You Look Sew Good

Fashion tips and tricks to get the most out of your style.

Every day, you open your closet and write a story. You start with the foundation: the underthings that lie closest to your skin, which caress your intimate areas. Next, you choose what the majority of the world will see: your outfit. Now, it may vary day to day, depending on what lies ahead. As an investment banker, you choose the power suit that fits you well and conveys an aura of confidence. As a teacher, you choose welcoming attire that conveys trustworthiness, and approachability. As someone in sales, you choose what you know will resonate with your customer. As a seductress, you choose what looks ravishing and feels amazing. Then, you slip your feet into your shoes, the ones that carry you through your travels, followed by accessories that put the finishing touches on your ensemble.

Your style informs the rest of the world in subtle ways. You are telling your story, and it all starts with your closet. So how do you get the most of your story? While narratives may differ, here are some simple tips and tricks on how to express yourself with gusto, from my own experience in fashion design. Let’s start with 5 principles to keep it short and sweet while keeping your style en pointe.

1.Treat yourself to nice underwear.

This is the first tip, because it will make you feel like a million dollars, at the very least. Let’s put it this way: how do you feel when a lover knows exactly how to make you feel amazing? It’s such a powerful, and pleasurable feeling. It inspires confidence in your every day, and you radiate. Capture this feeling and choose underwear that feels fantastic against your skin, fits right, and makes you go “oh my” in the mirror. For those of you who are female-bodied, I recommend going with natural fibers, such as 100% cotton for girl-next-door appeal, or silk and lace for that striking ooh-la-la feel. Stay away from acetate and polyester: these are synthetic fibers that do not breathe well. I highly recommend Tryst in Toronto’s trendy Queen West or Agent Provocateur  to shop for that irresistible feeling. For those of you who are male-bodied, I suggest going with a viscose rayon blend for every day, or silk for special occasions. Viscose is a natural manufactured fiber that can be described as the most beautiful illegitimate love child between cotton and silk. I personally love running my hands over SAXX , a company with excellent selections. Like to break the rules? So do I, which is why I might snatch a pair of SAXX from my lover post-romp to enjoy the comfort and style. Important: never buy underwear that is too tight and digs into your hips.

2. Fit: the most important concept.

How your clothes fit will affect your entire day. Always go for items that fit in the way that is best for your body. For outer-garments, if you’re caught between two sizes, opt for the larger one. Never buy attire in a size smaller than your own, in the hopes of “I’ll push myself to fit into this through diet and/or exercise.” As a seamstress, I can attest that it is much easier to reduce and custom fit a garment than it is to open seam allowances and darts to create more space (especially if the garment is lined). While motivation is important, negative reinforcement is detrimental. Better yet, start by embracing your body and choosing clothing that does the same. Pay special attention to areas such as your shoulders, your bust level (read: where your nipples lie), your waist (where your body folds naturally), and your hips (the roundest part of your bum). These are key areas in garment construction. Generally, try to have space to slip one or two finger(s) in between your waist and the garment you are selecting. This allows for lunch and cocktails while making your return to the office not too uncomfortable. Avoid clothing that bunches around your waist or hips, and never purchase something that digs into you, or that is too short. It will feel bad, look bad, and ultimately convey the message that “this simply won’t do.” If you have a unique physique, I recommend developing a good relationship with a tailor. Tailoring is a lost art, with our current era of fast fashion. It shouldn’t be. Invest in styles that work with your personality, and have alterations made where necessary. I recommend Magic Tailor at 211 Yonge Street, suite #300. Excellent ratings, conveniently located downtown, and open until 8 pm on weekdays.

3. Wear more of your favorite color.

What’s your favorite color? Mine is rainbow. I believe that every color is beautiful when worn in the right context. If I had to choose just one, it would be emerald green. To me, it’s the color of leaves in the summer, when you’re lying in the grass and staring up through the treetops on a late afternoon. With this feeling in mind, I incorporate green into my wardrobe and wear it on special occasions. Good examples include: writing my exams, interviewing for volunteer positions, attending Toronto-based fashion shows, or enjoying a night out on the town with a lucky gentleman. Interestingly, green has a history of being poisonous, due to arsenic-laden dies used in the 18th century to first achieve this hue. But’s that’s a story for another time.

Whatever your favorite color may be, think of ways to incorporate it into your wardrobe. If you work in a conservative field, you might think this is impossible. Well, have you considered sporting some excellent socks? No one has to know that beneath your steel gray power suit, lies wildly stripped socks. Maybe add a contrasting pocket square to your outfit, or choose designer glasses with frames in a color that brings out the spark in your eyes. Choose accessories that feature your color such as an exquisite tie, a phone case with an excellent print, or stud earrings in your favorite precious metal. Wear them proudly. A rule I’m appropriating from Chanel herself: when accessorizing, always take off the last thing you put on. In my case, I’ll add that there’s nothing wrong if this means your underwear. Keep it light and breezy!

4. Care for your clothing.

A lot of work goes into the clothes you wear. From the conceptualization to the initial design, to the pattern drafting and notching, then comes material sourcing, cutting, construction, shipping…. This all happens before you come across a selection on a particular rack. I haven’t even touched on sales! Much like celebrities have a team of experts behind them to make them look amazing, there is a team (an international one) working together to create your look. Needless to say, our clothing works hard for us. It keeps us warm, dry and protected from the wonderfully chaotic world. You can thank your clothing by taking good care of it.

So what does this mean? Look inside for the care label. Usually, it is located at the neckline, or along a side seam close to waist or hip. If it says dry clean only, do not run it through the machine. Take it to the dry cleaners, and spot clean should an “oops” moment happen. Hand-wash anything made from silk- since it becomes 30% weaker when wet. Always hand-wash your delicates, such as your lingerie (especially your stockings). Check the temperature before setting a cycle, and always separate your colors. Particularly with good quality indigo denim, you can expect some color bleeding the first few times you wash your jeans. Anything containing elastic or Elastane should not enter the dryer- it could potentially melt, and the shape will indefinitely morph. Remember the rayon I suggested earlier? Do not put it in the dryer, since it will pill (i.e. get those pesky fuzzy balls and peach fuzz). Anything made from polyester is typically machine wash safe, however: beware of eating greasy food or cooking bacon while wearing said items. Polyester is oleophilic: it’ll eat up oil faster than a TGIF 3 am crowd.

Not sure what all of this means? Find yourself an excellent laundry service, so that you have more time for you. I recommend Riverdale Cleaners , located across from Broadview Station. Chic, professional, and mad skills to back it up. While you’re in the area, grab a soy latte from the Starbucks across the street and take a class at the Yoga Sanctuary . Make a day-date out of getting your attire in tip top shape.

5. Be true to you.

Your style is exactly that: yours. And while many people may follow your category of style, such as glamorous, minimalist, punk rock, eclectic, or what have you… no one will look exactly the way you do. So wear you proudly. Wear clothes that make you smile at your reflection, whether that means a tightly laced leather corset or a feathery soft cashmere pullover. I grew up in a catholic school system, where we all had to wear a uniform. What I learned from this experience was that a: I have a soft spot for button downs and plaid skirts, and b: that you can break the rules, and get away with it. You may feel like there are so many others who look exactly the way you do, but just remember: you can always invent your own spin on a classic. Get creative, be bold, and most of all: wear what you want, with taste. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly become a trendsetter!

This semester is all about coats. Our first assignment is a pre-designed practice coat. So I took this mandatory project and applied my own spin. Beneath the conservative navy blue, 100% Italian wool exterior, lies a surprise inside: a silvery, silky paisley lining. I paired the coat with blue and silver beads from Ten Thousand Villages. Then a pair of navy blue pants with silver angled zipper accents, courtesy of Zara. The blue lace and embroidered bra? A gift from a generous soul. The boots? Patent leather, 7” heels and silver corset back come together to give me the authority I manipulate with my favorite shoe slut. The glasses… I borrowed them from my sister. The message behind this outfit: much like in Iris, a wonderful documentary on an eclectic goddess, don’t be afraid to experiment, mix and match, and let your wild side show.


The message behind the coat? It’s what’s on the inside that counts.


Lovely (aka Viv).