Don't know your TFSA from your RRSP? Confused about whether you should save or pay back your debt? Trying to save for the future but feel like you never have anything left over after your bills, bills, bills?
Us too. Which is why we turned to finance expert and Amex spokesperson Rubina Ahmed-Haq for a little personal finance question-and-answer session.
Source: Getty Images
Never one for following trends, beauty-brand founder Linda Rodin reflects on a lifetime of staying true to her instincts.
There’s an old image I love of my mother riding a bicycle. She’s young and smiling, and she’s wearing a simple cream turtleneck and a pair of inky denim dungarees. It’s a slice of an old 16 mm home movie, so the colours have a hazy, bluish filter. There’s no sound, but I know my father was the one behind the lens. He was the family photographer. A doctor by day, he was a Gregory Peck-type character. I can’t ever remember him not being smartly dressed under a trilby hat. All the men wore hats in the ’50s. He was passionately in love with my mother, and my earliest memories involve them piling my sister, my brother and me into the car on weekends and heading to the beach, a half-hour drive from our postwar home in the tightly knit community of Roslyn, Long Island. We didn’t have a lot of money, but appearance was always important to my parents: Our hair was always brushed, our shoes were always polished.
My mother, Beatrice, a.k.a. Billie, was incredibly stylish and obsessively collected objects of beauty. She had an antiques shop, she was an interior decorator, she was a sculptress. She had wonderful taste, as did my grandmother and my aunt, so I think it was just by osmosis that I grew up with an appreciation for beautiful things and a keen eye for clothing. Style was always present in our house. The Warholian-style wallpaper (before his famous flower paintings) in our modest kitchen—bold and flowered in black and bright blue—wasn’t like anything in the homes of my childhood school friends. But it was unique and, like the impeccably tailored clothes I’d see my mother wearing, understated in a way that felt independent, confident and always special. She made the trends of the day totally her own.
I lived at home until I was 18, going back and forth into New York City on the train, jumping off at Penn Station and exploring the immediate area around 34th Street, not wanting to stray too far. And then I made the move to Manhattan. I studied liberal arts at NYU, heading home on weekends. My roommate and I shared an apartment on the Upper West Side. The bathroom was royal purple, while the rest was painted a beautiful lavender. It was a funny first apartment. I remember the pride I felt for my olive-green vintage dresser, with its white marble top and beautiful mirror, and my big, roomy bed. It was just charming. When I moved to Italy a year later to follow a boyfriend, I felt liberated and open to anything, like most 20-year-olds at the close of the ’60s.
Looking back on that time, stepping out of the blissful suburban bubble where I had grown up, I suppose my thoughts and views on the world were radically changing. What wasn’t radically changing was my personal style: simple, straightforward and clean. Aside from a brief hippie moment of long, centre-parted hair and dangly earrings and ponchos (we all wanted to look like folk singer Joan Baez) and a fun stage where I channeled ’30s Parisians, I was essentially a shirt-and-jeans girl. What other people were doing, culturally and sartorially, was always interesting to me. I would adopt bits and pieces but remained true to my rather simple style, although my inherited and hopeless need to surround myself with things of unique beauty was an affliction I continued to fully embrace.
By 1979, I was back in New York and opened Linda Hopp, a clothing store that was the first of its kind in SoHo. I was designing clothes, and I was buying Calvin Klein and Todd Oldham early on, before both designers were propelled into fashion’s super league. I had hats and bags—it was an original “concept” store, albeit short-lived. For a time, people would come by to uncover new and different pieces, experimenting and playing dress-up, until the homogenized power uniform of ’80s Manhattan set in.
I left the exaggerated shoulder pads and gratuitous excess to New York’s movers and shakers and channeled my own brand of maximalism into the downtown apartment in the funky pre-war building I moved into 35 years ago (and still remain in today). When I say “funky,” what I really mean is a bit shabby, but in this city’s rental market, once you find a place, it’s wise to never leave. And I love my one-bedroom apartment with windows on three sides. I’ve made it totally mine, surrounding myself with pieces that give me joy. I collect anything and everything: vases, shells, bowls, glasses—whatever strikes my fancy. I don’t have anything that’s contemporary. I don’t look to interiors magazines or shop according to the hottest designer or store. I’m a loner, and I love what I love. If I see a beautiful dish from the ’70s or a faded mirror from 1930, I’ll get it. It’s eclectic, a hodgepodge, things I like to wake up and see.
My choices are mine alone to make. I never did meet the right guy and settle down, and now I live with the love of my life, my miniature poodle, Winky. He weighs nine kilograms, he’s silver, he’s got really long legs and he’s much smarter than I could ever be! As someone said: “Poodles aren’t dogs; they’re people.” I love to have friends over, a few at a time, for a glass of wine and a chat. I’m not a big entertainer. No dinner parties. No space for that. I travel, but I always love to come home to my turquoise velvet sofa and my gorgeous plants and flowers. I’m a true homebody.
I find it hysterical that a 68-year-old, someone who’s wrinkly and worn, has been noticed by the fashion set and they have decided to embrace me. It’s wonderful to be called a “style icon.” First came the Karen Walker sunglasses campaign, then a lookbook for The Row. It’s flattering to think they find my style “cool.”
I don’t have a lot of dresses. I don’t like frilly things. I like being tailored; it suits my physique. While I’d happily saunter around my living room in floor-length ’30s bias dresses, I don’t own an evening gown and I never have. Nor have I ever dyed my hair. It was never an issue when I started turning grey at 35. That didn’t bother me at all. It never has. I guess you could say it’s become my signature—that and the glasses. Everyone says, “Oh, you wear the greatest glasses.” Well, I can’t see! They are, admittedly, a nice, quirky addition and a super-easy way to add flair to my look.
I also collect vintage jewellery, but I only wear a few personal pieces designed by Soraya Silchenstedt. She made long chain necklaces for me and my sister about seven years ago. Mine has a small round diamond charm and a heart on it, and my sister’s just has the tiny heart. When she passed away, I buried her in my necklace and now I wear hers. I’ve never taken it off. On my wrist I have her name, Christine, tattooed in turquoise. I was 62 and didn’t have to think twice. My first and only other tattoo (which I got at 60) says “Nick”—my nephew who was serving in Iraq. I needed him close. (He’s back home and safe now.)
I operate on instinct—I’ve got a lifetime of experience to draw on. I don’t shop by label. If something looks good on me, I’m on board. And I keep some pieces forever. I still have a denim shirt that’s 30 years old and a denim jacket that I’ve had forever. I’m fortunate in that I’ve kept the same silhouette so I can still wear the same jeans—I’m a real denim fanatic. I wear vintage Levi’s 501s almost every day. I have lovely designer jeans as well. I’ve got a pair from Chloé, but it doesn’t matter where they came from or who designed them—I just love denim in any shape or form. I’m waiting for my Ellery jeans to arrive from Australia. I love Ellery and got her wonderful flare pants while visiting Sydney.
Style does not have to rely on money or resources. For me, it’s about personal taste and a sense of oneself. And I don’t think that just because you get older you have to dress older, or younger, or anything. I was never a provocative dresser anyway. I did wear hot pants and miniskirts when I was 18. I guess we all did. But since then, I’ve always been pretty covered up; that’s just the way I feel most comfortable. It has to feel right for me in order to look right. And now when I look at footage of my mother, it strikes me how similar my tastes have become to hers. That simple turtleneck, those great dungarees—there was a simplicity about the way she dressed that allowed her personality to shine through. That and the slick of raspberry lipstick that frames that beaming smile. It’s a shade I’ve recreated today in my own beauty line, Rodin Olio Lusso. It still feels modern, even 60 years on.
I called it Billie on the Bike.
Collage by Danielle Campbell
Growing up, I lived in a tiny apartment with my father. He was a janitor. He watched television every night with the volume turned up, pronounced words funny and wore a toque inside because it was cold. I loved him and I loved my life, but I wanted to explore different places; books were my escape.
I spent all my time with my head in medieval castles and Edwardian manors. I used to consider the characters my best friends. I was insanely in love with Anne Shirley. I imagined myself with Catherine from Wuthering Heights, our hair whipping around wildly in the wind and getting tangled up with each other’s. But I had no interest in the dashing Heathcliff – until I turned 14 and male characters began to seem more and more intriguing to me.
My favourites were dashing and conflicted and unpredictable – characters whose inner philosophies led them to strange actions, frivolous fools who would whisper sweet nothings into Anna Karenina’s ear. I had a definite crush on the impulsive George from A Room With a View. I liked his absurdity and playfulness.
I thought about him a lot while sitting on the stoop of my building, eating peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. I fantasized about having conversations with him about the statue of the lion in the park. I visualized him riding by my building on a 10-speed bicycle, his hands off the handlebars, blowing me a kiss. I figured he was the type who always gets hit by cars. I imagined drawing a picture of a question mark on his cast and us both smiling at that.
Then there was the fun-loving Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet. We would slowly fall in love and speak crazy monologues to each other while out drinking behind the bowling alley. He would definitely be a theatre kid. And he would be a great date to bring to junior prom: the life of the party, wearing a baby-blue tuxedo, dancing on his knees while firing finger pistols into the air. In high school, this was the type of boy I fell in love with. The funny, outspoken class clown. I admired all his flights of fancy – until the teachers tired of his shenanigans and he was expelled.
As I moved into college, my tastes in life continued to echo my fascinations on the page. Of all the men surrounding Isabel Archer in The Portrait of a Lady, I liked her sickly cousin Ralph the most. He had been dying his whole life. Since being sick was his full-time occupation, he could only lie on a daybed and have enchanting and astute and generous views of the world.
In college, I found my own Ralph: an artist who was stoned every day. He lay in bed letting the earth slowly turn with him, occasionally commenting on the nature of things. He managed to compose some exquisite poems. Still, there turned out to be only so much a girl could take of a bedridden lover.
I knew it was wrong to be attracted to Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment. I thought that it was the residual effect of having had a little too much feeling for the Big Bad Wolf and that I’d simply found a version in an Edwardian suit and button-up boots. I loved Raskolnikov in his threadbare clothes, reading books in an attic, coming up with clever, if morally corrupt, theses. I imagined he would write a controversial paper for my ethics class at McGill and he would always argue the obviously wrong side on the debate team. After I graduated, in my 20s, I dated a misanthrope who was intent on making my life a living hell. All he did was criticize me. He was jealous of my happiness and free-spiritedness and was intent on crushing it. I blame him on Raskolnikov.
As a writer, I think that, in some ways, I was searching for a muse – someone I could spin into a character on the page who would match the brilliant eccentricities of these men. And, of course, it wasn’t as if the relationships were all completely bad. Each had its moments.
I think I was looking for men who were problematic and edgy not only because I liked drama but because I liked to be challenged, especially intellectually. And, to be fair, I would say that they were all free thinkers who found new ways to demand that the world be more beautiful – although today I am glad that I’ve closed the book on my story with each one of them.
Heather O’Neill’s third novel, The Lonely Hearts Hotel, is out in February. She’s also the author of Lullabies for Little Criminals and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night.
Kate Middleton wasn't holding back on the real talk on her first public appearance of 2017.
Visiting a treatment centre for parents with personality disorders, the Duchess of Cambridge was overheard telling one of the women receiving help:
"Parenting is tough," she said. "And with the experiences you've all witnessed, to do that on top of your own anxieties, and the lack of support you also received as mothers... I find it extraordinary how you've managed actually."
She also mentioned elsewhere that before arriving at the centre she'd just left "a room of six under threes" which we're taking to mean Princess Charlotte had the crew over for brunch and a marathon of Paw Patrol.
PS. That's a brand new Eponine coat K. Middy's wearing, FYI, which can be yours for around $2500 CAD.