Few fabrics say summer quite as much as eyelet, especially when it comes in white. Eyelet is a type of lace, made by creating holes in the fabric (usually cotton) which are then finished off with stitching. The holes are usually made into a pattern, most often floral or another geometric design.
The beauty of eyelet is that the holes provide ventilation, making it a breezy fabric for the hottest of days. One note, if the holes are too big, you may need a slip to wear underneath a piece so that it isn’t too see-through.
The above eyelet dress is by Molly Bracken and now on sale at Hudson’s Bay for just $38! The great thing about eyelet is that it doesn’t have to be expensive to look like it’s a good quality item. Pair it with sandals or espadrilles and you’re good to go.
If you’re looking to add some eyelet to your summer wardrobe, here are a few of my current favourites:
I love the longer length of this eyelet dress available at Zara. I’d wear it with flat sandals or a scrappy heel, like the ones shown here. Super thin, barely there sandals are very on trend this season.
Yellow isn’t the easiest colour to wear, especially close to the face. But this strappy dress from H&M is such a lovely buttery colour, I think it would look great on any number of skin tones. And a tiered, A-line skirt is such a flattering shape.
If you’re looking for eyelet this summer, be sure to head to J Crew, eyelet headquarters! They have a ton of different pieces, including dresses, skirts, blouses, and even swimwear. The laser cut eyelet of this one piece makes it so much more interesting than the average maillot. I have two bikinis made out of this fabric, one in orange and one in navy. I also have the matching cover-ups, in orange and in white, see below. And the best news is, this one-piece is now on sale and it comes in a number of colours. (The light blue is very pretty too.)
If I didn’t already have an eyelet dress, this is one I’d snap up. Currently on sale at Club Monaco, I love that this piece could work as a cover-up or a dress. The deep V neckline and detailing on the hem makes it such a pretty and unique piece. There aren’t too many sizes left so someone better snap it up!
Proof that eyelet doesn’t haven’t to be saccharine, I love this romantic black lace and eyelet blouse from Rebecca Taylor. It also comes in white and both colours are now on sale at Nordstrom. (I prefer the black, the white looks a bit too much like a tablecloth.) Clearly the time to shop for well-priced eyelet pieces is now!
We were looking for something a little bit off the beaten path on our trip to Europe this year when someone suggested Malta. I hadn’t heard much about it before. South of Sicily, north of Africa and west of the Middle East, influences of all three are felt in this small island country.
Malta is made up of three islands - Malta, Gozo and Comino. Malta is the largest of the three and we made that our home base.
For lodgings, I choose the Hotel Phoenicia, the oldest hotel in the country. Completed in 1947, it was renovated two years ago and now tastefully decorated and full of modern amenities. While our superior room was small, the bathroom was ample, the bed comfortable, and the air conditioning sufficient. The lobby is a nice place to grab a morning coffee and the pool, the perfect place to relax at the end of the long sweaty day of sight-seeing. The grounds are beautiful and it’s not surprising that it’s a popular locale for weddings.
The hotel is situated just outside the Valletta city gates, right by the taxi stand, and across from the bus terminal, which makes it incredibly handy and yet also away from the fray.
I wouldn’t recommend renting a car in Malta. The local transit system is excellent, with city-style buses making frequent trips to other towns and attractions on the island. It’s affordable and it’s easy to figure out timetables. Another reason not to rent a car here is that they drive on the left-hand side of the road, which makes it a bit harrowing for North American drivers.
The walled city of Valletta is not to be missed. Built high on a hill, the peninsula is full of shops, restaurants, bars, and historic buildings. Many of the streets are remarkably steep and the old pavers quite slippery, so be sure to bring your sneakers. We spent many hours wandering the alleyways, getting a bit lost, and then easily finding our way back to home base.
Republic Street (featured in the first image) is Valletta’s the main pedestrian-only thoroughfare and yes, it’s chalk full of tourists. But the thing that surprised me the most in Malta is that as soon as you take one quick turn, you can find yourself blissfully alone.
FOOD AND DRINK
The first few days we ate in the rather touristy restaurants on Merchant Avenue which offer the usual, generic fare - basic salads, pizzas, and pastas. The meals here were adequate and unexceptional. (And in some cases, not good at all. Like the breakfast above.)
Foodies should explore the little side streets to find more modern, or more rustic eateries and bars. One that I’d recommend is Rampila, a restaurant in the fortress wall with a terrace perched above the dry moat at the city gates.
I can’t say I got a true taste of Maltese cuisine. Rabbit stew is a local specialty but my partner and I don’t eat rabbit so we can’t speak to it. In general, the food and drink prices are relatively reasonable, and less than in most European tourist destinations. For reference - a cappuccino is about 3 Euros (about $4.50 Canadian) large bottle of water 1.5 Euros, a glass of wine 5 Euros, and a pizza 12 Euros. The Maltese wines are pretty good, and be sure to try the local Cisk beer which we found quite tasty.
Matsaxxlokk is a very sleepy little fishing village about 40 minutes away from Valletta by bus. Aside from taking a boat trip from further here to other fishing and swimming spots (which we didn’t do) there isn’t much to do here but sit back and admire the colourful little fishing boats bobbing in the harbour. We had a very peaceful, relaxing, and tasty lunch and headed back to town.
Mdina is a small walled town in the interior of Malta and a must-visit, especially if you’re in search of quiet. And I definitely am! Europe can be so busy during the summer, it’s very fleshing to find spots that aren’t completely overrun by tourists.
Also known as the Silent City, there are just under 300 full-time residents here and no cars allowed (though they are allowed to drive and in park). It’s quaint, super clean, and almost every alley way, building, and view is picture perfect.
Gozo Island is a lot smaller than Malta, only 14 kilometres long and just over seven kilometres across. I wish we’d had more time to explore it. We went on a boat/bus cruise from Sliema (which is across the bay from Valletta) with Captain Morgan tours. The tour takes you by boat and bus to Gozo and Comino.
While I’m glad I saw all of these places, in my books, this type of cruise isn’t the way to do it. We were packed onto a boat with limited amenities, tons of people, and not enough shade. The buses they used on Gozo were rickety to say the least, with no air conditioning. (It was 32 degrees in the shade while we were there.) The Gozo tour takes you to a tomato paste factory for a 10 minute stop. (What the ?! Clearly they’re hoping you’ll buy some goods.) Then there’s another 10 minute stop at a newish but impressive Catholic Church, and a one hour stop in Victoria, the main town. All in all, not enough time to take in Gozo properly. Captain Morgan, if you’re reading this, ditch the factory in favour of more time in Victoria!
Comino is the smallest island of the three and is uninhabited, save for a few caretakers. The final stop on the boat tour was at the famous Blue Lagoon. To say this swimming hole is popular is like saying that Disneyland is for kids. You can barely make your way down to the water, let alone find a spot for your towel. If this is going to be your only chance on your trip to swim then go for it. If not, I’d consider giving this whole tour a pass and finding another way to explore Gozo.
We spent five nights in Malta, exploring as much of this interesting country as possible. I found it beautiful, welcoming, and a unique place to visit. Check out some more of my photos below and please feel free to message any additional questions below.
When it comes to pattern play, I have a few go-tos.
The first is leopard, which I've talked about here before. The second is stripes, which I can't seem to get enough of this season. And a third, is a long-time favourite - camo. Once the sole purview of military types, camo has moved from real way and become firmly planted on the runway and beyond. Today, it's become a closet staple, and a surefire way to add a bit of edge to any outfit.
You can pretty much find camo anything: pants, leggings, dresses, T-shirts, bathing suits, flip flops, running shoes, you name it! Here are a few of my favourite current iterations.
This jacket from Veronica Beard is such a cute and versatile piece. I love it dressed up a bit, as seen in the lead photo. But it also comes with a removable grey hoodie attachment, giving it a more casual weekend vibe, and all without the bulkiness of wearing a real sweatshirt underneath. (Jacket available at Rebecca Bree.)
If there's one place you want to be extra fierce, it's at the gym. I love these camo leggings from Lululemon. (They come in full length too, and a knee-length crop, but that style is sold out.) I like that the colours are a bit darker, which I find more flattering for gym wear, as it gives a more streamlined silhouette. Sometimes you need some camo to camouflage, am I right?
I do find camo a more "casual" pattern, if you will. So when it comes to camo dresses, I gravitate to the off-duty variety. I have my eye on this jersey dress from n:philanthropy. I always like ruching in a body-con style dress, I find it more forgiving. But if sleeveless and clingy isn't for you, there are tons of options out there in many styles, shapes, and shades.
Looking for something a bit more subtle? This silk camo tank from ATM delivers just a pop of the print. It would look great under a denim or leather jacket, or even with a more polished black blazer.
And of course, I can't forget about camo pants - a great alternative to wearing to jeans. These high-waisted stretchy pants with a frayed bottom are from The Gap. I've just ordered mine and can't wait for them to arrive. (I'll be sure to share pictures when they do!)
Finally, camo is also making a splash in swimwear. If you're looking for a sporty suit, I like this one from workout wear company Athleta. A cute one-piece that provides ample coverage without sacrificing style.
Got any cute camo items to share? Please do write me below. In the meantime, Happy Shopping!
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.