Trend vs. investments
“When it comes to fashion trends I alway shop at places like Joe Fresh or Topshop. Their designers are always pushing the most current trends at reasonable prices. One tip is to always look at the construction (stitch work, colour, dyes, etc.). You need to remember these products are produced in massive quantities so quality can be missed. Also, try it on! Again, because of the production level there are odd sizes cut. I know it sounds like a lot to look for, but in the end it will last a bit longer and look better on you.
“For investment pieces, find a boutique or specialty shop where the staff care about their service. This will prevent you from getting tricked into buying something just because the staff is hungry for a sale. With great customer care you’re sure to get a proper fit and future care of the product.
“Your base wardrobe is where you invest your money. This means different items to different people. Determine your base wardrobe by use and presentation. Items in your wardrobe that you spend the most time in, whether it be suits or outerwear, buying quality will make them last longer. Those moments when you need to look your best are presentation items. Whether it’s a gala or important meetings, the few extra dollars will keep you looking your best.”
Leah Van Loon
How do you shop for colour?
“I love bright primary colours but in the fall and winter I tend toward a more greyed-out, pastel, or muted version. For example, instead of a grape-y purple I would lean toward an eggplant or a mauve. They also tend to look better when grounded with black.”
How do you shop for fit?
“Fit is key to dressing any client because often they need help with what areas of their bodies to accentuate and minimize. It really depends on the style of the garment when it comes to fit. For example, if the desired look is an oversized cashmere sweater paired with a skinny waxed denim, then I would size the client up two sizes in the sweater and ensure the denim is as tight as the client is comfortable in because all denim will generally stretch during wear.
“Cotton jersey and anything with stretch will always be the most forgiving fabrics to wear in terms of comfort and ease of movement. To minimize any areas that you are not loving at the moment, the “boyfriend” fit is a girl’s new best friend because it is always forgiving – it is somewhat or totally oversized.
“Denim has to be a perfect fit, though! For the skinny jean the rule is to get the smallest size that is not uncomfortable on your waist even if it is very fitted elsewhere. This is what you want because it will ease with wear. For straight leg denim ensure that same rules apply as to the skinny jean but get the jean long so you can wear it with heels or cuff the bottom to wear with a flat. For boyfriend jeans, don’t go overboard and actually wear your boyfriend’s jeans; basically look for a fit that sits low on the hips and is loose on the thighs and knee and then roll a small cuff at the bottom to above the ankle or hit at mid calf.
“My biggest tip to anyone looking to shop like a stylist is to push yourself out of your own comfort zone. Don’t always go to the same stores, don’t alway try on the same style of jeans or tops, etc. Push yourself to try new stores, styles and colours. It’s the best way to advance and enhance your personal style.”
How do you shop for proportion?
“I think the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re playing with proportion and volume is your body shape. Not everything is going to work, so always try things on and experiment.
“I have a smaller waist and I’m curvy, so belting at the waist is a favourite and happens often for me, and is a great trick for most body shapes as this cinches the waist and creates an instant shape and curve. Balance is important, so if you’re going to do a boyfriend jean, go with something slimmer and figure-fitting on top, and, of course, when you’re wearing something oversized and slouchy on top, pair with a slim pant or tailored skirt to create a flattering silhouette.”
How do you focus when you’re shopping?
“I focus on key retailers and my go-tos because there are some stores that obviously fit my style more than other stores. I’ll go in and focus on the items I really need. For example, if I’m looking for jewellery, I’ll go into Banana Republic or J.Crew or Anthropologie where I know they have unique or different pieces. Or, if I’m looking for something with more of a tailored fit I might go to BCBG or Holt Renfrew.
Do you set a budget beforehand?