As huge a fan of online shopping as I am, sometimes you just need to get into the stores and try things on and touch the fabric. I recently spent two days hunting for stylish pieces in Toronto that won’t sent your wallet begging for mercy. Like any other big city Toronto has its share of neighbourhoods and styles. I happened to hit upon a week in the center of the universe where there was beautiful sunny weather and no humidity. Rare indeed!
Day 1 was spent on Queen st. Both East and West. I started on Queen St. West, which is known as the Beaches in Toronto. It is a very Vancouver like suburb with cute little ‘beach houses’ and streets with lots on small boutiques and restaurants. I go to a great place for my hair ( Hair Dynamix) there so I thought it would be great to explore the stylish part of the neighbourhood. The first store I wandered into was called Set Me Free and it is at 2130 Queen St. E., they had tons of fun, trendy pieces and a great staff. The first piece I found was this fabulous poncho from Point Zero. For $58 you have a trendy piece that can work well into fall and is perfect being the top layer over pants, skirts and dresses. I like this poncho because it grazes the hip line and sits diagonally to draw the eye down and not across the width of your body. Even perfect with the skinny jeans and flat sandals above. It just works and is a piece you will go back to over and over again for years.
My next stop was a store called M for Mendocino. Mendocino is a Toronto chain store and M is it’s more casual store. Great trendy pieces at a great price. Lots of key pieces that will carry though into fall right now and all the summer styles are on sale. The friend I was with bought an adorable print poncho with a cute little print and a knit skirt that will carry her on all her worldly travels. I found a fabulous little black dress that has enough style and substance to wear almost anywhere. For under $60 I bought this poly blend midi dress that has cute little chiffon insets from the knee down. The same dress ( well almost the same) is at Banana Republic for twice the price and in the designer department at Holt Renfrew for for $400. Great with wedges and flats. Again it’s a piece you can wear as is or belt for a different look. I like to buy black pieces because they are seasonless and almost trend resistant. Colors come and go in fashion but black is always a constant. You never hear anyone saying black is the new black.
Day two was spent in one of the Toronto malls. I chose Yorkdale as opposed to Eaton Center just because I find there are more stores and it’s all in one place. At Yorkdale I tried to go into chain stores but the chain stores I went into are not everywhere in Canada. Hence if you love a piece and there isn’t a Loft or Whitehouse Blackmarket near you, you can always go online. Every store I shopped at ships to Canada.
I love Loft! I know that is their slogan, but I find Loft is so much better than it’s older, stuffy sister Ann Taylor. For early fall there is tons and tons of great, well priced pieces and looks you simply can’t go wrong shopping there. Tons of great transitions pieces starting with this print. I love this color combination for August and September. As you can see great with denim and pull out any of the colors in this top, especially fall’s great hue of Aubergine and you could wear this top with a cute jacket right into October. Lots of great pattern play using navy, aubergine and softer colors. I have not met a person who can’t wear a shade of navy or of aubergine or currant. great on all skin tones.
I am particularly fond of the two pieces from Loft above. As the weather starts to cool down a bit we will be reaching for blouses and button ups as opposed to tanks and tees. This blue dot works great with denim and also with this fabulous Marissa fit pant in Plum. Wear it now with sandals and later with cute little boots. These pants are a winner and this color should be one of the new colors you have in your wardrobe for fall. One last piece I want to show you before we leave Loft. This dress is one of those pieces that can take you anywhere. Loft had it for $59.99 in a poly blend. I saw the same dress at Holt’s by Rag and Bone ( theirs was a midi length) for over $300. Don’t you just love the pieces that fool people into thinking you spent a lot of money when you didn’t!
After Loft I paid a visit to Ann Taylor. Some Ann Taylor stores are better than others. But since the staff wasn’t very helpful in the Yorkdale store and wouldn’t let me take a picture on the one great piece they are doing for fall I have to say shop Ann Taylor online only. There is not attitude with sales people when you shop online. The only piece that I found at Ann Taylor that would be worth the trip there is this soft twill jacket. I saw it in the store in chambray as well. It also comes in black online. The shape and look of it can take you from a soft office look to a cool weekend look all with just changing the bottom piece. But it is available online and that’s how I would buy it.
I think the store that surprised me the most was J. Crew. I get daily emails from J. Crew but I always write them off as a preppy store with not a lot for women in their 40’s and 50’s. But boy was I wrong! No one does casual better than J. Crew, no one. This look is fabulous on anyone at any age. A pair of chinos ( J. Crew has a number of styles to find the one that fits perfectly), an essential white Tee and a jean jacket. No wardrobe should be without this classic look. Here they put a black blazer on top to double as a jacket. It all works and is great on every level. I love these little suede loafers with the look above in this beautiful shade of soft burgundy ( also available in black). These loafers will add a touch of color to the look above and are something that you can wear right into fall. A fabulous shoe to own.
I am a huge fan of casual dressing. I love denim and casual looks that are polished seem to be the cornerstone of how not to look missy or too mature as you enter your 50’s. I found this , for lack of a better work, sweat shirt at J. Crew. Available in both chambray and ecru they fit casual well.
I love the detail on the side of the tops. It just adds enough interest to make it not so ordinary. Adorable with jeans or chinos, with fashion sneakers or booties. I am just sorry I didn’t get one for myself. Love with a capital L for everything J. Crew has in store right now. One more bonus, J Crew has a jean event on right now. Go in and they will fit you into the perfect jean for your body. Buy one of these cute sweatshirts as well, you won’t be sorry.
My last stop was at Whitehouse Blackmarket, another favorite online site of mine. I find they do dresses better than a lot of stores and you can get away with a great dress for under $150.I love the print and color of this piece. It looks like a halter but it’s not. They show it like this at Whitehouse Blackmarket or you can wear it with a more playful attitude and thow it over jeans. It is super flattering and I would love it over white jeans for summer as well. The one great piece I picked up at Whitehouse Blackmarket in Yorkdale was this long sweater vest. There is a lot of play with lengths for early fall. Longer sweaters and tops over skinny pants or hip grazing fitted tops and with wider pants. I will run the gamut of styles and how to update for fall in a couple of weeks. Right now enjoy wearing your summer clothes. But I thought this was a must have piece and it is available online as well.
Yorkdale has tons of other great stores including Holt Renfrew, Tiffany and pretty much every chain store you can think of. It is definitely worth a visit when you are visiting Toronto, or if you live there and haven’t been in a while go visit. Nordstrom opens next spring and it will certainly be a Toronto hot spot to shop.
I did visit Queen St. E. as well, which used to be a mecca for edgy, fashion forward little boutiques. But I found them replace with teeny bopper chain stores and frankly I think if you are looking for fashion forward and edgy ( which not many women in their 40’s and 50’s are) I suggest you shop the Gastown boutiques in Vancouver. They are truly what Queen St. used to be.
Thanks for reading, enjoy wearing your summer wear. I fear fall will be upon us before we know it. In my next blog I will talk about getting your closet ready for fall. What should stay and what should go. So until next week have fun with your clothes and please see the about page for my contact info if you have any questions or suggestions.