Fill your boots

Mukluks and cowboys and thigh-highs, oh, my.

If there is one redeeming factor to winter, it is wearing boots. Is there anything that is so practical and utilitarian, yet so stylish at the same time?

And, fortunately for fashionistas, it seems every possible conceivable format of boots is on trend right now. As evidence, high end designers like Gucci and Prada are making expensive incarnations of combat boots, snow boots, chelseas, and western.

You can wear whatever kind of boots best suit your needs this season without fear of looking out of place. Just don’t buy the knock-offs — purchase the original makes that defined each style.

Investing in any of these classics will guarantee a lifetime of beautiful wear.

Combat boots - Every shoe company on the planet makes some form of these thick-soled, lace-up boots. Especially these days as combat boots are the No. 1 trend for 2019. But the classic always has been and always will be Doc Martens.

Chelsea - These round-toed ankle boots pull on with elastic panelled sides, and are done to perfection by Blundstone.

Cowboy - This style is hundreds of years old, but I think no one currently makes western-style boots better than the Frye Company. Their classic Harness style will see you through winter, while motorcycling, and to the Calgary Stampede.

Snow boots - Boots with rubber bottoms and leather uppers, and lined with shearling are all the rage these days. And for good reason, they are best at keeping your toes warm and dry no matter how wet and cold it is outside. The quintessential snow boot brand has always been Sorels.

Mukluks - These fur and suede moccasin-style boots have been worn by Indigenous North Americans for centuries, and are today still faithfully made the traditional way by the Manitobah company.

Uggs - This Australian version of mukluks became hugely popular in the 1990s among the surfing crowd for their toasty comfort both indoors and outdoors. Their popularity is enduring and best represented by the Ugg brand.

Hikers - It’s hard to say who makes the quintessential hiking boots. Colorado boots were the rage in the 1970s and 80s, distinctive with their natural suede uppers and red laces. Today, visit MEC to find which brand best suit your needs. Merrell, Salomon, Columbia and Timberland are popular makes.

Rubber - For puddle-proof wear in spring and fall, U.K. brand Hunter makes the classic rubber wellington boots.

Over-the-knee - Tall boots protect your whole calf from the elements, so are great with skirts and culottes. However, they can get bulky if crafted in fully-lined leather with zipper openings. So Stuart Weitzman designed the 50/50 boot with a leather front panel and elasticized back panel to pull snug onto any size of calf.

Ankle booties - Ankle-high boots, with or without a heel, have become a wardrobe staple thanks to their ability to be dressed up or down. They look great with everything from suits to jeans to boho dresses. Their rise in popularity can be traced to Rag and Bone’s Harrow boot.

Stiletto - Though not practical in the snow, does anyone do heels better than Jimmy Choo?

One-of-a-kind - Looking for something unique? You can’t get more creative footwear than Vancouver-based designer John Fluevog’s fantastical designs.

Many of these brands are available locally at SoftMocs, Hollywood Shoes, and the Downtown Shoe Store. Footwear is one of those things definitely worth trying on before purchasing.

Then, once you know your sizing in a certain brand, you can search for more deals online. 

As Nancy Sinatra sings, these boots were made for walking, so enjoy winter treks in yours.


Beach holiday packing list

Are you on the countdown to a beach getaway?

While the Okanagan shivers under cold, cloudy skies, many take the opportunity at the time of year to spend a week or more in the south’s sunshine.

Whether you’re booked for an all-inclusive Caribbean resort or an extensive trek through Southeast Asia, it is possible to travel with one carry-on suitcase and a tote.

Just don’t forget to pack these essentials for any sun destination:

Flip flops — poolside, on the beach, or wandering streets, you’ll be wearing these a lot. Crocs, Vionic, and Fit Flops make flip flops that are sturdier, more comfortable, and dressy than your basic thongs.

Beach tote -— a lightweight tote made of raffia or canvas can be used as your purse on the plane, then carted with you to the beach or shopping. Longchamp’s Le Pliage totes are popular with travellers because they are waterproof, lightweight, and fold up into a small packable rectangle.

Sarong — a silk, modal or cotton rectangle takes up no space in your luggage and can be used in infinite ways - as a dress, skirt, shoulder wrap, scarf, and beach blanket. Find one that at least measures 100 cm X 200 cm to maximize usability. My favourites are from Weston Earth Images (westonearthimages.com)

Kimono — another multipurpose, easy-to-pack staple. Wear it during the day as a beach cover-up, and belt it in the evening for a dressy top.

Mix and match swimsuits -— I’m a big fan of solid colour mix-and-match bikini separates; you don’t feel like you are wearing the same thing every day. Also, if you opt for bra-style bikini tops in neutrals like black and white/cream, they can be worn as a bra under tanks and sundresses. Great styles are available at Aerie, La Vie En Rose Aqua and Bikini Village in Orchard Park mall.

Packable beach hat or visor — if you like to read on the beach, sunglasses alone never completely block the overhead rays. Plus you end up with a racoon tan. Pack along a crushable wide-brim hat - Columbia and Tilly Endurables make good ones.

Secure small bag — sadly, some tourist areas are known for theft, so for evenings out or excursions where you aren’t carrying a lot of stuff, use a crossbody with a secure zip or snap closure. Mini backpacks are another good option and very on-trend.

Solid sunscreen -— avoid those pesky liquid size restrictions by bringing a solid stick sunscreen.

Solid shampoo — ditto with shampoo. Lush Cosmetics makes wonderful smelling solid shampoo cakes that are perfectly packable and last forever. They also make solid conditioner bars, but I prefer the following...

Leave-in conditioner — save time in the shower by using a conditioner you don’t have to rinse out. I use a generous spray of leave-in condition after shampooing, braid my hair and let it dry in the sunshine for soft beach waves.

Argan oil — a tiny travel-size vial of this natural oil goes a long way. I use it to add shine and defrizz my locks, as a cuticle conditioner, face cream and super skin conditioner on the go.

All-in-one beauty — instead of carrying a bunch of makeup, pack products that do double duty. Bite Beauty’s multistick can be used on lips, cheeks and eyes for a flattering monochromatic look, and bronzing powders also work as a tan-complementary eyeshadow.

Bon voyage!

Festive frocks

Whether it’s an office party, a charitable special event, or formal family dinner, chances are you’ll be getting dressy this holiday season.

What are the best looks for 2018 celebrations?

December is the perfect time to channel your inner elf and wear velvet, faux fur, and satin. At other times of the year, these lux fabrics can look out of place, but they are stand-outs for holiday parties.

Velvet is a popular fabric for winter dresses and skirts. A new trend this season is wide leg velvet pants. They look great with a simple top and boots, and the bonus is how comfortable and cozy they are to wear.

Thanks to its softness and drape, satin is often styled into flowing tops and pussy-bow blouses. This is a great traditional look for the holidays.

Or try a different look in satin and riff on the wildly popular kimono trend. Dress up a long kimono with a skirt or leggings underneath and belt it at the waist to create a dress.

If you want to invest in a piece you’ll wear again and again, consider a sequinned jacket or blazer. For a dressy affair, pair it with elegant black pants or over a sheath dress. For a casual look, wear it with denim and a simple t-shirt.

Another unique and cozy holiday look is to pair a glitzy long skirt with a chunky knit sweater.

Double your festive quotient by choosing any of these pieces in seasonal colours of red, green, and gold.

Want to join in the holiday spirit but not the fancy type?

You can go the completely unglamorous route with an ugly Christmas sweater. These acrylic monstrosities are available at many local novelty stores. Bonus points for ones that make noises and light up.

If new clothing is not on your holiday wishlist, you can always add seasonal sparkle to an outfit with accessories. Green jewelled earrings or red shoes with an LBD creates a dramatic and classic Christmas look. 

Happy Holidays!


Faces over forty

Around age 40, most women start to notice changes in their facial skin.

The top-most layer of subcutaneous fat thins and we lose any last vestige of “baby face,” lines start to appear around the eyes and lips, and eyebrows get sparser.

Fashion pundits have long created all sorts of rules for women over 40 — thou shall not wear mini-skirts or have long hair. When it comes to makeup, we are told at this point, we are too old for glitter eyeshadows, bold eyeliner and bright lipsticks.

Local award-winning makeup artist Jenny Mckinney, 45, chooses not to look at her aging this way.

“I made a promise to myself not to get swept up in fighting aging; it’s a losing battle,” she said with a laugh.

However, during times of change, it is smart to do an assessment on one’s beauty routine.

“How do I celebrate how I am now instead of trying to make myself look like I did back then?”

During 20 years as a professional makeup artist, she has learned how someone can either block or enhance their radiance.

“And what blocks radiance most is doing the same routine for five or more years, never adapting as our faces change.”

On the other side of the globe in Australia, professional makeup artist for film and television Julie Mikeska, age 49, agrees.

“What you wore in your 20s probably won’t work in your 40s, so you need to update the techniques that you use,” Mikeska adds.

But what to change and how to start?

With cosmetic companies introducing new products and trends daily, it can seem overwhelming and some women just give up on makeup altogether.

“Don’t feel threatened when you go into a makeup store and there are lots of teenage shop assistants running to help you,” Mikeska says.

“They should be trained in what suits mature skin, or find someone who is around your age and ask them for advice.”

Both Mckinney and Mikeska agree the best base is healthy skin, so self-care, cleansing and moisturizing should be a priority.

“We are attracted to skin that looks alive, that has a certain level of dewiness,” explains Mckinney.

To achieve this, find a concealer and tinted moisturizer that work with your skin. Dense cream foundations, concealers, and heavy powders tend to settle in fine wrinkles and accentuate them, so explore products that are thinner and silky with light-reflective properties.

Mckinney is a fan of NARS tinted moisturizer and Mikeska recommends Bobbi Brown and MAC Longwear Pro concealers.

Ensure you are choosing the right base colour and blend well to avoid the dreaded demarkation line between foundation and your skin.

Note that your skin colour may change between seasons; having a few different colours that you can custom-blend to suit your skin tone is an option.

There are also many products on the market now, including colourless primers, that contain silicones that fill lines and create a blurred light effect to soften the look of skin.

For a basic day look, both makeup artists suggest sticking with neutral warm tones for a flattering monochromatic look.

“Warmer colours are more complementary to our skin, so they are usually best for eyes and blush,” says Mikeska. “Anything like silvers or blues will be very harsh on the eyes and give a dated look.”

As we age, we lose colour in our cheeks. On the other hand, losing baby fat means our cheekbones are more accentuated. So blush can be an ally in creating a radiant look.

Mckinney likes Glossier brand cloud paints and Make Up For Ever cream blush, using a dense natural/sythentic mix brush to buff the product on.

If you are noticing dry lips and feathery wrinkles around the mouth, use an exfoliating lip scrub and balm before applying colour. Mckinney suggests choosing a lip colour just a bit deeper than your natural lips.

The trend of ultra-matte and nude lipsticks tend to be drying and can be aging, so glosses and creamier formulas work well.

As eyebrows tend to thin as we age, both artists recommend using either a brow pencil or a brow powder to fill in and shape the brows. This, along with mascara, helps accentuate the eyes for a simple day look.


So, what about rules and trends?

Mckinney and Mikeska have two words for you: Rock it!

“Makeup is there for fun, so if you like something then wear it with pride and own it,” says the Australia-based artist.

Mckinney concurs. “Makeup is a way to celebrate, to enjoy a mood. We’re not all meant to look the same.”

They say women over 40 can use shimmery eyeshadow; there is a way it can be worn that is elegant and beautiful by mixing it with matte or using on the centre of the lid.

And bright lips?

“A bold lip with just bronzer and mascara can be a great look,” says Mckinney.

“Adding a dramatic eyeliner for a big night out or a bright lip to match a special outfit can always look stunning,” Mikeska adds. “Just don’t do everything at once; just have one prominent feature at a time.”

In all cases, the important thing is to feel confident in your choices versus fearful of mistakes. Some of the great 40 plus icons of our age are famous for their dramatic looks, like Iris Apfel’s signature fuchsia lips and blue eyeshadow.

As the holiday season approaches, Mckinney says this is a good time to experiment with your personal look.

Many makeup brands create value gift sets in a range of colours, so even if you don’t use them all it can still be less expensive than buying regular-sized products.

“It’s a fun way to dip into a new look and bring your own style to whatever the trend is.”

More Fashion File articles

About the Author

Marla is best known for her 19-year career in the local charitable sector as a fund development and marketing manager with the Okanagan Regional Library, United Way, UBC Okanagan, and Kelowna Community Resources. 

In 2014, Marla and her husband decided to take a break from the work world, and, four years, later they are still enjoying Okanagan summers, winters in Mexico, and extensive travel. 

Marla has had a life-long passion for fashion, designing her own graduation dress and formal gown for the 1990 Miss Interior competition before age 20.

In 2014, she was named one of nine Style Ambassadors for a year-long marketing campaign at Orchard Park Mall. Her motto is “Life is short...you might as well go through it looking good."

If you have a style question or topic you’d like Marla to cover in this column, contact her at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories