First it was Target. Now Tiffany’s is opening stores, while Nordstrom will be here in 2014. Canadian retailers are changing, too, not only in preparation for the American invasion, but also to to capture an increasingly diverse consumer base.
In Canada, national department stores have all but disappeared – with only Hudson’s Bay remaining. We have US imports, such as WalMart, Target and Sears, but long gone are Canadian department stores Woolco, Woodwards and Eaton’s.
We are seeing a curious mix of retail segments develop. Mark’s Work Wearhouse, owned by Canadian Tire, has moved into the women’s segment in a big way, surpassing (I would say) their traditional work wear offerings. And Canadian Tire sells a whole lot more than tires these days, serving as one of Canada’s largest sporting goods retailers coast to coast.
Drug store chains, such as Shopper’s Drug Mart, have moved into groceries. There must be big margins in the grocery segment, because WalMart, Target and others also carry lettuce right next to the big screen TVs. Huh??
Similarly, SuperStore (Loblaws in eastern Canada) has expanded its grocery empire to include Joe Fresh clothing.
Automotive stores selling housewares and sporting goods. Drug stores selling groceries. Grocery stores selling clothes. Are these new configurations considered department stores? What market forces are determining the strange mixes we are now seeing?
It’s a jumble out there.
Make sure each garment fits
- Don’t get hung up on size – fit is more important.
- Not too tight, not baggy.
- Make friends with a tailor and have clothing altered.
- Wear a properly-fitted bra. Gravity is not our friend.
Pair classics with trendy items
- Invest in basics – suits, dresses, jackets, skirts, trousers. Pick classic styles that stay in fashion.
- Express trends through accessories – an easy way to freshen any look.
- Get rid of outdated clothes and mom jeans.
- Athletic wear is for athletic activities. Period.
Be bold with colour and patterns
- Don’t wear black near the face – it’s too harsh.
- Don’t wear monochromatic pastels. Choose an anchor piece in pastel and pair with solids, prints or neutrals.
- When mixing patterns, scale is critical. Pair small patterns with large-scale ones.
- Understated is better, so avoid too many sequins and sparkles.
Avoid these fashion no-nos for mature women
- Holiday and theme sweaters and souvenir tops.
- Short shorts and rompers.
- Cargo pants or shorts.
Tips for hair and make up
- Change your hairstyle. It’s ok. Hair grows.
- Avoid pearl or frosted eyeshadow, which can emphasize wrinkles. Use matte instead.
- Pick one feature to highlight at a time – a bold lip or dramatic eyes, not both.
Happy birthday to me. On Tuesday, I’ll celebrate with my wonderful family with prerequisite cake and candles.
So, what’s changed over the last year?
Well, I have continued my studies at FIT and have learned a lot more about style, quality, fabric, finish, colour and so much more.
I had the amazing opportunity to work backstage at NY Fashion Week in February where I met so many of my classmates who also volunteered as dressers. I got up close and personal with gorgeous couture fashion from Oscar de la Renta, Marchessa, Reem Acra, 3.1 Philip Lim, Carolina Herrara, Badgely Mischka and more. It was surreal and exhilarating.
I had the opportunity to travel – Las Vegas for Black Friday (all night shopping – cool), Washington DC, Chicago, Phoenix and Toronto. I learned a lot.
I count myself very lucky. My incredible, wonderful husband encourages my fashion passion. He listens with interest as I gush over this designer or that. And, I hope we’ll be able to go to my convocation in New York when I graduate with my certificate in Image Consulting (only one course to go).
Seems I’ve learned a lot in the past year. What about you?
As many of you may know, I am pursuing my Image Consulting Certificate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
One of the things I’ve discovered is that fashion is an international interest. In my current class, there are students from Switzerland, Mexico, Lebanon, Russia, Japan and more. I’m struck my how universal the interest is in fashion. It’s the thing that binds us worldwide.
I think that’s because fashion is an extension of our personalities. Fashion helps us express ourselves in a range of settings or occasions. Fashion helps us be comfortable – in the truest sense – no matter where we are or what we’re doing.
It’s more than just the clothes we wear. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Basic Needs, clothing technically falls in the basic/physiological needs category.
In actuality, fashion also satisfies many other needs. It can keep us safe from the elements or harm, such as winter snowsuits or fire retardant coveralls. It can help us achieve a sense of belonging, through team uniforms or designer labels. It can improve our self-esteem by making us feel better about our selves, our bodies, our looks. And, it can help us achieve self-actualization through creative outlets such as fashion or jewelry design, or makeup artistry.
That’s what makes fashion so universal…fascinating…personal. It’s also why fashion is about more than just the clothes we wear.
Now that spring has arrived and the weather has warmed, it’s time to switchover your closet.
Store the winter clothes:
- First, edit. Look at your winter clothes and identify those that are past their prime and destined for the garbage. Also look for items in good condition that you want to donate. Keep the staples and timeless styles for next year. Get clothes drycleaned before storing.
- Second, shift. Move items to another location (either back of closet or another closet). Their time is past. Keep any items that may still work in cooler spring days if paired with tops or jackets.
- Don’t forget your shoes and boots in this process. Clean and put away your fall/winter shoes and boots.
- Finally, discard or donate any items that don’t fit, are in disrepair or stained.
Bring on the sun!
- Bring back your spring/summer clothes. Give them a good once over and dryclean/repair anything that wasn’t attended to last year. Donate or discard those fashions that no longer work for you: out of style, beyond repair, don’t fit.
- Organize your closet. This is a personal choice but there are a couple of ways to approach this. You can colour coordinate and group like-coloured items together. Or you can arrange by outfit, grouping pieces that work together.
- Find your sassy, strappy sandals and summer shoes. Clean them and organize to make it easy to pair them with your outfits.
- Gather your rain gear for those stormy days. Umbrellas, raincoats or trenches, rain boots. Consider getting a micro-umbrella to carry in your purse.
How many times have you looked in your closet, heaved a heavy sigh, frustrated that you “have nothing to wear?”
Fact is, you literally can’t see the outfits for the tees. An overstuffed closet is worse than actually having nothing to wear, because you’ve clearly invested a small fortune into its bulging racks.
The kindest cut
The best thing you can do is cull your wardrobe. Pull out everything and lay it on the bed. One by one, TRY ON each piece. Do you love it? Is it in good repair? Is it the right colour for you? Is the style still current? Does it fit you today (not some day when you’ve lost 10 lbs)? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no,’ then set the item aside to donate or discard.
(A word about donations: just because people in need may receive your items for free doesn’t mean they have to accept crap. Please do NOT use your local charity as a garbage bin. If the items are ripped, worn out or stained, throw them out!)
You’ll feel better once your wardrobe is reduced to a manageable size, containing just the items you love and wear. You will be able to see components of outfits at a glance and will likely end up making new combinations right before your eyes.
I haven’t posted for a while – it seems the day job has been keeping me busier than usual! A flurry of social events, meetings and client activities means my wardrobe has been put to the test.
In the past two weeks alone, I will have been to a couple of cocktail parties, a black-tie gala, a book launch, donor recognition event and an auto show (for a client).
Having a flexible wardrobe means having the ability to shift gears (no pun intended) quickly and still be suitably attired for each event. What works for me:
- A couple of go-to cocktail dresses that work in all seasons. That means sleeves or a bolero jacket to cover up, plus a couple of stylish wraps.
- A formal gown for the one or two times a year we attend black-tie functions. See my earlier post on the challenges of finding a suitable evening gown that isn’t either Princess Barbie or Queen Mother in style.
- Lots of separates that can be combined – jackets and trousers or skirts provide a great range of possibilities.
- Dresses – because they are a complete outfit. Just add shoes and accessories and you’re good to go.
- A few great suits, for business meetings or more conservative events.
- A large range of shoes – gentlemen, in case you’re wondering why we have so many, it’s because we have to not only be appropriately attired, but also seek some comfort and the ability to change them up after a long week.
What works for you?