foreign countries.  8 hours a day on your feet asking people who don’t care if they want to help.  That was THE hardest job I’ve ever had to do, no question.  And some people do that every day, but in a more personal way: do you want to help ME?  And most of the time I say no.  No, I don’t want to get you coffee.  I have everything I need and more, and you don’t, and I don’t care.  People say to me all the time “Brianna, you can’t save the world” like I should stop caring about it.  And I know, I can’t save the world.  But I could buy someone coffee.  And so could you.

SO.  What’s my point?  I’m selling consignment clothes, and there are stores and stores full of clothes.  Second hand stores are packed to the brim of things we don’t want anymore.  We buy and buy and buy new stuff to make us feel better, prettier, more youthful.  Is it working?  What if we could buy something that we knew would help someone?  Just turn your consumer power to something that’s doing the good beyond your reach.  What if you could start helping more by not really changing anything about what you buy, but re-directing where you buy it?  I’m going to give half of the proceeds to local charities of anything I sell on facebook from now on.  Starting August 20, I will be having a Fall Sale, and when you buy any of those items, half the price will go directly to a charity here in Edmonton.  Which one, I don’t know yet, and you could weigh in on that.  We’re all not going to feel like we’re saving the world by doing that either, we’re just going to do what we can.  What would the world look like if we all made a choice to buy stuff we need that does some good?  What kind of changes would that make in us?  I want to to find out, and I hope you’re curious too.  First thing’s first, I’m going back to that Tim Hortons and see if I can’t buy a man a coffee.


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Don’t ask the Wizard

I like my part-time retail job for 2 reasons: the first is that it gives me a much needed social shot in the arm a few times a week, and the second is that it gives me great insights into the shopping habits and motivations of women.  I was working yesterday during a 40% off sale and the place was packed.  I saw a woman heavy laden with tops, dresses and pants, and went over to ask if she wanted me to start a fitting room for her.  She gave me a grateful look and said yes, then explained to me that she was shopping for the first time in a year and a half since she’d had her baby, and was pretty overwhelmed by the task of outfitting herself to go back to work.  I love challenges such as these, so I quickly started her a fitting room and came back to help her pick out potential work pieces.  She was very pretty and had a nice figure.  She probably didn’t think so as most women carrying a little extra weight disparage themselves to no end.  She had a nice full bottom and hips with a comparatively slender waist.  The first thing you noticed about her though was her dark hair, great skin and incredibly friendly and open demeanor.  I liked her.  She told me that her husband was always begging her to wear more colour, and she wanted to, but when it came time to dress she’d cling to neutrals like a drowning victim to a life vest.  She said she already owned tons of black pants and t-shirts.  I picked out some great tops with fitted waists, flared hips and gathered bosoms that are great under jackets for work, and she said she’d give them a try.  I knew it before it happened, but I hoped against hope she’d surprise me; after half an hour in the fitting room, she walked out with a fallen look on her face and a few neutral coloured t-shirts in her arms.  What happened???  I talk to women all the time with the same problem, and the problem is you.  It used to be me, too.

I used to see pictures of clothes I loved, clothes that looked so good on the hanger, clothes I even bought on occasion, brought home and on the hanger they stayed.  I used to have a husband who’d beg me to wear colour.  I used to look at other women and wish I had the guts to pull off what they were wearing.  I didn’t aspire to be Lady Gaga or anything, I just wanted to dress like a grown-up.  The problem was, I didn’t feel like a grown-up.  You could have shown me a woman who looked exactly the same as me wearing an impeccable suit, a deliciously flirty dress or even a fierce pair of jeans with killer heels, and I would have sworn up and down that while she was clearly pulling it off well, I could not.  I had no confidence, and I let the weak part of me dictate what I could and could not do.  I regret spending so many years being scared, and when I meet women now who won’t take the leap I know they’re capable of taking, it makes me very sad.  It’s not about clothes, it’s about who you are.  And when you become a Mom, you have to consider what you’re modeling for your children.  Cognitively you know that you have a responsibility to show them that they have unlimited potential locked inside of them…but what are you actually showing them?

I just watched the Wizard of Oz, and was struck as I always am by the lesson of the four of them asking the Wizard for things they’ve had all along.  What are you asking for that you already have?  The courage to wear a dress that isn’t black does not belong to the perfect, it belongs to all of us.  Let’s all stop telling ourselves what we can’t wear, can’t say or can’t do, and go out and show the world and our kids what we as women CAN do.  Preferably in heels 😉


*Practical Tip: You are what you think about.  So if there’s something you’d like to wear, pick a day to wear it.  Get up that morning, shower and do your hair.  Put on the outfit, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself “I look great!  I’m going to have an amazing day.”  Then walk out the door, and any time you feel that twinge of embarrassment at not wearing your usual uniform (that’s all it is, discomfort from doing something new), repeat your “I look great” mantra.  Smile.  Guaranteed by the end of the day, someone will tell you what you’ve been telling yourself all day.  When they do, smile and say thank you, and nothing else.  This is all I did to change from the jeans and flats girl into the dresses and heels girl I wanted to be.  I promise you, you can do this anytime you want and it will work, and eventually the confidence you’ve been faking will magically turn into something you truly feel.  And then, you’ll be looking for your next challenge!  Good luck  🙂


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Know thyself, fashionista

I like clothes.  A lot.  I wouldn’t say I’m a shopaholic, I would say I’m a great apreciator of the art of style.  Not fashion, that changes.  It’s fun to throw in some trendy stuff but I have a deep love of the classics.  I can’t get enough of trench coats, sheath dresses, perfect flats and pointy heels, bags that are the exact right blend of slouchy soft leather and structured sophistication, oversized pashminas, round Jackie-O Sunglasses…and the list goes on.

If I were to truly indulge myself I would be broke, all the time.  So I don’t.  I try to be a smart shopper and always know what I need in my wardrobe, how much I’ll wear a given item, and can then calculate the cost per wear and see if something a little pricey is worth it.  Often it is.  Since clothes are the first communication you will have with most people even before body language, they need to say the right thing.  I want my wardrobe to tell people that I am capable, confident, and know what works for me.  You may want to say something different…the trick is to know what you want to say and how to say it.  Wearing trendy ripped jeans and a bejewelled hoodie tells people you’re cutting edge and layed back…but if you’re a lawyer and wearing that to work, it’s not the best message.  I find most people have no idea what they’re communicating, and a little help in that area would go a long way.

Out in the world (it really doesn’t matter where), what I most often see communicated is confusion.  I would love, love, love to help clear some of that up.  Learning how to dress yourself for clarity of message is a process, but I can offer a few easy tips right now on things no woman should be confused about.

Your body type.    There are four basic types, and they apply whatever weight you are: hourglass, apple, pear, and tube.  Sometimes they’re referred to as different names, but those are the basic four.  Think of where you gain weight first, and that should tell you your type.  Hourglasses and tubes will gain evenly (so hourglasses stay curvy, tubes stay tubelike), Apples in their stomachs, Pears in their hips, butt and thighs.  Knowing what you are will help you choose clothes that play up your good parts and downplay your trouble areas.  So if you’re an apple, don’t choose a top with ruffles on it; you’re simply drawing attention to where your weight is.  Pears, don’t wear skinny jeans.  And no one should wear big tenty pieces that hide your body.  The goal is to create your ideal body with the structure and illusion of clothing, not to hide it or enhance what you don’t want to enhance.  It’s a sad fact that garments that tend to be “oh so comfortable” look like crap, because they provide no structure or lines.  Know your body type!

Your Colours.  When I was about 15, we were on a family outing at the Vancouver public library and I found a book on draping.  I took it home and poured over it for weeks.  I named myself a warm autumn (I was more tanned and had my natural hair colour then) and looked for warm colours to wear.  You don’t have to go this far, it’s a bit restrictive.  Just know which colours look best on you.  They’re the ones people tend to compliment you in that don’t make you look ill.  Remember black is not every girl’s best friend, even though we tend to think of it as being good for all skin tones.  Know your colours.

Your life: the way it is.  Of course you need to dress for what you do; if you’re a stay at home Mom who spends most of her time at soccer practice and who’s more likely to be found at the grocery store than a charity dinner, there’s no sense in stocking your closet with gowns.  Most of us have 3 or 4 primary activities to dress for.  For me it’s work, the gym, leisure time like dates with my husband, and events like weddings and charity galas.  So if I don’t have clothes for these four things always on hand, I’m not very prepared.  Know what you do and buy clothes for that.

Your Life: the way it should be.  And then there’s the life you wish you had.  Being practical all the time is incredibly dull and sad.  There’s something powerful about dressing for the more that you want in life.  It makes me shrivel up inside to hear women say “I LOVE that dress…but where would I wear it?”  They invariably walk away from the clothes, and the possibility.  Sometimes you have to buy the dress, and look for a place to wear it.  Sometimes you have to be Carie Bradshaw crazy and spend your rent on shoes.  I’m not advocating irresponsibility…or maybe I am.  Not as a way of life, but as a departure from how depressingly casual we’ve all gotten.  Have lovely events and parties disappeared from middle class life because we don’t wear the clothes anymore, or was it the other way around?  In any event, I see clothes as a way of bringing back a little magic to our lives.  Dress for the life you want instead of the life you have, and see where it takes you.  Amazing things are just waiting to happen!


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Women in Comfortable Shoes

I didn’t grow up a princess, believe it or not.  My Mom was (and is) highly inteligent, incredibly gifted, and above all, hardworking.  My Dad took the adventurous, charismatic and hilarious role.  Neither of them gave too much thought to clothes, although they both had their own style and were (and still are) healthy and good-looking enough to pull off whatever they each put on.  I grew up being told to wear layers for long hikes, to take a sweater, and to always, ALWAYS wear comfortable shoes.  And I did.  I went through the birkenstocks faze when My Mom was in University and took us to the mall to get real ones because “they’re good for your arches”.  I wore doc’s boots (my Mom still wears hers occasionally), I wore Nike sports sandals to summer camp and Adidas slides with the little poky things in the bottom to youth group.  I got married in cream Payless shoes with 1.5″ heels because I knew I’d be standing all day.  I worked in cute flats, I went out in…cute flats.  I liked the look of heels, but couldn’t walk in them.  OUCH.

Then one day when I worked in downtown Vancouver  in a trendy furniture store, I saw a picture of Jennifer Aniston in jeans, a t-shirt, a pashmina and a pair of oxblood high-heeled boots.  The photo was meant to show you what to wear to Sunday brunch, and it made me want to go to Sunday brunch every day.  Or even ever.  I thought I’d never seen shoes more beautiful.  The next day, I went to Winners and the most amazing thing happened!  I saw them: the oxblood boots.  Of course they weren’t the same ones, but they were close and they fit me, and that was enough to make them perfect.  They were by Kenneth Cole.  I wore them to work the very next and do you know what happened?  Everyone but me and the manager called in sick and I had to unload a shipment of new stock by myself in the alley behind the store (People did meth there and peed behind the dumpster), standing in my new high-heeled boots.  Oh gosh.  The pain of that day will be remembered by me for the rest of forever.  I hobbled to the skytrain and home from the skytrain station swearing I would never, EVER put my feet through such torture again.

I wore the boots again, of course.  But only when I knew standing time couldn’t last for too long. The bulk of my shoe collection consisted of cute flats and runners.  Fast forward a few years to when I started my own business.  I had to represent myself and my company to customers and business people, and that meant a whole new wardrobe.  I got the suits, the button-up shirts, the cute jackets.  The shoes were a conundrum though.  I ended up finding a sale and buying 3 pairs of heels, and they were all wrong.  Pinchy, achy, just terrible.  I’m not sure how or where, but soon after that I found a pair of nine west heels that changed my life.  Just a black pair of pointy-toed nuncios, those little shoes could take me anywhere!  I could run, jump and twirl, all the while looking like a movie star from the 50’s.  I was in love.  Being 5’2″, a couple of inces of height really changed my perspective on the world…and people’s perception of me.  I have gone through hundreds of pairs of heels since then, and I know now what to look for.  I know if a toe will rub, or a heel will slip.  I can generally judge how long it will take for me to have to replace the soles.  I know the brands that are all flash, and the ones that won’t let me down.  So when I’m out shoe shopping and hear a woman talking about comfort vs. style to her daughter like I did the other day, I want to gently pull her aside and tell her.  “I know what you think, but you’re wrong.”  I’ve been on both sides, and it’s not one or the other.  The woman’s daughter was looking for work shoes, and kept rejecting all the ones her Mom pointed out on the basis that were, well, ugly.  And she wasn’t wrong.  The Mom gave her daughter a big speech about how style doesn’t matter, comfort does, and to just look at her.  She was clearly demonstrating her view by her stretchy pants and worn flip-flops.  The daughter looked away.  So did I.

So here it is, women readers: You CAN have it all.  They’re doing amazing things with fashion technology nowadays, so you don’t have to wear those scrubby runners with your jeans (please don’t do that ever, unless you’re dressing up for Halloween as Jerry Seinfeld).  You can look cute and feel compfortable every day.  I have 3 examples of amazing comfortable, attractive shoes of my very own to prove it to you.  Check these out:

1) Sparkly Flats.  These babies have carried me through several trade shows, and that’s quite a feat!  The pointy toes elongate the leg line, and the sparkle…well that’s just darling 😉 By Sam Edelman.

2) Red platform flower-detail pumps.  I was complaining that I have no red shoes, so I decided to find these at Winners. (haha)  I’m glad I did!  They’re all padded inside and squishy-firm.  Like a foot massage with every step!  Very reminiscent of 40’s style.

3) Open-toed sling-back kitten heels with a ruffle.  These shoes are SO cute, I try to put outfits together to wear them!  The heels are perfect for weekend activites with lots of walking, and the shoes are fabric so they breathe.  And the best thing?  They’re by CROCS!!!  Can you believe it?!?

So there you have it.  No more do we have to choose between comfort and style.  And if I hear anyone telling you differently, I’m gonna take him or her aside…and make them read this.  Really.

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Princess Chic

There’s a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that certain women have.  You can’t define it, but it makes you look up when she enters a room.  It sells magazines.  It calls for imitations.  The new duchess of Cambridge has that thing. 

It’s not because she’s thin, it’s not because she’s pretty.  It’s not even because she’s a princess, even though that helps, making her accessible to the world.  She could have all of these things and still not have the quality that makes us want to be like her.  She has style.  And style, though much written about, spoken about emulated, is elusive to so many of us.  The good news is that clothes are a lot less hard to define, and hers follow a pattern.  Read on to learn how you can capture some of Kate’s allure by following some simple rules.

1-      Simple Lines.  Kate has an athletic build, and conventional fashion wisdom says to add curves by way of draping fabric all over the place, adding ruffles, padding, beading, unnecessary pleating…the list goes on.  Kate doesn’t use any of these, however.  She favours straight jeans, a-line and pencil skirts, wrap dresses and sheaths.  She doesn’t attempt the modern bohemian gypsy thing I’m seeing all over the place now, and doesn’t let her clothes outshine her.  Ever.  You’ll never find her in: Harem Pants


2-      Great Dresses.  Kate favours simple patterns as well as lines.  She sticks to wrap and sheath dresses in either solid colours, or simple classic patterns.  She keeps prints in proportion with her body, and her dresses are always knee length and fit her body perfectly.   Her dress embellishments of choice are lace, cuffs, and parts that tie.  You’ll never find her in: A mini balloon-bottom dress.



3-      Fitted Jackets.  They’re a staple for a reason, and a favourite part of the princess’s street style.  Kate has worn them with dresses and pants, heels and flat boots.  They have different necklines, but are always fitted, always in a basic colour.  No fuchsia for Katie! They either contrast her outfit or match it, and they always polish the ensemble perfectly.  You’ll never find her in: a Matrix coat.


4-      Simple heels.  I’m pretty sure the girl’s got LOTS of shoes.  Even so, they’re all very classic and elegant.  She’s been wearing nude round-toed platform heels recently; very this-season and very appropriate.  She also wears pointy-toed heels in different colours and even a snakeskin print.  She likes equestrian-styled flat boots for cooler months, which are perfect for London Shopping trips.  Wedge espadrilles are rounding out her summer looks.  The common thread in her shoe wardrobe is simplicity.  Her shoes always complement her outfits, never detract from them.  The heels give her a long lean look, but are never so high that walking is made difficult.  You’ll never find her in: Pink sparkly Barbie heels.


5-      NO froufrou.  This applies to jewelry, bags, hats; the areas a lot of us tend to add, well…crap. Kate relies on quality pieces rather than accessories that tend to complicate outfits. Her outfits are complimented by accessories that work with her choices, but don’t take center stage.  Kate seems to understand that above all else; that the main event is her, not anything she has on. 

And THAT is style.

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There are certain things I assume everyone knows.  I don’t think I should have to tell anyone how to go about looking for a job or how to order lunch at a restaurant.  Because I tend to think that people know what I know, I’m always taken aback when I encounter irrefutable evidence that they clearly do not.  Dressing for special occasions happens to fall into this category.  Now let me be clear; I am not above making bad choices from time to time in the clothes department.  Anyone interested in style will invariably take chances, and taking chances ensures failure at least some of the time.  However, I do believe there is a difference between dressing appropriately and being chic.  Every person attending an occasion is expected to dress appropriately.  Period.  Having attended a wedding last weekend where guests sported shorts, golf shirts, hooker heels, and beachwear to name a few sins, I felt I needed to listify.  These are my top 10 No-No’s to wear to a wedding.  Why?  Because it’s an occasion where dressing properly shows your respect for the bride and groom, who don’t do this every day and are paying for your dinner.

10- No white.  This is more for the ladies than the gents, but a white suit on a guy is also a no-no.  Wearing white is the priviledge of the bride, and showing up to her event in her colour is just plain tacky.  My Mother told me this rule, and I think a lot of Mothers seem to have missed sharing it with their daughters.  Shame.  Conversely, black has recently become ok to wear, but it must be to-the-knee only unless it’s winter, and accessorized with bright colours like pink or blue.  No yellow, you’ll look like a bumblebee.

9- No jeans.  I know this seems obvious, but I’ve seen it.  At one event the photographer wore jeans.  She was being payed, and couldn’t be bothered to dress professionally so, at the very least, she didn’t call attention to herself.  Shameful.

8- Do not wear anything you’d wear to a club.  Unless you’re the classiest club dresser in history, anything you’d wear to make random hook-ups is inapropriate to wear to a marriage ceremony.  This includes very high heels, very short skirts, and anything with a glittery-stretchy combination thing going on.  Also anything more than a whisper of cleavage is too much.

7-Do not wear your office clothes.  Just because it’s not jeans does not make it wedding-appropriate.  Pinstripes are not for toasts and dancing, they’re for filing and typing.  Ladies: if your top has buttons going up it, keep it in the work pile.  I saw many middle-aged women at my last wedding who looked like they went in to their closets at the last minute and pulled out black pants and a button-up shirt, thinking perhaps that because they’re not jeans or workout wear, they must be fancy .  Uh uh.  Go shopping.  It’s pure laziness and disregard to show up to a wedding looking like that when someone has taken the care to invite you.  There isn’t even a budget excuse; I got my last formal dress at Value Village for $10.

6- Day dresses.  This is similar to #7, but seems a bit trickier for a lot of women.  Let me help you out: if it doubles as your beach cover up, do not wear it to a wedding.  You may think you’re thrifty or no one can tell, but you just look like the lady who has no idea what a day dress is.  A dress appropriate for a wedding will have a shape, be made of silk, satin, chiffon, organza, lace, etc.  Nice fabric.  Not t-shirt material or denim.  They will be hand-wash or dryclean only, not machine-wash.  They will have lining.  They will make you feel attractive, they will get you compliments.  Pick the right one, and you won’t regret spending the time or money for a second.

5- Sensible shoes.  Even if you’re a nurse, you’re not at work.  Sensible shoes are not called pretty for a reason.  You’re not meant to be comfortable every single second of your entire life, so stop whining and make an effort.*  Heels will make you look long and lean, and create a better silhouette for your killer dress.

*I recently purchased those little roll-up ballet flats in silver, and they matched my strappy heels perfectly.  I had the option to swap them out at the end of the night if I felt like it…and they fit right in my evening bag!

4- Gentlemen: Just becaus it has buttons does not make it a dress shirt.  It might make it a golf shirt.  Or a bowling shirt.  If you can’t be bothered wearing something with structure that doesn’t wick away sweat, you can’t play with the big boys.  So get yourself to Banana Republic or even H&M, and either make your wife proud to be with you, or look put-together enough to attract a wife.  Or husband.  Whatever floats your boat.

3- Now that you have the outfit and shoes, get a bag that works.  NOTHING ruins a pulled-together look like toting your old, scuffed-up purse with a lovely formal dress.**  You look cheap.  You can get by your entire life with 2 evening clutches: 1 in black, the other in a silver or a bronze, whichever tone you tend to wear more.  You can also get either of these items at any second-hand store at any time.  The best shape is a long envelope, and they can hold your cards and some cash, your lipstick, your cell phone and a camera.  I also fit those ballet flats in mine, pulled out flat.  These are the only items most people ever need for a day/night as a guest, and if you need more, keep it in the car.

**It looks terrible in the day too, but I’ll let that go for now.

2- Leave your watch at home.  One of my bridesmaids actually slipped her watch on just before walking down the aisle and it was in the pictures.  Gag.  Watches are functional, and while some are beautiful, so are bracelets.  There’s something wrong with keeping track of the time during a celebration, so just skip it.  For guys, a watch can actually be sexy.  Sorry if this sounds unfair, but a man in a dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to show his forearms and a nice watch is incredibly sexy.  Just saying.

1- The same thing.  I’m not trying to be a snob, BUT: weddings are events where there are very many pictures taken.  With modern social media, those pictures are often seen by hundreds of people.  If you’re tagged in pictures on facebook, they’re seen by all of your friends.  Do you really want to be known as the girl in the blue dress?  One-note Nancy?  Fortunately, we tend to have advance notice of weddings, and you have time to plan your outfits.  Use that time.  If you need to get 1 or 2 dresses and make them last for several events, then buy different shoes, accessories and coats/sweaters that make them look different.  Even having your hair up at the first event and your hair down at the second changes the look.  Dressing for weddings isn’t supposed to be hard or burdensome, it’s supposed to be fun.  So scour the second-hand shops for dresses with great fabric you can alter on a dime.  Shop online.  Borrow from a friend!  Make an effort to attend special events with the attention that’s called for.  I promise, you won’t be sorry.


This black lace dress I thought couldn’t be worn to a wedding…but with a tan and a bright pink pasmina, it looks perfectly appropriate!


This dress I got at winners, and received many compliments (and several unwanted advances) when I wore it.  This is me with my brother who’s dressed quite dashingly, I have to say.


This dress was found at one of my favourite Value Villages, but it was longer and had godawful lacy sleeves with shoulder pads.  I took it to my seamstress, explained my vision, and 2 weeks and $60 later, I had a masterpiece!

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Booth 101, my latest diversion

The colours. Ohhh, the colours.
If you told me last year that I’d have an antique booth in Edmonton set up to look like a candy store, I would have told you you’re crazy. Turns out I would have been wrong.
What I’m learning is that my style is deeply influenced by my surroundings. So is yours. And really, that’s the way it should be. The awesome thing about it is that it allows you to look back and see where you were at the point where you made/wore/wrote/designed that. God must have designed the earth this way, to elicit human response, don’t you think? Anyway, last year I was all about stark, or black and white. I preferred structure and architecture over colour, and that was reflected in my interior design projects as well as my clothes. I lived in Lotus Land, a lush and layered rainforest. Now however, I live in a place that’s much less colourful than what I’m used to. People here talk up the big sky, but the problem is that when the sky is obscured (like most of this past winter) there’s nothing on the ground to look at. Here I am, missing inspiration. I didn’t realize what I was doing until it was done, but I’ve replaced my whole wardrobe with colourful, fun dresses, tops and scarves, I guess in an attempt to find equilibrium. The antique booth is my response to the boredom that comes from leaving my social life behind. And so voila, booth 101! If life is a series of seasons, this one is pretty darn interesting. So will this antique thing fly? I have no idea. But I’m having a lot of fun, and I hope it gets some kind of public response.
Oh, who am I kidding? I did it for me 🙂

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Life lessons from a Doxie

The dreamboat and I got a puppy a little while ago, and she’s 12 weeks old now. She’s a miniature Daschund, a wiener dog, and I did a little research on the breed when we were deciding whether to get her or not. Apparently Mini Daschunds were bred in Germany to hunt rabbits, because they’re small enough to get down a rabbit hole. They’re diggers, they’re sniffers, and they’re great at bringing little furry things back to you. When we first brought Stella home, she was shy and sleepy. A little whiny. Now, 3 weeks later, she’s grown into a playful little puppy with a personality all her own. She’s fierce and has springy legs, which she uses to jump onto my shoulder and bite my face when I have her next to me on the couch watching Gilmore Girls. She likes to go outside and smell everything, and reminds me of a little wiener-shaped inspector Clousseau finding clues to solve a mystery; one leads to another. This morning I had her on a blanket on the couch, and she was digging frantically at it, like she knows there’s something for her if she just digs deep enough. Stella doesn’t have access to the internet, and can’t know what her breed has been used for for centuries, but nonetheless, she is becoming what she was created to be.
So I got to thinking: what about us? We’re born, we play, we work…and some of us are lucky enough to find our purpose and fulfill it during our lifetimes. We spend millions of dollars on books, self-help seminars and therapy to find out what it is we’re meant to do. When I look at my puppy, it’s glaringly apparent that she overthinks nothing. She has instincts and she follows them, simple as that. She doesn’t worry about whether it’s socially acceptable to jump high, or whether there’s a guarantee that digging in the blanket will get her exactly what she wants. She just jumps and digs. Could it possibly be that simple for us? If we could forget the rules, forget financial reward, and forget the rules our parents/teachers/peers pushed on us, what would we do? If we never worried about failure, what would we try?
I’m a slow learner I guess, and I’ve tried out a handful of careers. I think about money, about prestige, about acceptance from people I really don’t know or respect anyway. I have found lots of careers that kind of worked, and lots that didn’t work at all. I’ve been married and divorced, and married again. I’ve lived in different cities, and different provinces. In 11 days I’ll be 31 years old, and I think there’s one thing I know. Following my instincts will get me farther in relationships, in vocations, and in life. I, like Stella, was made with a purpose. And maybe I don’t have to figure out what that is, maybe I just have to BE.