Hot hues

As the thermometer rises, it’s time for one of my favourite activities —strolling through the local boutiques to suss out spring and summer fashion trends.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve stopped in at several independently-owned and-operated style stores in my hood:

  • The Wardrobe
  • Cranberry Junction, and Boheme Collective in the South Pandosy
  • Morgane and Bia Boro downtown.

Each boutique has its own signature look and carries unique brands. However, there are definitely some trends I’m seeing everywhere this season.

By far the most popular colours are in the yellow spectrum. This sunny hue is often ignored, but not this year. You cannot escape mustard, coral and russet colours for shorts, dresses, and tops.

Blush and pale pink have been popular for a few years and show no signs of slowing down. This spring, pink is being treated as the new neutral for footwear and handbags.

Typically not seen for spring, bright red is also prevalent in this season’s palette, especially paired with denim or toned down as part of a pattern.

Speaking of patterns, they are bold and they are on everything. 

By far, stripes are the biggest trend. I’ve seen them thick and thin, horizontal and vertical, and even mixed. But the most popular pieces feature bright wide stripes alternating with white.

A unique take on stripes gaining momentum is rainbow. I’ve seen several pairs of shorts with vertical striping in multiple hues and t-shirts with rainbow icons.

Rings, necklaces, and bracelets featuring ROYGBIV gemstones are also available in costume and fine jewelry.

Of course, the quintessential spring pattern is floral and it continues to be popular this year. Not wallflower versions, though, but loud joyous blooms.

Some even harken back to 1970s upholstery. 

Polka dots are also proving popular for 2019. And not to be left out, even tie-dye is making a comeback.

So what shapes do these bright colours and bold prints take?

One-piece dressing is the major trend, with wide-leg jumpsuits and short rompers being offered in casual and dressy incarnations.

If you prefer two pieces, high-waist tailored shorts paired with loose flowy blouses or cropped tops will be your go-tos. 

These looks, available now at your favourite local boutiques, will add fashion-forward fun to your wardrobe this season. 

However, remember that by their very definition, trends are not meant to have staying power. So be wise with choosing only those pieces that you love and will get mileage from. 

For me, that piece this spring is a yellow- and white-striped blouse with a back cutout from Morgane. 

Best bags for travel

Lugg brand became successful at selling bags by carefully targeting a certain demographic of buyer: travellers.

While their colourful nylon totes are lightweight with several organized compartments, I find they simply scream “tourist”. You might as well complement your Lugg with cargo shorts and a camera around your neck.

It’s great to be a tourist, but please don’t look like one. 

So, what are the best ways to carry your essentials while exploring the globe?

I’ve been fortunate to enjoy all kinds of travel, from months-long camping trips across the continent to backpacking in Asia to posh Mediterranean cruises.

This is what I’ve gleaned:

The best travel bags need to be lightweight and durable with secure closures to foil pickpockets.

I also prefer bags with several compartments rather than just one big open bucket. This makes items easier to find. Nothing worse that holding up a queue as you hunt for your ticket or money.

However, if your favourite bag doesn’t have internal organization, you can remedy this with a purse organizer such as the Chameleon insert.

Look for bags that have several carry options such as crossbody, shoulder-carry, and handheld. 

Crossbody is the most secure way to carry a bag in crowds as it’s more difficult for a would-be thief to grab and dash off with it. However, if you are carrying a lot for long periods of time, it’s nice to have other carry options to give your shoulder a break. 

Backpacks and belt bags are also great options. Both styles have gone upscale and are now offered in all manner of sizes and materials by the poshest of designers.

When considering size, the smaller the better. This means it will be more lightweight and you’ll be able to carry it for longer periods. Pick one that is just large enough to carry what you need for your particular itinerary, but no bigger.

This is where you’ll have to carefully consider your destination and activities.

For example, if you are going to visit urban centres and spend full days traipsing through cities, you’ll want something that will fit your essentials plus a water bottle, sunglasses, and perhaps a compact umbrella.

This size will also work for airplane rides with enough room for a tablet, book or magazine.

If your excursions will be shorter, you can get away with a smaller bag, maybe even a simple wallet-on-a-chain to just hold your credit cards, some cash, phone and lipstick.

Material is an important consideration. Nylon is lightweight and easy to care for. Coated canvas is another light option that is also super durable and waterproof.

Leather will typically be heavier but can also be very practical, and is probably the least likely to look touristy.

Given all these factors, here are some great totes for your next excursion:

If you love crossbody bags with lots of organization, the Roots Village bag is a classic carryall.

For something a bit more polished, check out OAD New York. Their Prism and and Kit bags come in a variety of sizes and fun colours with multiple pockets.

The camera bag style typically doesn’t have internal organization, but they are lightweight and can carry a lot more than they seem. I love the canvas print versions made by Liberty of London and Loup Noir.

Leatherology is a new online made-to-order bag company. Their Meadow camera bag comes in two sizes plus a belt bag version, and can be personalized with embossed or hand-painted initials.

This added touch will make it easier to identify your bag should it get lost. 

For more space, consider the Rebecca Minkoff Julian backpack.. With a ton more attitude than your average backpack, the Julian comes in three sizes plus leather and nylon versions.

What’s inside your bag matters, too. To protect your identity, get an RFID-blocking wallet so your credit card information can’t be stolen by those with electromagnetic reading devices.

Leatherology and Secrid construct card cases and wallets that will keep you safe.

High-tech style

From Elon’s and Jeff’s rockets to the latest-and-greatest smartphones, technology is advancing at a blistering pace.

However, few people notice the correlation between our growing scientific know-how and fashion.

But like almost every other industry, what we wear is being dramatically shaped by technological marvels.

How? Check out these examples:


This is probably the most obvious example of wearable tech. It started with fitness trackers like Fitbit and Garmin, and was taken to another level when Apple introduced its smartphone-connected watch.

Currently, there are numerous brands making smartwatches that do everything from monitoring your heart rate and sleeping patterns to answering your phone and paying for purchases.

Apple’s latest watch version even will call 911 for you if it detects you’ve fallen or are in distress.

Don’t like the look of those digital faces?

Fashion designers are now getting into the act. Michael Kors and Fossil are creating stylish timepieces that include smartwatch features.


The divide between natural and synthetic fibres used to be quite clear:

  • natural was good
  • fake was yuck. 

In the 1970s, advances in chemistry and manufacturing led to the creation of new semi-synthetic fibres derived from the cellulose in wood pulp. 

Tencel and modal are softer yet stronger than cotton, resistant to shrinkage, and have moisture-wicking properties.

Lululemon and its more upscale off-shoot Kit and Ace use variants of such fibres to create what they call technical clothing, both comfortable and durable. 

More recently, new shoe makers are crafting footwear from innovative and sustainable materials.

Rothys says they’ve repurposed more than 20 million bottles in the past three years crafting their washable (yes, washable) flats.

Allbirds makes sneakers from wool and tree pulp, and their “sweetfoam” soles come from renewable sugarcane.


Made-to-measure tailored garments sound like a luxury, something only available to yesteryear’s aristocracy. Thanks to today’s computer technology, custom-fit garments are affordable and available to all.

Sene Studio clothing company makes bespoke every-day essentials by taking your measurements and fit preferences online.

Because each piece is made to order, the process results in significantly less waste than fast fashion brands.

Have problems finding comfortable footwear? Wiivv created an app to help customers measure their footbed and arches to craft custom-made sandals and arch supports.

You can also design your own unique baubles at Jewlr.ca. The site allows you to choose from many types of metals, real and synthetic gemstones, and engravings for personalized necklaces, bracelets and rings.


Many of these innovative fashion companies got their starts from crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Knix was one of the first clothing brands to raise more than $1 million on Kickstarter with what it claims is the world’s most comfortable bra.

Since their initial success, Knix has expanded their product offerings to underwear and swim gear.

Ministry of Supply, another made-to-order brand, went to Kickstarter to fund their space-age Mercury Intelligent Heated jacket, which uses artificial intelligence to adjust its temperature and can even change your phone. 

A current Kickstarter campaign from Via Design Lab is promoting a 100% waterproof high-top sneaker made from ocean plastics.

If you want to check out the latest tech advances in style, keep your browser bookmarked to Kickstarter’s fashion category.

What’s next?

We are sure to see more innovations in the fashion industry thanks to technology. 

Just yesterday, I discovered that famed speaker-maker Bose has created audio sunglasses with tiny speakers and a microphone built into the frames.

Now, you can listen to music and take phone calls without those ugly headsets.

Will wonders never cease?


Cross border E-shopping

Let's face it: Kelowna is no fashion shopping mecca.

Yes, there are unique and innovative independent retailers here (who warrant their own column...coming soon) and great chains at local malls.

But there is simply not the population base nor spending demographic to entice high-end luxury designers to set up shop here.

We are more likely to get that fabled IKEA than to see a Nordstrom any time soon. So you have to travel to Vancouver or Calgary or further afield to get your hands on a Louis Vuitton or Louboutin.

Also, some great brands are based in Europe with very little stock available in North American stores. And many new up-and-coming fashion disruptor brands, such as Everlane and Grana, are exclusively only available online as a way to keep costs low.

If you are interested in fashion, it is increasingly likely you are going to be shopping online from international sites.

Here are pros and cons you need to keep in mind.


Most big retailers auto-detect when you are located in Canada and enable prices to be shown in Canadian dollars. For sure, this is handy.

But be aware that these numbers typically do not include international shipping, duties and taxes. And remember that all costs will be charged in the host company’s currency; factor in that most credit cards add an additional 2.5% to charges in foreign currencies.

If you do a lot of international transactions, it can be worth getting a credit card that offers a more favourable currency conversion rate. 

If you use Paypal, they also tack 2.5% on to the bank rate for currency conversion. You can always check your Paypal balance in foreign currencies by using their “manage currency” page.

In certain instances, currency can work in a Canadian’s favour. For example, something that is offered through the U.S.-based company Net-a-Porter might also be available through the UK-based Harrods.

Depending on the price and how the Canadian dollar is doing against the U.S. or the British pound, you can end up getting a better deal.

A great site to help you cost compare across international retailers is shopstyle.com. Another site, farfetch.com, pulls stock from various smaller retailers throughout Europe to show you price and product comparisons.


Many retailers advertise free shipping and returns for purchases over a certain amount. However, always double-check this offer includes shipping to Canada.

What if you want to buy from a store that doesn’t offer shipping to Canada? The website Parcl.com is a shipping community that connects you to people in the country you want to buy from; they buy the product and send it your way for an agreed-upon fee.

Duties and taxes:

Argh! Those dreaded extra fees. Again, many retailers now calculate and include duties and taxes at checkout so you don’t end up with a surprise bill when your package arrives.

However if your e-store doesn’t offer this service, be prepared for shipping delays and to pay more at delivery.

Canada Border Services’ website has a duty and taxes estimator to help give you an idea of what these charges could be.

I considered buying $500 worth of clothing from an Australian designer until the estimator figured it would be an additional $182 to import the goods to Canada.

And don’t ask the retailer to lie about the purchase amount in an effort to evade duties; doing so is illegal.

For other general tips about getting your fashion fix via the Internet, check out my previous column Safe, stylish online shopping  

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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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