Farewell from Fashion File

Almost two years ago, I approached Castanet about writing a style column, and they very kindly gave me web space to share my discoveries and musings from the world of fashion.

I’d really like to thank Castanet for this opportunity to explore a topic that has always been a passion of mine. 

Some people religiously memorize hockey stats, some restore vintage car models, and others zealously collect digital Pokemon. 

For me, it’s always been about fabric, patterns and shapes. And I’m a bona fide purse snob. 

In my humble opinion, until Star Trek-ish uniforms become the norm, we all gotta wear something so we might as well enjoy what we dress in every day. 

As I bid adieu to Fashion File, I want to leave you with some parting thoughts on what constitutes quality clothing.

Whether your style is completely casual or strictly business, these are the hallmarks of good style. 

  • It fits and doesn’t leave marks on your body. You are not sitting in a meeting or at dinner fidgeting at the way it pinches your waist. 
  • You don’t get overheated nor too cold in it. If you find yourself sweating or shivering on a moderate day, probably cheap synthetic fibres are to blame.
  • With proper care, you can keep it for more than a season. It doesn’t wear out and it doesn’t go out of style. 
  • Beware the hangtag fallacy. Just because it says “Made in China” doesn’t necessarily mean it was created with sweatshop labour and is of poor quality. With a few clicks on Google, you can learn about the production impacts of many brands and fabrics. 
  • You can maintain it. If it says “dry clean only” and you ruin it putting it through the wash, it’s a waste of your money. 
  • Most importantly, you feel good in it. As Marie Kondo espouses, the things you surround yourself with should bring you joy. If it doesn’t, consign or donate it for someone else to enjoy. 

When it comes to my own wardrobe, I have become increasingly choosy over the past few years about what gets added. 

I spend half of the year living in a small travel trailer; there is no room in my closet for waste. Each piece must serve a particular purpose, coordinate with other articles, and be easy maintenance. 

I have actually enjoyed the process of creating a capsule travel wardrobe. Living out of a small space doesn’t mean one has to sacrifice style, and in many ways this thoughtful approach to clothing is better for the budget and the environment. 

This focus on travel and exploration also means less time for keeping up with fashion, so it is time to say farewell to Fashion File. 

If you’d like to keep up with my latest adventures, plus see pictures of a very adorable mexi-mutt, follow me on [email protected]


Fashion at Orchard Park

If you haven’t shopped at Orchard Park mall lately, you are in for a stylish surprise. 

I recently visited and was impressed with the new unique, independent boutiques plus the addition of a favourite Canadian fashion brand. 

It’s So Mimi opened this June, featuring classy ensembles with a vintage feel. I especially love their full mid-length skirts in satin florals and brocades. 

This is a great place to shop if you have a holiday formal or special New Year’s Eve gala on the calendar. You’ll be the belle of the ball in the Hepburn-esque gown shown above. 

Some of you may already be familiar with Raw Athletics, but now it’s time to check out the evolution of the store under new ownership since this past summer. 

It’s been renamed Honest and now puts more emphasis on fashionable every-day clothing as well as specialty athletic gear. Honest carries North American-made brands with a focus on sustainability. 

The clothing is very wearable, with a boho chic feel that transitions great from day to night. 

My favourite piece was a satin, Kelly-green, long-sleeve crop top. It would look equally great worn casually with jeans or dressed up with a skirt. Sadly though, I fear my crop top days are over. 

Of course, I had to check out Orchard Park’s latest addition to the mall — Aritzia. I have long been a fan of this brand, shopping there often when visiting Vancouver, and was delighted to hear it was coming to the Okanagan. 

Aritzia was founded in Vancouver in the 1980s. Their innovative concept is in the development and creation of the their own exclusive in-house brands such as Wilfred Free, TNA, and Babaton. 

I’ve always found their styles to be just that bit ahead of the curve. A few years ago, I bought a unique pair of Babaton-cropped pants made of sweater material, well before every fashion label under the sun started crafted everything in knits. 

This season, Aritzia is going big, literally, on puffer jackets. And, true to form, they are making them puffier, softer, warmer and in more gorgeous fabrics than anyone else. I’m loving the iridescent sheen on the long puffer coat shown above. 

So next time you are at Orchard Park, don’t just shop at the same places you usually haunt. Step into one of these great boutiques and discover something new. 

Totally not worth it

Last year, I wrote a column Worth every penny, which highlighted, in my humble opinion, fashion staples that are worth spending a few extra dollars on.

Today’s article is the opposite. Over the years, I’ve wasted money on both very inexpensive and very expensive items.

No matter the cost, I feel these are things you should think twice about purchasing:

Cheap silver, especially piercings

Many of us have been there — on a tropical beach where a vendor comes by selling inexpensive silver baubles or at a fashion store advertising 925 jewelry at an incredible price. But think twice.

Silver can make gorgeous and affordable jewels, but if it’s not made of the proper mix of alloys, it will tarnish or turn your skin green. Worse, cheap silver can actually cause infections in pierced ears.

Stick to quality jewellers such as Tiffany, Tacori, Pandora, David Yurman and John Hardy for silver that you intend to wear regularly.

Expensive costume jewelry

On the other side of the spectrum is costume jewelry meant to be worn for special occasions or with certain outfits. For this type of bling, I find it doesn’t make sense to shell out a bunch.

I love the look of Hermes’ leather cuffs and Marla Aaron’s chunky gold hardware, but cannot justify having thousands of dollars sitting in my jewelry box to only be worn a few times a month.

In these cases, it is worth finding look-alike (but not counterfeit) styles at accessories shops. I’ve also found great costume jewelry on Etsy and in Value Village.

Expensive T-shirts

About a decade or more ago, a curious trend started with cotton basics being elevated to premium status with a correspondingly high price tag.

Brands such as James Perse and Velvet supposedly made softer and better T-shirts.

I’ve worn $10 tees and $100 tees, and my experience tells me there is no significant difference in quality or durability. In fact, most of my premium shirts ended up with holes in them after a few washes.

It’s true that designer cotton tees used to be crafted in more interesting shapes and cuts, but now companies like AE and Old Navy have followed suit.

Designer denim

On that note, the same trend happened with jeans. And yet again, I didn’t find my Nudie or 7 For All Mankind denim fit significantly better than my Gap jeans. They just cost four times as much.

However, if you prefer designer denim, don’t buy new. You can find it at great discounts and already worn in at Frock & Fellow and Value Village.

Cheap workout wear

One type of clothing worth investing extra funds into is workout gear. From shoes and socks on up to tops and bras, the adage “you get what you pay for” fits here.

I’ve tried to curb my exercise-wear budget by buying inexpensive tights and shorts from Gap and George, but sadly they just weren’t up to the task. They stretched out, or just weren’t comfortable, and become useless within a few workouts.

Meanwhile, I’m still using the same Lululemon shirt I bought a decade ago.

Pleather shoes and accessories

Shoe manufacturers save a bundle by using plastic-y faux leather for footwear. But I will never again buy anything that goes on my feet composed of pleather.

It doesn’t breathe and it doesn’t stretch. It’s a recipe for blisters and pain.

Even if the soles are made of synthetic materials, always look for the leather symbol for the uppers.

While pleather handbags and wallets won’t cause you physical distress like shoes, they will cause pain to your budget when they fall apart within months.

If you do prefer vegan accessories, I’d recommend the brand Matt and Nat who specialize in quality faux leather goods instead of cheap fast fashion brands.

Red carpet ready

The fall signals the beginning of the glamorous celebrity awards season, with the recent Emmys and the MTV Awards leading up to the Oscars in February.

Similarly, ‘tis also the season of many black tie and holiday galas in the Okanagan.

If you have a formal to go to this year, take a cue from the most iconic looks of red carpets past. Check out some of the best looks in the picture above, along with current ensembles for sale at BCBG under their celebrity counterparts.

Striking colour 

Black tie evenings allow us the freedom to don unusual and vivid hues, as Nicole Kidman did at the 1997 Oscars (yes, that was 22 years ago). Her Dior gown was part of the first collection by designer John Galiano and remains as current today as it was then.

You too can go with head-to-toe chartreuse, or peacock blue, or hot pink - colours you probably wouldn’t imagine wearing during the day. Whatever you fancy is doable on formal nights.

Deep V-neck dresses

Jennifer Lopez’s naval-baring plunging neckline at the 2000 Grammys made headlines around the world. This year at the Emmy’s, Game of Thrones’ star Emelia Clarke channeled JLo with a barely-there top on her midnight colour gown.

While most of us wouldn’t go to these extremes, the deep V-neck is a classic sexy evening look. This is a great option for highlighting a statement necklace or earrings. Just ensure you have appropriate body wear underneath to keep everything in place.

Tuxedo dressing

Diane Keaton is the absolute icon when it comes to fancy suiting. Several times she has adorned jacket and pant ensembles for awards shows, sometimes even including a necktie.

Emulate the look with a lux suit. This look can be played up or down with different shirts underneath, from a classic button up to a jewelled bodysuit.


While some don’t think short skirts are proper for black tie, you can appropriately show off great gams like Jennifer Lawrence did at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar party.

The key, as with her Tom Ford-designed dress, is to keep modest on top with a high neckline and/or full sleeves. Minidresses also are great for highlighting statement sandals.

Other classic red carpet looks include:

T-shirt and full skirt

many celebrities have played with this look over the years such as Sharon Stone, Diane Keaton, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Take a floor-length skirt, in anything from fitted satin to brocade to tulle, and pair it with a simple white tank, T-shirt, or button-up on top. The juxtaposition of luxe and simple signals effortless chic.


Beyonce announced her pregnancy at the the MTV Video Awards in 2011 wearing a one-shoulder Lanvin gown.

Dresses with asymmetrical necklines or hemlines bring an unexpected twist to evening wear.


Both Nicole Kidman and Emma Stone donned red gowns with huge bows at the neckline (to different events of course) while Eva Mendes’ dress at the 2009 Golden Globes featured a large white bow at the hip.

If you are wearing a bow to black tie, go big or go home, as they say.

Open back 

When Hilary Swank accepted her Oscar for Million Dollar Baby in 2005, she was wearing what looked like a modest dress from the front. But the completely open back revealed all skin.

Like V-necks and mini dresses, this look needs to be balanced with coverage on other parts of the body plus appropriate undergarments.


For her first red carpet appearance at the Golden Globes in 2014, Lupita Nyong’o chose a stunning red Ralph Lauren gown with a shoulder-to-floor matching cape.

A long cape or shawl with your dress oozes glamour, and is also practical for warmth and coverage.


Julia Roberts’ black and white gown for the 2001 Oscars has been hailed as one of the most iconic of all time, and was labelled “vintage” because it came from the 1992 Valentino archives.

While I don’t necessarily deem nine years old as vintage, many evening wear looks from yesterday have stood the test of time. They simply don’t date as quickly as day wear.

You may find one in your own closet or at a second-hand store, and some simple adjustments will have you looking resplendent in 2019 and beyond.

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.

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