Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards: The top style advice from Canada’s most fashionable people

Jan 31 2014 by
Categories : Fashion


Photo by Leda & St. Jacques.

We polled some of Canada’s most stylish people—including editors from the
ELLE Canada team and jurors from the
Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards this weekend—for the best sage style words they’ve ever received and continue to inspire them. (And we couldn’t resist asking about their all-time fashion statement piece, either.) Soak it up, friends.
Noreen Flanagan, editor in chief, ELLE Canada, CAFA juror
Best style advice: “When I was a teenager, one of my favourite aunts always offered up this piece of advice: "Trust your own instincts; don’t be misled by sales staff or well meaning friends. Tune in to how you feel when you’ve put together a look. Is it authentic? Is it stylishly flattering for your body type?" My aunt Jessie was delightfully eccentric and iconoclastic. She challenged conventions and was always interested in exploring the story behind everyone’s life—including the hitchhikers she loved to pick up. I learned from her that one’s style was a part of the story you communicated to the world.”
All-time favourite statement piece: “I can’t really explain this bit of personal fashion lore, but for years I was obsessed with a Cowichan sweater that I bought in a second-hand store. I was an early bobo adopter. Although it was worn and misshapen, I admired the obvious skill behind the stitches. I also liked to imagine it had been made lovingly for someone and that by wearing it I was paying a tribute to whomever knitted it. My mother didn’t share my fascination with this piece. She forbid me to wear it to school and tried on many occasions to throw it out. I would retrieve it, and then sneak out the back door with my beloved sweater in hand. Perhaps my affection for this weathered piece was more about my teenage desire to rebel against my mother! I can’t recall how it migrated out of life–perhaps my mom was finally successful in disposing of it. Or, more likely, I grew up and didn’t require this teenage talisman to inspire my curiosities— both for fashion and for life.”
Click to read more of the ultimate style advice from the top fashionable Canadians…

Jeanne Beker, fashion personality & host, writer & producer, CAFA juror
Best style advice: “Best piece of “style” advice—which actually goes beyond sartorial style and into the realm of true “personal” style, was given to me many years ago by the charming Stan Klees, a music industry insider, who, along with the legendary Walt Grealis, helped establish the Juno Awards in Canada. It was in the late ’70s/early ’80s, at the beginning of my career, hosting the rock magazine show “The New Music” for CityTV. Stan was so savvy…really a kind of mentor at the time. And he told me: “Don’t ever take yourself too seriously”. I think that’s helped me over the years, in myriad ways, and it certainly has been one of the backbones of my fashion philosophy. Once we start taking ourselves, and the whole subject of fashion and style too seriously, I think we become victimized. I love a touch of whimsy when it comes to personal style, in terms of the way one dresses, or simply the way one moves through the world.”
All-time favourite statement piece: “One the most amazing garments I ever owned—and sorry to say I don’t have it any longer—was a pair of bright orange “hot pant” (aka short shorts) over-alls, which my mom crocheted for me circa 1968, when I was an aspiring young actress. They were totally outrageous, and to really pump up the flash, I sewed a bright yellow star on the bib part! I actually had the audacity to wear this get-up to auditions. So wish I would have hung on to this sexy little fashion statement: It made me feel terribly empowered, and was certainly attention-getting. (And sorry, no pictures exist.) This of course was over a decade before I got that “style advice” from Stan Klees….so I guess I never really have taken myself “too seriously” after all—at least not in the wardrobe department!”
Laura deCarufel, executive editor, ELLE Canada
Best style advice: “When I moved to Halifax for university, my mom told me that she had three important pieces of life advice for me. I can’t recall the first two, but the third—"Wear comfortable shoes"—is something that I think about all the time, usually as I’m hurrying into a cab, cursing my high heels.“
All-time favourite statement piece: “My current favourite fashion piece is my Mulberry Bayswater bag in textured grey leather. Sometimes I wake up thinking about it.”
Sarah Laing, writer, ELLE Canada
Best style advice: “My (ever so-slightly-cynical) mother always told me never to go shopping with my friends since they’ll tell you everything looks marvelous, even when that fringed poncho makes you look like an extra on The Hobbit –and to this day I rely on her for well-intended, if brutally honest, outfit feedback!”
All-time favourite statement piece: “When I was about 5, my grandmother made me a navy quilted blazer / tartan skirt suit set, complete with hand-embroidered strawberries on the lapels and brass buttons. It’s still hanging in my cupboard today, and if I could shrink about three feet, I’d wear it in a heartbeat!”
Robert Ott, Chair of the School of Fashion, Ryerson University, CAFA juror
Best style advice: “In my late teens and early twenties, I was quite experimental in trying to figure my personal style – and what fun it was! In hindsight, I’m not sure if I always made the most stylish decisions, but I always felt that fashion was living in the moment. As we mature, our style changes to reflect what’s important to us at that particular time. One thing that I have clung onto through the years is my love for wearing colour. I think the best advice I’ve been given is not to take fashion too seriously and perhaps even be irreverent about it. Not sure who gave that advice – maybe I gave it to myself!”
All-time favourite statement piece: “At around age seven, my parents took me to a tailor to be fitted for a Sunday-best blazer. The fabric was a cream and burgundy medallion wool jacquard. The blazer wasn’t a hand-me-down from my brother. It was made just for me and I felt like a million bucks.”
Katherine Flemming, beauty and heath editor, ELLE Canada
Best style advice: “My former boss, Karen Kwinter, had me generate a descriptor for my personal style. In order to purchase a new item, the piece should classify within the parameters of said mantra. As well, before purchasing the item, you need to sort out at least two ways of styling it. This prevents you from being a slave to the trends, and ensures you won’t loathe items you purchased months—or even years—later, since they are true to your style and work with all of your other pieces.”
All-time favourite statement piece: “My Jerome Dreyfuss Billy bag. It’s the epitome of slouchy, understated yet pulled together Parisian nonchalance.”
Angela Campagnoni, director, Atlantic Fashion week, CAFA juror
Best style advice: “To never underestimate the power of the first impression. When I was in my early teens, my father told me the story of why he approached my mother on a train the first time he introduced himself to her. While recalling the story, he was able to describe her entire outfit right down to the wide-brimmed navy hat, which she kept for prosperity. In an instance, my mother’s appearance and how she dressed to impress shaped the course of the future…maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but I wonder if his first impression was different, would they have ever met…we have 15 seconds to make a great first impression.”
All-time favourite statement piece: “I’m a classic Louis Vuitton girl, currently my brown canvas Alma MM is a perfect piece to hold my work files or tablet without the bulk of a briefcase. My fiance surprised me with my current piece on a shopping trip. As I walked in, the staff had it all wrapped and ready for me while I was browsing (he’s a keeper).
Hans Koechling, fashion Show producer & creative director of The Image Is, CAFA juror
Best style advice: “Always look your best – you just never know who you could run into shooting on set with Iona Monahan, fashion editor of the Montreal Gazette, 1985.”
All-time favourite statement piece: “My favorite clothing item is a crisp black shirt. In my travels and long hours on show sets, it goes a long way from morning to night, looks great on camera and works with a leather jacket, blazer or tuxedo jacket with the right pants and accessories anytime and anywhere. Now let’s talk about shoes…”
Read more:
The top 8 Canadian style blogs
Best of winter fashion
Spring 2014 Trend Report

Categories: Fashion