What I Wear To Work: Liem Vu, Global News’ The Morning Show

Photo Credit: Nick Pimenoff

Wardrobe Essentials

My wardrobe essentials are black shoes, black joggers, and a black t-shirt. See a theme there? No, I’m not trying to be your friendly neighbourhood fashion blogger with minimalist and monochromatic fashion. I’m the complete opposite, actually. I love loud patterns, bright shirts, and architectural jackets, but the only way to pull those off is to have a solid fashion anchor. By wearing black shoes and black pants, you can go super loud and outlandish on top without being too distracting or workplace inappropriate.

Favourite Item in Your Closet

Definitely my black and white Saturdays NYC button up (seen in the picture). The shirt is inspired by the glaze brush pattern often seen in ceramic work. It’s bold and brash yet minimalist at the same time. It’s easy to dress up (with a blazer) or down (with jeans) and that versatility is what I look for in all my shirts.

The Purge Rule

One for one. If you buy something new, get rid of something old. It’s a rule that I’m still trying to commit to. Everyone has a bad habit of holding on to things they don’t need. Unless it’s a staple like a blazer or jacket, it’s always best to consider whether or not an old item in your closet is worth holding on to.

Describe Your Work Uniform

Thankfully, The Morning Show really supports my outlandish fashion choices. Heck, I wore overalls on the show once. My daily work outfit usually starts with a pair of black golf joggers and then I pair them with a bold and bright short-sleeved button up shirt.

Liem Vu is a Toronto-based journalist and television personality. He can be seen weekdays on The Morning Show, and as a regular contributor on ET Canada Live. His sense of curiosity and passion for storytelling bring him to the front lines of breaking news. Liem has written for both local and national publications including The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and The National Post. In 2011, he produced and hosted a series of investigative features for MTV News, focusing on hot-button sociopolitical issues aimed at Canadian youth. 

Liem is an avid music fan, insatiable foodie, and all-around nerd. Prior to his career as a journalist, he moonlighted as the lead singer of a barbershop quartet called ‘The TemptAsians’ and has seen every episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer at least twice.

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Frank and Oak’s New Collection Brings Pyjama’s from Night to Day

As someone who spends more time, money, and attention on the perfect outfit for going out than one would like to admit, I have certainly not viewed what I wear at home as top priority. Even when I try to buy a cute pyjama set, most of it goes missing or gets ruined by a coffee stain. This is why when I think of pyjamas, I feel that, unless you are a very put together, chic, 30 year-old lady, or a four year old in a flannel princess onesie, a giant t shirt and sweats will do for most. However, there is no denying that owning a cute pyjama set can make one feel as stylish as a chic jumpsuit. It’s just that when you are wearing this cute item in your own home, some might ask, “What’s the point?”

Fashion brands are responding to that questions with beautifully designed pyjamas that can be worn out of the house. The Canadian brand Frank and Oak has released a new line of pyjamas that can be worn during the day, night, and at bedtime, and basically anywhere one would like to be comfortable and stylish all at once. Fortunately, Novella got our hands on some of these pieces and can show you different ways of wearing night wear as day wear! A review and description of these pieces below!

THE NIGHTIE (Pyjama Dress)

What is normally thought of as a popular item in your grandmother’s wardrobe is actually being recognized now as a statement piece. The fabric used by Frank and Oak for the collection is extremely breathable and leaves room for endless layering opportunities. I am loving how they styled this as a set to accomplish an entire look, and I can also see this being a great evening piece, paired with the right heels and belt. However, summer over-pieces have been a huge staple of mine recently, which is why I went for a more relaxed look when wearing this over a classic denim and crop-top outfit. It was 34 degrees in New York on this day and the dress was pleasantly light and added an added detail to an otherwise simple outfit. When fall comes, I’m definitely excited to try this piece out over a turtle neck!



THE CLASSIC SET- DECONSTRUCTED

I have to admit that before wearing this look out on the street, I definitely wore the set to bed a few times. Not only is the shirt-shorts combo extremely breathable and light, it also brings a sense of togetherness when waking up and looking at myself in the fanciest outfit my bed has ever seen! I ditched the shorts for a mix and match look, wearing the button-up with a pair of navy denim shorts. I have been loving the pyjama shirt look lately, and this piece was no exception. The cut of the shirt is still fitted enough to look put-together during the day but the pyjama-esque detailing gives the look the relaxed feel. To dress this look up a little more, I think I will pair it with some black wide-legged dress pants!
Final Thoughts: The Frank and Oak pyjama collection embodies versatility and embraces a fashion forward lifestyle. The three pieces that I have tried can be worn in multiple ways for multiple weather conditions. The pyjama day trend is going strong and to check out some of these pieces and more visit Frank and Oak Pyjama Collection here.

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A Letter from Your Server

Art work by Michelle Cheung for Novella Magazine

I work in the service industry. I know, shocker, right? An almost 25-year-old former journalism student needs additional income from a source outside of her field of study to support herself after 5 years in school and a workplace internship? Who woulda thunk it. I graduated from Western and Sheridan, and, after all that, I serve tables full time for a living, and not one bit of me is ashamed of that.

Yes, in all honesty, it truly makes you hate people. But ironically, you have to love working with people to do the job. If you don’t like to talk to people, you can’t be a server, and if you are serving and can’t talk to people, you’re probably not a very good server. Despite the negative connotation the industry has around it, I actually really enjoy it. On the flip side, you really don’t know how demeaning and selfish people are until you’ve worked in the service industry. I’ve learned how it feels to have complete and utter strangers think less of you, look down on you, and think you’re stupid with no motivation or aspirations in life. Let me make this perfectly clear for those who are unaware. Being a server does not mean that I am dumb or that I’m uneducated or unmotivated. It means that I literally make more money a year serving tables than I would with a starting salary in my field of study. It means that I get to socialize and interact with people from all over the world and from various walks of life. It also means that I have a flexible schedule, and, at the end of the day, I don’t have to bring my work home with me. It also means that it’s actually none of your business why people like myself serve tables, but it does not mean we are any less smart, educated, or capable.

I once had someone very close to me say that my job wasn’t really considered “working,” that it wasn’t a “real job.” Hearing this really pissed me off, to be honest.

In my opinion, some of the best people have worked in the service industry. You really don’t know what working is until you’re doing a job that is the very definition of a “job.” The amount of physical labour and stamina it takes to wait on people’s every need is astounding. It is a job that requires a great deal of physical and mental activity. You are always thinking and always moving. There is nothing I consider more of a “real job”.

I truly witness some of the greatest stupidity known to mankind. However, I do admit there are times that I have to ask myself, “would this request really be that inconvenient if I wasn’t a server?” The simplest things start to become a nuisance. But there are also times where my mind is blown by some people’s complete lack of common sense. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind next time you’re ordering.

  1. READ THE GODDAMN MENU! Don’t ask what kind of salads we have when they are literally listed right. in. front. of. you.
  2. Also, don’t say you’re ready to order when you’re clearly not. I have things to do while you decide what kind of wrap you want.
  3. Servers are not psychics. If you want or need something, ask politely.
  4. The menu is not a drawing board for your creativity.
  5. Don’t blame servers for the kitchen’s mistakes. I am not the one cooking your food, I am the one literally catering to you. So do not yell at me.
  6. Do not snap your fingers at me. Ever.

I’m going to tell you a story to finish this off. One morning, a customer with a very important business conference snapped his fingers at me and pointed to his coffee cup to get my attention for a refill. Instead of refilling his coffee with the fresh pot I had in my hand, I pretended it was empty, went to the kitchen, filled his cup with decaf, and proceeded to refill his cup with decaf that day and for the entire rest of the week. It’s the little things that mean the most. Being polite to your server will get you far and will guarantee you fresh regular strength coffee. Because, contrary to popular belief, we are people too.

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Healthy Interiors: A Conversation with Jessica Helps of Wolfe ID

Wolfe ID founder and leader Jessica Helps has been designing for over 14 years and has a unique take on health that incorporates interior design as a way to improve your daily living/wellness. She is inspired by neurobiological, sociocultural, and humanistic perspectives, and designs spaces based on three principles; art, science, and design. She takes into account nature, sound, light, air, water, and, of course, colour. Integrating science into room design can have an impact on your daily mood, productivity, and overall experiences within the space. We had a conversation with Jessica about designing with health and wellness in mind.

Helen Jacob: How long have you been doing interior design?

Jessica Helps: I think this is my 14th year!

HJ: Where did you go to school?

JH: OCAD U. I took environmental design, so it’s more like architecture, or, to dumb it down, how to come up with great concepts for design. The little technicalities and some of the lighter interior design stuff, they expect you to already know. It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, getting through that program alive, but it was great!

HJ: When did you first start integrating health and wellness into your designs?

JH: I guess I started researching it about a year and a half ago. I had a couple of clients whose decisions I didn’t agree with. I didn’t know how to tell them, other than giving them my opinion. I knew they were going to be making a mistake and the space wasn’t going to feel that great. They were doing an office layout and they wanted a lot of desks in the space but I knew the way the office would function wasn’t superior. I tried to direct them but I had really no way of telling them why I was right other than saying it was just my opinion. It wasn’t really sinking in with the client so I was kind of upset and afterwards, I thought well how can I prove this? There must be some science behind what I’m saying because I somewhat know it to be true. So I started researching it and I realized there was this whole field of environmental psychology (how people feel within a space and why, and the science behind why people interpret space and light and colour and volumes and also proximity and layout of furniture). So when I realized that, I got into biophilic design and then I realized there was a complete line of science behind interiors that we tend to avoid or not really understand. We don’t really direct our designs based on the science around them. So it’s pretty interesting.

HJ: Is it a new concept?

JH: It’s relatively new…well yes and no. Sometimes I think the colour theory — like how colours affect people — that’s not new. But research based design is pretty new. Let me give you an example. If you were designing a corridor for maybe an old folks home for the elderly, as an interior designer how would you design that space? I was thinking I’d pick light calm colours, tone on tone, just something really relaxing and simple and clean. Well, I learned that’s actually a really stressful environment for somebody who’s 75, because a 75-year-old has 1/8th of the contrast vision that a 25-year-old has. So if everything is the same colour, it might be all nice and light but they can’t distinguish the floor from the walls or see handrails or see doors. So it’s actually very stressful for them. They need the contrast to be able to properly navigate themselves through a space, you realize that (the science) should direct the design, not the fact that I want to do tone on tone grey.

HJ: What is biophilic design?

JH: Biophilic design is centered on the relationship humans have with nature. They say there is an innate relationship between nature and humans. We feel good around natural settings. What we’ve done is built these urban cities that are really hard. They’re concrete, glass, and metal. They’re very man-made, very hard. And they’ve actually created a separation from nature which actually leaves people feeling cold or distant or disconnected. So biophilic design focuses on bringing natural elements back into the environment.  Light greenery such as green walls or hanging plants, cactuses, and things of that nature are good. Natural finishes like woods or tiles or things that you can touch that have a natural texture are also good. Also focus on light as well, like getting natural light into a space. Those three things I find in biophilic design, really give back that connection with nature that makes us feel better.

HJ: What do you think about the minimalist interior trend?

JH: I think right now there is a Scandinavian trend so its really popular to be clean. You know there’s that documentary on Netflix called Minimalist. I fully like what they’re doing. It’s a very healthy design, it’s natural materials and simple design. It’s reducing visual complexity and simplifying everything and I think that really does make humans feel better and happier in spaces. So whether or not people are focused on what is the healthiest design, I think the trend is good.

HJ: What do you take into consideration when incorporating wellness and health?

JH: Well it depends on the function of the space. What I always do is go into a space and what I ask the client is how do you want to feel in the space? So if it’s an office or it’s a home, or a specific room, start with the feeling: How do you want to feel in here? Do they want to feel really relaxed or do they want a cozy room or do they want their living room to be a place where they can entertain their family and curl up and read a book? We would start with that feeling and then build out from there. The furniture and colours and textures that would give them that feeling. You might see a pretty picture on Pinterest and you just want that and then when you get it, it doesn’t make you feel quite the way you wanted. So I always start with the feeling first and the function.

HJ: Sound, light, air water, and colour. Could you speak to each of those?

JH: Well for sound, there’s lots of issues with acoustics. It causes hypertension in people and it’s one of those things that creeps up on you. You don’t realize it’s causing you unwanted stress. So if you have thins walls- maybe you live in a warehouse conversion so neighbours or people above you can be really disturbing. Also if you’re designing a restaurant and you have a lot of hard finishes, you get a lot of clash of noise that bounces around and it’s hard to hear the person you’re having dinner with. So you can do ceiling panels, or white noise machines. You can also add fabric underneath tables and chairs- you just want softer finishes to absorb the noise rather than have it bounce. Also be aware of mechanical systems or appliances or photocopiers that are generally really noisy because they can also lead you to feel really stressed out if they’re going off all the time. Put them in a closed space or arrange the furniture to be further away.

HJ: What about light?

JH: You just want to maximize the amount of natural light you’re getting. There’s some crazy statistic that a lot of offices don’t have natural light- like no windows. I guess you’re tucked away in a basement or something. It actually causes productivity to plummet when you don’t have natural light or plants or have an environment that’s inspiring you to even be there. Its important to control light. In the evenings, dim your lights one hour before going to bed. Everybody has circadium rhythm. That’s the body’s way of regulating sleep and alertness. Everyone has one and it’s usually timed with the sunset and sunrise. And so the most natural way to wake up is with the sunrise and go to bed with the sunset. Obviously we don’t do that living in the city because everything is rather artificial and our schedules do not follow that. So dimming your lights in the evening gets your body to release melatonin and melatonin helps you regulate sleep. Try to block out all the light when you’re sleeping. You want a perfectly dark cave to sleep in.

HJ: Air and water?

JH: Those are the two functional items in a space. We have standards and we have building code and that’s great, but it is a minimal. Air quality is actually better outdoors than it is indoors in the city. Our indoor air quality is terrible. So you can up the filter on your H-vac system. If you live in a condo, you have what’s called a fan coil, (a vertical mechanical unit and with a filter on it). If you live at home you have a furnace that will also have an air filter in it where the intake of the air is going through. So you can up the quality of that- (from 10-15 is optimal). MERV is the rating. Or HEPA filter is the best, you’ll find them in Tesla cars and some vacuums have them. Those will really help your air quality. For water quality, if you have the ability to add a filter right into your system, that’s great. Or you can add a reverse osmosis. You can also just get an on counter water filter that makes the water alkaline and also reduces the toxins in it as well.

HJ: How would you work with colour?

JH: Colour is interesting because I don’t think there’s an unhealthy colour. There’s unhealthy uses of colour or just ways to maximize your health using colour. So say I was designing a spa bathroom and I want it to be relaxing, the three things I would not do is paint it red, put super bright lights in it, or play the music super loud. Those are all things that are very invigorating and make you excitable. So you want lower lighting, have softer and more comfortable furniture, more warmer and natural colours so the body is relaxing on a biological level. Green, greys and white are more relaxing and restorative.

HJ: Do you have any tips to integrate this into a cubicle setting?

JH: Umm yeah, maybe get rid of your cubicle? It’s an interesting question. The Google office kind of set the precedent for how to blow the typical corporate office out. They got rid of board rooms and cubicles and did the complete opposite. They did ballpits for adults and beanbag chairs and a lounge. It was almost like a playground for adults. This caught on because it was fun and employees were happier. They’re excited to come to work and productivity goes up. And that’s true- for Google. Google is generally a bunch of creative people doing stuff on computers so that works really well. But what they’re starting to notice now is within every office, there are certain people that work really well in private spaces, semi private spaces, or communal spaces. Some people who are forced to work in a communal space who would rather work in a private space, suffer and their productivity goes down. So you really have to look at your office and decide which departments need what kind of space. If you do have a cubicle, and you do like the private space I would at least pick a fun cubicle. They have some really great systems right now. A lot of them have acoustic paneling within them so you get really good acoustics. Some of them have little benches that pull out so you can still invite people to come hang out at your desk and you still get that human connection for people who don’t like being isolated. Some offices will have little plants or cactuses so you have that biophilic element. Also, employees who get taken care of tend to be the most productive.

HJ: Is there a way to organize your space that’s good for you?

JH: Yes, reducing visual complexity is huge. If you have open shelves jammed with junk, and you’re looking at it all the time, it’s visually overpowering. Hiding your visual clutter creates a freeness. If it’s already clean, then you can do what you need to do in that space without worrying about cleaning up the mess. You don’t want anything see through, like acrylic boxes.

HJ: What are the main elements to consider when revamping your space in terms of health and wellness?

JH: I think its all about creating a space that feels good. I think you really have to touch on the biophilic design. Like what’s natural about the space? What makes you want to work there? Light quality is huge. If you have no natural light, it’s essentially a storage room. I think people need to stop worrying about specific fixtures or details and think how does this space make me feel? Then you look at ways to maximize the space.

Quench Your Online Shopping Thirst With Something a Little Different

One of the saddest things any Canadian fashionista goes through is the heartbreaking realization that some of the world’s best-kept fashion secrets don’t ship to Canada, leaving one with the option of either hitting up your local mall/retail store or shopping your same old generic online shops. But fashionistas want something new. Sure you can style an entire outfit from Zara into a one of a kind outfit that no one may ever think of, but there is only so much a person can do with a top that 857 other Canadians may own. Fortunately, with a little research and dedication, one can find a plethora of online shops that not only ship to Canada but also provide Canadians with stunningly fashionable clothing that’s fashion week ready and, most importantly, affordable. Here are some fun and existing stores and online shops that will have your closets and bank accounts jumping for joy.

Depop

Photo: Depop.com

Depop started as a social media platform for PIG magazine readers to share and buy clothing online. It soon blossomed into the trendiest seller to buyer fashion market on the internet. Boasting thousands of sellers selling tens of thousands of pieces every day, Depop has everything from custom made canvas bags to vintage band tour merch all at extremely affordable prices.

The benefit: Depop boasts some serious one of a kind collectable items that no one on your block is bound to own.

The drawback: If you don’t act fast, highly sought after items are swept up just as fast as they’re posted.

Mango

Photo: Mango.com

Mango comes straight to you from Spain, one of Europe’s best kept fashion secrets. After sadly leaving the Canadian market over a decade ago, Mango has remained one of Europe’s most illustrious high-street fashion retail powerhouses. With an exciting array of trend-relevant and season-ready clothing, Mango has something for everyone looking for that high fashion piece that doesn’t come with the high fashion price tag.

The benefit: Mango offers great prices on stylish clothes paired with a great return and shipping policy.

The draw back: Not your greatest bet when looking for a clubbing dress or something a little more risqué.

Missguided

Photo: Missguided.com

Move over Forever 21, Missguided is a British brand that encompasses what it means to be the quintessential fashion it girl. One can find everything from sexy party dresses to super on trend athleisure wear. Filled to the brim with every trend imaginable, fashionistas can re-create looks from Gosha, Chloe, Gucci, and Vuitton with just a click of a button. Apart from the great selection of clothing and accessories, Missguided boasts some of the best perks and sales of any online shop out there.

The benefit: Missguided has everything from $100 discounts to student discounts.

The draw back: The heavy trend based shop can sometimes feel a little juvenile.

Desigual

Photo: Desigual.com

Hailing from Ibiza, Desigual is another Spanish brand that aims to bring the international fashion community top notch, high-quality clothing. With runway ready dresses and seasonal collections that are actually made for their runway shows, Desigual may be one of the easiest ways to wear high fashion runway clothing without having to actually dish out runway dollars for high-quality clothing.

The benefit: Desigual has high-quality merchandise that comes from the runway as well as an amazing sale section.

The draw back: Prices can sometimes be a tad bit higher than most high-street fashion brands, but it’s nothing too steep.

Shopbop

Photo: Shopbop.com

Shopbop may seem like your ordinary online designer shop, but unlike other sites that do the same, Shopbop offers curated collections put together from some of the fashion world’s best brands. One can find everything from Alexander Wang, Acne, Tome, and Alice + Olivia. The prices often match the labels they’re attached to, but the curated collections, personalized style recommendations, and sales are too good not to pass up!

The benefit: SHhopbop offers personalized style recommendations for its shoppers.

The draw back: The prices can often be a lot higher than most of the other online shops on the list.

Needle & Thread

Photo: Needleandthread.com

Needle & Thread is one of the greatest finds on the web. Boasting a stunning collection of gowns, jackets, tops, and even wedding gowns that resemble couture creations from some of the worlds greatest couture houses, Needle & Thread is the closest thing you can get to haute-couture without having to drop $30,000 on a custom made wedding or celebration gown. It even has a small but growing selection of homeware goods that carry the same level expert embroidery that their clothing displays.

The benefit: Needle & Thread is one of the only online shops that sports some of the most stunning weddings gowns ready for international shipping available on the web. Making finding the perfect one-of-a-kind gowns a cinch.

The draw back: Like Shopbop, the prices at Needle & Thread are higher than the other sites on this list.

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