Valentine’s Day Outfits

Are you one of those who think that Valentine’s Day is overrated? Indeed, society makes us feel pressured about the day, especially if you are a  man. You have to concentrate all your efforts to make your sweetheart feel loved more than on any other day, find the best place (usually a super fancy restaurant you can’t afford), and get the best gift. But, fortunately, things are changing and, when it comes to finding the best V-Day gift, more people are looking for gifts for their friends more than for a boyfriend or a girlfriend.

Whether you are in a relationship or not, you should do something that night, something special that will make you feel good. If you are in a relationship, you probably already have plans. But if not, just get together with your friends and go grab drinks. Or stay home. Whatever you do, just have fun.

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be a day where couples celebrate their love. It should be one where we get to celebrate love in general. Self-love included!

Because Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and because every occasion is a good excuse to go shopping, it’s time to think about your outfit. Here is a selection of pieces you could wear depending on your plans for the day.

A date with your new boyfriend

Let’s say you just met someone and you really like the person but it’s so brand new that you don’t want to be too “natural” for that occasion. Having a date for Valentine’s Day after only few days/weeks ointo a relationship is not easy to handle. At least with this outfit you will be confident enough to seduce him/her properly. It will be more like a game than a real serious date. Find this dress on Missguided website.

No date at all

If you are in the opposite situation and you don’t have any date at all well, at least this super sweet jumpsuit will make you feel less desperate. At home, yes, but like a sexy housewife. Find this cute piece at H&M.

A date with your long-relationship boyfriend

You have been dating this guy for years, you know everything about him, his mom… and you even live with him. Maybe that night will be the one he is going to propose… Valentine’s Day is actually a good occasion for a proposal because no need to be extra romantic, the situation is doing the job for you. Well, because you never know, don’t go too “sexy” that night. You want to remember that day as the one he proposed and don’t want to show the pictures of the moment at your wedding, wearing the Missguided red dress we were just talking about. Get this beautiful dress at H&M.

A night out with your girls

Who cares about having a date for Valentine’s Day when you have a bunch of best friends ready to go party with you. As Charlotte from Sex & the City said, why can’t we be soulmates with our girlfriends? Don’t you think it’s a healthier way of thinking? Get this cosmo dress at H&M.

A date with your best friend

This item is one of our favorites for several reasons. First, both the shape and the color of the jumpsuit make us think about the ’70s — a really good decade in terms of fashion. Also, we really like the ribbed knit pull-on effect on the kinds of items that makes it even cozier and perfect for a lunch or dinner with a friend. We finally like the fact that you can style it up the way you want, for example with a belt and a moto jacket like on the picture. Find this jumpsuit at Urban Outfitters.

A date with your mom

For those who don’t care about Valentine’s Day and just plan on grabbing a dinner with their moms as usual, this super cute outfit can be an option. This pale pink is perfect for the occasion and the frills on the crop top makes the look really fashionable. It could also be a good way to send the subliminal message to your mom that she doesn’t have to worry about your single life: It’s a choice and not something you put up with. Like really… Look how gorgeous you are in this outfit! Find it at Urban Outfitters.

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.

A Love Story: When Ishan Met Julien

Photo credit: Ara sassoonian Photography

We asked visual merchandiser Ishan Riley and model Julien Lacelle to each give us their take on how the couple met and more. Sit back and let this fashion industry couple share their love story.

Ishan

How did you two meet?

Julien and I met at TOM* Toronto Men’s Fashion Week, Season 3. It is a bit of a funny story because I was working in the window display/VIP room at College Park and creating the theme for that year. I was in the room alone and listening to music on my speakers, just in the zone. There were also model castings and fittings going on in the other room and models kept coming into the room as I was working. I guess they wanted to see what was going on, especially with my music playing. As models kept coming in, I would say “Sorry! You can’t be in here at the moment, this room is under construction”. And then Julien entered the room, I let him walk around just for a bit, we made eye contact, and he started asking me questions about the room. After that moment, we instantly connected and the second time we met we exchanged phone numbers. For the rest of Toronto Men’s Fashion Week, we made sure to meet up and attend the after parties and events together and the rest is history.

What was your first impression of Julien?

My first impression of Julien was that I connected with his energy and vibe. He was so real and pure to me like no other. To be honest, I was captivated by his beautiful eyes, his pure curiosity, and confidence to come and ask me questions about what I was doing.

Where did you go on your first date?

Well during TOM* that week, we went out to many fashion events and parties together, but I wouldn’t count that. I believe our first official date was at the Green Room here in Toronto. I decided to take Julien there because I wanted to show him that there is a little bit of Montreal style here in Toronto and I knew he would appreciate that.

When you think about your relationship with Julien, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?  

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about Julien is happiness, love, peace, soul mate, journey into life, fashion, art, creativity, passion, conquer, strength, freedom, my other half, and partner in crime.

How would you describe working together? How has it affected your relationship?

Wow, working together is truly amazing. What more could you ask for if your partner’s dreams and passions are in line with yours. We totally understand each other, learned how each other work and we know how to bring out the best in each other. We are both creative people, creative minds think alike, and we inspire one another. After working and spending a lot more time together, we realized that we are both left-handed. Working together has only made our connection, relationship, and communication even stronger.

What’s the most romantic thing Julien did for you?

There are so many romantic things and I can’t just single out one moment because they are all so special in there own ways. I guess I would have to say all the times we go out for dinner, watching movies and cuddling, candle nights, surprises, and so much more. We share many romantic moments together

What are some qualities you admire about Julien?

What I admire so much about Julien, I can’t completely describe, but I admire his positivity, pureness, realness, artistic side, intellect, fight for change, honesty, loyalty, confidence, and his drive for success and so much more.

Julien 

How did you two meet?

We met during Toronto Men’s Fashion Week almost 2 years ago. I was modeling there and he was doing visuals and styling. I was waiting with all the other models in a room before our castings, fittings, and rehearsals. He was in the room beside us, dressing some mannequins and creating a window display.

The funny thing is that some other models went there before me but he would tell them they’re not allowed to go in that room. When it was my turn to be curious, I didn’t know he said that to the other guys and I just went there to explore. I had seen him before and I liked his style already but it was the first time he noticed me. He let me look around and even touch the fabric before I came to him and asked his name and what he was doing.

We connected instantly. He was my type and I was his. We exchanged numbers the second time we bumped into each other and we were always texting each other about where we were and what we were up to. We spent as much time together as we could that week and when I came back to Montreal I was freaking out. It felt surreal. I didn’t know what just happened to me and my heart was telling me I was in love even though my head was telling me it was not possible. We saw each other every second week or so since.

What was your first impression of Ishan?

My first impression of him was that he was confident, happy, at peace, and unique. I knew I was going to accept anything about him if he was interested in me.

Where did you go on your first date?

We already had lots of fashion related activities together before our actual first date, but I would consider the first date to be the time he brought me to The Green Room in Toronto. He thought it was kind of like Montreal’s style and would match my personality and taste and it did.

When you think about your relationship with Ishan, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?

When I think about him, I think about happiness, freedom, inspiration, talent, adventure, etc. There is automatically a smile on my face when I think of us.

How would you describe working together?

We are a perfect team cause we are both artists, we both working in the fashion industry but we are both doing different things. And we are both multi-talented so I bring him into my projects, he brings me into his, we create stuff together, I help him with his own stuff and he helps me with my own stuff too. We complete each other and inspire each other. It’s like we’re each other’s muse.

How has it affected your relationship?

I think it makes us grow together stronger and faster, cause even if we started this relationship long-distance, we learned a lot about each other, we shared a lot of deep thoughts, we trust each other to another level. People think our love life is complicated but it’s really not; when you truly love someone, there is no question, hesitation or drama, you just think for the both of you at the same time. And I think we both experienced a lot in our lives before we met so we were both wiser and smarter already.

What is the most romantic thing Ishan did for you?

The most romantic things Ishan did for me are all the little things. They say happiness lies in the small pleasures of life and well he understands that. He would buy chocolates and candies for me when I came to visit him. He will light candles before we go to bed together. He always checks on me and makes sure I’m comfortable wherever we are, that I wear enough layers and a hat if it’s cold. He absolutely wants to hear my voice every day. He surprised me once because I was feeling low and he came all the way from Toronto to Montreal without telling me. I think I am very lucky.

What are some qualities you admire about Ishan?

I admire him for being ambitious, positive, hard working, honest, strong and most of all happy

How would you describe working together? How has it affected your relationship?

Wow, working together is truly amazing. What more could you ask for if your partner’s dreams and passions are in lined with yours. We totally understand each other, learned how each other work and we know how to bring out the best from each other. We are both creative people, creative minds think alike, and we inspire one another. After working and spending a lot more time together, we realized that we are both left-handed. Working together has only made our connection, relationship and communication even stronger.

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Tinder introduces new trans and non-binary inclusive update!

Following years-long fight for equal treatment for social and racial minorities, society is now demanding more and more openness and transparency from multimillion dollar corporations. Companies are put in a situation where they must choose between keeping their values and traditions, and modernizing in order to appeal to young consumers. Tinder chose the latter and has recently updated their app to create a newer and friendlier user interface that allows their users to choose from new gender options.

This change is set to allow transgender individuals a greater range of sexual expression and identification on the app that has notoriously suspended and deleted profiles that belonged to transgender men and women, and those that belong to gender nonconforming individuals. This bold step towards inclusivity has not only shown that Tinder is a forward thinking corporation, but also that it’s ready and willing to make necessary changes to stay relevant in a quickly changing world. 

Photo: Tinder
Photo: Tinder

Tinder is setting an example for other dating apps that only feature two to three gender options. It is, in a way, igniting a spark within an industry that does not allow much room for nonconforming genders and sexual orientations.

One interesting aspect that separates Tinder’s new selection interface is how it was made. Rather than creating a drop down menu of options that the company felt were commonplace in today’s society. Tinder actually enlisted the help of GLAAD to oversee and aid in the creation process. This allowed designers to create a search option where users can type in their prefered gender and choose from the options that are more closely related to the word they’ve typed. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that users are forced adhere to the recommended options the app gives them. Users can also type in a gender that best describes them without having to pick one of the many recommended gender options preloaded on the app. This simple addition to the app shows its users that Tinder really is a company that aims at complete inclusivity among its millions of users.

The changes made to the selection interface shows how Tinder aims toachieve complete inclusivity among its millions of users. Rather than creating a drop down menu of options that the company felt were commonplace in today’s society, Tinder, in collaboration with GLAAD, created a search option wherein users can type in their preferred gender then choose from options that are more closely related to the word. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that users are forced to adhere to the recommended options provided. Users can also type in a gender that best describes them without having to pick one out of the many recommended gender options preloaded on the app.

Photo: Tinder
Photo: Tinder

Tinder will also provide its staff training and education on the struggles transgender and non-binary people face on a day-to-day basis. This creates a network of allies on a corporate scale that has a better understanding of how to respectfully address and solve any problems users have encounter on the app.

However, the changes also came with criticisms. Many cisgender and gender binary conforming users feel that the changes may alter and make their experience more difficult. This poses an important question for Tinder and its designers: “Is it a smart idea for companies to become so extremely progressive when it comes to gender and sexual orientation when so many of its loyal users identify with traditional gender norms?” The answer is yes.

It’s very important to include and give choices to those who have traditionally not been given such opportunities to express their true identities. This not only allows financial growth within the company, but also thrusts the company into a positive light, and redeems it for those who felt excluded and even betrayed. This inclusiveness provides a safe space that many other apps can’t provide at the moment. Another key aspect of Tinder’s update that makes it so important is the fact that it is now an app created to provide the most user-friendly experience to everybody. It creates an inclusive interface that aims to help everyone find a meaningful connection among others like them without the fear of being cast aside, banned, or deleted unjustly.

In the end, Tinder’s bold move to have a new and improved gender selection interface is a big step in the right direction to inclusivity. With so many negative things going on in the world, it’s amazing to see companies like Tinder step up and tackle such a complex issue in such a positive, helpful, and progressive way. Hopefully, Tinder’s move towards promoting equality among all of its users will inspire countless other companies to make the necessary changes to help protect and empower those who haven’t been given the equal opportunities the rest of the world enjoys.

Netflix Picks: March Edition

The Oscars were this past Sunday. With the surrounding controversy, it should be no surprise to note that it’s a terribly outdated institution, reflective of the industry’s worst biases. So, in an effort to forgo the rigidity of the Academy awards, let’s look towards the future (err, the now) of media consumption: Netflix. This is the first in a series of monthly articles aimed at highlighting all that Netflix has to offer (in no particular order).

Love (Season 1)

Love. It’s the newest Judd Apatow series starring Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust. The show, developed exclusively for Netflix, centres on (yeah, you guessed it) love. But, like most of Apatow’s work, Love is a dark comedy that sits on the cusp of current trends and social mores. You know, stuff millenials do: text, complain about texting, etc. Taken plainly, the story is about two people caught in relationship limbo. Torn between friendship and something a bit heavier, they’re flirtatious and somewhat hostile, a combination that, I think, most people are familiar with these days. Overall, it’s an enjoyable, funny show (admittedly, I’ve watched the first season a couple times over now) – although it’s a little predictable. It’s still a pretty homogenous story. I feel like there could’ve been more done to poke at the hypocrisy of love culture. But, qualms aside, the whole first season is up for streaming now, so get on it.

Meet the Patels

Meet the Patels. This comedic documentary isn’t all that new, but it’s definitely worth the watch.  Meet the Patels explores dating across the realm of cultural difference, focusing on the experience of first-generation Indian American actor and writer, Ravi Patel (Transformers, Grandfathered) in his efforts to find an Indian partner. Originally perturbed by the practice of arranged marriage, Ravi eventually succumbs to the notion that there might be some merit in the tradition. Ravi’s sister, Geeta, follows closely with a handheld camera as Ravi explores the process with a (somewhat) open mind. It’s a great perspective on dating that spans cultural boundaries and pokes at societal biases.

Cooked (Season 1)

Cooked. This documentary mini series follows Michael Pollan, acclaimed writer, as he explores the world of cooking in great detail, from craft to cultural and societal significance. Each episode is based on an elemental component of cooking: fire, water, earth and air. In his exploration of these elements, Pollan highlights the importance of cooking in relation to the human race. We’re the animals that cook. In a mix of scientific, historical and cultural investigation, Pollan dovetails into the politics of cooking while trying certain techniques for himself. It’s an immersive and interesting series that makes you think not only of what you’re eating, but how you’re eating it as well. Check it out.

Master of None (Season 1)

Master of None. Created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, this Netflix exclusive series is a hot commodity. It’s an intricate comedy about Dev (Aziz Ansari). He’s a 30 year old,  semi-successful actor living in New York with a proclivity for hesitation. It’s tough, how can you find the right partner when it takes a whole day just to find the best taco spot? His relationship with Rachel (Nöelle Wells) begins on a note of awkwardness to say the least. From there, it’s a less-than simple journey to find compatibility and happiness. Directed by a handful of names (Eric Wareheim, James Ponsoldt, Lynn Shelton and Aziz, himself), each episode has a distinct outlook on a certain topic: gender and race inequality, generational gaps, loneliness and pasta. Sure, the acting isn’t great but I can’t say it matters that much. The story works and it’s well told. Stream the whole first season now.

Hannibal Buress: Comedy Camisado

Hannibal Buress: Comedy Camisado. This is the newest and, probably, the best of Hannibal Buress’ comedy specials. Filmed in Minneapolis, Comedy Camisado explores themes like blindness, dating, getting ID’d, everyday racism, being an uncle, opening a toilet paper business, hating baseball and loving steroids. Associated with shows like  The Eric Andre Show and Broad City, Hannibal’s got a dry, kind of absurd way of looking at things and it’s incredibly entertaining.

Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation. This Netflix exclusive action-drama focuses on the exploitation of children soldiers in an unnamed African country. Agu (Abraham Atta), having lost his mother and sister and witnessed the death of his brother and father, is forced to flee from home and, subsequently, forgo his childhood. He’s then found and adopted by a rebel faction, whose commander (Idris Elba), using paternal tactics, bludgeons Agu into guerrilla service. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective, Jane Eyre), Beasts of No Nation follows Agu as he surpasses all stages of innocence and experience, documenting the core humanity of the most inhumane circumstances. The film portrays the brutality of child warfare in vivid colour, horrific detail and with a thoughtful and dynamic perspective.

The Little Death

The Little Death. This somewhat twisted romantic comedy explores the expansive realm of human sexual behaviour: kinks, fetishes and outright obsessions. (The title itself is a metaphorical phrase for orgasm.) Directed by Josh Lawson, The Little Death compares the distinct sexual appetites of five different couples. While their tastes vary considerably from couple to couple, the characters are interestingly placed within the same space where they interact in small and seemingly insignificant ways. Some fantasies are kept secret, while others become a peculiar form of relationship counseling. It’s interesting and pretty engaging, overall. Worth the watch.

Tiny: A Story About Living Small

Tiny: A Story About Living Small. In a modern world punctuated by consumption and gluttony, restraint is seldom rewarded. This documentary focuses on the growing trend of tiny houses. They’re real homes, just a lot smaller and more meticulously thought out. Every nook and cranny has to have purpose. Tiny captures Christopher Smith’s experience in building a small house for himself, following his “tiny” dream from conception to completion. Yeah, it’s a novelty documentary, but it’s intriguing, nonetheless.