10 fashion rules to break (permanently)

iris apfel

RULE 1: navy & black don't go together.

It makes no sense to me that this was ever a fashion rule, as blue and black go together like peas and carrots. Just make sure there is enough colour variation between them to differentiate.

RULE 2: brown & black don't go together.

Because they are both neutrals, they actually go together perfectly.

RULE 3: don't wear red to a wedding.

I don't know if this was a rule because red is a "sexy" colour or because you might steal attention away from the bride; either way, those days are gone. Wear any colour you like (except white)!

RULE 4: you must own a little black dress.

Don't buy a little black dress just because every fashion column ever written told you to. More of a pants girl? Change up that closet must-have to a sleek pair of black dress pants.

RULE 5: don't mix busy prints.

One of my favourite fashion revolutions over the past few years has been the introduction of mixing prints. If you're not quite sure how to do it without looking like a crazy bag lady, read this article.

RULE 6: bright lipstick is for nighttime.

False. Bright lipstick is for All The Time.

RULE 7: take off a piece of jewelry before you leave the house.

If you like blinging it up and wearing tons of accessories, who can tell you not to? You could be the next Iris Apfel.

RULE 8: high heels + shorts = trashy.

It is possible to mix high heels and shorts so they look cool and polished. The trick for this is to make sure you have at least one loose element to your outfit (a loose shirt with fitted shorts, or vice versa).

RULE 9: only one bold colour should be worn at a time.

A wonderful new trend became popular a few years ago called colour-blocking, and it was a huge step for the world of fashion. It is no longer a faux pas to wear bright colours together.

RULE 10: menswear is for men.

The key to rocking the menswear trend is keeping it simple - for example, pair fitted dress pants with a blazer and a pair of heels or oxfords. Or why not introduce a tie or a bow tie?

5 cleanses to start off your new year right

It's the beginning of a new year, which means there is no better time to clean up your life and start fresh. These "cleanses" (and not the silly cayenne pepper type of cleanses, either) will help you start the new year off right.

CLEANSE 1: your closet.

Do you flip through your jam-packed closet every morning, thinking that you hate most of what's in there? It's a refreshing start to your day when you go to get dressed and have a selection of clothing that you actually like. Take a few hours to thoroughly re-evaluate your wardrobe this January - try things on, give things away, get new hangers, re-organize - and thank yourself for the next million mornings.

CLEANSE 2: your social media "friends".

For some reason it became cool to have a bajillion social media friends on all platforms, especially Facebook. But do you actually know and care about all of these people? Do they care about you? Chances are there are people you met once and never saw again, friends of friends of friends, ex-lovers, or people you used to work with that you never even liked. Take a few minutes to go through and clean up your social media "friends". My rule is: if you run into them in public and actually want to speak to them, they remain a social media friend.

CLEANSE 3: your kitchen.

Much like your closet, your fridge and cabinets are probably chock full of items you'll never use (and you know it). You go to make yourself a meal and always push aside the same foods that are now months, or years, old. Throw them away if they're perishable, donate them to your local food bank, or if they're really old, just toss them in the garbage.

CLEANSE 4: your purse.

At any given time, my purse contains way too many bobby pins (some broken), crumpled up receipts, lip glosses I never use, books, pens (that may or may not work), loose change, and possibly the holy grail itself, but we'll never know. If you are a lady like me that keeps her entire life in her handbag, it's time to make a change. Dump everything out and return only the items that you need on a daily basis... and then marvel at how easy (and pleasant) it is to find everything!

CLEANSE 5: your phone.

Does your phone kill battery way quicker than it should? Does it give you warnings about the lack of storage space? Can you never find the apps you want? Time for a phone cleanse. Take off old photos, delete apps you never use, clean up your main page, and delete contacts you don't need to ever contact again. Organization will change your life in 2016, I swear.

Happy new year!

10 things to invest in in 2016 (especially if you're in your 20's)

1. Your health.

People tend to disregard their health in their early 20's - waiting out sicknesses instead of going to the doctor, skipping the dentist because it's too expensive, forgoing prescriptions, forgetting to exercise. But once you have a solid job and a source of income, make sure you set aside some of that money to take care of yourself first.

2. A cast iron skillet.

A cast iron pan is one of the best kitchen tools you'll ever have in your arsenal. Besides the facts that it will never break, it's nonstick, it's basically a grill in itself, and you don't need to waste soap on it... it's not even that expensive!
Of course, this one comes with the catch that you should be able to cook successfully (heating up frozen food doesn't count).

3. Exercise.

Whether it's a sports team, a yoga membership, or just a good pair of running shoes - put some money into your exercise this new year. Your 20's is the time to create good habits, which includes taking care of yourself, which includes fitness!

4. Travel.

"Travel is the only thing you can spend money on that makes you richer." While that's not 100% true, the sentiment certainly is. Traveling, whether it's to a nearby town or to another continent, is an investment into yourself. It expands your horizons, challenges you, and exposes you to new experiences that you just can't find at home. Put aside a little bit of money every paycheque and go somewhere new!

5. A good winter jacket.

This might not apply to people who live in warmer climates, but being a Calgary girl, a good winter jacket is a must. And if you spend the money on a good one, it will last you at least a few winters - rather than having to replace it every year.

6. Bed sheets.

They say the closer an item is to your body, the more money you should spend on it. A good sleep is crucial to your mental and physical well-being, so why not spend a bit extra and buy some delightfully soft sheets?

7. A good pair of shoes.

You never know when you might need to dress up for an interview, a wedding, or some other fancy event - it could pop up without warning, which means you don't have time to go shopping. Invest in a nice, grown up pair of shoes that you can always count on. For me, it's a good pair of chunky-heeled black boots - they are good for everything!

8. Your relationships.

I am a firm believer that you should always invest time and effort into your relationships, but your 20's is a time to really build these foundations for the rest of your life. My parents have friends that they have known for 40+ years, and it was because they spent their 20's getting to know each other and building a strong bond.

9. A grown up purse.

Okay guys, there is no excuse to still be rocking a purse from your teen years. It's time to bite the bullet and get a bag that says business (but is still fashionable!). This means it's big enough to hold all your stuff, probably leather, is sleek and modern, and fits your personal style.

10. An RRSP.

I can't stress enough how important it is to start saving and put money away in the proper accounts. Leaving it all in your savings account won't benefit you in the long run - instead, set up an RRSP and start preparing for your future.
Don't put off this investment until your 30's - by starting in your 20's, you'll have WAY more money by the time you retire. If you'd like to know exactly how much, use this RRSP calculator.

2015 gift guide: the modern man

1. a watch with interchangeable straps [link]

2. a candle that smells like something they actually like [link]

Leather & Smoke Wood Wick Candle - Vegan soy wax, kosher certified

3. a cool print [link] [link]

Muhammad Ali poster print, Muhammad Ali, Thrilla in Manila,  Muhammad Ali print, Muhammad Ali, boxing print, boxing posterBruce Springsteen concert poster, Bruce Springsteen art print, music print, The Roxy Theatre, concert poster, Bruce Springsteen print

4. a cookbook he can get behind [link] [link]

5. a kit to make his own beer [link]

6. a poker set [link]

7. warm wool mittens [link]

Wool and tan leather men's & women's mittens

8. a onesie, cause everyone needs a onesie [link]

Image 1 of ASOS Loungewear Onesie With Contrast Sleeves

9. a leather iphone case [link]

UnCase for iPhone 6(s) and 6(s) Plus

10. tickets to a beer (or whiskey, or wine!) tasting in your city [link]

2015 gift guide: the modern woman

1. a portable record player [link]

2. a bicycle wine holder [link]

Bicycle Wine Rack - Tan Leather Bike Bottle Holder

3. a lipstick that will put the fear of God in a man's heart [link]

4. this bracelet that holds your hair elastic [link]

5. a tshirt that speaks the truth [link]


6. some light reading to inspire [link] [link]

7. an instant camera [link]

8. a set of flask mittens [link]

9. a wall tapestry [link] [link]

Confessions of a Guilty Mind. Wall TapestryThe Venus Priestess Wall Tapestry

10. a gold-plated flask [link]

8 fashion mistakes that make you look older

1. you give in to the trends. 

Tights, peplum tops, harem pants, shrugs, extreme shoulder pads - these are all fashion trends that have come and go over the last few years. And while it's okay for teenagers and young adults to experiment with crazy trends and wild looks, if you're over 40, buying into these trends will just make you look older.

2. you forgo accessories, makeup, or a hairstyle.

It's all too common for women to tie up their hair, throw on some exercise pants and a hoodie, and walk out the door without any makeup and no accessories. But I ask you - does this make you feel good about yourself? Why not take a few extra minutes to put some effort in and be proud to show off your personal sense of style? "Giving up" and deciding you don't need to put effort into your appearance is a surefire way to age yourself.

3. you're afraid of bold patterns + colours.

I know that over time it becomes easy to pick up the neutrals - black, beige, brown, white. They're everywhere and they're easy. But neutrals, while a classic staple of any outfit, can be a very slippery slope. Don't be afraid of bold patterns and colours (especially rich hues like maroon, which are flattering at any age) - express yourself! And if you're afraid of colours, opt for a patterned neutral instead of a plain one.

4. you don't re-evaluate old clothes.

It may be your go-to piece, but it may also be dating you. Take a critical look at your wardrobe and see if there is anything left over from eras past that has an outdated shape, colour, or pattern (ahem - shoulder pads, 90's blue denim, pastels). A few great new pieces every year will make you look (and feel!) younger and more modern.

5. you dress too young.

You may be middle-aged with a rockin' body, but that doesn't mean you can show it off the same way a teenager would. While it's important to stay stylish and on keep in touch with the fashion trends, dressing like your teenager daughter will have the opposite effect you want - it will age you. Try opting for classic, chic, age-appropriate looks instead.

6. you wear a cardigan with every outfit.

Cardigans are a tricky layering piece - while they seem ideal for almost any outfit, they often lack shape and end up looking frumpy. Not only that, but wearing a cardigan every day makes it the focus of your outfit. Instead, try switching it up with fitted blazers or jackets, especially ones more into the casual realm (made of sweater material or cotton).
If you just really love cardigans and refuse to give them up, at least invest in some statement ones with bold patterns or colours.

7. you wear colours that wash you out. 

This will depend on your hair colour and skin tone, but try holding different colours up to your face to see what dulls and what brightens your complexion - for example, I know that I should avoid pastels, beiges, neons, and yellows. The right colours can immediately brighten up your face and make you look younger.

8. you wear all black.

Black is the most versatile and common neutral, and we're told that it looks amazing on everybody. However, our skin tends to get paler as we age, and the contrast of black against your pale skin can age you and emphasize dark shadows. Instead of going for black all the time, try richer tones like charcoal, maroon, army green, and navy blue.

6 tips on living a confident + focused lifestyle (and just generally kicking ass)

1. Don’t date someone just to make up for a self-love deficit.

Find a way to love your life and yourself without relying on external compliments and the love of a romantic partner. If necessary, evaluate yourself. What aren’t you happy with? How can you take steps to change that?
BAF’s (Bad Ass Females) look at it this way: In a relationship? Cool! Not in a relationship? Also cool! Whether you’re in a relationship or not, your opinion of yourself should not change.

2. Cultivate a life that feels good, rather than it just looking good.

People are obsessed with Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, Flickr, whatever else, I don’t even know, I lost track. And because of these outlets, people become so focused on creating a life that looks good on the outside (attending lots of events on Facebook, gym selfies, a photo of your favourite Frappuccino that you bought cause TREAT YO SELF, posting photos every 5 minutes at an event of HOW MUCH FUN YOU’RE HAVING OMG) that they forget to focus on how their life is actually functioning. It’s okay to go out for coffee with a friend and focus on what they’re saying, rather than getting the perfect selfie together.
Are you taking photos of things because they fulfill you (your family, your dog, a special moment) or are you taking photos of things because you want other people to see them?

3. Don’t sit on the sidelines.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. It can be difficult to approach people and ask them out on a date, ask for a raise, or ask to be a part of something. You might get a “no” in response, but you’ll definitely get a “no” if you never step up and ask in the first place. BAF’s rarely sit on the sidelines – they go out and ask for what they want, and demand respect while doing it.

4. Know your worth.

Don’t compete for a man like you’re on the Bachelor, especially if that man is encouraging competition between women because it’s good for his ego. If someone doesn’t recognize your worth, that is the moment to walk away.
Seeing someone who isn’t treating you awesome? End it. Working a job you hate? Re-evaluate and see if you can find somewhere you’d be happier. Figure out what you think you deserve, and refuse to settle for anything less.

5. Don’t play the victim.

Things go wrong all the time. We all have those days (or weeks) where you already felt crappy... and then your apartment flooded, you didn’t get that raise, your boyfriend broke up with you, you sprained your wrist, your car broke down. Oh, woe is me! You’re welcome to allow yourself a couple minutes of a pity party, but after that, buck up, put on your steel face and work through it. Take one problem off the shelf at a time, fix it, and then focus on the next problem at hand. Don’t wallow – you’re not helping anyone, especially yourself.

6. Make plans and follow through.

Whether it’s coffee with a friend or a serious career transition, make a plan for successful execution and follow through. Not only will you generally accomplish more and feel better about yourself, people sincerely appreciate being able to count on someone. 

Two Girls One City: Part III

Blog readers, meet Paige - the mastermind behind The Wholesome Handbook, an artistic, bucolic, introspective and inspiring woman, and one of my very closest friends. Despite the fact that we are total opposites - as she put it, I'm "buzzing with energy, always on the go" and she's "relaxed, contemplative, and probably barefoot in the garden" - we both love Calgary and spend a lot of our time exploring it. So we decided to put together a multi-part blog collaboration that focuses on our two (very different) perspectives of the city - one take wholesome, one take electric. Part three focuses on our favourite places to go for dates!


Suzanne: Coffee & a bike ride along the Riverwalk 

There's just nothing like a good bike ride! Start at the Simmons Building (just over the Langevin Bridge), admire the artwork, hang out in the sunshine for a bit, before hopping on your bikes and cruising down the Riverwalk, through Eau Claire, and down to the Peace Bridge. Once you've crossed, head into Kensington and take a break with a coffee from Higher Ground - make sure to snag a spot outside, if you can! From here you can either bike back along the Riverwalk, or bike to a restaurant downtown for dinner and drinks. 

Paige: Glenbow Museum
I never understood the reputation of museums being stuffy, boring places to hang out. A museum is a multitude of worlds confined in one physical space, complex and rich and wondrous. What's sexier than that? The Glenbow in particular always hosts fantastic travelling exhibitions, interesting lectures, and has an impressive permanent collection to boot. It's a great way to get to know each other, as the conversation is guaranteed to be lubricated by whatever ancient artefact or disturbing art piece is sitting in front of you. No awkward chats about the weather here! And plenty of dark corners for... further discussion. 


Suzanne: Beer & blues at The Blues Can 
The Blues Can is a charmingly run-down gem in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Calgary - and a great low-key date location. Its simple and unembellished interior states that you're there for the music, and not for a glamorous evening - and that's why it's so great! Order a schooner of beer and some frog legs or Creole nachos and soak up the amazing live blues music, which happens every day of the week. 

PaigeArts Commons
Arts Commons is a labyrinthine patchwork of theatres, concert halls, art galleries, and cafes. You can see an indie play at One Yellow Rabbit or King Lear at Theatre Calgary, take in some romantic Brahms or avant-garde Messaien at the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, or sit in at a TED talk at the Jack Singer. While you're waiting for your show to start, hang out with the artist in residence at the voyeuristic Lightbox Studio and explore the +15 soundscapes and art galleries. A late-night stroll down Calgary's most magical street, Stephen Avenue, can't hurt your chances either. 


Suzanne: Punk Rock Singalong @ the Ship & Anchor 
Even if punk rock isn't your genre of choice, you WILL have fun at Punk Rock Singalong. It's hosted by Rob & Eric (two dashing young local musicians) on the best patio in Calgary, every Monday evening, July through September. Pack onto the east patio if you can find a spot, make fast friends with those around you, and make sure you pick up on the Bro-Hymn, where everyone on the patio cheerses each other and takes a swig of their favourite brew. High-fives and thumbs-up from passersby are a regular occurrence, and the police have been known to stop by once or twice for noise complaints (true to the punk rock spirit!). It's a crowded, happy, yelling, singing, drinking, cheersing, fun time for everyone!

Paige: Berry picking @ the Saskatoon Berry Farm
The Saskatoon Berry Farm the absolute cutest, kitschiest u-pick in southern Alberta. They've got several audaciously lush greenhouses, a tiny indoor farm populated by turkeys, fancy chickens and a resident pig, amazing views of the surrounding prairies, and a killer breakfast menu. Berry picking is surprisingly fun, and the towering hedges of Saskatoon bushes make you feel like you're out there all by yourselves. 


Suzanne: Recordland
I've been to other record stores in Calgary, but I always, always come back to Recordland. The crowded aisles holding over 2 million records, the hand-written labels, the staff that seem to know every record, band, and piece of music trivia there is, and the smell of old records - nothing beats it! When I'm stressed out (and also when I'm not), I like to grab a coffee from nearby Gravity Espresso Bar and peruse the quiet, jam-packed aisles until my arms are filled with 5, 15, or 25 records to add to my collection.

Paige: Hiking Johnston Canyon
Outdoor winter activities are so underrated! Fill up a thermos with Baileys-spiked coffee, lace up your hiking boots, and head out to K-country. The trails are quiet and picturesque in the winter, and the falls at Johnston Canyon freeze into monstrous white-blue monoliths. I've always felt such a primal, epic, ancient feeling wash over me in the mountains, and experiencing that with someone else is even more awesome, in every sense of the word. 

Two Girls One City: Part II

Blog readers, meet Paige - the mastermind behind The Wholesome Handbook, an artistic, bucolic, introspective and inspiring woman, and one of my very closest friends. Despite the fact that we are total opposites - as she put it, I'm "buzzing with energy, always on the go" and she's "relaxed, contemplative, and probably barefoot in the garden" - we both love Calgary and spend a lot of our time exploring it. So we decided to put together a multi-part blog collaboration that focuses on our two (very different) perspectives of the city - one take wholesome, one take electric. Part two focuses on our favourite places to go for libations, music and late-night bites around the city. 


Paige: The coziest bar in Calgary, the Hop in Brew operates out of a century-old yellow house that, throughout its lifetime, has served as a rest home, an auto-body garage, and a rooming house. They’ve got the most incredible selection of local beer and craft brews on tap. On a warm summer night it is absolutely lovely to sit out on the little porch, blissfully free of sweaty, crowded strangers and the deafening noise of conventional bars, and sip on an Apricat in the glow of the city lights. 

Suzanne: There is something so wonderful about having a cold beer on a rooftop patio, surrounded by graffiti'd walls and the skyline of Calgary - and this is why the Broken City patio is always packed, whether its 10 or 35 degrees outside. It debatably becomes even more lovely in the evening, when the string lights come on, the crowd gets communal, and the constant thrum of music from downstairs keeps the mood swinging until the wee hours of the night.


Paige: Wine-Ohs is a little bistro off of 8th avenue, with an intimate underground cellar that I've been visiting since college, back when it was called the Beat Niq. It's dark, cozy, and romantic, perfect for curling up in a comfy seat near the back and nursing a glass of wine. You reach the cellar through a side door in a back alley, making the whole experience feel like you're at some secret saloon in the jazz age, and the music is always  fantastic - from my favourite folky local singer-songwriters to jazz trios to world music.

Suzanne: If you like beer, barbecue, and good music (and who doesn't?), then the Palomino is your Calgary soulmate. Besides having the largest smoker in Western Canada and producing amazing barbecue in-house (my favourite is the beef brisket with bacon-wrapped corn), they have cheap beer, awesome staff, and good music most days of the week. Their shows range everywhere from death metal to indie folk, but no matter what the genre, you'll leave happy, buzzed and smelling of barbecue.


Paige: Tubby Dog! Famous for wacky creations like the PBJ (a hot dog slathered with peanut butter and jelly, with the option to add Cap'n Crunch), Tubby Dog is a 17th Ave institution. The walls are lined with old arcade consoles, and I always play a round or two of Ms Pac Man when I'm getting my after-midnight food fix.

Suzanne: I can't count the amount of times I've paid a visit to Cliveburger after midnight, but it's probably ranging into the mid-thirties - and for good reason. The interior is always buzzing with happy diners, they are open until 3AM, and their burgers, milkshakes and crispy fries always hit the spot. Spend a couple extra bucks and get mushrooms and a fried egg on your burger, and sit outside on the patio for some of the best people-watching in Calgary.