I love tracking fashion fads – velour tracksuits with UGGs anyone? – but I’m not all that interested in wearing them. And I don’t really think twice about the colour of the moment (orange makes me look … orange) – but I do love incorporating fun flashes in my latest look. To me, style isn’t so much about trends as it is about personal expression. The most stylish people I know all do one thing really well … 

Photo by Tara West. I'm in my living room.

They MIX HIGH AND LOW with a masterful touch. And that’s my tried and true single tip to style in your wardrobe and home. Publications that show designer fashion head-to-toe, or a home decorated in all of the most expensive trends aren’t showing style. They’re showing fashion – and that can be out of style in a heartbeat. What I admire most is that innate ability to mix high and low labels with seamless ease. In the shot above, I’m wearing a top by Halogen (less than $100 at Nordstrom) with a leather belt from Banana Republic and a skirt by my favourite designer Dries van Noten. I use the runway for inspiration but my wallet would never let me copy the look, and I wouldn’t want to anyway. It’s much more creative to mix great buys with statement pieces. 

I’ve worked with some of Canada’s top stylists so I learned this lesson early … and also out of necessity. I’ve never had the money to decorate or dress head-to-toe in high end fashion. When I was the Executive Editor at Chatelaine, I hired top home decor stylists including Arren Williams, Shawn Gibson (Teatro Verde) and Lynn Spence who were all genius at mixing high and low. All three were expert at dressing up thrift shop finds (often with fresh paint and new fabric) and then pairing them with mass market favourites (Ikea for one) and key statement pieces. I’ve been inspired by them, plus my dear friend Tommy Smythe, whose ideas shaped my apartment decor. When it’s finished, I’ll share some more tips in another post. 

Top, Halogen at Nordstrom. Belt, Banana Republic. Skirt, Dries van Noten. Shoes (in previous pic) Aquazzura.

When I was the Editor-in-Chief at Flare, I was always hounding my fashion team to style the shoots in the way that they dressed. They were always lusting after the latest runway exits but features about them, dressed in their magpie mix of high and low pairings, were always top-rated. ALWAYS. It’s easy to style a designer outfit but it’s the high and low mix that really tests a stylist’s eye. Their own outfits, often a mix of vintage, thrift and designer sale, were so compelling that nobody cared which piece was the high, and which was the low. 

INVEST IN: I spend more on classics in top quality fabrics that I want to last forever, such as a trench coat or little black dress. I also invest in pieces by Dries van Noten because his distinctive fabrics in colours and patterns truly are works of art. I also buy top quality handbags and shoes because they look better for longer.

SAVE ON: Anything trendy, such as this season’s big statement sleeves or striped cropped trousers. I also spend less on of-the-minute pieces that I’m buying as an accent in a quirky colour such as an orange sweater.