A Conversation with Designer Natalie Dusome

 

Designer, entrepreneur, mother: Natalie Dusome is a woman that wears a lot of stylish hats. Her accessories brand Poppy & Peonies was launched in 2016 and her fashionable and functional handbags have garnered her a huge following and well-deserved brand recognition since.

I had the opportunity to speak with Dusome one evening in Toronto, where she appeared in a whirlwind of warmth and positive energy. I asked her about starting a business, growing up in a small town, and why finding your old designs from school is actually a good thing.

Natasha Grodzinski: When did you first discover a passion for designing?

Natalie Dusome: Honestly, I’ve always loved fashion, since I was a little girl. I come from Penetanguishine, which is this tiny town, there’s 700 people. I was always so different than everyone else. The other kids int the town weren’t into fashion at all, and I can remember begging my mom at seriously, eight years old, to buy fashion magazines! What kid does that? It was just this fantasy world. I would open up the magazines and it would take me somewhere else. Of course, I love where I’m from and I’m so grateful for where I’m from because it has kept me very grounded and humble, and I had a great upbringing. One of my grandmothers loved to sew, the other one loved to draw and my dad is a carpenter. With all of these different influences my life, I was led to fashion design.

NG: That’s a very creative environment to grow up in, and it’s you putting your own love into it.

ND: My grandmother would always be making us clothes for our Barbies and I would sit there and cut the fabric with her. I didn’t realize at the time, you know I was four years old, what an impact that would have on me. Even my dad, he would design all of these things: furniture, kitchenware, he even made his own barbecue. He would come up with his own idea and then go into the garage and would bring it to life. I think that being in that environment groomed me for what I want to do.

NG: It’s really nice to hear about a creative home like that where you feel like you’re able to grow and express yourself.

ND: Yes! And what was really awesome is my mom works at a hospital and my father’s a carpenter so they did not know any kids who were into fashion, but they didn’t care. They said, “If this is what you want and this is your dream, we’re going to fully support you.” I find that’s rare.

NG: I know you went to Ryerson for fashion design and then went the corporate route. What was that transition like, to go from small town to big city?

ND: I took a minor in marketing when I was in school. I was always interested in the business side of fashion. I was always fascinated by it. We had students in our class who were so creative that they never wanted to make anything that someone could actually wear. I was interested in something wearable but with an edge. For me, working for companies like Abercrombie or Fossil was so cool because I was able to see, okay, this is what people actually like to wear. This is what people are buying. In fashion design, you can make such crazy, out-there designs, but at the end of the day people want simple with a twist. They want wearable or functional but with a little something different. The experience I had in that commercial world really helped me towards what I do today.

NG: It seems like a perfect marriage of interests to start your own business: the creative side with the marketing side.

ND:  Yes, because our bags are trendy and affordable but they also have the functionality. That’s something different we have for the product.

NG: I actually wanted to ask about this: as a businesswoman and a mom, I imagine function came into your brain when you were conceptualizing the brand.

ND: That’s really where it came from. Before, I was living in New York and it was always fashion first for me. I was a huge fashionista. I would run around New York in heels until I had blisters!

NG: I know about that!

ND: And you do it. You’re like, “I don’t care, this is fashion and I look good.” When you become a mom, it’s like, oh God, I can’t be running around with heels and this baby. You need to still find ways to express yourself and your fashion, but do it in a wearable way that has functionality for your new life. That’s really where it came from; I became a monad realized my old style wasn’t working with this new part in my life. Looking around I realized a lot of people were just like me and needed the same things.

NG: It’s akin to how I was a little happy when sneakers became cool again. I’m gonna save my arches.

ND: Yes, exactly! And the thing is when you’re out of school and getting into your career it’s the most important thing. But you realize there are ways to look good and still have function and comfort.

NG: When you did decide to start your own brand, was the accessories the first place you went to? Or did you play around with other ideas?

ND: I’ve always done handbag design. It’s a bit funny, I created this line of handbags when I was 16 years old. I approached a local boutique to carry my bags and they must have felt sorry for me because they did carry them. They were these wire, beaded bags and I look back and just howl because they were so funny. When I did my collection at Ryerson, it was very denim, wearable, which got me my job at Abercrombie but I also designed these handbags, which were pretty nice considering I was young and in school. I’ve just always been passionate about handbags and accessories.

NG: Do you ever pull out one of those ones from school?

ND: Oh my god, I howl! You know how mom’s always store your stuff from school? My mum said to me, “Nat, I need to clean out some of this stuff, please help me.” And we were rolling on the floor laughing about the stuff I had made at Ryerson. My dad was always so supportive and I had these metal plates he engraved ‘Dusome,’ my last name on so I could make little labels. We had this little press so I could make the labels. It was so funny.

NG: I used to write creatively a lot in high school and some I read back, I think, ehhhhhhh.

ND: Exactly, but it’s cool to see how far I’ve come. I found some old handbag sketches from school and think, wow. It’s the progression.

NG: When you made that decision, was it terrifying?

ND: It was terrifying. At the time I had been working for Aldo for five years. I was their head designer. I was travelling to London, Paris, China, Italy, it was a dream. From the time I was little girl, I would see these editors, designers and socialites, these high-powered women and I would dream about being one of them. I worked so hard and became one of those designers at a reputable, amazing company. Not only did I reach my dream, but I loved my boss and the work I did. So, to leave my dream job to start my own company scared the shit out of me. It really did. But I knew in the long run, for the sake of my family and for me always wanting to start my own company, it was now or never.

NG: You have always wanted to start your own business then?

ND: Yes, and it’s funny, back home a lot of us are parents now so we had this high school party where we got sitters and acted like we were in high school. I found my old yearbook picture and it asked, what are you goals and whatnot. Under “What’s your goal?” it read, “To build a million-dollar global brand.” And that was in Grade 9. Laughs. But I did it! I mean, we’re not quite at that level but we’re well on our way.

NG: The brand really is blowing up right now.

ND: It’s been amazing. We’ve had so much support. It’s unbelievable. The influencers, the press and everything we’ve had has been unreal.

NG: When you see one of your bags in the street…

ND: I love it. People must think I’m nuts because I’m staring at them. Even in our town, a small community, everyone is so supportive. I’ll be having a crummy day, I’ll go to the grocery store and see five women wearing my bag and I think, how can I have a bad day?

NG: That must feel so good.

ND: It’s really cool. Not all of the customers who buy bags will recognize me, of course, so once someone was in front of me in the coffee line and I said, “Oh, I really love your bag.” She said, “It’s Poppy and Peonies, it’s a local brand,” and I don’t want to embarrass them so I play it off. Sometimes I say it and sometimes I don’t.

NG: It’s that validation for all the hard work.

ND: It’s so rewarding, especially at places you don’t expect it. I’ll be at Pearson or in other cities and I’ll see it. It’s so nice to make a product that people like and excites them.

NG: For any other young designers thinking about starting their brand, do you have any advice for them?

ND: I think loving what you do and being passionate are the most important things. Sometimes things get so tough that you want to give up and the passion is all that keeps you going. If you don’t have that, it would be easy to let something go. It takes determination, perseverance and a positive attitude to get you through those difficult times. You need to love it so much that you would do it for free, you would stay up until four a.m. doing it, you would do it on vacation. Trust me, there are days where it gets so tough. If you really love it, you’ll succeed at it.

Interview has been condensed for print.

You can visit the Poppy & Peonies website here and follow their Instagram here.

Gotta Have it! Must have show stopping accessories from the fall 2017 runway

One interesting thing that most people don’t know about is that many of the world’s most beloved brands and fashion houses actually make the majority of their profits through accessories. Brands like Prada and Dior are tasked with creating new and exciting bags, shoes, jewellery, and more to drive sales through the roof.

Some brands are even blessed with the gift of having almost their entire yearly revenue derived from the sales of their non-clothing goods. That just goes to show how important accessories really are to the fashion industry itself. They aren’t just afterthoughts or cherries on top to add “a little something” to the collection. They’re there to seal the deal on whether one loves a collection or skips it. Here are Novella’s top picks for best accessories of fall/winter 2017.

The Bags

Photos: Vogue Runway | From L to R: Prada, Miu Miu, Jacquemus, Chloe, Altuzzara

Prada: As she does every year, Miuccia Prada released a coveted selection of bags that are sure to end up on everyone’s must have list. Ranging from all black and all baby blue shoulders bags, green ostrich feather handbags, nylon satchels, and python skin to fur-covered confections and printed leather bags, Prada outdid itself once again in creating an innovative and versatile collection of handbags for every occasion. However, one bag stood out from the pack. A bag that clearly played off the brand’s fall 2017 collection of book bags. Like its predecessors, this new bag resembles a leather bound book, but this time the entire bag is comprised of velvet, giving the bag a quirky 70’s feel.

Miu Miu: Just like her bags at Prada, Miuccia’s Miu Miu bag collection is another beautiful example of how well-rounded a designer she really is. This season, Prada’s younger sister released a groovy collection of bags that mirrored the collection’s feminine 60’s flare. There were bags with fur handles and bags with large glamorous brooches. But the most interesting pick of the collection was a selection of bags that had “Miu Miu” stitched all over the bag in a stunning psychedelic swinging 60’s font.

Jacquemus: Simon Porte Jacquemus has been one of the only designers of late to actually produce worthwhile collections. And although the statement may seem a little extreme, it’s completely called for in Simon’s case. For his fall 2017 collection, Jacquemus gave the fashion world one of the most creative and innovative bags to date. Gone are the days of his “haricot” bags and wallets — his newest offering comes in the shape of an upside down envelope, mirroring the bags a bourgeois woman of the 1950’s would have worn in Paris. The greatest thing about this bag is that it carries (no pun intended) all of the things that define French clothing (like the gold chain and old world shape) and literally turns it on its head, thereby making the bag distinctly Jacquemus yet still very much French in design.

Chloe: Chloe has always been a staple in exceptional bag making and this season just another testimony to that statement. This season’s it girl bag has to be Chloe’s white sand coloured circle crossbody bag. The adorable bag is the perfect run around bag that matches any outfit, plus the brass coloured metal handle adds that perfect bohemian touch that Chloe has always been known for. And the best part is that the bag looks as if it will be available in a multitude of neutral and dark colours to suit any preference and need!

Altuzzara: The last bag on the list is by far the most traditional of the bunch, but that isn’t to say the bag is in anyway doughty or matronly. This Altuzzara handbag came in a stunning array of complementary colours that suited every look in the collection perfectly, which is also a plus. But the best part about this season’s Altuzzara bag had to be its simple design and decoration. There were no gimmicks here. Just a beautifully designed leather bag with an accompanying flower that would make even the most elite of New York’s Upper East Side squeal with delight.

The Shoes

Photos: Vogue Runway | From L to R: Gucci, Tory Burch, Maison Margiela, Rochas, Thom Browne

Gucci: Leave to Alessandro Michele create a cowboy inspired 80’s ankle boot that actually looks amazing. During his latest Gucci show, Michele sent out a real throwback of a shoe that was completely off colour to what has been going on at Gucci. The bright white bootie comes complete with an almost Wild West/almost Eastern European embroidered floral design that fits the brand’s outstanding new vision perfectly. On top of that, the boot itself is perfect for the 80’s revival trend that has been sweeping the fashion world this season.

Tory Burch: Tory Burch is a brand that has more recently been associated with wealthy soccer mom chic, rather than high fashion fallal. But this season, the American brand looked as if it was trying to shed its current plateau and engage new customers. And the shoe of the show did just that. This beautifully ornate Tory Burch heel burst onto the catwalk with one thing in mind — to make a statement. And that it did. The stunning heel pulled out all the stops to command attention; the sculptural heel, European style brocade pattern, and a beautiful oversized bow harked back to imperial French court glamour. It’s safe to say that Tory Burch is finally making fashion and that’s a wonderful thing.

Maison Margiela: The incomparable John Galliano has made a new name for himself at Margiela since his arrival at the iconic Belgian house. Every season it seems that Mr. Galliano has fresh and innovative ideas for his clientele’s eyes to feast on. For this season’s Margiela show, Galliano presented a knee length boot in an ever-so-relevant 70’s inspired silhouette. The boot, which features an ultra feminine pencil thin heel and deep ochre coloured python print, resemble the same heeled boots that independent and fashionable women wore back in the 1970’s, making it an instant buy on any trend followers must have list.

Rochas: Rochas has always been spot on when it comes to gloriously elegant women’s clothing. This season at Rochas, viewers were treated to the most darling of pumps one could ever imagine. The shoe, which looked to have taken inspiration from 1950’s fetish heels and Marie Antoinette court shoes, are as prim and proper as any shoe can get. And that beautifully placed heel makes the entire shoe look even more delicate and glamorous.

Thom Browne: Thom Browne has never been one to shy away from designing things that many would consider outlandish, but that’s exactly why he’s on this season’s “best of” list. For his winter wonderland inspired show, Browne created a heel that features his trademark all-American brogues crossed with an interesting hollow wedge heel made to look like a figure skater’s blade. The shoe is a testament to how amazing a designer Browne is. Not only is the shoe perfectly designed to fit, it also carries one of Thom Browne most easily recognizable trademarks. On the front of the shoe, a small shirt and tie can be seen peeking out from right under the ankle, showing any potential customers that Thom Browne’s quirky suiting is never too far away.

The Hats

Photos: Vogue Runway | From L to R: Christian Dior, Loewe, Coach, Adam Selman, Marc Jacobs

Christian Dior: Berets have been the go-to headpiece of the season and the hardworking ateliers at Christian Dior were definitely paying attention. For fall 2017, Dior had berets coming down the runway in full force. Part French go-to, part pro-feminist statement. The berets conjured up images of strong warrior women ready to fight for female freedom and independence.

Loewe: Jonathan Anderson has been wowing audiences in London and Paris for quite some time now, so it comes as no surprise that the British wunderkind presented another spot on collection for Loewe this season. The collection itself is a mishmash of all of the most beautiful things that Anderson has designed in the past, with the tiniest hint of European village life. This is where the hat comes in. The darling straw hat isn’t overbearing and ostentatious like many straw sunhats that have been shown on the runway. This adds to Anderson’s rendition’s charm. Rather than making the hat comical and theatrical, the small brim size gives the sunhat an air of authenticity and realness.

Coach: Coach is another one of those brands that ran into an extremely commercial plateau for quite a while. However, recently the brand has beefed up their designs and created relevant and exciting collections to lure would-be buyers in. For fall 2017, Coach has managed to design a wonderfully trendy hat for the young streetwear wise dressers of the world. With its fluffy shearling outer layer, the hat seems like the perfect alternative to a beanie for those chilly New York nights.

Adam Selman: Now this may not be the most traditional hat, but that doesn’t take away from how interesting a topper it is. At Adam Selman’s show during NYFW17, audiences were treated to a quirky little birdcage fascinator that was equal parts adorable and badass. Like 1950’s motorcycle gang chicks, the models stormed out with powerful little flowers on their heads and the best part about them is their versatility. Not only could you wear them with jeans and a leather jacket, but you could easily pair the fascinator with a beautiful black cocktail dress for more formal events.

Marc Jacobs: Marc Jacobs has always been fashion’s little rebel. Taking everyday trends from past and present and turning them into high fashion concepts. For his fall collection, the inspiration was clear. 70’s and 80’s urban and hip hop culture reigned supreme on the runway and it was perfectly evident in Jacobs accessories. This puffy hat is a perfect alternative to your traditional winter beanie. Instead of having a regular old boring knitted winter hat, you can have this interesting oversized retro beanie instead.

The Shades

Photos: Vogue Runway | From L to R: Anna Sui, Acne, Anya Hindmarch, Fendi, Sacai

Anna Sui: Anna Sui is one of those designers who has and will always march to the beat of her own drum. Since the early 90’s, Anna has been creating collections that are distinctly her own. This season’s Anna Sui sunnies follow in her great tradition of doing her own thing. The blue sunglasses feature a theatrical angular cat eye that is only further enhanced by their bright cobalt shade. The glasses also perfectly compliment the collections 1920’s/1970’s bohemian chic aesthetic, giving the wearer the glamour of a traditional cat eye with a bright pop of a mod colour.

Acne: The beauty of Acne is in its simplicity. While other brands thrive off of creating elaborate shows and collections, Acne has blossomed into a fashion powerhouse by infusing Swedish minimalism with high fashion appeal. And this is perfectly evident with this season’s sunglasses. The shades for fall/winter 2017 were simple in their construction. Two thin silver arms hold the angular coloured lenses in place to create a psychedelic feel to the glasses. Think John Lennon à la 2017 high fashion mod. But the quirky simplicity of these sunglasses aren’t the only selling points here. The glasses are actually quite versatile. They can be paired perfectly with a casual pair of jeans and a band t-shirt or glammed up with a silk neck-tied blouse, wide leg pant, and a floppy summer hat.

Anya HindmarchAnya Hindmarch’s entry into the industry as an accessories designer must be what pushes her to create an interesting range of accessories that are completely relevant, on-brand, and desirable outside of her own already spectacular clothing lines. Her fall 2017 sunglass collection just goes to show that she understands what her customers want. She could have easily made a pair of sunglasses with a simple frame and lens for her collection, but instead she chose to create a fur trimmed pair of sunglasses that more closely resembled a pair of skiing goggles. The fun, fur trimmed sunglasses add that perfect wintery feeling to an accessory that’s usually associated with warmer weathers and the summer months, giving the overall look a high fashion après ski feeling.

Fendi: Fendi is an accessory giant. Like its other Italian contemporaries, Fendi owes much of its success to its sales in trendy and in demand accessories. Usually known for its outlandish designs, Fendi presented a surprising take on sunglasses by creating a clean and perfectly polished pair of circular sunglasses. The posh specs fit spectacularly with the cool and composed vibe of the collection. It just goes to show that sometimes simplicity really is key!

Sacai: Sacai is a brand that has garnered a huge following over the years. And it’s easy to see why. This season’s sunglasses are in fact the most visually stunning, adorned with a number of butterflies framing the arms and lenses. These Sacai delights are perfect for commanding total attention when walking into a room. The one possible downfall of these sunnies may be their theatricality, but that’s also their the biggest allure. The beautifully decorative butterfly wings add an old world whimsy to the glasses that has slowly been coming back into fashion. And why not enjoy these shades all year-round? They would make the perfect winter pop of summery colour and the perfect summer conversation piece.

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A Conversation with Miri of Topaz Custom Jewelry Boutique

Anyone who is familiar with the Yonge and Eglinton area has probably heard about Topaz Custom Jewelry Boutique. Among the unique fashion boutiques in uptown Yonge, there is a charming jewelry store that carries an eclectic mix of of handmade jewelry from local and international designers who are both well known and respected in the industry. The boutique showcases contemporary designs and one of a kind pieces that can’t be found in any other local stores in the city. The wide selection range from bold statement pieces to timeless elegant jewels that will coordinate with your outfit and let you embrace your individuality.

I had the chance to speak with Miri, the owner of the store, on what makes her boutique so special and how she gives her loyal customers the best shopping experience by focusing on their needs and assisting them with creating the ultimate jewelry wardrobe. Her passion and commitment to perfection are definitely reflected in her work. Miri knows how to brings to life any outfit just by using the right accessories.

Phoro: Real Style Magazine

Liat: When did you open the store and why did you choose this location?

Miri: It’s hard to believe that I opened the store 10 years ago, it feels like yesterday. I chose the location because I love the area; I love shopping boutiques; and I really believed that the area could use a jewelry & accessories store. I did not want to be in a mall or plaza, so this location was perfect for me.

L: Who is your target audience? 

M: My clientele has a very wide range; from 10 years old to 80!  There are many fashionistas out there who are all unique and diverse. The majority of my clients fit between the ages of 30 and 60.

L: What distinguishesT opaz Custom Jewelry Boutique from other similar boutiques in Toronto?

M: Topaz Jewelry Boutique is distinguished by the vast array of products. We have over 45 designers in the store. Our pieces are timeless as demonstrated by our many customers who are still wearing pieces from my first year in business. Our customers purchase both for themselves and as gifts. Equally important to the products, Topaz Jewelry Boutique is distinguished by our service. We designed the store with an open wall so that the customers can touch and feel the products and easily try them on. Every associate is a stylist who can offer advice on how to wear and layer the pieces. The customers talk widely about both our product selection and our customer experience.

Photo: Topaz Custom Jewelry Boutique

L: How do you choose the designers and pieces that you want to showcase? 

M: I pick the products on my buying trips. I frequently travel to New York, Israel, Europe in search of the latest styles to purchase merchandise for the store. While I’m buying, I envision my customers and walk through the showrooms imagining what they would like. It’s always important to imagine what your customers want, not just what your personal style is. I’m always looking for unique pieces that are versatile and practical; a good balance between casual, every day and statement pieces.

L: How would you describe the aesthetic of the boutique and does it reflect your own sense of style?

M: The boutique is set up in a way that is easily accessible to the customers. There is an open wall with statement necklaces that are readily available for the customers to touch and try on. On the other side and in the middle, there are cases of merchandise. These are often daintier pieces that are displayed side by side so that customers can compare the items to each other and make their selections. The boutique is warm, fun and friendly, it is definitely a representation of my personal sense of style. I like to experiment with my style, often switching between simple staple jewelry and significant statement items.

Photo: Topaz Custom Jewelry Boutique

L: What are the best sellers in the store?

M: Topaz Jewelry Boutique has many best selling items, and because it is a store that fits with current trends, the best sellers change frequently. Our meditation rings have been a classic, though, some of our latest best sellers are our chokers and earrings.

Photo:Topaz Custom Jewelry Boutique

Topaz Custom Jewelry Boutique is located at 2554 Yonge St. Visit their page at www.topaz.ca and follow them on Instagram here.

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Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

When Valentine’s Day inevitably comes around every February, there are two types of people in relationships: those who inexplicably know the perfect gift and those who scroll through online gift guides with a fervour that grows increasingly panicked as the deadline looms.

I should probably point out at this moment that Valentine’s Day is not meant to be a stressful holiday. It should be about the time you spend with your loved ones: whether it’s with a romantic partner, friends, family or just yourself. Even if you are looking at the holiday from a romantic perspective, there are lots of things you can do that don’t involve buying a gift, such as making a meal, planning a small trip or organizing an activity to do within the city.

That all being said, Valentine’s Day is a day with heavy commercial implications, so if you are one of those people who just have no idea what to get your significant other, allow me to provide some ideas.

FOR HER

Fragrance

Fragrance is such an individual thing that it can be difficult to give as a gift, especially if you have no indication about what kind of scent she usually likes. If there is such an indication, definitely use that for inspiration. If you don’t have that, use your own knowledge of her to determine what she would like, because I assume/hope if you’re buying fragrance for this person, you know them pretty well. If you’re still stumped, I’ll make a recommendation: if your girl is the type of likes right, floral scents, Arlésienne by L’Occitance En Provence is definitely a safe bet. It’s got rose, violet, and saffron notes, so you know it’ll be a crowd pleaser.

Lovefresh Body Lotions

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You straight up can’t go wrong with one of these. Body lotions and scrubs from any brand would be good, but Lovefresh is a personal favourite and I’ll tell you why: the products are high-quality, luxurious and made in Canada. The scents are all so nice that I’ve had a hard time picking a favourite in the past, so any option is a relatively safe option. Anyway, who doesn’t love having ridiculously soft skin? Lovefresh products are available through their website and in select stores across Canada.

A Boudoir-Approved Robe

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The traditional route for Valentine’s Day always seems to be lingerie. While that’s not a bad thing, I would like to put forward an alternative idea: a nice robe or even some luxurious sleepwear. It still brings the feeling of romance without having to figure out what your lady’s bust size is. Speaking from the female point of view, I’ve always enjoyed having one of these around to throw on in my particularly high-drama at home moments. Might I recommend this Valentine’s-themed robe from For Love and Lemons? Very cute, very romantic and a little sexy.

Jewellery

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Just saying jewellery is vague, I know. If the person you’re buying for seems to favour a certain kind (i.e. if she wears a ton of rings or seems to like a good necklace) then it’s a good idea to draw inspiration from what she already has. Jewellery is so versatile and so easily personalized, and that’s actually more helpful than overwhelming. If you go to a store like Victoire, which sells products by Canadian designers, you can easily find jewellery that will reflect her personality, whether she’s more classic and romantic or a bit more quirky and humorous.

Magazine

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If you don’t want to go the way of a book, then a magazine is a great alternative. There are so many wonderful quarterly and periodical magazines being published with compelling articles, fascinating interviews, and gorgeous design. Look for magazines that double as coffee table books such as Kinfolk or The Gentlewoman. You can find some great ones at Chapters, or at independent magazine shops around town, such as Type Books on Queen St. W.

FOR HIM

Fragrance

As I said in the “For Her” section, fragrance is so specific to the person who wears it that it can be a difficult buy. The best thing to do is to work with a scent he already uses. If he has a favourite cologne, see if there’s a corresponding shave balm or lotion. If he doesn’t have one, try to find one that would fit with his overall self. If you’re still a bit stumped, I can recommend the L’Homme Cologne Cédrat by L’Occitane en Provence. The scent is super masculine and fresh, probably the smell of a guy who vacations in the French Riviera and speaks multiple languages.

Cufflinks

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Cufflinks are a pretty traditional gift for men, and there’s a reason for that. For so long, men were held under pretty strict rules of dress and in many workplaces, still are. Accessories such as ties, socks, and cufflinks are the easiest way to show some creativity and individuality while wearing a suit. If your man is a traditional guy, a pair like these classic ones from ASOS is a great and affordable option. If his style is a little more quirky, these Paul Smith cufflinks will be perfect.

Watch

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Another classic accessory, the watch. Especially good if you’ve noticed that he 1) doesn’t wear one 2) has one that needs replacing or 3) has the same sports watch he wore in high school. While it would definitely be nice to get everyone a Rolex, there are other beautifully designed watches that are more affordable. Daniel Wellington watches are hugely popular and have a minimalist design, perfect for any guy who just needs to know what time it is but also wants to look good.

Coffee-table book

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The way of the magazine could definitely apply to the guy, no problem, but there are also some gorgeous coffee-table books circulating the stores that could serve as sources of inspiration and would also just look really impressive sitting on that coffee table. May I recommend: Icons of Men’s Style by Josh Sims.

Wallet

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The wallet can go by the same rules as the watch on whether it would be a good gift. If he’s still using a velcro wallet à la Steve Carell in Crazy, Stupid Love then it may be time to not-so-subtly suggest he use a new one. If you’re looking for suggestions, the brand Matt + Nat has some great minimalist wallets that are pretty cost effective, and are also made with vegan leather.

SS17 Shoes & Accessories Trend Report

Scrolling through Instagram for the past little while, I’ve noticed so much sameness and it seems that fashion industry has too. For SS17, the focus is to differentiate yourself, let your fashion freak flag fly if you will.

In a similar way as the SS17 clothing trends, accessories for next spring all rely on intention. None of the trending accessories are absolutely necessary for function, instead they frivolous additions. We are finally moving away from the era of practicality and monotony in fashion. This season, designers have brought everything back to getting dressed. We are here to create outfits, to stand out, to pay attention to the details, and to have fun. Does Iris Apfel need twelve bangles per wrist? No, but that’s not the point. We are moving away from comfort–forget hoodies and sneakers–this spring’s accessories might be unpractical but they are beautiful.

Kitten Heels

kitten-heel
L to R: Céline, Christian Dior, Dries Van Noten | Photos: Vogue UK

A controversial shoe to be sure, the kitten heel has seemingly made its way back into the fashion industry’s hearts and runways. It is a step up (quite literally) from the flats trend and is a nod to the elegance of the 40s. Reminding street style stars how to wear heels again will be a journey after the dominance of sneakers, so perhaps kitten heels are acting as training wheels to the former glory of 9″ stilettos.

Colourful Eyewear

colourful-shades
L to R: Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten, Céline | Photos: Vogue UK

Do blue sunglasses do that much to shade your eyes from the sun? Maybe not. But they are fun! Especially when you match them with your cobalt, flare trousers and you incorporate them into the colour blocking trend.

Brooches

brooch
L to R: Dries Van Noten, Balenciaga, Gucci | Photos: Vogue UK

Perhaps you are tired of necklaces, rings, earrings and anklets. Why not give the latest jewelry trend a go? Brooches. Take a note from your granny and place one in the chest area. Or why not think outside the box and pin a brooch anywhere else on your body, like your hip or pant leg?

Microbags

L to R: Hermès, Anya Hindmarch, Isabel Marant, Valentino | Photos: Vogue
L to R: Hermès, Anya Hindmarch, Isabel Marant, Valentino | Photos: Vogue

Nothing is more fun and less practical than a teeny handbag. Perhaps designers are trying to move the world toward tech-free living, as there is clearly no space for phones with this trend. If you feel silly about microbags, perhaps I should tell you that all impractically-sized bags are trending. Because the following sized bag (half the height of the modes’ bodies) was nearly as common as the microbag:

massive-bags-celine
Photo: Céline | Photo: Vogue

Extreme options to be sure, but options none the less.

Mismatched Earrings

earrings
L to R: Marni, Alexander McQueen | Photos: Vogue

Matching your earrings? Boring! This trend alleviates one more decision from the endless decisions we make every day. Enough is enough, care less and mix up your earrings a bit.

Flatform Sandals

sandals
L to R: Preen By Thornton Bregazzi, Versace, Proenza Schouler, Dolce & Gabbana | Photos: Vogue

Because wearing flat sandals is too easy and wearing heeled sandals can feel silly, flatforms are the dream shoe for SS17. You can go for the fancy Teva, or try a gorgeously leather pair to up your game.

As someone who tries to maintain a minimalist wardrobe, I feel as though frivolity has a perfect place among accessories. Nothing radical need happen, yet a new pair of sunglasses can change your entire feeling about the day. A crazy handbag, same thing. All without having to change your essentials. So next season, try a silly addition to your accessory and shoe collections, it’ll be harmless.