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WORK IT 101: The New 9-to-5

A dress from the upcoming movie, 'After the Ball' designed by Le Château.

Originally posted in The LOOK

Getting dressed for work every morning can be a real bore. If your old dress pants, suits and skirts just make you want to hit the snooze button, we've got a serious sartorial wake-up for you: dressing for 9-to-5 doesn't have to suck. We've rounded up the prettiest promotion-worthy pieces in stores for fall, chic enough to work outside of work, but profesh enough to seriously impress your boss. Boardroom babedom, here we come... 




Destination Fabulous: Chico's Canada Is Here

All photos by Real Life Runway.

When Chico’s asked me to be a part of their Canadian launch, I’ll admit I had my reservations. I mean, Chico’s is something my mom and her friends wear. And while my mom and her friends are admittedly super stylish, and I’m a mom of 2 myself, there’s that part of me that still loves to get carded at the LCBO, that gets annoyed when people call me ‘lady’ or ‘ma’am’, and that makes a point to know everything about Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran so that I can stay 24 in my head forever. As for the brand, I knew the quality was there, their reputation stellar, but cool? Yup, Chico’s had some convincing to do.

I showed up at Square One in Mississauga on Thursday night to celebrate the exclusive VIP fête for Chico’s first-ever Canadian store. Rabid Chico’s fans craned their necks to catch a glimpse inside as my security detail (ok, fine, a pretty PR girl named Noelle), ushered me up the red carpet and right into the store. The Chico’s store itself is a stunner - massive windows flank an impressive lattice work doorway as you walk into the beautifully lit space. The other Canadian blogger invitees sashayed in shortly after - Iva Grbesic of Falling in Style, Afiya Francisco of The Style House, Lena Almeida of Listen to Lena, and Susan Liberatore of Ava Grace’s Closet - great crew of stylish somethings for this big deal Canadian launch. Servers plied us with wine and beef wellington bites as we chatted with Chico’s head honchos including the fabulous (there is no other word for her) Brand President, Cinny Murray, a glamazonian blonde decked out in head to toe black and gold, and Chico’s powerhouse FAS CEO, Dave Dyer.

We posed at the Chico’s Selfie Station, mingled with the other party-goers, and obviously, shopped. As I browsed the racks, there were some clothes that my (ahem) 24 year-old self isn’t quite ready to wear. But here’s the thing - I’m at the point where if I’m going to buy a white shirt, I want to buy a really good white shirt. If I’m going to get a sweater, I have no patience for one that's going to pill and stretch out. So I immediately honed in on some of the elevated basics that my closet is currently lacking - a leopard crewneck sweater (yes, this is a basic), a really good white no-iron shirt, a pair of beyond basic black pants, a beautiful striped long-sleeved tee and a great grey oversized cardigan. Chico’s, in case you aren’t familiar, is far from cheap. Prices are in line with Club Monaco/J.Crew, but the quality warrants the price tag. Sweaters are silky, shirts beautifully constructed and the pants fit like a dream. Beyond the basics, there were a few standout pieces I’d love to add to my closet: the Faux Leather Fringe Artisan Duster (Afiya and one of the Chico’s models were loving this one and it’s gorge in real life), the Logan Stretch Bracelet (gold. hammered. metal. love.), and the Faux-Suede Drape Vest and Cutwork Jacket (totally Can’t Buy Me Love). One other pleasant surprise to me was the stores line-up of amazing jewelry/accessories, which we blogettes spent loads of time swooning over.

I'll admit that certain pieces on the site/in the lookbook are styled in a way that I wouldn’t wear them myself, so it does take some imagination. But taken out of context, I am totally loving everything I’ve brought home.

Here are just a few ways I’ll style my easy-to-reinvent picks this fall and next, and the one after that. I’ll only be 26 by then...

Softest cardi ever. Love the knit detail on the back. Chico's Grey Knit Back Cardigan, $119

A little leopard goes a long way. Chico's Animal Print Neveah Top, $69

Drapey, silky pants, perfect for playing dress-up. Chico's Knit Kit Black Pants, $89

Chico’s will be opening another store on 8/29 at the Mapleview Shopping Centre in Burlington. So, have you been? Will you go? Can’t wait to hear what you think, and of course, what you buy!

My 6 year-old took this shot. Not bad, huh?




FALL FASHION: Let's Hear It for the Boy

A classic white shirt gets a vampy revamp. Photo via H&M.

Originally posted in The CLOSET

He might not have the best style. He might not even have style. But you know you've raided his closet, anyway - his big comfy sweatshirt when it's freezing out or his button-down shirt when you have nothing else to wear to bed. There's something about a girl in guy's clothes that just feels so right and while it might not be overtly sexy, it's the oversized, rumpled, undoneness of menswear that we can't help but love.

From cute grandpa cardis to ultra-sexy boyfriend jeans, here's how to add some boyish charm to your fall wardrobe now, no closet thievery required...





Smythe Turns 10! Epic Fashion Chat with Designers Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe

Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe. Photo via George Pimentel.

Originally published on

Co-designers and creators of Smythe, Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe, have loads to celebrate. Between this week’s big Holt Renfrew birthday bash in honour of their 10x10 Anniversary Collection, and a growing fanbase of the world’s most stylish, Smythe has never looked better. As they madly prep to get Spring ‘15 out the door, I sat down for a chat, first with the two Canadian designers and later with Lisa Tant, Vice President, Exclusive Services for Holt Renfrew, to talk about the now-iconic blazers, the Duchess who can’t get enough, and the inimitable cool factor of Smythe.

Congrats on Smythe’s 10th birthday and your 10x10 Anniversary Collection! Do big events like last night’s Holt Renfrew party make you nervous or do you enjoy the attention?

ANDREA: I think we’re nervous up until right before they start. We prepare as much as we can so that nothing goes wrong, or so that we don’t waste our investment somehow, if that makes sense. We all put a lot of time, energy and resources into something like that and you don’t want a mistake. So, I think we’re nervous leading up and then the second it was about to start, I got excited.
How about you Christie?

CHRISTIE: The same. It's a total mixed bag of emotions: you're nervous, you're excited, you want it to go well.

The scene at the Smythe 10x10 Anniversary party at Holt Renfrew. Photo via George Pimentel.

Does it feel like it’s been 10 years? Are you where you thought you’d be when you first started this thing?

ANDREA: I’m not even sure we envisioned anything.

CHRISTIE: We definitely didn’t imagine this.

ANDREA: I don’t know, maybe to our detriment, but we don’t spend a lot of time daydreaming, we spend a lot of time doing.

CHRISTIE: We don’t spend a lot of time reflecting and we don’t spend a lot of time projecting. We’re in the doing most days. I think we’re grateful that we’re in a spot that we didn’t expect in some ways.

ANDREA: There’s more to do and more to conquer for sure. I don’t want to sit here and say we’re happy fat cats and we don’t want to push ourselves further, because we do. But I think we’re satisfied and I think all the daydreaming and reflecting happens in our design process. And again, probably to our detriment, marketing is not instinctive to us. We really have to force ourselves to worry about the brand and the brand image and are we getting out there and making enough noise in a very crowded marketplace. Our favourite part is just the design.

Photo via George Pimentel.

I wonder if that’s part of what makes you so cool. Nothing, from your marketing to your lookbook styling, ever feels too contrived. Is that intentional?

ANDREA: That’s definitely just our DNA. We’re not talented enough to be something that we’re not; we just are who we are.  People run design or fashion businesses who are marketers and the designs fall out of what some trend forecasters told them to support. We’re the opposite. All the daydreaming and envisioning is about what I’m going to wear next season with Smythe.

CHRISTIE: And I think our brand is relatable - it’s aspirational but it’s also relatable. In terms of the disheveled styling in our lookbook, we like to throw it off balance. If you have a really polished blazer, we like to have a really dirty wash, boyish, ripped jean. We like to have one thing that’s off.

Smythe 10x10 Collection Dickens Blazer. Photo via Christopher Wahl.

I love Lisa Priolo, the model/real girl you use in your campaigns. What made you choose her and continue to use her?

ANDREA: You know how some people just wear clothes very well. She doesn’t have a perfect model body but she just wears clothes so well. We’ve known her for awhile - I used to work with her at Holts - but she’s just got that ‘insouciance’ and I always admired how clothes hung on her. I always loved how she’d throw her clothes on and look amazing, and that’s why we were attracted to her. And the hair.

CHRISTIE: Yes, the hair.

ANDREA: And she’s a natural beauty. She’s extraordinarily pretty. I mean, she’s not an average girl but she’s still someone we knew in our regular lives. She’s not Linda Evangelista. I’m dating myself (laughs).  She’s not that new Marc Jacobs model, Edie (Campbell). She’s not that.

What I wore at the Smythe party. via Instagram/realliferunway

When you typically think of blazers, they’re quite polished, sort of the way Kate Middleton has so famously styled her Smythe. Do you have a preference of how you like to see them in the real world?

CHRISTIE: I just love seeing them. I love the range. And I like that Kate wore it with a jean and she wore it without a jean. She’s a perfect example of that.

ANDREA: She wore it with a dress. She wore it with a jean. Once with a jean and a blouse, once with a jean and a t-shirt. I noticed the people who came in Smythe last night were wearing very tailored, polished silhouettes; I think that’s our core customer. I think our customer is someone who really takes care of herself and likes to reflect that in her dressing, so tailored clothing is definitely the go-to way to do that.

Smythe Duchess Tweed Blazer.

Do celebrity endorsements happen organically or is it a much more orchestrated process? How did Kate actually end up in one of your blazers?

ANDREA: It’s both, and no two examples are the same. When we started out, it was always organic - somebody bought it or their stylist bought it at retail. And now definitely 10 years in we see that kind of thing. We’re employing people whose job it is to make sure that the stylists and celebrities see and choose our clothes. Ironically, people are less interested when it happens this way. We’ve turned our attention to bloggers and street style instead of celebrities; that’s interesting to us. In terms of Kate, that was a push and pull. She was making a diplomatic effort to wear some Canadian designs and we were thinking that we wanted to get it to her. We thought it was appropriate, and when she was doing a Royal Tour, we thought that we were a good match for her, in terms of our aesthetic and her aesthetic. We were trying to figure out a way to communicate with her people and they were trying to find some Canadian design, so finally there was a hook-up.

But she continues to wear your blazer, which must be quite gratifying.

ANDREA: The first time was great and fun, and everyone made a big deal about it. But it’s the subsequent times that are more meaningful to us. She’s no longer in Canada so it’s not any kind of diplomatic gesture - she truly is choosing to wear it and that’s the greatest part about the whole thing.

The fashion show finale at Holt Renfrew. Photo via George Pimentel.

Other than Kate, what’s the best thing that’s happened to you because of Smythe? What would be your ultimate professional coup?

CHRISTIE: That’s so hard to pinpoint. There have been so many great events. Last night was one of them, celebrating our birthday.  Moving the office out of my house was major for me. It was really hard to have  our workspace there and my personal life there. You always have a you-can’t-handle-it-anymore deadline so, I evicted us.

ANDREA:  Yup, we got evicted

CHRISTIE: Last night was a major event for us. Just being able to celebrate having a brand for 10 years - that’s a long time in fashion. We’re proud of that. And then there are the little things like a new jacket, a brand new pattern that we really love, a great new idea...

ANDREA: And seeing a stranger wearing your design, not a celebrity - just seeing someone amazing on the street is such a thrill.

Smythe Reefer Coat.

Does being Canadian affect your business? How? Does it hurt? Does it help?

CHRISTIE: I think that when we first launched and we brought our collection to the US, I think it meant something to buyers. It was special that we were Canadian in some ways. But now further into our experience, we’re on equal playing field in the contemporary world with other brands. Manufacturing here and being Canadian designers, we’re certainly really proud of. From a design perspective it’s great to be here because it’s pure and uncomplicated and you don’t have to deal with all of the noise that you would experience if you were in New York, for example. All the designers around you and all the choices that could be made in terms of suppliers and materials. It’s nice here to have it a little more fine-tuned and streamlined. But it also has its challenges. There are definitely challenges breaking into new markets.

Do you plan on always keeping production in Canada? Is that feasible?

ANDREA: At a certain size, if there was some sort of crazy growth, you have to think about being more cost-competitive. Our prices are higher because we manufacture here. And, we always have that discussion: does our consumer really care where her clothes are made and will she pay $100 more for a jacket. Or would she rather save $100? Is she looking at her label to see where it’s made? And we talk about that all the time. It’s interesting because I think some people really care. And when someone cares, they very much care. But that’s a small part of the population. I think for most people, it’s about price.

Smythe 10x10 Collection Boyfriend Blazer. Photo via Christopher Wahl.

As a fellow mom, I’m dying to know: do you ever make blazers for your own kids, just for fun? Will you ever make kids’ blazers for the rest of us?

CHRISTIE: We never have. I put nice buttons on my daughter Coco’s coats sometimes.

ANDREA: I think it will happen at some point. We finally made our husbands and our dads a men’s blazer. For the kids market you’re willing to pay even less so it would be hard to compete. I think we’d do it for a lark, but we probably wouldn’t pursue it on a business level.

Would you ever pursue menswear?

ANDREA:  Never say never but there’s no immediate goal there.

Photo via George Pimentel.

You’ve expanded into knitwear and other things. So, what’s up next for Smythe?

ANDREA: We have a couple collaborations in the works. We’d love to do knits again if they’re well received. Whatever opportunities come our way, really.  We’re always going to protect our core business and make sure it’s solid but we’re also open to new things and working with new people. That’s the exciting, fun part.

Photo via

So, you said your current focus is on bloggers and street stylers. Who do you love to see wear your blazers?

ANDREA: I’m a big fan of Elin Kling, I’m also a big fan of Veronika Heilbrunner of - she’s not a blogger but her style is very much followed. We were on They All Hate Us which is a great blog. Wendy’s Lookbook. Oh, and Shalice Noel - she has 4 children and is the most stylish women. She thrift shops and picked up a Smythe blazer one day. She’s very inspirational. Some of these are women who strictly buy second-hand clothing and they do such an amazing job. But they picked up a Smythe somewhere and then we see it on Instagram.

Photo via

5 Instagram accounts we should follow right now. Go!







And now for my chat with Lisa Tant, Vice President, Exclusive Services at Holt Renfrew...

Photo via George Pimentel.

There’s so much great fashion talent in Canada. How can you tell which brands/designers are going to have longevity? Did you see that right away with Smythe?

LISA: When we first brought on Smythe in 2004 - the first day it was on the floor - there was an immediate reaction. I think you can always tell who’s going to be successful when they have such a strong point of view that is still customer-friendly. They’ve created something that there was a real demand for: a beautifully cut jacket for women. You know, you can wear it to work and on the weekend; it’s practical but also so stylish. And that’s what we always look for whether it’s a jacket company or somebody that does handbags - do they understand the customer? Andrea and Christie have that down pat.

Smythe 10x10 Collection at Holt Renfrew. Photo via George Pimentel.

How important are Canadian labels to Holt Renfrew? What do you do to support our homegrown designers?

LISA: You know, they’re really important to us. We carry ones who are up and coming and others who are established. I think last night was a really great example of where we (Holt Renfrew) were the first to carry them in Canada and then we were the first ones to release their 10x10 collection last night. The idea of last night’s party, being able to put a spotlight on a Canadian brand like that, is really fantastic. We’ll often do trunk shows with Canadian designers like Ela Handbags and Tanya Taylor. It’s important for us to pick those who really stand out, who have that fine balance of the customer pragmatic piece and something special to offer; Smythe is a perfect example of that.

Ainsley Kerr and Melissa Andre. Photo via George Pimentel.

There is so much fandom surrounding Smythe blazers. Do you expect that same excitement to translate to Smythe’s other pieces like their pants or their new knits?

LISA: I do, because they’re looking at it with the same lens. They’re creating pieces that they know would work for their customer group, which started with a lot of their friends. There was that whole vibe last night - I looked around and there were so many #cutesmythegirls walking around. I expect that as they expand and evolve their brand that other pieces will have the same appeal. I saw the same white blouse on someone who was 8 months pregnant and then on another older lady, and then saw it on a younger girl who was wearing it with leggings. Their pieces aren’t so specific that you can’t imagine anybody wearing it but they’re still special enough that you think it’s only for you.

Smythe 10x10 Collection Schoolboy Blazer. Photo via Christopher Wahl.

Why do you think it’s worth it to invest in a Smythe blazer over other less expensive brands?

LISA: It’s about quality and the way they cut their pieces - they don’t get hung up on trends. When I put on one of their jackets, it’s got that beautiful sharp shoulder which is great to balance a curvy hip. They get the customer’s body type and the fabric holds up. One lady texted me last night to say that she bought something from their first collection and she still wears it. That, to me, is so much of a better value than something that you’re going to wear for a year or two that won’t hold up.

Smythe Peaked Lapel Velvet Blazer.

What’s your top personal pick from Smythe’s 10x10 capsule collection?

LISA: I like the Duchess jacket in the windowpane plaid. But I also really love their classic, black sharp shoulder jacket. You can’t go wrong with a black Smythe blazer - you can wear it with jeans, with a little black dress, with leggings. It just goes on and on and on...

The Smythe 10x10 capsule collection is available at all Holt Renfrew locations this fall, ranging between $595-$895.



BEAUTY NEWS: Joe Fresh to Launch First-Ever Skincare Line

I make it a personal policy to never scrimp on my skincare. But after hearing a few top editors gush all about the new Joe Fresh skincare range set to hit store shelves this September, I just had to check it out. Cheap, hardworking and full of good-for-you ingredients? Pshaw. Then one of Joe Fresh's top marketing beauties, Katie, walked me through the products and I was sold. The line, Joe Fresh's first-ever foray into skincare, is made with botanical, naturally-derived ingredients including a cleanser, moisturizers, a toner and daily/nightly skincare. Formulated and manufactured in Canada (I know!), the range is free of parabens, sulfates and synthetic fragrances. Plus, no animal testing is conducted with the products.

Beauty buffs can choose from nine items, designed to work in concert to leave skin clean and luminous. The collection includes: Citrus Facial Cleanser ($12), Facial Toner ($12), Gentle Clay Mask ($16), Face Serum ($19), Eye Cream ($19), Oil-Free Moisturizing Day Cream ($16), Moisturizing Day Cream ($16), Night Cream ($19), and Universal CC Cream ($16).

Fresh, healthy-looking skin is the foundation of beauty. Our goal was to create a regimen of highly effective, and accessibly-priced, products that truly work to address the daily skincare needs of every woman,” said Joe Mimran of Joseph Mimran & Associates, Creative Director, Joe Fresh, for Loblaw Companies Limited. “I’m thrilled to be introducing a skincare range that is formulated with naturally-derived ingredients such as Rose Hip Seed Oil, toning Green Tea Extract, Peptides and Hyaluronic Acid. These nine new products work in unison to help make skin appear fresher, more even-toned and younger looking. The range is the ideal addition and complement to our popular Joe Fresh colour cosmetics collection that first debuted in 2009.”

Here's what you can expect:

Citrus Facial Cleanser: Refreshes and cleans skin with extracts of Grapefruit Seed, Green Tea and Aloe Leaf. Leaves skin feeling energized and toned.

Facial Toner: A gentle and soothing facial toner that refreshes, nourishes and smoothes skin with extracts of Cucumber Fruit, Chamomile Flower and Green Tea.

Moisturizing Day Cream: Formulated with natural plant oils of Rose Hip Seed, Sea Buckthorn and Sweet Almond, as well as Peptides, this day cream hydrates and smoothes the face. Fine lines appear less visible and skin appears younger and more radiant.

Oil-Free Moisturizing Day Cream: An oil-free formula that moisturizes, conditions and firms with Rose Hip Seed Extract, Cucumber Fruit Extract, Peptides and Green Tea Extract. Fine lines appear smoother for younger looking and radiant skin.

Face Serum: Restores the appearance of the skin’s natural glow with conditioners and emollients. Formulated with Rose Hip Seed Oil, Hyaluronic Acid, Peptides and Sea Buckthorn Oil, the serum adds radiance to any complexion.

Night Cream: A hydrating Night Cream with Rose Hip Seed Oil, Hyaluronic Acid, Skin Peptides and Olive Fruit Oil. Replenishes skin’s natural moisture and reduces the appearance of fine wrinkles.

Eye Cream: Formulated with nourishing Rose Hip Seed Oil, hydrating Avocado Oil and calming Chamomile Flower Extract, this eye cream conditions the eye area and reduces the appearance of fine lines and dark circles.

Gentle Clay Mask: A face mask formulated with Arctic Mineral Mud, Green Tea Extract, Cucumber Fruit Extract and Chamomile. It exfoliates, tones and hydrates skin with the added benefit of mild astringent properties.

Universal CC Cream: A Colour-Correcting face cream that reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for more even-looking skin tone. Hyaluronic Acid, Amcemella Oleracea Extract and Peptides create a smooth and powder-soft finish to the skin. For daily use after moisturizer and before foundation.

The new Joe Fresh skin care range will be available exclusively at 311 Joe Fresh Beauty Bar locations within Loblaw Companies Ltd. stores in Canada this September. Totally worth a try, don't you think?

Happy Friday! Happy weekend! Yaaaaay!