Archive for the ‘The disciple’ Category

It’s autumn, 1985. The fires of fashion are raging out of control and millions of people are learning fashion sense from their televisions. 

Dynasty teaches the power of shoulder pads and Miami Vice is seducing men into a world of pastels and deck shoes. Women are defying the laws of physics in leg warmers, lace and headbands perched above Brooke Shields eyebrows. Men are swaggering in Magnum-inspired Hawaiian shirts and growing thick moustaches and designer stubble. 

It’s chaos. 

It’s excess. 

Hair can’t be big enough, makeup can’t be heavy enough and Polo cologne can’t be strong enough. 

Evening television includes the Night of 100 Stars Diamond Fashion Show hosted by Joan Collins and featuring Treat Williams and a plethora of nighttime soap stars wearing designs from Halston III for JC Penney, Bob Mackie and Oscar de la Renta. (Check out You Tube and be sure to turn up the volume to fully enjoy the disco-infused Beethoven.)

I’m 11 years old and my favourite season is here. I love fall because I’m mad about sweaters, and this year I have two new outfits of note. First, a pair of red wool plaid pants with a mustard yellow knit sweater. Second, stirrup pants with slouch socks, Keds and a striped batwing sweater. Yes, memories are made of this. Crisp September days and cosy sweaters.

Every autumn is like this for me, and friends are familiar with my love of sweaters. Even Style Guy said to me, “Well Sarah, you do love your cardigans.” Yes, all 17 of them. I love black turtleneck sweaters, argyle sweaters, Aran sweaters, Fair Isle sweaters, and the list goes on. And when I showed Style Guy a photo of my favourite hand-knit sweater and asked him how to describe it, he replied, “Ugly.”

Well, I am learning that love for a sweater doesn’t translate into said sweater being stylish or flattering for your body type. This is where Style Guy comes in. I wondered, what sweaters are hot for fall this year and who should wear them?

Here, Style Guy gives us an overview of a fall favourite.

The Cardigan – this sweater classic is as versatile as it is essential. In a variety of textures from silk to cashmere and wool the cardigan sweater can be dressed up elegantly for a night out, worn to the office to finish off an outfit or more casually with a pair of great denim. 

The Turtleneck – another fall/winter classic. The turtleneck sweater comes in several forms, but it is important to remember a few key things. First, NEVER wear a ‘mock’ turtleneck, as this is not a good look on anyone, and secondly, if you have a short neck length avoid this type of sweater altogether, as it will cut off your neck and make you appear less than flattering.

The Cable Knit – this sweater is all about comfort and staying warm. This is the perfect sweater to wear on a cold fall evening or winter’s day. Look for one that is more tailored to your body shape and size and pair with khakis or denim for a comfortable look that is still pulled together.

Colours? For women: black, brown, camel and pastels. For men: black, navy and grey.

Where to get the Look? For women: Banana Republic (WEM), Urban Outfitters (WEM), BCBG (City Centre and WEM), H&M (WEM, Kingsway, South Edmonton Common). Best bets for plus sizes are Toni Plus (WEM) and The Bay.
For men: Henry Singer (Manulife Place), Identity Clothing (Rabbit Hill Road), HG2 (Manulife Place), G-Star (WEM)

And now onto our rapid-fire Q&A, where Style Guy answers my questions and takes us through some of the more common fashion successes and mistakes. 

Who shouldn’t wear turtleneck sweaters? Anyone with a shorter neck or those who have a round-shaped face.

Women’s wrap sweaters? Yes if done correctly, but this is not a look everyone can pull off. 

Women’s long, belted sweaters?  NO, NO, a million times NO! 

One colour of sweater and pants? (Ivory on ivory, navy on navy…) This monochromatic look can work, but it has more potential to go wrong, so unless you consider yourself to be in the advanced styling category I would say to avoid this look. 

Collared shirt under sweater?  Absolutely! This is a great look, kind of preppy and dresses up a sweater for an evening out or at the office. 

Men’s v-neck with what beneath? I would recommend wearing a dress shirt with a tie underneath a v-neck sweater. This can be a great alternative under a suit or to dress up a pair of pants or khakis for the office. 

Men in cardigans? Guys should definitely wear cardigans. Again be aware of your size and body shape when selecting fabrics and colours, but this can be a great look for guys.

For more of Style Guy’s moral discourse and honeyed words, check out styleguyjared.ca and “Like” his Facebook page. Watch for the next disciple column in September, as it coincides with Fashion Week.


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My body type is not listed in traditional biological morphology. If they had a shape labelled “box on a pear on upside-down bowling pins,” that would be me. Just imagine a mannequin with this shape and you can appreciate this is not an easy body type to dress. If business casual meant a Renaissance body in a muumuu, I would rock the office.

Unfortunately for me, designers and those who created business style long ago decided that women look most attractive, professional and confident in well-fitted clothing and wardrobes that include skirts, heels and sleeveless blouses (also known as straight jackets for the bread basket, bear traps and sausage casings). If you were to ask me what is my style philosophy, I’d answer comfort, which would make style gurus gag and spit their green tea gum onto their perforated Prada loafers.

I have decided, however, to challenge myself to change my attitude toward fashion and explore the what, why and how of putting together killer outfits. And to do this I will need the help of someone who can kindly but firmly tell me that chinos, Uggs, a T-shirt and a hat is not office-appropriate. Someone who can shake his head and say “Oh Sarah” in a way that demands change beneath its dulcet tones. This someone would be Style Guy, an office professional who moonlights as a fashion pundit and a balm to soothe our style wounds.

Before I start on this journey, I think it’s important to address the psychology of fashion. The way I see it, fashion isn’t about simply draping a body. For some, fashion is art, a passion in the same way others love gardening or mechanics. And just as an oenophile is dedicated to all things wine, a fashion aficionado is enthralled with every element of style, from design and quality to shape, texture and colour.

For most of us, fashion is about fun and confidence, flattering our body types and enhancing our image. What you wear says a lot about you, and if you choose to not care about fashion and fit, then guess what? You’re still making a fashion statement (also see Meryl Streep’s cerulean monologue in The Devil Wears Prada).

So here we go with our inaugural column that will lead off with a subject Style Guy says he receives the most questions about: jeans.

You can read Style Guy’s full denim blog at styleguy-jared.blogspot.com.

I asked Style Guy to select and talk about a few brands of denim he recommends for men and women. (And I don’t think it matters that I have heard of only two of the four chosen brands, so don’t mention it to him.)

For guys, Style Guy’s top picks are Diesel and Energie. Both come in a variety of fits and washes. For slimmer guys, he recommends a straight leg like the Viker. For guys who are a bit bigger he suggests a Zathan fit. The Zathan is straight through the thighs, but widens out into a bootcut. They tend to have more room in the waist/butt area and are more flattering on that body type. For Energie, the slimmer fit is called the Straight Morris.

The top picks for gals are Rock & Republic and Nudie, both of which come in a variety of fits. Rocks are good for girls who have a bit more curves, while Nudies are great if you are a slimmer fit and are looking for a great “skinny” jean. The Nudies also come in raw denim, which wears and looks better over time. They recommend wearing them for six months before washing them to achieve the ultimate look. To keep them fresh and kill germs, you can place raw denim in the freezer overnight and in the morning you are good to go.

So those are Style Guy’s expert tips. I’d like to add a few notes about what I’ve learned (okay, this may seem like a little pet-peeve venting and I suppose it is). Be careful when you wear low-rise jeans, as they can create the dreaded muffin top and/or belly lip. It’s worth your time to try on a variety of styles and washes to see exactly what works for your body type.

Another tip from Style Guy is not to wear really wide-legged pants that drag on the ground with flat shoes.

And lastly, we have our rapid fire Q & A with Style Guy. Faded jeans? Yes, if done correctly. Ripped jeans? Yes, if done correctly. Jeans to work? Only if you have a casual Friday or if your field of work allows. And even then, think of dressing up your jeans with a dress shirt and blazer and a pair of dress shoes. Flared leg? Nope, 1998 called and they took them back. Jeans with heels? Absolutely. Jeans without a belt? Nope. Always wear a belt. Dark wash? Absolutely. Coloured jeans? This falls into the advanced styling category, so yes if done right, but as a general rule I would say avoid.

That’s all for this entry, but watch for future columns on everything from a fall fashion preview to handbags done right. And don’t forget to enter to win our beauty bag. If you have questions for Style Guy, email them to us at countryasides@thejournal.canwest.com or post them on the wall of our Facebook page.

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