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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Spring style Revamp: Three Runway Looks For Less!

TEXT: Chris Zaghi and Claire Ball

Gone are the days when the standard polyester pantsuit or pencil skirt were the go-to for every woman at the office. The new 9-5 wardrobe should tastefully represent your personal style, as well as the atmosphere of your workplace. The same goes for your beauty routine. You want to look professional and put together without foregoing some extra oomph to your everyday makeup look.

When looking toward the weekend, most of the times all you want to do is throw on a t-shirt and sweats, but hear us out. Loungewear is great for picking up groceries, walking the dog, and laying about and watching Netflix. But sometimes the weekend calls for a little pizazz! An easy weekend solution is to keep your makeup minimal instead of your clothes. Why not amp up your weekend style with some comfy show stoppers that’ll have all your friends begging you for fashion advice and opt for a minimal makeup look?

Now evening wear and formalwear can be a bit tough. There are tons of rules and guidelines on what’s right and what’s wrong. No white at weddings, no stretch fabrics, avoid things that are too casual. All of these rules can make it almost impossible to find something that won’t be gasped at by the rest of night’s guests. Luckily, over the last few years, how we look at formal attire has changed drastically. Outfits that would have never gone over well at formal events are now slowly being accepted. And more outlandish and gaudy designs are being celebrated at events instead of being shunned. This opens up a lot of doors to what you can wear to a formal event this year. So keep your makeup relatively classic with a bit of a twist and let your outfit do the talking!

Office Ready: Chanel vs. Zara

Photos: Vogue Runway – Zara

Zara Textured Weave Cardigan &  Zara Structured Mini Skirt With Ruffle:

$135.80 online or in store

Zara has a long-standing tradition of providing the fashion-forward masses with reasonably priced and well-made clothing inspired by the world’s most exclusive luxury labels. The clothing you find in most Zara boutiques tends to lean toward a very elegant and trend-positive style. And when looking for the perfect 9-5 outfit, elegance, assertiveness, and freshness are key. For example, Zara has recently added this beautiful tweed set to their lookbook. Elegantly trimmed with a fire engine red hem and buttoned with faux pearl accents. This classic style mirrors the suits Mademoiselle Coco made famous decades ago, but with an added flirty twist. This especially helps with keeping your 9-5 wardrobe fresh and exciting (and you can mix and match the set too!)

Office Makeup look: Blush(ing)

Photos: Vouge – MAC Cosmetics

MAC Casual Colour in Hi Jinks: $31.00 in store or online

In case you were absent during the ’80s, now is the time to embrace a retro throwback in your beauty routine. The spring/summer runway was both subtly and extravagantly reminiscent of the decade and one of the most popular makeup tributes to it was bright blush and lips. Designers like Kenzo, Reem Acra, and Adam Selman all participated in various versions of the retro blush. This look from the Chanel spring/summer 2017 runway features a strong, bright coral cheek contour with a hint of coral on the lips to evenly brighten up the face. MAC has a line of creamy multipurpose lip and cheek stains that are perfect for recreating this look for the office on your own! Just trace the cream colour up the cheekbones, and around the eyes. If you’re really feeling the 80s vibes, finish it off by dabbing a little bit on the lips for an added pop of colour. This beauty look screams springtime while also keeping it professional and pretty for work.

Weekend Chic: A.P.C vs. ASOS

Photos: Vogue Runway – ASOS

ASOS Denim Crop Jacket with Ruffle HemASOS Ridley Skinny Jeans

$138.62 + Shipping

Weekend outfits often tend to lean towards whatever is the most casual (and clean) that’s laying around your room. This can lead to some serious drab moments when going out and hitting up the town. Luckily, ASOS has a slew of different dressy yet uber-casual options for you to beef up your weekend wardrobe. Now, most people don’t want to wear a blouse on the weekend. No problem. Denim is your best friend in this case. The denim jacket and jeans give you the same refined, high fashion silhouette that the A.P.C ensemble gives you, just without the high fashion price tag. The pulled in waist and ruffles paired with matching skinny jeans give this look a fresh and expressive take on your traditional Canadian tuxedo.

Weekend Makeup look: No-Makeup Makeup

Photos: Vouge – Sephora

Laura Mercier Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20: $55.00 in store or online

The bare skin “no-makeup” look has been seen before, but this season it seems that it was more popular than ever. With designers like Isabel Marant, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, and Christian Dior all displaying a minimalist approach to makeup on the runway, there is no denying the obvious appeal of the “no-makeup” look. Radiant, clear skin like this look from the Stella McCartney spring 2017 show, is the perfect way to keep it casual, fresh, and chic on the weekend. Just apply a good tinted moisturizer, like Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer with SPF 20, to even out your skin and bring out your natural radiance with a dewy glow. If you need to cover some blemishes, just touch them up with a little bit of concealer and blend it out. To complete the ultimate natural look, brush up your eyebrows and you’re good to go!

A Beautiful Evening Out: Gucci vs. Free People

Photos: Vogue Runway – Free People

Garden Life Maxi Dress$327.50 online or in store

Evening wear can be a tricky thing to get right. With all the guidelines surrounding what to wear, most people opt for something black and that’s that. However, modern evening wear doesn’t have to end up being so uptight. One big trend we’ve been seeing are florals — explosions of colourful blooms completing outfits in exotic prints and embroidery. And that’s just the right amount of punch your closet needs to fulfill all your formalwear desires. Free People does a wonderful job of merging elegance and hippie-chic in a neat little package, and the Garden Life maxi dress does just that. Mirror the beautiful blooms seen at Gucci this season. The dress is perfect for this year’s upcoming wedding season and any other spring/summer event that requires a little evening magic. Who knows, maybe you can even turn a dull winter party into a tropical paradise if you have the guts to do it.

Evening Makeup look: The Smudgy Eye

Photos: Vogue – Sephora

Marc Jacobs Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner: $31.00 in store or online

This “still wearing last night’s makeup” look is the new smokey eye. The spring/summer runway was all about the smudgy eye. Runway looks from Rag & Bone, Christopher Kane, and Balmain featured similar versions of the black, ashy, smudged out liner look. Pairing this makeup with the floral Garden Life Maxi Dress adds an edgier vibe for a perfect night out look. The best part about this beauty trend is that you no longer have to stress about drawing a straight line! Use Marc Jacobs Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner to rim your eyes, and using a smudging brush, Q-tip, or your fingertip, smudge out the liner to create an “already worn out” smudged and smokey look.

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What’s In Store? 5 Must-Have Items On Sale Now And Perfect For Spring

With the colder temps, spring seems so far away. However, there is no better time than now to freshen up your wardrobe by taking advantage of the end of the season sales. By splurging a little now, you will save later and put that money toward something else.

I decided to make things a little easy for you and went to several brands to select the top fashion pieces that will continue to shine in the next season. I collected five trends that promise to make the transition from winter to spring smooth and stylish .

Racing stripes – Zara

The athleisure trend for Spring 2017 is all about stripes in any size and colour, with a strong primary-hued stripes and racing flag details. Be sure to make a statement with standout colourful stripes and don’t hesitate to mix and match different stripes together. The look above features a sweater and pants from Zara and is the perfect example of how to combine different size of stripes in a classy way while maintaining a sporty vibe.

Ruffles on ruffles, Cos Stores

I hope you aren’t fed up with ruffles because this trend isn’t leaving anytime soon. Frills and ruffles were all over the runways. And this spring, it will be more about layers that create a more voluminous statement.

Of course it doesn’t mean that you need to go crazy with ruffles, but I do believe that a little extra fabric here and there never hurt anybody. With this thought I went straight to COS and chose some items from the sales department. These shoulders gave me an edgy look, while the mini skirt with the cute frills on the side brought out my feminine side.

Back to the 80’s, Aritzia

These Aritzia asymmetrical pants in khaki beige are a modern version of the 80s high waisted trousers with a roomy fit on top, tapered at the ankle. The pants made my smile even wider when I found out that they are on sale. It’s the perfect mix of easy to wear item and chic. I paired it with vintage inspired blouse to add a luxurious touch.

Fifty shades of pink, Topshop

Get ready to reveal your girly side, because this sweet colour is going to be everywhere this upcoming spring. The good news is that any shade of pink will work. From baby pink to bubblegum hue or even fuchsia, simply pick the shade that works best for you.

I decided to take the trend one step further by creating an outfit in head to toe pink. I picked up a sweater, coat and skirt from Topshop‘s sale section. There is something about this rosy hue that presents strong sense of femininity and boldness.

Flower Power, Club Monaco

This trend has caught my eyes because it’s like a little note from spring saying “don’t lose hope, the blooming season is on the way”. Florals are often a staple print during spring and summer, and this upcoming season will be no different. Don’t be afraid to cover yourself with everything from traditional to abstract floral prints — the louder the better.

My artistic essence came to life in a form of pants and dress I found in Club Monaco at an amazing sale price. This allover floral print dress will no doubt take you from winter to spring with minimum effort while giving you maximum style!

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Celebrating 2016’s Top Models Of Colour!

As fashion takes bolder and more progressive steps, designers are now becoming more fluid in the way they plan their runway shows and campaigns. In the last few seasons, designers have now incorporated more models of colour into their creative processes than ever before. With models hailing from all over the world, never before has there been more representation among racial and cultural minorities within the fashion industry. Designers are now finally understanding and accepting the beauty that has been all around them for so many years. And for that same reason, Novella is compiling a go-to – in no particular order – list of the most successful and celebrated models of colour of 2016!

Photo: Models.com / Zara

Lineisy Monteiro

Hailing from the Dominican Republic, Lineisy Montero broke onto the scene in early 2015. Being booked for everything from Prada to Dior, Louis Vuitton to Celine. Her iconic debut at Prada instantly landed her a coveted spot in Prada’s fall/ winter 2015 campaign, solidifying her as a Prada girl. Since then, Lineisy has walked every major show in the world’s fashion capitols, as well as landing coveted spots on countless fashion magazine covers. Recently, Lineisy was chosen to star in campaigns for Chanel, Givenchy, and H&M. However, her most amazing feat is the whopping 219 shows she’s walked in since her début. Making her one of the most in demand models  on the runway in recent times.

Photo: Models.com / Tom Ford

Mica Arganaraz

With an astounding 23 campaigns under her belt for 2016 alone, Argentinian Mica Arganaraz has swept the fashion industry this year. With her signature messy fringe becoming one of the most copied and coveted hairstyles of the year, Mica has dominated this year’s “cool girl” trend category. Since her debut, Mica has become a permanent staple in Paris couture shows, having walked everything from Chanel to Valentino. On top of all of her work so far, Arganaraz has 24 editorials under her belt for 2016 as well as being the only girl to star in a Prada campaign solo since model icon Sasha Pivovarova.

Photo: Models.com / Bobbi Brown

Bhumika Arora

India’s newest model sensation has been sweeping runways, and the hearts of fashion lovers around the world in 2016. Her strong bone structure and striking eyes have won over dozens of fashion heavy weights this year. Earning a coveted spot in Bobbi Brown’s fall/ winter 2016 ad campaign, as well as spots in major magazines like Teen Vogue, Vogue Italia, and W. In terms shows, Bhumika walked a healthy number of shows this season for the likes of Elsa Schiaparelli, Balmain, Chanel Cruise, and Armani Prive; establishing her as one of the most recognisable and in demand models of the year.

Photo: Models.com / Marcs

Fernanda Ly

Louis Vuitton’s it girl has been winning over the fashion world this year. After highlighting Nicolas Ghesquiere’s first show for Louis Vuitton, Ly has gone on to walk every Louis Vuitton show since. Apart from the shows she’s walked for Vuitton, Fernanda has starred in every “Series” themed ad campaign for Louis Vuitton since her debut for the brand. In terms of international work, Fernanda has graced the covers of countless fashion magazines like Vogue China, Vogue Japan, L’Officiel Malaysia, and CR Fashion Book. Another important staple in Fernanda’s career for 2016 is the coveted H&M holiday campaign. Which not only comes with a great deal of exposure, but a hefty paycheck as well!

Photo: Models.com / Balmain

Joan Smalls

From runway darling, to blue chip campaign powerhouse. Joan Smalls has become one of the most recognisable models of colour in recent years. Having quickly climbed through the ranks of models in the fashion industry since her debut. Joan is no stranger to booking high-profile campaigns and shows, with the most recent being the coveted Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. But her presence isn’t only reserved for commercial work these days. Joan still nabs highly sought after campaigns from the biggest designers around the world like Givenvhy, Marc Jacobs, Balmain, and Moschino. Joan has also dominated the editorial game this year, with stunning editorials for LOVE, Vogue, Glamour, I-D, and W, to name a few.

Photo: Models.com / Topshop

Imaan Hammam

Nothing says “in demand” like a beauty contract and Imaan Hammam has just that! Having landed a priceless beauty contract with make-up heavyweight Shiseido, Hammam is quickly showing the fashion world that she has staying power and star power. The highly sought after model has also landed multiple campaigns for the likes of H&M, Topshop, and Givenchy, as well as an astounding line-up of runway shows including Nina Ricci, Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, Tom Ford, and Mugler. In terms of editorials, Imaan is sweeping the ranks, with 5 editorials in American Vogue in only 3 months.

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DIY Fall Trends: Embroidery

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Photo: Just Like Honey Embroidered Tee, The Academy New York

Embroidery is one way the personalizing trend, see also: patches and monogram, is taking hold this fall. From boutique brands, to high street fashion, to street style, embroidery is no longer reserved for grandmas and Etsy-fiends.

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Photo: Embroidered Stripe Shirt, Zara

The best thing about it is that it is the easiest trick to pick up in a single afternoon. So easy in fact, that you should hide all plain t-shirts, or any clothes really, because once you learn it will be tempting to sew a little something on just about everything you own (tip from personal experience).

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Photo: “Girls Girls Girls” Sweatshirt, Lisa Says Gah

What’s also great about this DIY project is that you can buy all of your supplies –thread, loom, and needles–at your local dollar store. Nothing about this is fancy, but it looks great.

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Photo: Embroidered Tee, Boneset Studio

 To learn the how-to’s, look no further than the original DIY Queen, Martha Stewart. Just follow the steps of her 14-slide tutorial on her website and you’ll be flying. Buy a vintage bandana, or three, to practice on while you watch TV and soon you’ll get the stitches so down, you can work your way to totes and tees. MUJI sells great plain canvas tote bags, while go to any high street store for a plain tee.