Fashion-able: Spring trending topics

Even though it doesn’t really feel like winter has even truly arrived, believe it or not, spring styles are just around the corner. We’re likely facing a few more weeks of cold fronts, but we’re starting to plan our escapes from this chilly climate in favour of warmer weather. Here’s a roundup of our fave spring 2012 trends (beyond the cats on cats on cats trend), seen on the runways in Toronto and around the world.

Pastel

We still love a good pop of neon (we were raised in the 80s, after all) but this season we’re making some room in our closets for pastels. Taking a cue from the Easter bunny, lighter shades were prevalent on the runways in various shows including 3.1 Phillip Lim, Acne and Louis Vuitton.


Louis Vuitton


Digital prints

This season we love a good, bold, digital print seen head to toe (think more-is-more). Although we were initially overwhelmed by the idea of so much pattern, we have to admit we’re now in love with the look. If you’re wary, stick to patterns with muted colors and more subtle designs, such as this look from Erdem from London Fashion Week. 
Erdem



Sporty/Athletic Chic

Break out the neoprene, spandex and racer-backs. Designers showed their athletic sides on their spring/summer 2012 runways. In time for the London 2012 Olympic Games, tracksuits are reinvented at shows like Alexander Wang, and can once again be worn out of the house (let’s all forget that this was OK for a hot second back in the early 2000s when Paris Hilton convinced us Juicy Couture track suits could be worn out of the house. This is not the same thing).

Alexander Wang


Peplum

Seen on the runways of Jason Wu and YSL, minis, blouses and second-skin dresses were seen sporting a bit of a protrusion, known as the peplum. Originating in ancient Greece and prevalent in the 80s the peplum is great to add a bit of drama to any outfit.

Jason Wu

The midsection

You have three months to do your crunches, so get cracking. This spring/summer get ready so show off your midsection. Whether your stomach is completely exposed, or through panelling, bellybuttons are taking center stage next season.  

Acne
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Rants and Raves: Dog walking

We love dogs on the fourth floor. Christina has King and Chauncho, Lisa has Angel and Roxy, and Ashley has Georgie. Sometimes they even come to visit – ain’t nothin’ like a cuddle from a furry friend on a busy day. But what we don’t like are irresponsible dog walkers. Sidewalks and parks are everyone’s territory, so take a little care on your next adventure with Fifi.

Please, please, please – keep your dog on a leash, no matter how well-trained you believe your beloved friend to be. First off, it’s the law. And we’ve run into enough off-leash dogs to know some of them aren’t as obedient as their owners think. We’ve had strange dogs follow us down the road, jump all over us and even be aggressive with our own pups. Not cool.
Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel know the drill. 

Stoop and scoop. This one’s a no-brainer (and another law), yet somehow there is still an abundance of dog poop on lawns, public grassy areas, beaches – you get the idea. It’s so, so disgusting to step in, and worse when your kid comes home covered in it because they were running around and fell down on top of a big pile. Gross.
On that note… respect people’s property. Gardens and lawns are not areas for your dog to relieve themselves. Avoid it whenever possible and try to train Spot to go on other grassy areas or, at the very least, the small stretch of lawn between the road and the sidewalk versus the nicely manicured lawn or blooming garden.
Dear other dog walkers: just because you have a dog and we have a dog, it does not make us BFFs. We don’t mean to be impolite, but sometimes we simply aren’t up for a chat – we may be struggling to control an excitable dog, working on training, or short on time. It’s definitely nice to exchange stories with a fellow dog lover and socialize our dogs, but this is one of those situations you’ve got to read people’s signals – if they seem to be inching away, maybe this isn’t the best time to chat. No offense.

Exception: If your dog is as adorable as this, we’ll stop and chat even if we’re running late for something.
A note on off-leash dog parks – they’re a great social spot for both people and dogs. Just don’t get so caught up in your conversation with the hottie who owns the retriever that you’re not keeping an eye on your own little pal. Make sure your pup isn’t getting into trouble or jumping all over someone, and is playing nice. Remember, you’re hanging out with strange dogs and animals can be unpredictable.
We know these tips seem like common sense, but we speak from experience. Love your pup and others will, too.
Now, check out some of our favourite dog parks around the city:

High Park – Escape from city life amongst the trees and trails at High Park, with designated off-leash areas.

PawsWay – Dog- and cat-friendly. Events and activities frequently take place in the 3,500-square-foot indoor Pet Park. (Especially amazing for winter).

Wychwood Barns Park – No need to worry about losing Toto; this park is fully fenced in for off-leash fun. A touch on the small side, but great for city dogs to stretch their legs.

Sunnybrook Park – Scenic on-leash hiking trails combined with a designated off-leash area make a nice afternoon for you and your pup.

Kew Gardens – A fave of The Beaches ‘hood, the off-leash area here is quite large. Plenty of space to get your dog tuckered out.

Monarch Park – It’s not fenced in, but it’s huge with lots of opportunities for chasing squirrels. Doesn’t take much more than that to make a dog happy.

Media, Darling: Jill Dunn

Jill Dunn is an award winning Toronto-based writer and editor. She got her start working at ELLE Canada, and then worked as beauty editor at Glow magazine for several years. Currently she’s at the helm of 29Secrets.com, a women’s beauty and lifestyle site, and is a resident beauty expert on the Marilyn Denis Show on CTV. Her freelance work has appeared in Hello! Canada, Canadian House & Home and Sympatico.ca, among others.


Twitter: @jilld_tweets; @29secrets

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?

For a time I wanted to be a lawyer; glad that didn’t pan out. Would have been bored to tears.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
Would still like to be creating content – the exact platform, I can’t say definitively. As a true Gemini, I can’t commit to anything too far in advance. Would also like to get a few more stamps in my passport between now and then.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?

Be proactive and take every opportunity that comes your way. Competition is tough, so you really need to go above and beyond to shine and land the job of your dreams. Also learn as much as you can about video content (script writing/producing/editing). You’ll be that much further ahead.

What are your favourite media outlets?

I get a lot of headlines via various journalists I follow on Twitter, therefore the news outlets I read vary from day to day. Generally speaking, for hard news my go-to pubs are: thedailybeast.com, globeandmail.com and nytimes.com. Magazines: Grazia, British Vogue, various versions of ELLE, Flare and Fashion. Juicy stuff: xojane.com, fashionetc.com, and dailymail.co.uk. TV: 60 Minutes and E! Fashion Police – equally informative.

Best interview you’ve ever had?

This is going back about eight or nine years, but Oscar de la Renta. He had anecdotes for everything. You would think he would be so bored of media interviews, but he was gracious, charming and generous with his answers – we talked for 30 minutes, which is kind of unheard of with someone so high profile. And recently, I met Pat McGrath in New York. I didn’t get to interview her one-on-one, but she did apply my lipstick. For a beauty editor, that’s about as good as it gets.

Worst?

Christina Aguilera.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?


Do what you said you would do when you said you would do it.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?


Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.” – Elizabeth Taylor

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?


Build personal relationships with editors, tailor your pitch and take it easy on the exclamation points. Also, educate your clients about ways to leverage online opportunities. I find a lot of PR pros and their respective clients think that online coverage is “free” or somehow less valuable than print. In a growing number of instances, online outlets are just as influential as print pubs. Plus, you reach a wider audience, for a longer period of time, so there is inherent value in that. 

 
Also very helpful for agencies: updating editors semi-annually of which clients you’re representing and the key contact for each. The nature of agencies is that they’re constantly changing clients/staff, so keeping editors in the loop is always good practice

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.


I love it when I write an email request and I get a prompt reply back saying: “Working on it; will keep you posted.” That acknowledgment puts my mind at ease and shows that the PR pro respects my deadline. Overall, I have very good experiences with the PR pros I deal with regularly.

I hate?


Embargos. I think they serve little to no purpose in this day and age of instant information. If I’m excited about something, I want to talk about it at my leisure (within reason, of course). Often I go to events months and months in advance of something launching, but by the time it hits shelves, I barely remember what I was excited about in the first place.

I love?

Kitchen parties, Three’s Company reruns, Jeopardy!, sharp wit and Skype dates with friends who live too far away.

Reading?

Just read The Marriage Plot. Up next: Half-Blood Blues.

Best place on earth?

A stretch of secluded beach on PEI during the summer.

Dinner guest?

The entire cast of Bridesmaids. I’d be flanked by Chris O’Dowd and Jon Hamm.

Hero?


My mom (doesn’t everyone say that?).

Favourite app?

Obsessed with Pinterest (follow me: @jmdunn00), Songkick and Words With Friends. Also like OneSpout – app for consolidating daily deals.

Pool or ocean?


Ocean. Salty air is good for the body and mind.

Voicemail or email?

Email, please. It’s efficient, and I like having a copy of correspondence to refer back to. 

City Living: Roadtrip to Buffalo

Toronto has great shopping, but sometimes it’s nice to check out the scene elsewhere. A reasonable exchange rate and a drive time of about two hours makes Buffalo a great day trip for shopping, especially since there are brands that you just can’t get here (like the aforementioned Jason Wu for Target collection). Here are our recommendations for stops that give you the most bang for your buck.


Bargain Hunter

If you love a great deal, head to Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls. The most popular spot for Canadians crossing the border, the outlet mall has over 150 stores including Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th Outlet, Coach and Michael Kors. One of our favourite stops is The Cosmetics Company Store, where you can find great prices on brands that rarely go on sale (MAC, Bobbi Brown, Origins). Go here early or late in the day to avoid the crowds, especially on a weekend.

No cross-border trip is complete without a visit to Target. We know it’s headed to the GTA, but for now, it’s still one of our top US destinations. Check out the DwellStudio for Target home collection and the affordable fashions. They also have great sheets, towels and a million other things that we didn’t know we needed. 

Love this pretty pillow from Target’s DwellStudio.

Boutique Treats 

If malls aren’t your thing, venture further than the typical Canadian visitor and spend some time strolling around the lesser-known neighbourhoods of Buffalo. Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo has a number of antique stores and cute clothing boutiques, like Chic and Sweet, Modern Nostalgia and PS Accessories. Known as Buffalo’s “Little Italy”, the neighbourhood also features great coffee shops and restaurants. 

The very cute Modern Nostalgia shop.

Another destination to check out is the historic district of Elmwood Village. Hit up Anna Grace, a well-curated boutique featuring local independent designers, alongside more established brands. Bonus? Take a stroll and browse the many art galleries for a cultural break. A girl can’t survive on fashion alone, after all.

Quaint Elmwood Village.

Mall Rat

If you love labels, Buffalo’s largest mall is Walden Galleria. Check out stores you don’t find in Toronto, like LOFT and White House Black Market, and the racks at department stores Macy’s and Lord & Taylor. If you’re traveling with a reluctant companion (i.e. a husband or boyfriend), bribe him with a slice of red velvet cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory as a worthy exchange for a couple more hours of shopping. Feel free to tuck into one yourself. Shopping is hard work.

Drool.

For directions and suggestions of other things to do in Buffalo, check out VisitBuffaloNiagara.com, a website hosted by the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau.







Fashion-able: Cats on cats on cats

Maybe we’re slightly cat obsessed (see: cat-of-the-day desk calender and Instagram feeds), but we aren’t the only ones. Cat-inspired pieces have been popping up everywhere these days – even Karl Lagerfeld got a kitten named Choupette.  


Here are a few items we found particularly purr-fect. 


For their Spring 2012 collection, Paul & Joe Beaute released Meow!, which consists of the Collection Sparkles and Kitten Collection. They describe Meow! as “a ‘cat-astic’ collection of colours, textures, and tones influenced by the legendary, iconic ‘sex-kitten’ of French cinema and beloved, whimsical feline prints cherished by Paul & Joe creator and designer Sophie Albou.” You can find Paul & Joe Beauty at Jacob & Sebastian on Queen West and various online retailers like ASOS.  


Adorbs, right?

We won’t get Target in Toronto in time for the Jason Wu for Target collection, but if you’re up for a road trip to Buffalo (see tomorrow’s post) you can snag some pieces from the collection this spring.  Despite the onslaught of recent designer collabs, we love the flirty dresses, tailored skirts and, of course, feline details. Not to mention all pieces are easy on our wallets. In stores on February 5.

Just enough cat. 
Lara Vincent, the mistress of millinery, has broadened her offerings from flower wreaths to bewitching kitten ears. This patent leather and suede beauty adds an extra “meow” to the simplest of outfits. Cat ears aren’t just for Halloween anymore, ya heard? Available online, $100.


Pretty ears.
Image source. 



Each year, Toronto’s own Fieldguided puts out a Dreamcats calendar. Inspired by the Dreamcats Tumblr, this beautifully designed screenprint is guaranteed to bring a smile even in the depths of winter. Best news? The calendar is currently on sale in their Etsy shop – $20, marked down from $30. Get ’em while they’re hot.

Get your fill of meow, 365 days of the year.
Image source.



Love her or hate her, you can’t deny that Lana Del Rey rocks a mean cat eye. The winged eyeliner look is a great statement look for a night out.

Bee-sting lips and catty eyes.
Image source.

Check out this tutorial on how to try the look yourself. 

Yum, yum: New & noteworthy desserts

We love finding new dessert options. The perfect dessert can make anything better. Here are a few of our favourite new spots to snack on something sweet. 


A common cupcake #fail is an insufficient amount of icing; it can make a cupcake as undesirable as a muffin bottom. For The Love of Cake in Liberty Village has taken measures to ensure their cupcakes don’t meet that fate by creating the 4 Dimensional Cupcake. These cupcakes include four delicious elements: the cake (variety of flavours available), the filling (95% of their cupcakes are filled with custards, preserves, creams and ganaches), the topping (a mix of meringues, whipped cream, mascarpone, cream cheese frosting and more) and the garnish (which can range from anything to a candied carrot to an Oreo). Best part? No dorky 3D glasses required.
Other notable cupcake shout outs include: Sweet Bliss Baking Company in Leslieville and Prairie Girl (two locations downtown).
If cupcakes aren’t your thing, try a cheesecake in single-serve portions from a new Toronto-based baketress, Ladybird. With mouth-watering flavours like Banoffee and Caramel Apple Crumble, these pint-sized cakes are perfect for birthdays, bridal showers or Fridays.
Gourmet marshmallows have been popular in Europe for quite some time, but have only recently been popping up on our side of the pond. Torontonians have Nadège Nourian to thank for that, at least in part. At Nadège, her Trinity Bellwoods patisserie, Nourian has created decadent homemade marshmallows. They come in a variety of exotic flavours, such as violet, poppy, coffee and banana. If you don’t live in the area or feel up for a baking challenge, you can try out Nourian’s recipe at home. Bon appétit.
Once synonymous with police officers and bitter, watery coffee, the mighty doughnut is experiencing a renaissance these days. We first noticed this when we heard about NYC’s Doughnut Plant and their pistachio, Meyer lemon and tres leches flavours. Imagine our delight when we learned of Glory Hole Doughnuts. While this up-and-coming shop is still searching for a home, their scrumptious doughnuts can be found at Thor Espresso Bar, Burger Bar (Saturdays only) and occasionally at 416 Snackbar. Our favourite flavour? Maple Bacon.
@GHoleDoughnuts 

Have any other favourite treats in the city? We’d love to hear about them! Tweet us @rockitpromo.