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Le Chateau September Haul

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Montreal weather has been all over the place. In the weeks that I’ve been back, I’ve experienced chilly weather in August and near-tropical heat in the middle of September. All this makes dressing a hellish nightmare. Nevertheless, I’ve found some amazing picks from Montreal’s own Le Chateau that are perfect for late September, when the weather finally decided to let up and allow us all to start layering for fall.

The first piece I got was this gorgeous menswear inspired blazer. It’s so perfectly baggy and drapey and can transform instantly from day to night with a quick switch to a mini skirt underneath (a sort of mock blazer dress). If you’re feeling particularly courageous, wear your favourite lacey bralette underneath. I’ll leave that there.

Shop the blazer here.

I also love these baggy pants that blend together a cargo-pant concept with oxford pant cleanliness. It’s a crepe-like fabric, similar to what you’d find in some oxford pants/dress pants, but the look is a little baggier and more casual. While it’s difficult to discern through these grain-filled photos (I’m sorry, I’m a sucker for VSCO), there are multiple pockets on each side of the pants that have a satiny sheen. It’s such a perfect contrast, and makes the baggy look stand out a little more. Not that one can have too many pockets, either.

Shop the pants here.

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Hidden Jeans

If there’s a new denim label worth watching since Just Jeans USA, it’s definitely Hidden Jeans. I know summer is nearly over so these denim shorts seem like a questionable purchase, but I promise that Hidden Jeans’ fall products are worth a peep. Their denim is so soft and comfortable, and the prices are student-friendly. Check them out here.

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Italy Travel Diary

This is a long one.

In July, I spent two weeks travelling around Tuscany with my family, and it was enough to seriously consider packing my bags and buying a one way ticket to Florence. Here are the outfits I wore, the places I went, and my recommendations for your next visit to Italy! NOTE: click on the images to enlarge/view captions.

TARQUINIA

This was the first stop on our trip. I have a relative that lives just outside of the tiny, hilltop town of Tarquinia, home of the ancient Etruscans. In Lido, which is a fifteen minute bus ride away from the main downtown core, is the beach town that we stayed in. Along one strip of road you’ll find the town’s restaurants, beaches (beach chairs are available for rent within most restaurants and cafes. I would recommend doing this; wifi is included in the rent!). While there is some shopping and sightseeing in Tarquinia, I think the main attraction is the beautiful beach on the Mediterranean Sea.

While I was in my bathing suit about fifty percent of the time, here are some of the outfits I wore. Tarquinia is cool in the evenings and hot and breezy during the day, which made accommodating for the Tuscan heat factor a little bit easier when it came to dressing. If you’re going downtown, I recommend hiking to the highest point of the main streets. The view is breathtaking.

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Outfit: Reformation | Shoes: Le Chateau

Downtown Tarquinia does have eclectic boutiques for shopping! What you’ll find here is different from the typical leather bags from the Florence leather market (more on that later). This top (below) is from a boutique in the city. There aren’t many, and fairly tucked away on little streets in small spaces, but they guarantee really great finds!

FLORENCE

Stop #2 was Florence, my absolute favourite city that I’ve visited in Italy thus far. We spent nearly a week here and there was so much to do, despite claims I’ve heard stating that Florence could be covered in a day. We skipped most of the museum stuff; I’ve been to Florence before and would recommend the Uffizi Gallery and the Museo di Gucci (under renovation until November 2017…sad). We stayed in an AirBnB just about a mile away from the Duomo, and the place was an absolute gem.

The great thing about Florence is that, if you walk everywhere and all day, you can eat two full meals (I’m talking at least three courses and wine) a day (and coffee/biscotti in the morning) and still lose weight. It’s so hot and the city is small, so there’s hardly a need for cars to get around anywhere.

Here are my top places to eat:

  • Amblé (left): a hip, trendy bar hidden in the Piazza dei del Bené where you’ll find lots of well dressed locals. This is also my favourite part of Florence, since it’s just a step away from high end stores and boutiques.
  • Osteria del’OK (right): this place has great pasta and a beautiful, modern design. We came here twice, and the second time we got complimentary caffe frappé. The servers can sometimes be a little too eager or grumpy
  • Amorini Panini: this gem is located close to the Duomo on Via dei Servi, and epitomizes a classic, Italian takeout meal. For less than ten euros, you can get a sandwich and a large glass of wine (you’re in the Chianti Classico region, so I’d recommend going local).
  • Eataly: This concept store is gradually taking over North America, and for good reason. It’s an expensive but authentic Italian dining experience made available to bring home. I’d recommend eating at the restaurants there. There’s an amazing fixed menu worth trying, and if you’re going closer to the weekend I would make a reservation!
  • Ristorante San Michele All’Arco Firenze: this is a tiny little place located on Via dell’Oriuolo, in the trendy Santa Croce neighbourhood, that prides itself in sustainability and freshness. Their food is grown and raised on a farm just outside of Florence (more on that later), and even the simplest dishes (I got fresh pasta with tomatoes, a little cheese, olive oil, and salt) taste wonderful.

Recommendation: have wine with every meal and try an Aperol Spritz at least once when the afternoon gets too hot!

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For gelato and other sweet options (which I had AT LEAST once a day…not including dessert after dinner)

  • Grom: arguably one of the best gelato we had in Florence. We’ve been to ridiculous, mediocre gelaterias that charged six euros for one gelato (almost $10). Grom is not like that, and they even have paleta-like dairy-free options. It’s a chain store in Italy, so there is at least one in each major Italian city. In Florence, Grom is located on a tiny side street just by the Duomo. It’s easy to miss.
  • Amorino: Yes, this is the place that makes flower shaped gelato. If that’s not enough to convince you, it’s on Via del Corso, which is a hop away from the Duomo.
  • Don Nino: A fairly touristy but satisfying gelato and cafe right next to the Duomo. This is a great spot to get wifi, coffee, affogatto, and sit down for a while.
  • Venchi: You’ve seen them at Duty Free stores and at Eataly in NYC, but there’s way more to the actual Venchi stores around Italy. Firstly, if you think you like Nutella, you’ve never experienced a true hazelnut spread until you’ve tried the one at Venchi. It’s just a few simple ingredients (and olive oil, which I think makes it so good), but they only sell this spread in the store because it’s bottled at each facility. So go for ice cream, to stare at the chocolate walls in the store, or the individually wrapped chocolates; I recommend getting a sample of this hazelnut spread from someone working at the store (which conveniently pours out of a fountain), and then bringing back as many large containers of it as you can.

Shopping:

  • Boutique Nadine: This was my favourite store in Florence, and I went back at least four times and bought something new each day. It’s fairly pricey, but the pieces are beautiful and the store looks so perfectly curated. It’s located in my favourite neighbourhood, in the Piazza dei del Bené. The pants pictured above are from here.
  • Melrose Vintage: My favourite thrift store. You can bargain a little for the prices of things! It’s definitely one of the less expensive stores compared to Boutique Nadine, but still a little steep for some of the things they’re selling. I got these amazing white jeans and a crop white top there, and ended up speaking to the lady for so long (practicing my horrible Italian) that she gave me a discount card to use at both their  locations! The location I went to is on Largo Fratelli Alinari
  • Marie Antoinette: a high end vintage collection apparently owned by stylists. It’s also in the Piazza dei del Bené and is worth a walk through even just to window shop.
  • Florence Leather Market: a popular tourist spot, and hard to miss. Make sure you bargain for things and double check that what you’re buying is actually leather. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and buy something that turns out to be faux leather. Two reliable places that I go back to are Massimo’s (just on a side street parallel to the main leather market street) and Roberto’s (either Roberto or his sister Leila

What I wore:

 

CASTELLO DI MONTEGUFONI

This hilltop getaway is just a 40 minute drive outside of Florence (the driving outside of the city is only half as terrifying). The expansive, suite/apartment-style hotel boasts one of the best and most memorable dining experiences I had in Italy. Check them out here.

A lot of visitors at the Castello stay for a while and make day trips around the Tuscan countryside. We were only there for three days, so our number of day trips were limited. Here’s what I recommend:

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Visit the Fattoria San Michele a Torri: The farm to table restaurant I recommended in Florence actually allows you to visit their facilities. You can go for picnics, explore the farms, and more, but I recommend the wine tasting. They are located on the border of two wine regions: Chianti Classico and Chianti Colli Fiorentini, so they can produce two varieties of Chianti wine. I know very little about wine and flavours, but the tour guide’s expertise made me feel pretentious enough to smell vanilla, cinnamon, and red berries out of something made from grapes. Call it confirmation bias.

Make a day trip to the medieval town of San Gimignano: This place had even better shopping than Florence, especially for shoes. I got these amazing snakeskin boots with floral embroidery, and I love them so much I could sleep in them. If the Florence leather market doesn’t suit you, then the more artisanal, raw vibe of the leather boutiques in this little town just might. They’re far more expensive, though. If you walk all the way up the main street, you’ll find Gelateria Dondoli. This is some of the best gelato in the world. Unbeknownst to me before visiting, there’s a gelato world cup, and this place was part of the Italian team. So yes, it’s really good. Get at least one gelato here at the start of your day, and another one before you leave.

 

Le Chateau August Haul

It’s been a few months since I’ve posted my favourite picks from Le Chateau. The end August has me thinking about transitioning pieces for fall, and since Le Chateau is proudly Canadian, they have great pieces that work with both light summer clothes and jeans for fall (I’m talking tops here). My favourite blouses from their latest releases are a satin tank that can be dressed for the office or in a more casual, vintage-y way for the weekend. The second top is a floral blouse that was released after its black and white predecessors from the Spring Collection fared really well. My friend had the plain white version and I was inspired to try a similar feminine look for pre-fall! Scroll down to see how I styled the pieces and find the links to shop them.

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Shop the satin top here.

Shop the floral blouse here.

Kansas City Photo Diary

It’s been over a month since I witnessed a legendary baseball game (Royals vs. Toronto, but sorry TO…I’m a loyal Royals fan) at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. I’m finally getting around to rifling through countless photos and places that I’ve visited so far on my travels this summer, and think it’s best if I just start recounting this entire adventure from the very beginning.

At the end of June 2017, I went to Kansas City for a baseball game, but we spent a lot of our time hanging around the Country Club Plaza, where our hotel was. To Canadians who may have not been to a place like this because of our six freaking month long winters, this plaza is like a giant outdoor mall the size of a small town. Think Shops at Don Mills, only bigger and better.

Here’s a breakdown of the trip, including all of the outfits I wore and favourite places I went:

Outfit 1

Leotard: Brandy Melville (similar here) | Shorts: DIY cutoffs

T.Loft

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Amidst all the BBQ that Kansas City is famous for (other than fountains?), T.Loft is one of the few healthy eating spots within the country club plaza. Their menu is extensive and absolutely delicious! Check out their website here.

Kaldi’s Coffee

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Coffee culture is slowly but surely gaining a following in Kansas City. Kaldi’s Coffee has reaaaally good espresso and tea (multiple cups of tea come with an order!), as well as a variety of healthy and baked goods (something for everyone). Check them out here.

Kansas City River Market

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One of my favourite things to do is visit a food market! There’s so much fast food and generally unhealthy food (see aforementioned BBQ) associated with Kansas City, and this place defies that stereotype. The entire market is crowded with vendors, visitors, and places to get food! I recommend the Hippie drink at City Market Coffee (pictured). It’s an iced coffee with almond milk, lavender, and just a little bit of honey. The market is located in downtown KC, and there is even a street car that operates for free that shuttles people from one end of downtown to another.

Kauffman Stadium

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This game kicked off the summer to an amazing start. Not only did the Royals pull through at the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Blue Jays 5-4, but there was a celebrity softball match before the game that we had no idea was happening! I can now say that I’ve come within respectable distance from Paul Rudd, Eric Stonestreet, and the guy that voiced Flynn Rider in Tangled.

Outfit 2

The hotel across the street had all these pink walls! I was told to pack lightly (only a carry on!) so I cut this shirt in half 🙂

Shorts: Levis

Bench Heritage Collection + Summer Picks!

Bench is the pinnacle of my early years experimenting with brands. Every girl in my class as a young girl wanted an iconic Bench hoodie that boasted the label name either on the sleeve or arm of whatever it was they wore. Even back then, Bench evoked a certain level of status.


In today’s age, logo wear by non-high end designers (Gucci tshirts?) hardly have an audience. Or maybe I’m just not a part of this audience. Either way, Bench maintains a certain quality to their work that allows them to appear timeless. Yes, their logo tees are still in existence, but their latest 90’s inspired heritage collection takes the whole fad of logo brandishing to a trendy yet nostalgic level. My top pick from the collection are these track pants that repeat the Bench logo up the sides. A little more modest, yet decidedly 90’s with the turquoise and purple colour combination, these pants mould to the street wear/athleisure trend that’s stormed the east coast.

Shop the pants here.

Another item from Bench (non-logo related) that was perfect for my summer travels is this black maxi shift dress:


It was perfect for unbearably hot Tuscan summer weather because of the loose, breezy silouhette. It could also easily be dressed up for dinner or down for traveling on the plane. My sister and mother even ended up stealing this dress from me!

Shop a similar style from Bench here

Sasha x Ellie by Segev

I had the privilege of working with one of my favourite photographers and friend from high school, Segev Opher. He’s an unbelievably talented visual artist whose talents extend from the easel and illustrations to graphic design and photography. An eye for the urban jungle as a vast, sprawling, uncontrollable landscape, Segev’s photos (especially in this series) capture an grand, industrial downtown Toronto.

Check out his work here, and his Instagram here and here.

Here are some of my favourite pics from the shoot, wearing Brandy Melville

June Swimwear

I’ve done collaborations with labels like Triangl, where I received amazing swimwear and could say, assuredly, that the product was great quality and fit well according to the size guide.

However, I’ve completely neglected the nightmare that is shipping anything international into Canada. There’s crazy protection laws that not only require the mark up of all foreign products by something crazy, anywhere between 10-50 percent, which results in a ridiculous price gap even on items taken for granted, like painkillers. Living in Canada is expensive. It’s supposed to protect local brands. Can anyone tell me a national pharmaceutical company that patented its own painkiller? I’m not an expert.

I can’t forget about the duties, either.

I bought a pair of sunglasses from Shevoke (before they became available in boutiques such as Zane in Toronto, and Editorial in Montreal), and the total cost became nearly twice as much as the original online price. That’s because I was charged nearly $30 in duties, $25 in international shipping (because even though we are on the same chunk of land as the U.S., anything shipped a little further north takes $15 more effort), and an AUS to US to CAD dollar conversion.

My point is, online shopping is messy in Canada.

Unless it’s within Canada.

Limits suck. However, I feel that paying so many extra fees for something like swimwear is so risky, because they’re usually unexchangeable or can’t be returned, and what if it doesn’t fit? There’s all these hygiene issues that make secondhand swimwear akin to used underwear. The sunglasses were a little bit different. I was obsessed, and the style looked great on me. People keep borrowing them too. If I didn’t like them, they’d be easy to re-sell.

Unfortunately, the variety of swimwear labels in Canada just doesn’t begin to compare to Australia and the U.S. We just don’t have enough summer. Finding a swimwear label with my aesthetic is difficult.

I’ve managed to round up a few:

June Swimwear

image: https://juneswimwear.com/blogs/journal/lookbook-april-2017

This is an earthy label that specializes in simple, wanderlust-inciting pieces that fit well and are made in Montreal. Shop here.

 

 

 

Tea You

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picture: instagram.com/tea_you

This label is just too good. It reminds me of La Hana swimwear, only way more affordable and free from all the messy duty costs that La Hana surprises its Canadian customers with. Bonus: they make clothing too!

 

Shop here.

 

 

 

 

 

Mimi & August

For a slightly more vintage vibe, Mimi & August is another Montreal-based company that’s got adorable prints and reasonable prices. Fruits, stripes, succulents, faded colours, cottage country…

Shop here.

 

Brandy Melville Haul Pt. 1

It’s terrible – I feel like I’m fourteen again. Of course, that wasn’t actually that long ago, but for years I regretted the generic connotation I associated with all Brandy Melville clothing. It wasn’t my idea to reincarnate the brand within my wardrobe, I’ll admit. It was @vanellimelli. She mixes American west coast casual with girlish, Parisian taste, and it’s something I could hardly conceive as possible until recently.

So here I am wearing a dress.

Not the remainder of what’s left of the Vetements craze on the east coast, either (especially after Gvasalia snubbed Paris as a “creativity killer” in his move to distance Vetements shows from the city…not exactly a move that inspires support from sensitive Parisians, I’m guessing).

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I was set on buying a similar dress from Realisation Par a few months back. Then it occurred to me (again): I am a broke student on a budget. Not only did I gratefully accept this dress as a gift from my mother with good taste, I felt I couldn’t really promote something that I didn’t feel could reach my audience. And, to me, posting a $200+ simple black dress deserves an occasion. Especially when the dress pattern can be copied, but apparently I shouldn’t go into detail because fashion law now exists and I can’t get into any debate about stitch copyrights.

Aside: this opinion is likely to change when I acquire a full-time job.

Anyway, Brandy Melville seemed to solve all of my problems by pricing this dress at CAD$40. See, if you get past all of the MALIBU sweaters and overpriced jeans probably picked up from Value Village (I can literally find the same thing for $5 at a vintage store, yet this seems to be the only item in the store that strays from the “one size fits all” – or, most – concept that seems to turn so many people away from the store. Half their clothing is sweatpants and hoodies, anyway, but I understand both points of view), then you can find some pretty fun pieces from the store. This will hopefully be further substantiated in my later Brandy haul posts.

All rambling aside, you can shop the dress here

Le Chateau June Picks

This summer I’m in love with knit tanks, yellow shades, and wedge heels!

I hated wedge heels until recently…it wasn’t until I was inspired by French trendsetters like Anne-Laure Mais (@adenorah) and the “Almost French” collection by Reformation that I started to change my mind. Who knew I could ever come around to espadrilles?

This knit tank looks perfect with just about any high waisted denim. It’s longer than one would expect, but tucks away and is just baggy enough. I used a rope as a belt here (a slightly regrettable choice) only because I was frustrated with other belts I’ve owned. It’s a budget solution, in my opinion.

 

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Once again, Le Chateau has anticipated my trend needs, all for a most reasonable price!

Shop the look: top | shoes ($60!!)