Personal style starts with having a signature look or piece. For me, it’s a statement jacket or topper in a distinctive pattern or embellishment. I always love it when someone says – “that piece is totally Lisa”. I can bet it’s usually a stunning scarf or great jacket. Here’s a few that I love with my styling tips: 

Illustration by Monica Smiley @eightyseventhst

A few years back, my friend Monica Smiley, the brilliant illustrator behind @eightyseventhst in Toronto sent me a variety of sketches that she thought illustrated my personal style. She knocked it out of the park with this artistic topper by Celine. While I couldn’t afford the actual piece (even with my generous store discount), I’m regretting that I didn’t snap it up. I would have worn it forever.

Styling tip: Don’t save an expensive designer piece for special occasions. I would have worn this Celine design with a black dress; a red skirt and black turtleneck; jeans and boots … the list goes. 

I'm with Mary Katrantzou

One of the designers I admire is London-based Mary Katrantzou. I first saw her incomparable prints (fragrance bottles printed on dresses) during her first season showing in Paris. When she visited Toronto for a charity event, I wore a jacket by Etro – an Italian company known for their colourful print mix and clashes. 

I'm with Christie Smythe in her Toronto studio

I have huge respect for the business that Christie Smythe and Andrea Lenczner built from an expertly cut jacket. Smythe Jackets are sold worldwide (and now online) and treasured for their distinctive details. I’m wearing a men’s wear inspired topper decorated with gold sequin fronds by Dries van Noten, my all-time favourite designer to wear. Again, don’t treat fancy pieces with kid gloves. I always throw this coat on over jeans. 

Photo by Tara West

I’ve added some cosy knit toppers to my collection recently. This one is by Eileen Fisher.

Styling tip: A knit coat is perfect for travel (wrinkle-free and roll up into a pillow on the plane) and they look great with everything from dresses to jeans.  

I’ve worn my favourite piece EVER – a patterned coat by Dries van Noten – so many different ways. Now it’s starting to show some wear and tear. Maybe I should frame it? This piece was nosebleed expensive for me. I had to go have lunch with a friend before committing, and walk around Barney’s a million times. But I’ve never regretted buying it. I wear it constantly – mainly with jeans – and get compliments every single time. 

Styling tip: Snap a selfie before buying an expensive piece. Study it and imagine three different ways to wear it. If you come up with way more than three, it’s a great buy. 

I’ve been obsessed with pink coats for a while. Not sure why as I’m not a girly girl but this one will be going into heavy rotation soon. It reminds me of cherry blossoms. I found this coat by Dries van Noten in Milan.

Styling tip: With a coat so busy, keep everything else minimal. I love to wear my statement jackets over my basics and then a neutral metallic shoe – like a silver flat or sneaker. 

Photo by Phillip Chin

And last but not least, I can’t post this without my standby leopard pattern topper from Zara. I wore it a lot this winter with a black lace skirt. 

Styling tip: I almost gave this piece away a few times because I wasn’t wearing it much. Tuck favourite pieces away and then bring them back a few years later. You’ll find a different way to style it and fall right back in love.