style 101: how to define your personal style

Some days, the planets align and you leave the house feeling the bomb diggity. You look great, you feel great, and the world is straight up #blessed to have you in it. How often does that feeling align with a new outfit, your favourite dress, a new haircut, or perfectly symmetrical eyeliner?

Personal style isn't just about making a good first impression - it's so much more than that. It can help you define what kind of a person you are, and what sort of message you want to send out to the world. It can help boost your confidence and give you that extra spring in your step. But how can you get that bomb diggity feeling, if you aren't even sure what your personal style is?

1. Create a Pinterest board.

The first step to identifying your personal style is determining who/what you are inspired by. Start by finding celebrities or bloggers that have a personal style you like, and pin the outfits that resonate with you the most. It can be a secret board if you'd prefer - the important thing is to create a foundation of photos that inspire you. Which leads us to step two...

2. Come up with your keywords.

Assessing your Pinterest board, are there certain pieces, patterns, or silhouettes that seem to repeat themselves? Are there certain outfits that you are especially drawn to? Take a good hard look at your photos, and write down some of the words that come to mind. These keywords are the basis of your personal style, and they will help you stay fashionably consistent.

For instance, my words would be something like:

- laid back (I am drawn to looser cuts of clothing, I only ever partially tuck in my shirts, and I love a good pair of Converse low-tops)
- stylish (I never want to wear something that is Fine or Neutral. I often think to myself, "if I saw someone else wearing this outfit, would I give it the mental thumbs-up?")
- with a hint of badassery (I love black leather, ripped denim, and jewelry that could potentially injure someone)

3. Make a list of your favourite clothing pieces.

What pieces do you have that make you go "HELL YES" every time you wear them? And not the HELL YES of comfort or nostalgia - I mean those items that make you feel like a million bucks.
These are your key pieces that you need to build your wardrobe around, and continue buying in the future. What about this piece makes you feel so great? Is it the cut, the pattern, the colour? Make a mental note of what you love most about your favourite items, and aim to find those traits in new pieces of clothing you buy.

4. Analyze your existing wardrobe.

Now that you've identified your favourite pieces and why they make you feel so darn good, go through your closet and pull out the items that a) don't fit with your style keywords, b) don't make you feel like a million bucks, and c) seem to be the odd piece out. Remember that one thing you bought when you felt motivated to do something different, but it sits unworn for some reason you can't quite pinpoint? Well, it's likely because it's not in tune with your personal style. Donate it. We have no room for stragglers in this new world of Fabulously Defined Personal Style.

5. Shop smart.

Congratulations! You have accomplished the most difficult steps of defining your personal style. From here on out, make sure you remember your keywords when you go shopping. If you try something on and don't say "HELL YES" to yourself (unless it's a basic), walk away from it for a little while. And if you aren't sure if it fits with your personal style, review the checklist of your personal style keywords/

And remember, your personal style can, will, and should evolve over time. Maybe your favourite piece this year is a floral blazer, and next year you decide you hate florals and you're all about the geometrics. That's okay! Stay in tune with what clothing makes you feel amazing (and more importantly, what makes you feel like yourself) and you won't be led astray.

5 financial moves to make before you're 30

I will be the first to admit that Adulthood is kind of a scary place. Everything costs money, your house is always messy, the errands list never gets any shorter, your metabolism slows down, your hangovers get worse, and you're in a perpetual state of needing to get groceries or do laundry or both.

But one of the fun parts of Adulthood is, for the first time in most people's lives, you have money that you can spend. You're likely making more money now than you ever have. You are independent and awesome and look at how well you're adapting to being an Adult! Woohoo! But in reality, now that you're making a steady stream of money, it's important to start thinking about your future and how you can make smarter financial decisions.

Here are a few ways that will make your Future Self pat your Present Self on the back and give a big ol' thumbs up.

1. be financially independent.

Parents are magnificent human beings - always willing to lend you money, help you with groceries, spot you a $20 if you need gas. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with accepting these gifts here and there, the problem lies in your reliance on it.

If your parents still help you pay for your phone bill, your credit card, your rent, your gas, your vacations, your clothing, your groceries - stop. You're an adult now, and there's no going back - this means you need to be self-sufficient by the time you turn 30.

2. get to zero debt.

Chances are, most of your debt is from student loans, having children, or buying a house. If not, it's likely from a string of bad spending decisions in your 20's. And that's (kind of) fine - but there is no reason to bring the baggage of your 20's into your 30's. It's a new decade of your life! Start it off right by cleansing yourself of debt and taking that first step into Adulthood debt-free. You will feel like a new person.

Your 30's will be filled of large purchases (wedding, children, house, new car, vacations, fancy wines, whatever floats your boat), and it's important that you're prepared for these occasions before they happen. Meet with a financial advisor at your bank or sit down yourself and make a plan to pay off your debt (or a large chunk of it, anyway) before you hit the big 30. Try downloading the Mint app to help you along.

3. start saving for retirement.

If you haven't already started saving for retirement, not to scare you or anything, but you're behind the ball. Check out this article, which suggests that you should have $25,000 saved by the time you hit the ripe age of 30 - and shows you how to get there, even if you haven't started yet.

To some people, it seems ridiculous to start saving for retirement, which is 40+ years away - but your future self will thank you. Most importantly, it's crucial to get into the habit of purposeful saving. If you want to take baby steps into saving for your future, try setting up automatic payments of $50 a month into your RRSP account. In a couple months, if you find you still have money left over at the end of the month, increase it a little bit more. Eventually, you'll find a sweet spot of how much you can contribute each month without it hindering you paying your bills and living your life.

4. learn how to spend less than you make.

I know this seems self-explanatory, but hear me out. I don't mean that you have $5.21 left in your bank account at the end of the month. What I mean by "spend less than you make" is you need to tailor your purchases so at the end of the month, you have enough money that you can pay all your bills, live your lifestyle, put a little into savings, and have some still left over. If you struggle to do all of these things, or you aren't putting any money towards your debt/savings, you are living outside of your means.

Re-evaluate your lifestyle. See if you can cut out any luxuries (maybe you need to buy clothes less, or not treat yourself to lattés every day of the week) and redirect that money to where it's needed. Focus on savings over convenience - brew coffee at home, buy groceries instead of going out for dinner. These seemingly insignificant decisions will help you live within your means.

5. enjoy your life, too.

Saving is all well and good, but what about my LIFE, Suzanne? I need to go out for burgers and beers and go on vacation sometimes and buy fancy Whosits and Whatsits.

As an Adult, it's paramount that you understand your financials well enough that you can balance three things: 1) Your Bills, 2) Your Investments, and 3) Your Life. None of them are more important than the other. With careful planning and prioritizing, you can put away $75 a month into your RRSP and also afford to go on a vacation and also buy that new pair of shoes. It just takes a little bit more attention to detail.

Now go forth into Adulthood and spread your financial wisdom!

5 tips on dressing for comfort (AND style)

Over the last decade, when fitnesswear somehow became a style and the era of Uggs began, "fashion" became synonymous with discomfort.

A trip out into the world (I would get more specific, but you really can't avoid it, no matter where you go) showcases an alarming ratio of women wearing outfits that entirely disregard personal style or personal expression. These outfits, usually comprised of spandex, are being worn exclusively for comfort.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying comfort is bad - I love being comfortable in my clothes as much as the next girl! But who says you can't be comfortable and stylish at the same time? Besides the obvious items of shift dresses and maxi dresses (where you're basically just wearing a bag on your body, but a very chic bag), it IS possible to put together an outfit that looks like you still care about your appearance - even though you're snug as a bug in a rug. And these outfits don't include spandex of any kind. So please, leave the fitnesswear at the gym, and utilize these tips instead.

1. Find that Perfect Pair of Jeans - and make sure they're stretchy.

You don't need to automatically resort to leggings or sweatpants when you're looking for comfort (but if you do, remember this article about the right way to wear leggings). It is actually possible to find a pair of jeans that is as comfortable as either of those (much less stylish) options. Trust me, because I found them - they were $5 from a crappy cheap mall store, but they are the most comfortable pair of pants I own.

The trick is to find a pair of jeans that are already broken in and have some stretch to them. Avoid the stiff jeans that you dread putting on, and are unforgiving if you've put on a few pounds - spend quality time finding the jeans with just enough spandex that you're happy to replace your sweats.

2. A loose top + chunky jewelry = your best friend.

You will be amazed at how easy it is to look stylish in a loose-fit shirt or sweater as soon as you add in a big, chunky necklace. "I'm hung over and even getting dressed was a struggle" turns into "I am very casually stylish, thank you very much, and I feel just fine".

The trick to wearing loose-fitting items is knowing your limit with how big you can go. Ideally, a "loose" shirt should fit about 1-2 sizes bigger than what you would normally wear. But there is no limit to how chunky that necklace can be - the bigger the better!

3. Fall in love with cute sneakers.

I swear by my white low-top Chuck Taylors. I pretty much wear them every waking moment that I'm not required to wear something more formal (AKA at work). If you're looking for everyday comfort, it's important to find a pair of cute (and comfortable!) go-to sneakers.

Besides the comfort factor, the truth is that you can do almost everything in sneakers. Going out for brunch with your friends? Kicking around a soccer ball? Going for a long walk? Running errands? These kicks can do it all.

4. Invest in a bra that doesn't make you regret being born a woman.

We all have that bra that looks great, but makes us feel like we are being slowly tortured.

One absolutely crucial step to being comfortable and stylish is investing in a good bra (or bralette) that you barely notice you're wearing. Go to the nearest undergarment shop and try on a thousand bras until you find one that almost lives up to the comfort of a sports bra, but doesn't stoop to that level of laziness - they do exist! And they don't have to be ugly, either.

5. Add pattern, and layer like a pro.

Incorporating different layers and patterns into your outfit is an easy way to up your fashion factor (while still remaining cozy and comfy). Try adding a longer, patterned tank under your loose fit t-shirt and throwing a cardigan, jacket, and scarf over top.

One easy rule for mixing patterns is to select prints that have similar shapes and colours, but are different sizes. For instance, small polka dots mixed with a large, rounded floral, or a small stripe paired with a large windowpane or plaid. Alternately, you can try selecting two completely different patterns (polka dots and stripes, for example) that have the same dominant colour.

quote of the day: meggie royer

"on your worst days 

do not look in the mirror 
and call yourself pretty. 

call yourself trying, 
call yourself surviving, 
call yourself learning how 
to get through a day, a week, 
a month or year. 
call yourself still learning."

confidence: scientifically-proven ways to fake it til' you make it

Confidence. The ever-elusive and slippery fish that almost everyone grasps for on a daily basis. We all have our #bossbitch days that seem to happen randomly, but wouldn't it be great if we could create those days instead of just wishing for them? If only...

But wait! Science to the rescue. Do do do DOOOO! Science has proven that it is actually possible to fake it til' you make it when it comes to confidence. As this Forbes article states:

"Often people think of confidence as something that the lucky few are born with and the rest are left wishing for. Not true. Confidence is not a fixed attribute; it’s the outcome of the thoughts we think and the actions we take. No more; no less. It is not based on your actual ability to succeed at a task but your belief in your ability to succeed."

You know what that means, right? It means confidence is your personal choice. Granted, there are certain factors that can boost and hinder your confidence - but overall, it's entirely up to you. To help you discover your newfangled confidence, here are 7 ways to fake it til' you make it.

1. Dress up.

Remember this article I wrote recently about 5 reasons to dress up every day? One of the major reasons is to boost your confidence. The overall experience of wearing clothes that make you feel great (whether it's a sharp blazer or girly dress) has been proven to chemically affect your brain and make you feel more confident.

2. Stand straight.

My posture sucks and I know it. But when I'm going for an important interview or into a client meeting, I make sure to stand straight and tall and push my shoulders back. Why? Because science has proven that standing tall in a confident pose actually affects how we feel about ourselves, and also how other people perceive us. So stand tall and push those shoulders back like you're wearing an invisible crown - or put your hands on your hips like the Superwoman you are.

3. Smile (even if you don't want to).

Smiling has been proven a thousand times over to improve your mood and decrease stress -- even if you're just faking it. But besides that, much like your posture and your clothing, it affects how you will interact with other people. Smiling in an interaction means they will typically respond positively to you, which in turn will increase your confidence.

4. Use a memory of a past success.

How powerful do you feel when you remember a time that you kicked major ass at something? If you're not feeling as confident as you'd like, focus on a time you succeeded and how you felt during that time. It could be anything from solving a big problem at work to getting published to mastering a skill you worked hard at. What you accomplished doesn't matter as much as the feeling you had when you accomplished it.

5. Put on your pump-up music.

In my personal opinion, everyone should have a playlist specifically for when they need to get P to the UMPED UP. Different music works for different people - it could be metal, pop, or classical - but spend some time making a playlist that will get you amped when you most need it (maybe before an important sports game or a big meeting at work).

6. Visualize success.

According to science, visualizing success is an incredibly effective tool for generating confidence. Not only can it help keep you calm and focused on your goals, imagining a task in your mind actually mentally conditions your neural pathways so that it feels familiar when you do it - making it easier to complete. Athletes have been using this technique for years - legendary golfer Jack Niklaus apparently used to visualize all his swings before he took them - as a way to improve their skills.

The most important thing about visualizing success is making sure you're focusing on things you have control over - sorry guys, that means visualizing you winning the lottery doesn't mean it will come true. But if you're nervous about an upcoming presentation at work, for instance, visualizing you presenting with a calm and collected demeanor - and totally kicking ass - can be an incredibly useful tool in helping you achieve the outcome you want.

7. Make a list.

It's absolutely paramount to have goals - but sometimes they can get lost and jumbled in our head. To feel organized and goal-driven, write down all your goals and the steps you can take to achieve them. Whether it's joining a fitness class to get healthier or revamping your resumé to snag a new job - spend some time seriously considering what goals you'd like to work towards, and how to get there.

5 ways to lead a (way!) healthier lifestyle

First of all. One of the biggest mistakes people make when they are trying to Get Healthy is looking to others for advice and suggestions. But one person's definition of "healthy" is likely entirely different from what being Healthy means to you. Maybe they want to go 100% paleo and work out at the gym 7 days a week with the end of goal of ripped abs, whereas you just want to lose weight by eating a bit healthier, going to spin class once a week, and making a few lifestyle changes. The key to getting healthy and staying that way is figuring out what "being healthier" means to you, and how you, specifically you, can achieve it. How can you fit exercise into your schedule? What differences can you make with the food you eat? How much sleep do you need?

Forget the lemon + cayenne pepper cleanses and meal-skipping - here are 5 easy ways to change your lifestyle to a healthier one.

1. Variety is the spice of life.

We all get stuck in the grocery store routine. It's so easy to go to the same sections and buy the same foods because you know how much they cost and how to cook them. But an easy way to lead a healthier lifestyle is to banish this idea of grocery store routine shops.

Every time you go to the grocery store, you should be buying different items (especially fruits and vegetables). It's like the idea of crop rotation - you have to keep moving around and changing things to get those nutrients. If you always buy granny smith apples and then you always pick up some iceberg lettuce and then the next step is always picking up the same brand of whole wheat bread, you are always giving your body the exact same nutrients, and missing out on others. Expand your horizons!

2. Incorporate exercise into low-energy activities.

More often than not, we are stagnant. The majority of us sit in an office all day, and then we go home and are so tired that we just want to eat dinner and watch some Netflix. At the end of the day, we have barely moved except transporting our bodies from place to place. But rather than having to motivate yourself to hit the gym after a long day, try incorporating small (but effective) fitness routines into your everyday life.

Do squats for the entire duration of brushing your teeth. Do some leg raises or bicep curls while you watch TV. Do some calf raises while you stand at the stove. Or try one of these 5-minute workouts whenever you can squeeze it in:

5 Minute Ab Workout 
5 Minute Arm Workout
5 Minute Leg Workout
5 Minute Pre-Shower Workout

3. Colour, colour, colour!

As a general rule (with a few exceptions, such as garlic, onions, and cauliflower), the more colour your food has, the healthier it is. When you're grocery shopping, skip the white bread, white pasta, and bland cereals; instead, opt for the lush green of fresh kale, spinach, and broccoli, the bright reds and yellows of bell peppers, and the deep maroon of raspberries. Different colours bring you different vitamins and health perks.

Blue/purple: contain lutein, fiber, vitamins A + C, and folate. besides fighting the damage that everyday living does to your body, they also lower your risk for stroke, urinary tract infections, and memory problems. also, they keep your immune system super healthy! thumbs up!

Red: contain lycopene, potassium, reseveratrol, and vitamin C. lowers your risk for heart disease and cancer.

Orange/yellow: contain beta-carotene, potassium, bromium, lycopene, and vitamin C. lower your risk for arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, cataracts, heart disease, asthma, and cancer.

Green: contain vitamins A + C + K, potassium, and folate. leafy greens help your liver detoxify, and lowers your risk for cancer, macular degeneration, and vision problems. also, if you're a lady, (which you likely are if you're reading this blog), green veggies & fruit help protect against ovarian cancer.

And remember... every time you go, buy something different!

4. Add a little kick to your morning cereal.

Deep down, we all know that our favourite morning cereal is lacking certain nutrients. But you don't need to change up your entire morning routine and start making yourself kalecarrotspinachweirdprotein smoothies to give your day a healthier start. Try adding chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flax, nuts, and/or fresh fruit to your cereal every morning. It's dead easy (so no excuses!) and as an additional bonus, you won't find yourself hungry an hour later.

5. Unplug.

It has been proven that heavy technology use leads to increased stress levels, depression, and issues sleeping. So instead of plunking yourself in front of Netflix, playing games or checking Instagram on your phone, try something not technology-based. Finish that book you've been partway through for months. Go for a walk. Call or meet up with a loved one. Anything besides staring at that screen for a second longer.

steal her style: julie sarinana (aka sincerely, jules)

Easy, everyday chic - something Julie Sarinana has mastered with her blog Sincerely Jules. It's her laid-back, effortless look that has garnered her 3.5 million Instagram followers - so why not steal it and wear it yourself?

shirt \\ pants \\ shoes \\ bag

how to dress up like a #boss (when you don't wear dresses)

Dresses are an easy and popular solution for every occasion - casual or formal, dress up or dress down. But what happens to those among us who don't wear dresses? Why shouldn't they have just as much fun getting gussied up?

If you count yourself among the pants-only crowd, fret no more! Here are some tips and tricks for dressing up, while still putting on your outfit one leg at a time.

wear a suit (but make sure it's tailored).

Suits aren't just for men anymore, but it's important to wear them the right way. They must be good quality (none of that unlined, polyester-blend garbage) and they must be tailored to fit you. There is nothing worse than seeing a woman in a nice suit that doesn't fit in the chest darts or around the thighs. So make sure it fits!

Believe it or not, men's requirements for a suit fitting properly are roughly the same as women's - although women's pants should fit snugly all the way to the knee, and the darts are crucial.
Check out a quick diagram for general fit here.

wear a romper.

The great thing about rompers is they are pretty low maintenance - you don't have to worry about your shirt coming untucked, your pants falling down, or your shirt riding up... because everything is attached! How utterly convenient. Besides the comfort factor, they are a great way to be almost wearing a dress, without actually wearing one.


Depending on how you're rocking the "masculine" trend, it can tend to look a little stiff and starched. So be sure to throw in some fun accessories - a bright purse, a statement necklace, a big bracelet. These are the pieces that will bump up your outfit to the next level.

go "girly".

If you aren't psyched on the idea of dresses but still want to portray your femininity, try incorporating feminine textures into some of the pieces. A floral blazer, a bejeweled neckline, a bright lipstick, or some patterned heels will put the #girl back in #girlboss.

go "manly".

If "girly" isn't really your thing, why not go the opposite way and try something a bit more masculine? A boyfriend blazer with a crisp white shirt underneath, a sharp pair of slacks, and a pair of shiny loafers will do the trick. An easy way to soften this look is to add some jewelry and wear your hair down in loose waves.

outfit of the day: monotone + a punch of red

First of all, let me go on the record and say that I love these pants. I got them secondhand at a friend's clothing swap, but decided to DIY them into this fabulously ripped-up version. So far, my interactions about these jeans go something like this:

Me: "I love these jeans."
Other person: "Ummm. Okay." 
or the total dad joke, 
"looks like we need to give you some money to buy new pants!" 
Always just so hilarious, no matter how many times I hear it.

Either way, I think the texture is amazing and they add some rock & roll to this outfit, which I love. 
I am a full believer in wearing one item every day that makes you feel like a badass.

After I finished swooning over my jeans, I paired it with a simple white v-neck (a Sirens $5 clearance rack win), this oversized cardigan (also a $0 score from a recent clothing swap) and these metallic pointy-toed wedges ($5 from Value Village, and probably the best thrift score of all time). Now that I'm writing this out, I'm realizing that this entire outfit cost me about $10. The most expensive thing on me is the Kat Von D liquid lipstick, and it wasn't even mine. In your face, budget bloggers! Who says you can't do fabulous for cheap?


tips for looking polished, professional, and totally on point

"Damn! That woman has her stuff* together."
* = censored

Sometimes I see a woman walking down the street and that is what I think to myself. Seeing this Professional Woman makes me feel young, frumpy, and unstylish in comparison. I'm sure you've seen these women - decked out in a wonderfully fashionable outfit (most likely in a colour most people would dirty immediately, like beige or white) with nary a wrinkle or loose thread, perfectly coiffed hair, and high heels that you would fall over in. 

But what sets Her apart from the other women walking down the street, also in their high heels and business attire? It's the attention to detail, and the sense of purpose with which she dressed and prepared herself in the morning. And while I'm not about to start wearing light beige outfits (hello, disaster waiting to happen), I am prepared to take these small steps to be a little bit more like That Woman.

1. iron your clothes.

I'm not even sure how this is possible, but my clothes get wrinkly just hanging in my closet. And because I am often dressing in a rush, I find myself making the conscious (albeit guilty) decision to wear something even though it's a little wrinkly. We've all done it, right?

Think, though - when you see someone on the street with a wrinkled shirt, your opinion of them is already a little skewed. You notice that it's wrinkly, and you know it looks sloppy. So don't justify wearing a wrinkled shirt by saying that no one will notice - they will notice.

2. pay attention to the details.

Does your shirt have a loose thread? Do your pants have a scuff of dirt on the calf? Is your sweater pilling? Do your high heels need a polish?

These small details are easy to overlook, but they are paramount to achieving that polished, professional look. You will never be That Woman if your blazer has dog hair all over it, if your pants zipper is broken, if your purse leather is cracking, if your lipstick is smudged. 

That Woman is all about the details, and you should be, too.

3. wear your Strut shoes.

We all have that one pair of shoes that make us strut like we are walking our first Versace catwalk. Maybe they were $5 or maybe they were $500, maybe they're flats or maybe they're 6" heels, but they are fabulous and they make you feel fabulous and everything is fabulous when you wear them.

A crucial element of That Woman is that she is wearing shoes that make her confident. In order to be like her, you should be wearing shoes that do the same for you. 

4. shower.

I hope this doesn't sound weird, but have you ever noticed how impeccably clean That Woman is? She always looks like she just descended from a fluffy white cloud made of perfume and expensive shampoo, coming from a land where clothes don't get dirty, hair doesn't get greasy, and puddles splash around you instead of on you.

Even if you don't shower every day, you must master the feat of looking clean at all times. This goes back to the point I made above - pay attention to the details.

5. don't leave unless it's perfect (or close to).

So much of being That Woman is the standards that she holds herself to. Do you think that she plans out the perfect outfit, puts it on, realizes that the sweater needs to be washed, and proceeds out the door anyway? NEVER! 

Before you leave the house in the morning, take a few extra moments to survey yourself. Are your shoes, nails, and clothes clean? Have you lint-rolled your jacket to get rid of stray cat hairs? Have you hair sprayed down those frizzies? Have you removed that chipped nail polish?

If you want to channel That Woman, you need to hold yourself to similar standards.

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