You've seen it here, you've seen it all over Instagram, leopard print is spot on this season. The good news is you don't have to spend a bundle on finding one or two show-stoppers to incorporate into your wardrobe.
Why do I love it so much? Because it adds a major style punch with just one piece, and the rest of the outfit can be kept pretty simple. I like to pair an animal print skirt with a white or black T-shirt and sneakers or sandals. With a dress, try black, tan, or gold shoes/sneakers and voila, you're done. (White sneakers can work too.)
I think the key to finding a good leopard print piece is to stick to something a little bit flowy: I recommend avoiding anything too tight or revealing which can come across a bit trashy.
Here are a few of my favourite animal print finds, all under $200 Canadian, and some under $100. The one I'm wearing above is from Current Air, and LA brand. It also comes in other patterns.
There was a time before leggings. Right? If so, I barely remember it. Today we wear them to the gym, to the grocery store, on the plane. I even see people wear them out for dinner. (Um, no.) I'm always searching for the next perfect pair. Here are a few of my current favourites.
I discovered this brand while on my recent trip to LA, where there are stores in most major shopping districts. One of their hottest sellers is the moto legging that comes in both full length and 7/8th. I love this particular style because they're really where the gym meets the street. I definitely don't plan on getting my very sweaty. Fun fact, they’re the pant favoured by some of the Kardashians.
DAUB + DESIGN
You know that, "I have to take everything off right now and put on something comfy" end-of-the-day feeling? D+D is my go-to for that because the material is super soft and comfortable. This brand also checks a few other boxes for me - they're made in Vancouver and have cute they have cute tie-dye prints. One-legged no less!
For workout gear that won’t break the bank, Gap Fit is my go-to. My favourite here is the blackout, which comes in a variety of styles and lengths. They’re true to their name: bend, squat, and invert with abandon... all without fear of over-sheering.
More of luxury brand, Lucas Hugh is a label out of London, now available online and at Turf in Canada. I recently had the pleasure of going to a workout class where we got to meet the designer and test out the gear. At first, the pants were hard to get on because they were tight. (I was wearing a medium.) The flip side of that is the material is quite thick so they suck everything thing. And that my friends, is worth every penny.
The brand that started it all. I've had countless pairs of all lengths, all of them black. I found other colours too revealing and black leggings so much more forgiving. That all changed this year. Lululemon's new prints do a great job of hiding a multitude of lumps and bumps. Plus, they just make me happy when I wear them. The prints go like hot cakes so get them when you see them.
Two brands that I haven't tried but would like to are Carbon 38 and Ultracor. I saw a trainer at my gym wearing the latter and immediately had to ask her where she got them. They're both on the pricey end of the scale, but they're so cool! Check out the python Ultracor print above.
A final word about cost. Some of the above brands are expensive, no question. But I'm a proponent of the cost-per-wear approach. I am willing to spend more on something I will wear all the time, like leggings, versus a nice dress that I'll only wear a few times.
Have any favourite brands that I missed? Do let me know!
Once upon a time I wanted to be an actor. My first foray into that world was going for a Labatt’s Beer commerical audition way back in the late 80s. As beginner’s luck would have it, I landed the commercial alongside a then unknown Pamela Anderson. (For reals!)
I did a few more commercials and then took a break, focusing on university. Once I became a news reporter and anchor, I got a bunch of small parts on locally shot TV shows, playing news reporters and anchors. Apparently, I was believable in the part.
When The Shopping Bags and Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag took off, I didn’t have time to go to auditions, I had my own TV productions to worry about.
Now that I’m doing less TV work, and I’ve come full circle, going to auditions for commercials. I miss it. Or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment.
I’ve had quite a few people ask me about how that whole world works, so thought I’d share a bit about the commercial auditioning process.
Step one, get an agent. Which arguably, can be the hardest part of the process. I’m not going to go into getting an agent here, because there are lots of good articles written about that. I lucked out in that I met my current agent, Pamela Wise from Premiere Talent, at an event and she agreed to take me on. (Thanks Pamela!)
Of course, there are exceptions to the “get an agent” rule. I was asked to audition for the Labatt’s commercial after being scouted at the UBC campus. Today, there are often casting notices posted on social media, especially if they’re looking for something in particular.
So what are commercial agents looking for? While we may fight against stereotypes in the real world, in the commercial world, it’s kind of all about stereotypes. Do you look like a mom? A yogi? A rich housewife? A soccer champ? Of course, you can look like all of the above, depending on what you wear. So the more "versatile" you are, the better.
Step two, get some photos. Also known as head shots. In the past, you’d go for a photo shoot and get a couple of great close-up, showing various looks. Today, they want to see more photos than that. Actors are asked to sign up for Casting Workbook, an online casting portfolio, where you list your information, resume, and special skills. You can also post a number of photos, which don’t all have to be professionally taken.
Step three, the agent submits you for a commercial. When a production company is looking to cast a commercial, they go to a casting agency, which puts out an alert to all the talent agencies. The casting agent will be looking for someone like this:
WIFE: Mid 30's-Mid 50's/All ethnicities
She's the straight woman to her husband. Calm. Super friendly. Innocent. Nice. She gives people the benefit of the doubt but she's no dummy.
The agent then submits all the women on their roster that he or she thinks might be a good fit for the role. The casting agent looks through the submissions and invites the actors they think are most suitable. Sometimes that’s a few dozen people. Sometimes it’s the entire city.
An important note, you generally don't know what you're auditioning for. Sometimes they'll ask if you've been in car commercial recently (they don't want the same actor in commercials for competing products) which is clearly a giveaway. Other times the commercial will only be listed as something like, "Project Spring" - in which case you have no idea.
Step four, go to the audition. Now the fun part. You arrive at the casting studio (which is usually at about one of three locations in Vancouver), give them your name, and fill out a sheet that has your contact info, your measurements, and your availability. The casting assistant takes your photo. You wait for your name to be called and then you go into the audition.
Much of the time you have no idea what they’re going to ask you to do in advance. You don’t know if you’re going in alone, or with other actors. It’s time to think on your feet!
Once you enter the room, you're usually greeted by about two people. The casting agent (or an assistant) and a camera person, who records the audition. They ask you to stand on the mark (tape on the floor) and “slate”, which means state your name to the camera. Sometimes they also ask you to list your height, or show your hands. (If there is going to be a hand close-up in the commercial.)
Then, the casting agent will explain what they want you to do. Here are some real life examples:
There’s a lot of pretending, miming, emoting, and yes, some acting going on.
Once in a while, you may have a line or two. In that case, you usually get the sides (the script) before the audition, or you look them over while you’re waiting.
Sometimes, they’ll give you a bit of direction and say, "Please do it again, but this time, make the expression a bit bigger/smaller, or this time, why don’t you try to give a different look." You do it again.
The most frustrating, common occurrence is that you only get one chance to do the thing. Trust me, as soon as you leave, you think of 1000s of ways you could have done it better. And most likely, you will be preforming all those better ways in your head (or in your mirror) as you sit in your car, about to go home.
Step five, you wait. It’s, "Don't call us, we’ll call you" time. Don’t bug your agent. They’ll let you know if you get a callback. If you don’t hear back, you didn’t get it.
Step six, the callback. Much as it sounds, you get called back. You made the shortlist, yay! But don’t get too excited. I’ve made the shortlist dozens of times and still don't get the job.
At the callback, there are usually more people in the audition room. Now you have the camera operator, the casting agent, the director, people from the ad agency, and sometimes the client too. They sit at the back and stare at you. Other times, they’re tired of staring at actors so they look at their phones instead. Pay no heed.
You do the thing again. It’s usually the same thing you did in the first audition. But sometimes it’s something completely different. So don’t get too comfortable in your previous performance. One thing to remember, always wear the same thing to the callback as you wore in the first audition. That makes actors easier to remember.
Step seven, you wait. Once again, if you get it, they’ll let you know. Sometimes you get put on “hold.” That means they don’t want you to take another job, but they aren’t 100% ready to commit to you either. (It can depend on a lot of things, like whether you’ll look good with other people in the commercial, etc.) I have been put on hold, for days, and still haven’t gotten the commercial.
Above photo: That time they asked me to dye my hair blonde for a commercial and then I didn't even make the final cut.
I’m not going to go into how to land a commercial because frankly, I haven’t gotten enough jobs to declare myself an expert. But a few tips:
Step eight. Be available. One really important note about all of this: Auditioning is a very last minute thing. You usually get notice of an audition the day before. So it can be pretty tough to pull off with a regular 9 to 5 job. Something to consider before you embark on this journey.
One final word about how much you get paid. As a non-union actor, you usually make about $500 per shoot day. Then they pay you on top of that for the right to air the commercial. How much really depends on the company, the distribution of the commercial (Canada, North America, the world?) and whether it’s a union production or not. It can be anywhere from $1000 to many thousands. And before you embark on a shopping spree, keep in mind that sometimes you don’t even make the final cut, which means you only get paid for days you were on set. (The most sucky scenario.)
So why do this at all? It’s fun, it’s exciting, it gets the adrenalin pumping, and yeah, once in a while, you land a job that makes it all worth it.
Most of the photos I've posted here are from a series of commercials I shot for Coast Appliances. I am now their spokesperson, which has been a really great gig!
For a lot more info on the auditioning process, check out my agent Pamela's post here.
Warmer temperatures, sunnier days, flowers in bloom... all signs that it’s time to put away the winter clothes and inject some fresh fashion pieces into your repertoire. Here are some of my favourite trends for the season. The best part is that they're not overly trendy, so you'll be able to incorporate them into your wardrobe for years to come.
I used to consider animal prints a fall/winter thing, but this year, they’ve moved into the perennial category and are now ubiquitous year round. We’re seeing animal prints in camis, skirts, dresses, jackets, sandals, and loafers. The only animal pieces you’ll want to pack away is anything made in an overly heavy material. And, fashion buyers tell me that animal prints are still big for fall, so don’t think of them as trends, they're decidedly staples. The above cami is by Zadig and Voltaire, a French brand. I love it on its own or under a black blazer or leather jacket.
Straight Leg Jeans
There was a time when I swore nothing would come between me and my skinnies. Now, when I put on pair of stovepipe jeans, they’re feeling almost a touch dated, not to mention a wee bit claustrophobic. The hot denim silhouette for spring is the straight leg, preferably a bit cropped, which is easier to pair with shoes than a longer leg. Wear them hemmed, ragged, or cuffed. With sandals, low and high, and of course, with sneakers. The ones above are from AG, one of my favourite brands of jeans, not only because they have lots of great styles but because they're a very environmentally-conscious brand.
We can thank Gucci for this one. The brand brought loafers back in a big way, and I’m very happy that they’re sticking around, mainly because they’re so comfortable. I tend to wear mine with pants, I don’t love them with skirts and dresses, as it can look a little too 80s prep school. When in doubt, go for a loafer in a nude colour. (Or any spring/summer shoe for that matter.) I love these above from Sam Edelman. Excellent price, super comfy, and they go with everything.
Blush and Lilac
When it comes to colour, two of the hottest shades right now are blush (or other soft pinks) and lilac. Never in a million years did I think I’d wear a lilac suit, but there’s something very modern about this shade right now. The above suit is by Part Two. I love the slightly cropped pant, perfect for showing off some cute kitten heel shoes.
Light pink is more versatile, I like to wear it as a neutral. It pairs well with almost any other colour, but my favourites are pink with black, white, navy or olive green.
And in the below, I'm pairing a few of my favourite "trends" together, dusty pink and leopard print, with some straight leg jeans. You can never have too much of a good thing. ;-)
I always love bringing home a little treasure (or two) that I find while traveling. One, it reminds me of my vacation every time I look at it or wear it and two, it’s nice to have something that no one else has. After scouring the island (it’s a hard life) I have learned that there’s some seriously good shopping on Maui, much better than when I was here five years ago. (Though a few of my favourites then have disappeared.)
Whether you’re looking for clothes for yourself or gifts for loved ones at home, here are a few of my top recommendations:
When you live in Vancouver, finding a good swimsuit can be a real challenge. We simply don’t have that many swim stores and the selection at department stores can be somewhat lacklustre. If you are looking for a new one, Hawaii is the place to get it. And for one of the best and nicest selections of swimsuits in Maui, head to the Grand Wailea’s Cruise - a swimsuit shop. They carry some beautiful one-pieces, bikinis, cover-ups, beach bags, and some jewelry. There’s also a location in Whaler’s Village.
FOUR SEASONS HOTEL BOUTIQUES
I don’t generally do much shopping at high-end hotels because my wallet doesn’t allow it, but the Four Season Maui has a trio of really good shops: Cabana, Ports and 22 Knots. (Two are women’s, one is men’s.) They have a really beautiful selection of beach wear, casual wear, shoes, and jewellery and you can often score some deals on the sales racks. The store carries many well-known and designer brands, but also great coverups, which I find can be hard to find in non-tropical locals.
Say what?! I went into the Gucci store at The Shops At Wailea, to gaze at a bag that I’ve been coveting. After checking out the price, I had to rub my eyes and look again. Why so much less than on the mainland!? Apparently due to the proximity to Asia, the Gucci stores in Hawaii go by Asian pricing on handbags. As a result, the prices here are 25% LESS than what you’ll pay in other places in North America. So if you are looking to buy something from this designer, and you are planning a trip to Hawaii, wait and get it here. (Just don't forget to factor in exchange rates and duties, if applicable.)
HONOLULU COOKIE COMPANY
I love macadamia nuts as much as the next gal but now that they are so easy to find back home, it’s nice to bring back a little something different. The Honolulu Cookie Company makes a variety of delicious shortbread cookies, all in the shape of pineapples - the symbol of hospitality. I especially like the adorable and reusable tin packaging, seen above. Makes for a nice gift. Or in my case, a great souvenir from Hawaii.
When you’re ready to go beyond beach and resort wear, head to Imrie, with two locations on the island, one in Wailea and the other in Paia. This store carries a lot of trendy brands and a nice selection of leather belts, on-trend denim, and sophisticated Ts. You can definitely do some damage here, bank account permitting. Plus, they are items that you can also wear in colder climes, like cashmere sweaters and jeans.
For the young or young at heart, visit Keliki at the Wailea mall. They carry cute sundresses, straw bags, inexpensive sandals, and some cute jewellery. You’ll spy some familiar brands here, include Faithful the Brand (an Australian line that is becoming increasingly popular in North America) and Rails. I bought a really cute puka shell bracelet here. Yes, puka shell jewellery is coming back in style!
This adorable up-country village has some of the best shopping on the island. The shopping strip is basically in the shape of an L, with little crafts stores, boutiques, and art galleries on all sides. The shops themselves are also beautifully designed, perfect for a photo opp or two. A few of my favourites are Driftwood, seen in the photo above, Pink by Nature, and Designing Wahine Emporium. Even the unassuming little shops have some nice treasures. I bought these slides below for $30 at Community, and the best part is they’re super comfortable
There is no shortage of T-shirt and souvenir shops in Maui. But my favourite one is the Malibu Shirts, which carries a collection of T’s with vintage -style prints. They include high-end replicas, to licensed products to their own designs. If you’re into aviation (think TWA) and for those interested in the retro-vibe, it’s a great place to pick up a few gifts and souvenirs.
NUAGE BLEU AND LUNA & TIDE
Paia has quite a few nice boutiques and homeware shops. But two of my favourites are Nauge Bleu and Luna & Tide. The former has clothing, jewellery, and some knick knacks while the latter has mainly housewares, but also some great jewellery and hats. Nauge Bleu also carries its own line of pretty dresses and coverups made with beautiful printed fabrics. I bought the above piece there and wore it the very next day. The material is very light and breezy and it will work as a coverup or a dress.
Did I miss any of your favourite stops? If so, be sure to leave me a note in comments below. Mahalo and happy shopping!
It's that time of year when a) I'm trying to save some money after an expensive holiday season and b) I'm getting tired of everything in my closet. Sound familiar?
That's when I take a look at what I own (even before the Marie Kondo rage!) and start to think about how to wear it differently and how to inject some new flair into the tried and true. Here are a few of my favourite tricks for getting more style bang without spending a buck.
1. Opposites Attract
One of the easiest ways to up your style game is to think in opposites, especially when it comes to pairing footwear with an outfit. Most simply, try pairing a causal outfit with heels and a "fancier" outfit with sneakers. This is one of my favourite fashion tricks because it means I can get away with wearing dresses and skirts a lot more often. I also apply it to suiting, as seen above. A suit and sneakers is one of my go-to work looks. Not to mention that it's way more practical and comfortable than running around all day in heels.
When it comes to choosing sneakers for your skirts and dresses, I like to keep it simple by sticking to white or black. Also, I generally keep to "sneakers" as opposed to traditional running shoes. But you may have noticed the Dad running shoe trend that's big now, which pairs bulkier runners with dresses. Lots of options!
The reverse is also true: Want to wear jeans for dinner but worry it's not dressy enough? Put on a pair of heels or some high heeled boots and you'll elevate your look, both literally and figuratively! The heels that are tough to walk in I save to wear to restaurants where sitting down the whole night is on the menu.
2. Layer Up
For a long time I resisted layering because I thought it meant adding bulk, like putting a jacket, over a shirt, over a T-shirt, etc. When I did that, I felt big, bulky and frankly, uncomfortable. #michelinman
I now view layering as adding dimension or perhaps even more accurately, visual interest. An outfit, like a pair of jeans and a sweater, is kind of flat, one-dimensional. (And trust me, it is something I wear daily so there's nothing wrong with that!) But when I'm trying to look more stylish, I add a belt, a couple of necklaces of different lengths, and slinging cross-body bag over the whole thing. The result is more layers and more visual interest to the entire look. Here are a few more ways to layer without adding bulk:
- A camisole or light tank top under a cardigan or V-neck sweater. (I do this for warmth too.)
- A scarf either as part of an outfit or as part of your outerwear
- A big armful of bracelets
3. Grab the Scissors
Do you have a pair of jeans that don't seem quite right any more? I can't tell you how many times I've grabbed a pair of scissors and simply cut my way to a more stylish look. (Okay, I can tell you. Six times in the past few months.)
A lot of today's denim styles are cropped, with raw or ragged hems. But there's no need to go out and buy a new pair, just take a pair of scissors to an old one. I tend to start off gingerly, and cut just above the existing hem. Then, throw the jeans into the wash in order to encourage more fraying. Voila, a new pair of on-trend jeans.
I also have a thing about crewneck tops, I don't like it when they're cut too high, too tight around my neck. I take the scissors T-shirts and sweatshirts as well, with excellent results. And, I've even cut sleeves on dresses and blouses. This white dress below had annoying, long puffy sleeves and I cut them off last summer. So much better now!