Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Montreal is Better Than Yours*

*The title of this post is an homage to a travel article of the same name, which appeared in Budget Travel last summer. It was written by two Montreal bloggers who know a fuck of a lot about eating in Canada's sassiest city (

And I probably never would have discovered their awesome food blog ( had I not happened upon the article while searching aimlessly for a magazine I hadn't actually read yet (I have a problem...) while waiting for a flight from New York back to TO. Wow, that sentence makes me sound exciting. Thank you to Sandra for finding it on my behalf.

The thing about Mtl. - if you haven't had the good fortune to get there - is that it skirts the line between old and new, cheap and chic, hot and cold, high and low (you get the idea) much in the way that fashion does. And it does it in two languages with joie de vivre in a vaguely affordable manner. Oh, and it's sexy. (Did I mention that?)

In addition to a roster of fantastic restaurants (Pintxo, Laloux, L'Express, Holt's Cafe, Ogilvy's downstairs - I could go on...), this town has, for my money, the best shopping in Canada. In fact, Id' wager it's in the top 10 of the best shopping in North America, not that I've been everywhere, so I'm open to a lively discussion about this assertion.

This will, by no means, be my only post about Montreal or, more specifically, food in Montreal or shopping in Montreal or places to say in Montreal etc. It's just a primer, a little amuse bouche, to entice you to book your VIA 1 ticket today.

A Couple of Places on the Plateau I Love...

Lola & Emily:

Once you've walked half way up the mountain you'll be ready for the cozy - but not cloying - atmosphere in this fabulous shop. Textures abound in go-to contemporary brands like Ca Va de Soi and Nougat.

Unsurprisingly, this shop favours delicate, form skimming knits and designer denim.

It also stocks a small, but fierce, selection of shoes. This summer I bought a great pair of grey suede upper / patent heel round-toe wedges (they're at work or I'd be able to tell you the brand). They walk the line (sorry for the pun) between function (they're not more than a 1.5 inch heel) and fashion (so gorgeous, so rich). For walking, they rock.


You may know that this place originated in Montreal, that it used to be called Rugby, that it's named for the initial and date/year of birth of its owner, but did you know there's an m0851 hotel in Antwerp?

What can I say: It's a combo of leather, knitwear and clean (almost avant but not quite) basics in muted tones and unusual fabrics (parachute, anyone?).

Let's face it, the leather is about as good as it gets, excellent value for the money but still rather pricey given the superlative quality of the goods. Top end calfskin in elegant, minimal designs make this a fave. PS - There are stores in various other cities, amongst them, TO and NY...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

In Defense of Minimalism

These shoes really blow my mind:

What can I say - the rich, muted colour scheme, the luscious suede patchwork, the architectural heel... Totally love them though, given the lifestyle, I'm not going to be buying them anytime soon.
They're made by a NY label - Banfi Zambrelli - a line, I must admit, I'm not familiar with. (This is why we troll the web.) Check out their interesting site at

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Shiny, Unhappy People

About a week ago, while surfing one of my fave sites (Jezebel), I watched a rather outrageous and fearless video cum social commentary about American Apparel and how hideous most of it looks on a) anyone whose body deviates from the proto-anorexic ideal and b) practically everyone else too (

Tracie and Jessica, the intrepid satirists, really threw themselves into the fray to point out with hilarity and a great soundtrack that this brand, while ugly, is also promoting a kind of retro-sexism and body loathing. I found it so inspired that I forced my husband - a guy who's not into this sort of thing - to watch it and even he was impressed by its daring.

Fast forward to yesterday and you can imagine my dismay at reading a follow up post in which Jessica admits that, rather than empowering her against the media image machine, she was completely demoralized by the experience and by the subsequent onslaught of negative commentary hurled in her (and Tracie's) direction. Slurs about weight and attractiveness were levied without mercy. Let's be clear: These are enlightened, intelligent, amusing and artistic women who have fascinating lives and moxy - the very building blocks of attractiveness - in spades. Furthermore (shall we cut to the chase?), they aren't fat - not that this would, in any way, be license to insult. They're simply horribly styled, if you can even call it that, in miserable clothing the likes of which we've all had the bad fortune to try on.

It strikes me that their only mistake was in rendering the message so flawlessly. Shiny satin jeweltone spandex is never lovely regardless of the size and shape of one's rear end. Drippy, yet slutty, cotton cutout bodysuits in 5 shades of oatmeal do not bring out the glow in one's complexion. Fluorescent lighting - don't even get me started on this topic - is the bain of the modern shopper. Jessica and Tracie sought to clarify this in an uncharacteristic ego-free zone (the zone of androgyny, comedy, the artist, no?). They fought the good fight, and sad to say, Dear Reader: It came back to bite them in the shiny spandex ass.

Love This Look...

There's something so glamourous, rich, sleek, modern about this Resort '08 Collection by Celine. I particularly love the white jacket (in pic 2) and those skinny pants and that lounging by the pool circa 1972 swimsuit. If I had loads of cash and I lived in NY and didn't do anything that gunges up ecru, I would so be at Barney's looking for these. It's not just clothing, bien sur, it's a lifestyle...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Undergarments for the Modern (Curvy) Gal

In case you thought I was joking about my love of lingerie, this post will disabuse you of that crazy idea. Underwear makes the difference between a smooth line and - if you don't weigh 96 lbs - a lumpy silhouette. And, truly, there are so many places for the lumps to lurk. For example:

  • Upper back

  • Derriere

  • Top of the breast (overspilling)

  • Abdominal (upper and/or lower?!)

  • Upper thigh
I know, Dear Reader, you aren't an idiot. You've walked down the street on a hot as hell July afternoon and seen the atrocities splayed out before you. Maybe you've even had a look in the mirror and noted a few of these, ahem, challenges on your own form (though I can't imagine that could be the case. For if you had, I'm sure you would have hightailed it over to XYZ Fancy Bra Boutique for a Ms. Fix It moment.)

Having said all this, it's always fab to look at pictures of elegant underwear. And all the better if it's educational to boot! (Note: This post would be massive if we aimed to solve each of the myriad lump challenges listed above. So let's focus on a couple of sexy, yet practical, bras for now...)

Basic Isn't Code for Drab

Observe the neutral colour (skin tone bras are the only ones that are actually nude under white and very light coloured tops) and the relatively smooth fabric. Sure, seamless would be that much flatter under a tight shirt, but those seams are doing the heavy lifting.

Also note the balconette - or horizontal - cut along the top of the breasts. These breasts are large but the bra is up to the challenge. Undercup seaming and corset underwire work with sleek - but strong - straps to really lift.

One other key feature to note: The wire rests flush against the sternum and underneath the breasts. If it doesn't adhere, stay clear!

Now take a look at the back view...

While this bra is a great fit for a broad - but slim - woman with large breasts, if you have fat on your upper ribcage, chances are it won't be right for you...

For upper torso padding, defer to a wider band. Fortunately, not all wide bands are matronly, but I won't lie - the sexy ones are certainly harder to locate. Fantasie (and to a lesser extent, Freya) are good bets if you have large breasts and a fleshy torso.

But Grrrrls Cannot Live on Beige Alone

In the interests of full disclosure, I'm a woman with large breasts and a small ribcage, which is why Freya works so well for me. When I bought this bra it blew me away. The colour (cotton candy), the lace work (which is flat under most shirts) the bow details, the low cut (but supportive) balconette. No joking around, it looks just like this on, and with the matching bottoms - I have a string thong and a gorgeous, flattering low-rise brief, I feel like a hollywood starlet.

Corsets are Sexy - and they really work (as long as they actually fit)

If you can find one that's quite snug in the torso with a built in bra that follows all the rules (underwire must lie flat) then this is a crazy, sexy way to underpin your Von Furstenburg wrap dress.

And Finally...

A word about whether to match undies: Please do.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Meet K-Line's Production Assistant (No Nepotism Here!)

She's got a degree in Individualism and she styles a great shoot.

M is on a trajectory of artistic development and creative expression. No stranger to eclectic pairings, her incisive gaze underpins many a gorgeous look.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Best Leather Jacket Ever...

Watcha think of this gorgeous bit of design?!

My mother, bless her heart, bought it for me as a Christmas present when she was visiting from North Carolina in December. It was not on sale. And a propos of this, you've probably determined, even at this early stage of our acquaintanceship, that I am not one of those girls who thinks talking about price is louche. So prepare yourself for this scary sum: $600.00 at Sisley (well really, at Benetton on Bloor Street, but it's a Sisley design). Worth every penny.

Don't know if these pics do it justice, but the leather is literally butter-soft in a perfect shade of chestnut brown. The silk lining is a gorgeous moire but it's really the cut that takes the cake. Can you see the gorgeous button up cowl? It looks as good fastened as not. Do you observe the perfect drape of the fabric? I mean, it's a double-breasted jacket which is usually the kiss of death on a short girl with boobs, but it hangs perfectly and looks (if my mother is to be believed) even better from the back than from the front!

And finalement, those sleeves - they manage to be long and a bell (my preferred shape for everything). They're pleated at the seams, for God's sake! Such workmanship is rare in anything short of "designer" wear.

Thank you to Mom (and fashion fairies who toiled to make this work of art).

Friday, January 25, 2008

And Now for a Word about Undergarments (Would this were a message from our sponsor...)

If you know me - even slightly - then you know how much I dig lingerie, like in a "thousands of dollars sitting in my dresser drawer" kind of way. (Disclaimer: I have amassed it slowly and stealithy over the years. I am not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-panties kind of purchaser.) And if you know me - even slightly - chances are I've pulled my shirt down just enough to show you the gorgeous cut of my balconette or how the mint green satin of my bra strap complements the brown tank I'm wearing. No doubt, I've tugged my thong strap up so you can see some fancy design element. I am not shy because this stuff is the shit, it fits perfectly and it sets the mood for what will go on top.

So let me tell it like I see it. One's foundation is exactly that. And if you forego fit, fun or functionality, it's going to show. It's going to make those fabulous things on which you've spent all your disposible income look ordinary. It's going to highlight anything you might be trying to hide.

And at the risk of being blunt, so early in the game, you may think you wear a 34D because that's the largest size you can find at your mid-range department store. You may feel the centre wire is not too far from your sternum (note: if it ain't touching, it's too far). You may buy a 36 band because you're trying to fit into a larger cup without going up a size (in which case you're boobs are probably hanging to your middle ribcage). You may not mind that the molded cup is half an inch away from your smaller breast. You may not have noticed that you have a smaller breast. But in the end you are only cheating yourself and your admirers (they being the general public) because perfection is in your grasp.

Now it won't come cheap, and it's easier if you live in a stylish urban centre, but I promise this is one kind of perfect that is actually attainable. The process:

  • Don't be invested in the size of your bra. In the same way it doesn't matter if the pants are a size 12 (when you generally wear an eight) as long as they fit beautifully, it makes no difference if you are a 30A or a 36FF. Honestly.

  • Small tits look bigger in a well-fitted bra and big tits look smaller and, well, firmer.

  • Get thee to a good lingerie boutique. If you live in Toronto, Secrets from your Sister (despite my intermittent issues with the place), is a fine store with great stock in every size from tiny to huge. And the staffers are sincerely knowledgeable.

  • Don't freak when the SA wants to take a look at the initial try-on she throws you - just to confirm she's in the right ballpark about ribcage, breast size and shape of you vs. shape of the bra. Chances are if she's an expert she won't use a measuring tape. Which is just as well because that's a little awkward...

  • Note that, in general, woman wear too loose a band and too small a cup. The band should fit almost like a corset because it, along with the underwire, is what holds your breasts in place. This means that if you pull the straps off your shoulders, while the fabric may drop away from your breasts, the band should not budge.

  • If your breasts are small (up to a D), Lejaby, Princess Tam Tam and Agent Provocateur make some insanely beautiful things.

  • If your breasts are large (bigger than a D), Panache, Freya and Fantasie are excellent brands providing gorgeous, fun to flirty to basic to sexy design with the underpinning architecture you definitely require.

  • If you are really shy (or you live in the middle of nowhere), here's a post that tells you how to determine your own bra size: Thing about this is that it won't tell you how brands interact with that size and it won't be able to give guidance about the best bra for the shape of your particular breasts.

I could go on and, in future I'm sure I will (picks of my faves to follow, promise) at a later date.

Just needed to get this off my chest, you understand...

Yesterday was Payday...

...And I had a feeling that the shopping gods would be with me. Really, when it comes to spending, I have a gift! To wit:

The dress is Generra, trapeze cut (which is begs the pregnancy question if you happen to have tits, hence the fitted Ca Va de Soi cardigan over top). True to form, I scooped it up for $89.00 - on sale from $375.00 at my best-kept secret.

Again, I'm just learning the ropes with the photos, so apologies for lack of clarity. At least it gives you a sense of the line...

While we're at it, I found this great bell-cut jacket:

Got it at Club Monaco on sale for $59.00 (down from $269.00). Very impressive if I do say so myself...

Did I Mention I Love Cashmere?

I know, it's hardly cutting edge - but it can be edgy. The evidence: My newest addition to the K cashmere family - a knee-length, cool grey cardigan by Line. Unfussy elasticized ruching - that runs from the collar to the hem - endows it with a very modern appeal. And the tie that runs along the hem facilitates shortening this garment to a hip-length blouson. Admittedly, that's more how the kids are wearing it. Which is precisely what I love about this piece - It's so deliciously soft, so beautifully (which is to say slim-ly) tailored and modular. It says, you can be prim and sexy. And you can be warm!

Now the $400.00 pricetag kind of shook me. No joking, I do not buy retail if there's anyway around it. I went back to Mendocino 3 times over the course of about a month, each time observing the (already small) stock dwindle. Just before Xmas - when, arguably, I should have been saving for the loved ones - I caved and bought. But I am delighted to report that I have not had a moment of regret.

(Still figuring out how to take pics that aren't fuzzy so please stay tuned.)

Let's Get Started, Shall We?

Who are you? How would I know you if our shopping bags lovingly tangled in a crowded boutique? Are you that eclectic person I've observed hopping out of a cab? Do you compel me, with your aura of stylishness, to ask you where you got that bag? Do you read Nylon? Are you beyond all that?

But while you remain a mystery (are you even out there?), I am a known commodity. I'm that somewhat small (sure as hell not tall), rather curvy (which is to say I have actual breasts), pixie-shorn (I'm going for gamine) fashion-fixated populist. Somewhere within me, a features editor melded with a stylist and a talkshow host is just bursting to have a little cyber walk-in closet of her own.

A few housekeeping details so you'll know, in broad strokes, where I'm coming from:

  • I'm an urban professional whose office culture, while generally bland, is open to expressions of (not inappropriate) sartorial creativity - at least that's what I tell myself...

  • I walk to work - I walk everywhere in my urban landscape - and I live in Canada. We are no strangers here to extremes in temperature and hideous weather.
  • In light of this, fortunately, I am a pragmatist.

  • I believe in mixing slim, well-tailored basics with luxe splurges i.e. the Club Monaco merino wool turtleneck with Genetic skinny-jeans.

  • My lingerie always matches and I spend the requisite fortune on beautiful pieces which actually support breasts.

  • I am a working mother with a mortgage, after all - 90% of the time I buy on sale, which is how I score beautiful things on a budget.

Needless to say I take the whole style thing very seriously, or I wouldn't be embarking on this new adventure. But I also feel that style is a whimsical expression of our inner selves, a small, significant way to bring art into our own lives and the lives of those with whom we interact every day.

Lovely to meet you. K