Stylish scents

Fashion is primarily a visual thing. We access the colours, shapes, and patterns of outfits with our eyes.

But one part of our individual style is appreciated through the nose. And there’s more to it than just perfume.

How we smell is a combination of body chemistry, personal hygiene, and the products we use.

While it is not considered PC these days to douse oneself in heavy colognes, we shouldn’t completely ignore the olfactory vibes we are giving off. Even the most couture frock is ruined by an offensive odour.

I’ll assume anyone reading a fashion column has a good grasp of personal hygiene. But here are some smelling-good tips worth repeating:

  • Think about the products you regularly use and if their scents complement or clash. For example, rose petal dryer sheets for your clothes, coconut mint body lotion on your body, a baby powder scented deodorant, layered with a woodsy perfume might not make for a great combination. I prefer to buy most lotions and detergents in unscented versions to avoid competing scents.
  • Shoes can cause a big stink. Treat your sneakers with baking soda to eliminate odour, or wash them if possible. Anti-microbial socks and shoe liners with activated charcoal work well in flats.
  • Carry mints or Listerine strips in your purse and use before talking to someone at close proximity. ‘Nuff said.
  • Certain foods do affect our body chemistry. If you are going to be in a social situation, you might want to avoid garlic, onions, cruciferous veggies, meat, and alcohol up to 36 hours prior.

With those preliminaries taken care of, it’s time to consider adding a scent. 

Women and men have been using perfumes for thousands of years. Like fashion, fragrances succumb to trends too.

If you were alive in the 1980s, you’ll remember the rise of the celebrity scents, like Elizabeth Taylor dripping in White Diamonds.

It seemed every woman had a bottle of Georgio Beverly Hills and every man wore either Polo or Drakar Noir, and everyone practically bathed in the stuff.

Today, there are more olfactory options than ever. Thinking of a new signature scent? Read on...

Fragrances are categorized into four basic profiles: floral, woodsy, oriental, and fresh. Each evokes a mood, a time, or place.

  • Florals, as the name suggests, use flowers as their base notes such as rose, lily of the valley, and gardenia. They are typically considered very feminine, and can run the gamut from seductive to matronly. Today’s popular florals are Dior J’adore and Marc Jacobs Daisy.
  • Woodsy scents use elements from trees, bushes and grasses such as patchouli and vetiver to create earthy, outdoorsy smells. Many popular unisex and men’s fragrances are woody. Check out Terre d’Hermes, Dior Sauvage, and Gucci Guilty pour Homme.
  • Also known by the more culturally-sensitive terms amber or warm, oriental scents use spices like vanilla, musk and sandalwood to evoke mystery and an exotic sensuality. Typical oriental fragrances are Dior Poison and YSL Black Opium.
  • Fresh fragrances smell upbeat, happy, and clean by using fruity notes. Popular fresh scents include Clinique Happy and Aqua de Gio.

Sephora has created an online fragrance finder; simply answer a few questions about your style and favourite smells, and it will suggest colognes for you to try.

However, there is no substitute for testing a perfume in real life. You can’t buy based on a quiz or a review.

What becomes your signature scent is a highly personal thing, a combination of what smells you are attracted to and what works with your body chemistry.

Here’s how you will know it’s the right one: when you put it on you will feel great and want to hug yourself. Then it will linger for a little while until it becomes unnoticeable.

It should blend in and just smell like “you.”

If someone hugs you and hangs on for a little extra moment, it’s a winner.

But if you are still smelling it hours afterwards, likely it is overpowering to those around you and not a good fit.

When you’ve found your favoured fragrance, use it sparingly! This exclamation point is specifically directed to young woman wearing too much Prada Candy. Please stop these olfactory attacks.

Here are some scents and scent-makers worth noting:

Tom Ford’s swoon-worthy fragrance line is wildly coveted for a reason. His scents are so delicious one is even simply named “F#@king Fabulous." 

Whenever I wore his Santal Blush I felt amazing and got a ton of compliments. However, this luxury doesn’t come cheap. If shelling out $250+ for a bottle is too much, you can find tester sizes on eBay.

Demeter has a massive fragrance library consisting of every imaginable smell, including bottled versions of Dirt, Kitten Fur, Paperback, and Sunshine. I love their Earl Grey Tea fragrance; it captures the exact scent of freshly-brewed black tea and bergamot. Available online at demeterfragrance.com.

Juliette Has A Gun was created by Romano Ricci, grandson of famous French designer Nina Ricci and creator of L’air du Temps. His signature “Not a Perfume” is a synthetic version of the single note ambergris and creates a different smell on each wearer.

It is also said to be non-allergic and OK to wear in scent-sensitive environments.

I recently purchased his Discovery Set of eight fragrances and can’t decide which is my favourite - they all smell wonderful. 

One of the best ways to experiment with new fragrances is to buy a mini size tester set. I highly recommend these great values: Juliette Has A Gun’s Discovery Set for $30, Atelier Cologne’s Perfume Stories for $25, and Nest’s Discovery Set for $52, all available at Sephora.


Show your Canuck Pride

Holidays and events give us an opportunity to be playful with fashion that we don’t get in our everyday lives.

This Monday, it’s all about putting your Canadian pride on full display.

Of course, the most obvious go-to outfit is wearing red and white. But feel free to get creative with this combo. 

For example, don all white with red earrings, lips, hat and shoes for a sophisticated take on the flag. 

Get crafty. Paint a maple leaf on a plain white shirt. If you don’t want to permanently alter your shirt, cut out leaves and stripes and hand-sew them on so they can be removed later. Or cover your shirt with a ton of Canadiana pins.

If you’re taking in the day’s festivities with a group, you can each wear a letter spelling out “CANADA” or “NORTH” or “EH” depending on the number in your party.

Do you have a Canadian flag? Depending on its size, use it as you would any large scarf. It can go around your neck, wrap around your waist as a skirt, or even be a halter dress.

Skin can be part of your canvas too. Face paint and temporary tattoos are a fun and easy way to show your Canada Day spirit.

Check out YouTube for inspiring Canada Day makeup tutorials. I especially love the look by MagTag519 found here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-P8HDjM0w8U

Not a fan of the red and white? There are tons of other ways to show your national joy.

Wear a jersey from your favourite Canadian sports team. Don a Mountie hat. Add a beaver tail to your bottoms. Wear Hudson’s Bay stripes.

Though these ideas play on stereotypical Canuck imagery, they are most certainly fun.

While I wouldn’t recommend buying clothes just for one day, if you are thinking of adding to your wardrobe, a great option is getting something from Roots Canada collection.

All pieces feature our iconic colours, are made in Canada, and look great any day of the year. Shop in-person in Orchard Park Mall or online at: https://www.roots.com/ca/en/women/collections/canada-collection-by-roots/

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.

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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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