Trading Places — Ripped Denim and Navy Cardigan

Of many idioms in the English language, ‘to be comfortable in one’s own skin’ is one of my favorites because it seems to me to express a certain kind of ideal: to be confident enough to be placed anywhere with anyone, exist without the limits of comfort zones. I’m not sure if anyone lives a life like that — maybe Jonathan Goldsmith does —and I certainly try to stay within the boundaries of my comfort zones. Routines are key to this feat; go to the same coffee shop, sit at the same spot, order the same drink; make, of small things in one’s daily life, rituals and repeat them. Or, visit the same shops, wear the same clothes in blacks and whites, and always button the button-up shirt all the way up.

In many ways, we are bound by what we’ve become comfortable with. And it’s difficult to ever really confront them since we’re also bound by the mechanisms of our daily lives and since not all of us can have an Eat, Pray, Love soul searching cruise down the inner-self time off from it. So at Novella, we thought that changing outfits, getting into something you’re not really used to, is a good and simple way to break free from our routines.

Trading Places is our way of trying to see ourselves outside of our usual selves. That our team’s outfits range from flowy flower patterned blouses, classic oxford button downs, and head to toe black to embroidered band denim jackets, sheer polka dot dresses, and short-sleeve jumpsuits make this prison break more exciting. For our first installment, Chris, our fashion editor, and I partnered up to kick each other out of our respective comfort zones.

Daytime Outfit

Hoon: The Metalica tank top was beyond comfortable. I don’t think I’ve ever worn anything that so coyly covered and uncovered my nipples every time I lifted my arms. The breeze, since it was a hot day, was nice and cool and I adjusted well to life at this temperature. Next, I put on the denim shorts. My left foot got caught in one of the artfully ripped areas and for a second it seemed as though it might rip entirely and leave me with no choice but to lead a criminal life of damaging, and absolutely refusing to pay for, H&M shorts. Once on, the shorts let in a lot of air and was not as tight as I had originally anticipated or as Chris had warned, which was a relief. Then I put on the hoodie, which was cut in a way that the front ends of it veered away from my body. This, also, was a new sensation. It was possibly the most daring outerwear I’ve ever worn. I think that had I been wearing my usual pair of long black pants, I might not have felt too out of place in this outfit Chris picked out for me. Something about the ripped denim, as absurd as it is, was entirely contrary to the way I picture myself.

Chris: Although this may seem like a simple white shirt and casual navy blue pants, this was so far out of my comfort zone that it’s almost haunting to see these pictures as I write this. I’ve never been the type of person to opt for what others would consider “appropriate” and “tame” clothing. My personal style, has above all else, remained extremely casual and undeniably very me. So the thought of myself (sorry Hoon) moving over to the dark side of “grown up” dressing was really a step away from anything I would ever do in my personal life. There is one thing that I think I really enjoy about this outfit; the pants. Now I can undoubtedly do without the white button up shirt, but the pants are truly something I could see myself wearing and making my own. Not only were they extremely comfortable, moving with my body rather than against it, they came with andextremely handy and unexpected draw string waist, which would allow me to tighten and loosen my pants as the occasion calls for. Congratulations Hoon, you’ve made me realize that Uniqlo has comfy pants. I hope you’re proud of yourself.

Nighttime Outfit

Hoon: You can’t really see it in the photo but the ripped areas of this particular pair of jeans from Zara are curiously patched with various patterns, the most disconcerting of them all the two leopard prints. The jeans were tight but wearable, which seemed to me to be cruel in that they’re meant to be exactly that: tight and just a snippet short of being unbearable. I fumbled for a while to get them off and, to be honest, I don’t think Chris would really wear this particular pair himself. Chris and I both liked the green, white, and yellow shirt with daisies on them. It has splashes of brightness but was toned down by the dark green, which would make it, were I to go down that route, the gateway shirt to more colourful shirts. The light oversized denim jacket though you can’t see it in this photo, had roses embroidered in the back. But aside from the oversized aspect, once I put it on, I realized that it isn’t too far from something I’d venture to try on by myself if the mood were to strike.

Chris: Here’s the thing. Hoon is one of the lucky few on this beautiful blue planet that can pull off the studious Ivy League valedictorian look and not make it look like the constricting uniform of the ruling patriarchy. I, on the other hand, manage to make this J.Crew ensemble look like a failed attempt at making an aggressive Yale Skull & Bones look approachable and friendly. There’s something about this navy cardigan and grey-slack-dress shirt combo that that looks menacing. It looks predatory. Like a republican who’s smelled the blood of a  lower middle class citizen and is looking for nothing less than to pounce on his unsuspecting victim and rid them of their life force through heavy taxation and a higher cost of living. But if I do look to the bright side, the one thing I may consider wearing out of all three items would have to be the cardigan, just as long as I can have it oversized and riddled with holes and tears.

Final Thoughts

Hoon: The exercise was fun. I noticed how the uneasiness I felt while Chris picked out the outfits would soon disappear and seem disproportionate in retrospect. Goes to show that I egregiously associate certain aspects of myself with the types of clothes I choose to wear. Though I am still pretty certain that I’d not wear the ripped denim of my own accord, I might very well go back to that H&M for that tank top.

Chris: I think my favourite part of this little activity was watching Hoon’s eyes widen and face shoot white as I went through rack after rack, pulling out options of what I was willing to put him in. In retrospect, I did  manage to learn something interesting about how two different people view each other and how we should accept everyone for what makes them different and unique. Props goes to Hoon though. Our outing has inspired me to buy both outfits that I put Hoon in.

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Tried and Tested Coats at UNIQLO

The day we have all been waiting for has finally arrived – Uniqlo, the Japanese retail store has landed in Toronto. The brand is known for its affordable, yet quality, casual wear and everyday essentials. The endless variety of colours and fits, along with the unisex pieces spread across two floors, draws in the entire family for one purpose: shopping. As Toronto weather is unpredictable, it is no doubt that a quality coat is necessary staple in any wardrobe. There is nothing like a new coat to cheer you up when the temperatures are dropTo make your life easier, I went to Uniqlo to checkout the collection and gather some guidelines to help you manage the winter outerwear.

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Photo: Uniqlo.com

The Chic Parka

Parkas are the ultimate winter outerwear, however they can be quite a tricky piece to style due to the chunky silhouette. While browsing the store, I found a chic way bundle up with a long parka.This down coat is a great choice since it’s soft and light weight. The parka made without down packs to eliminate the unwieldy bulk down coats, so you can actually pair it with an heavy knit dress but still look polished and pull together.

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Photo: Liat Neuman

Tailored & Feminine

Blurring the line between feminine and masculine is a great way to spice up your winter look. Without a doubt, this pinstripe wool coat is a great candidate that adds that touch of sophistication to your look while keeping you warm. I love how the masculine details get a feminine touch thanks to the shapely waistline, creating an attractive, feminine outline. I paired it with another androgynous element, which defined the grunge years – the flannel shirt dress. Unlike other flannels, this dress is super feminine owning to the feminine silhouette and the belt that define the waistline.

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Photo: Liat Neuman

Take a Puff

This season, puffer jackets are probably the coolest item you can own in your closet. The runways were packed with endless version of this oversized coat and made us rethink the controversial piece, which we tend to have a love-hate relationship with. Since it can add unwanted bulkiness to your frame, I decided to give it a try. I opted for a crop puffer with a wool blend in black, a slender waistline and shapely silhouette. I mixed it up with a fitted top and pleated skirt

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Photo: Liat Neuman

Winter Bright

This coat is made from a thin, warm ultra-light down material which makes it light and compact, so you can travel with it everywhere and carry it on a compact travel bag. I deiced to go out from my comfort zone, so I picked a bright red coat, which is a fresh and diversify alternative to the dark shades that resemble the winter. The magenta sporty coat caught my attention due the a glossy sheen and the super light metrical. Basically, this is all you need in order to beat the winter blues in style.

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Photo: Liat Neuman

Heavy-Duty

We all agree, we must have a coat reachable when the temperature dips below freezing. A parka that wraps your body up gently is great choice for an elegant look that will keep your entire body warm and dry even on the worst blizzard.  The good news is that the colour and shape go with everything, so you will be well prepared once the frigid temperatures  hit the city.

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Photo: Liat Neuman

Surprise! Toronto Fashion Week is (sort of) back?

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Photo: CAFA

When it was announced that Toronto Fashion Week (TFW) had been cancelled, the reaction was a mix of sadness and acceptance–most people had seen it coming and were not surprised. But on October 16 and 17, 2016, Toronto’s fashion industry were treated to something almost exactly like TFW: FashionCAN. Hosted by Yorkdale Mall, in partnership with The Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards (CAFA)if you hadn’t known fashion week had been cancelled, you may not have been able to tell at all!

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Photo: CAFA

Toronto Fashion Week favourites such as Greta Constantine, Stephan Caras, Jennifer TorosianUNTTLD, and Mackage (who opened a store in the mall) showed marvellously on a catwalk constructed in the newest Yorkdale expansion. Spring/Summer 2017 collections from Canadian designers, including all-stars Maison Marie Saint Pierre and Pink Tartan, worked brilliantly in the beautifully-windowed space with Nordstrom and Uniqlo as the tempting backdrops. All the usual bloggers and Toronto editors and photographers (even George Pimentel!) were present and even Jeanne Becker was at centre stage, interviewing designers after each show.

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Photo: CAFA

Without the tents and the chaos, this mini TFW disguised as something entirely new was actually a very pleasant way to see the pieces. The setting was intimate, no more than two rows, and between shows you could sip tiny bottles of champagne, explore the FashionCAN pop-up shop, or even slip into the mall.

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Photo: CAFA

A shopping mall may seem like an odd place to host a “fashion week” (well, two jam-packed days), but it was oddly fitting. The event showed the guests that the talent coming from Canada cannot be stopped and that a new way to show that is possible. We look forward to what will come next.

All photos sourced here

Why Uniqlo Coming to Toronto Is a Big Deal

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Bringing an extra-large suitcase is something that I’m accustomed to doing whenever I get the chance to visit cities or even when I’m  in New York City for just a few days. I’m not one of those fashion editors who requires multiple outfits and shoes — my suitcase is normally pretty empty. So why bring an oversized suitcase and pay an airline the extra $25 just so I can check in luggage? It’s pretty simple: when I’m travelling and I know there’ll be a Uniqlo around, I plan on stocking up and stuffing that suitcase until it explodes at the seams. That extra $25 luggage fee? I’m willing to pay double that amount. And the extra effort it takes to haul an XL piece of luggage around like a you’re carrying a deadweight, intoxicated friend? No problem.

News broke early this year that the Japan-based Uniqlo was finally making its way to Canada, opening not one but two locations in Toronto come fall 2016, and I did some variation of Drake’s Hotline Bling’s Dances when I first found out. The announcement that Uniqlo is making it’s way to Canadian Soil is a big deal — such a big deal that even though we’re a year away from the opening, I decided to spell out some reasons why.

 It’s For Everyone

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Why were so many people living in the city praying that maybe, someway, somehow, Uniqlo would finally make it’s way North? Because the popularity of Uniqlo extends beyond just the style-savvy folk. It’s a brand that appeals to everyone, from fashion junkies looking to nab the latest Uniqlo collaborations with designers like Michael Bastian, Lemaire and Jil Sander, to individuals uninterested in fashion who just want to find a pair of jeans and a white T-shirt. Uniqlo’s ability to speak to such a wide gap speaks volumes on the types of clothes they carry, which are affordable, well-made basics. Unlike other fast fashion brands whose primary focus is to appeal to self-confessed fashionistas mimicking runway trends, and get them on to in store racks  as quickly as possible, Uniqlo concentrates on the everyday necessities. The must-have white T-shirt, the slim pair of black jeans, the comfortable hoodie, the affordable blazers — these are the pieces we all need in our closets, despite our level of devotion to the latest trends.

Functionality

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Uniqlo’s collections have always been rooted in function. The company doesn’t see itself competing with the likes of Zara to produce the latest runway trends; rather, they see themselves as a tech company, constantly investing and innovating in the technology of their fabrics. What that translates into are pieces of clothing for the masses that are going to help Torontonians get through very cold winters and very humid summers. Locals only have to wait 12 more months to finally get their hands on Uniqlo’s uber-popular fabrics like Heattech, which helps retain heat during frigid temperatures, and Airism, which helps airflow and breathability when the mercury rises.

Quality

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An argument can be made on whether Uniqlo is considered a fast fashion company or not, but one of the differnanting aspects of the Japanese retailer is its quality. The brand has no less than 16 textile specialists, each with 20 years of experience in dyeing, sewing and production. Unlike its competitors who work with more than 200 factories, Uniqlo mostly works a smaller group of about 70 factories mainly situated in China, to ensure better quality.