What to do when you have a smaller closet

By: Guinevere Santaguida

There are so many reasons why somebody might not have a massive wardrobe. You could be trying to be economical, maybe trying to be minimalistic, or you could just not have the budget. I believe there is a common misconception in the fashion world: that a small wardrobe means that your outfits are boring and all the same. Here are three tips to help you be versatile in your style, with a smaller wardrobe.

1)    Have order in your wardrobe. Even small wardrobes can be messy. Believe me.  Shirts hung up incorrectly, items on the floor, or in a pile in the corner. This disorder is not only likely a cause for stress, but it also creates the illusion that you have less clothing. When you cannot see all your items properly, you’re forced to wear whatever is easy to see and often that can be the same item at the top of the pile. If you can see all of your items, you can mix and match more easily. Putting order to your wardrobe might also project into your day-to-day living and you feel more put together in more areas of your life.

2)    Catalogue your items. For some this might be a tedious task, however if you have a smaller wardrobe it will not take too long. With your items catalogued you can plan outfits in advance. If you know all your items, you can also know what specific pieces you might need to add or replace, and you can plan your trips to the mall better and be more efficient. You don’t need to do this in a very monotonous or boring way, there are ways to make if a very fun experience. One thing that could be great fun, might be finding similar pieces on Pinterest and making a Pinterest board. There are also specific apps designed for cataloguing one’s clothing, and you can actually create a virtual wardrobe.

3)    Plan your outfits the night before. With a smaller wardrobe it might be more difficult to wake up and throw something on, it might take some thinking. Planning your outfits in advance might not only take some stress away in the morning, but will also make you realize all of the possibilities that you have. Layering is what got me through the colder months, and statement pieces paired with different bottoms is what gets me through the summer. Knowing these little things and planning them ahead will really help you.

 

There can sometimes be a lot of pressure on young women to have lots of clothes and always wear a different outfit. It is important to remember that this is just pressure, and finding new and inventive ways to wear the same piece is much more creative and stylish than simply buying a whole new piece.

 

Autumn has Arrived

By: Guinevere Santaguida 

Autumn is my favourite season, without a doubt in my mind it far exceeds all the other seasons. Not only am I able to layer up, because the weather is not boiling, but the natural setting is so incredibly beautiful. The orange, beige and burgundy toned world opens up limitless opportunities for a girl like me to wear comfy and cozy sweaters but also pull out my earthy colours and embrace the sunny autumn days in all their pumpkin spice glory!

 

Here are some pieces that will take your fall style to the next level:

 

The blanket scarf: I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want a blanket scarf. Admittedly, Canadian falls can get pretty chilly, and that light jacket you’d been so excited to wear just isn’t warm enough. However, a blanket scarf changes the game. Blanket scarves are so big and so warm that you can add them to any jacket and you’re immediately warm enough. Not only are they super practical, there are so many options, there is absolutely one for everyone. They can be pricey, but keep an eye out for sales.

 

The chunky knit sweater: Personally this is probably my favourite fashion item ever. Not only are these pieces incredibly comfortable, but they can be layered to create the perfect look. I personally love any outfit with a collar. Throwing an earthy-toned chunky knit sweater over a natural coloured oxford blouse, is a classic and timeless look. Admittedly, this piece can also be worn during winter, however often autumn is a time when you can wear a chunky sweater and be comfortable outside. Feel free to be experiment with some unusual colours like brown and rust. This time of year is the perfect time to embrace these more unusual colours.

 

The Casual Toque: Toques are a very cute accessory. During winter, it’s probably a good idea to have a practical winter hat, that’s warm, perhaps fashionable, but not necessarily. Autumn, is cool enough outside to wear a toque and it can be both stylish and appropriate. I personal recommend CC beanies, there is so much choice and they are very reasonably priced. I tend to pair my burgundy beanie with a jean jacket or a light wrap coat. Sometimes beanies can also be styled with a light sweater and or even a t-shirt.

 

 Denim: Admittedly, denim can be worn any season, however autumn opens up so many doors for so much denim. Being quite an insulating material, it can be a good idea to steer clear of denim during the warmer months.  During the cooler months, jeans can be worn, as well as jean jackets and other denim items. The earthy tones all around, are very inviting to my favourite wash of jeans, faded and light blue. What I call the farmer/scarecrow-chique vibe is really great for fall.

 

Autumn is a really beautiful season and in my opinion has the best seasonal style. Happy Autumn!

 

 

 

 

 

How to start your own fashion blog

Starting a personal fashion blog was pretty scary. Not only was I going to have all sorts of people looking through my outfit photos, but I also felt like I didn’t have enough clothes. I was also worried, as a high school student, that life would get busy and I would stop actively posting. However, here I am a whole two years later, still posting regularly and loving it!

Here are three ways to help you start a fashion blog and not feel overwhelmed in the process.

1)    Find a dedicated and passionate partner. I’m lucky to have an amazing blog partner who is not only very stylish but is incredibly motivated and supportive. When I feel as though a post isn’t worth posting or feel discouraged, she comes in with a reassuring word and gets me back on track. Another fantastic thing about having a blog partner is that you can share talents. For example, as someone who does not excel at programming, I’m super appreciative to have a partner who is really talented with respect to blog maintenance. Also, having two separate styles featured on a blog really adds to its versatility and doubles the amount of people you might have viewing your blog.

 

2)    Don’t be afraid to be very professional from the get go. There’s this false idea in the blogging community that newer blogs, are less worthy of looking very aesthetically pleasing. Don’t be afraid to be very ambitious and treat your blog as if you had a large following from the start. In your posts, address followers (even if you have none at that given moment), post regularly even if it seems you have no readership and don’t be afraid to put time into your posts. If you work hard your follower count will grow and you will not have to drastically change anything.

3)    Think big. I know in my last point I focused a lot on followers and readership, but that should never be your ultimate goal. I believe that through my blog I have the capacity to be an agent of change in the way the media and fashion industries perceive women through dress, and you have that same power. When you post, don’t feel you must comply to the status quo. Dare to be different in your posts, dress in a way that reflects you as a person. It is so easy to fall into the trap of posting outfits you see other successful bloggers wearing. Perhaps ‘what everyone else is wearing’ is not necessarily what aligns with your values and personhood. In that case do not be afraid to be true and be you on your blog. You can change the world with your blog!

 

On a practical note I recommend either Squarespace, Wix or Blogspot as platforms to build your blogs. Most Iphones and newer smartphones have decent cameras, and high resolution options, you don’t need an expensive camera to have a successful blog. 

Is Minimalism the way of the future?

Is minimalism the way of the future? I found myself asking this question whilst talking to my mom about a new Netflix documentary about minimalism. When I refer to minimalism, I do not mean the style of art that became popular in the 1950s characterized by simple strokes on massive canvases. I’m referring to the increasingly popular lifestyle of living with less things. Minimalists live out this lifestyle to varying degrees. Some minimalists could have as few as 20 items, and others could practice minimalism buy having strict rules about buying new items.

 

Minimalism can be applied to every area of one’s life, including fashion. It combats the hugely environmentally unsustainable patterns in the fashion industry. The buying and disposing of clothes is a practice that is becoming unsustainable. Being the second greatest polluter, the fashion industry needs to make an effort to be more environmentally friendly. I believe minimalism is a possible solution to getting one step closer towards achieving a greener earth.

 

To begin I need to underline a difference between a minimalistic look and minimalistic fashion. I’m guilty of calling myself a minimalist, because I tend to go for no-jewelry, simple, and monochromatic looks. However, I have a chest of drawers and a closet full of clothes. Therefore, I’m not a minimalist, but I tend to have a minimalist look.

 

To be a minimalist in fashion-terms means having few, quality items that are versatile. Capsule wardrobes are a great example. Now, I’ll put it out there that to dive full-fledged into the minimalist lifestyle is potentially unrealistic for most. True minimalists can own as few as 5 items of clothing and little to no personal possessions apart from the essential. However, I believe if fashion-consumers adopted minimalism to a certain degree, the world would benefit as a whole.

 

The question is, how can we as young women integrate a healthy amount of minimalism into our lives? One idea could be to clean out your closet (what I like to call a “closet detox”). Choose an afternoon to tackle your wardrobe, and go in with an open mind. Make sure that you only throw away clothes that are damaged or stained. Hopefully, you can donate the majority of the clothes you’ll be saying goodbye to (or even sell some of them online or at a consignment store). Have a repair pile as well, but commit to making the repairs soon! Otherwise they become just another pile of unused clothes. There are some pieces of mine that I love, but they might be ripped or missing a button, in those cases, I would certainly repair them. Ask yourself questions like; “Have I worn this in the last twelve months?”, “Is this currently my style?”, “Does this fit?”. Maybe even invite a friend to help you, as a second opinion is always helpful!

 

There are many other ways to have a more minimalistic wardrobe, such as having rules when shopping. The buy-one, donate-one rule, or only buy only timeless pieces, are a starting place. Maybe minimalism is the way of the future and maybe it isn’t, but I believe it is a step in the right direction in terms of the environmental sustainability of the fashion industry.

 

Back-to-School-Wear Tips

Back to school time, for most people is very exciting. Not only is an entire year lying ahead, like a blank slate, but more pressingly, the first day of school is awaiting, and for some this poses the very exciting question, “What am I going to wear?”

I have to be very honest with you, I have been wearing a uniform since seventh grade and I’m currently entering into twelfth grade. The last time I asked myself that question, I was eleven. However, I’ve been to enough shopping malls during ‘back to school season’ and think I know a thing or two about certain trends.

Depending on your style the perfect ‘back to school’ outfit could range from a flowy summer dress, to a preppy oxford collar and slacks. No matter what your style is I’d have to recommend dressing up. Some shopping has undoubtedly happened over the summer, and the first day of school is the perfect to showcase all those new and exciting purchases. Looking your best is a good idea on the first day of school, because it usually is the day when you have the most motivation (as you likely did not stay up until 4:00am the night before, working on a math assignment) and why not start off the school year with a new and exciting look?

Something to maybe avoid, would be this notion of redefinition. As previously stated the beginning of a new school year is absolutely analogous to a blank sheet of paper waiting for an exciting story, however it’s important to avoid being disingenuous with oneself. If you’re style hasn’t changed since the preceding year, and you want to wear that same stunner outfit you pulled off the previous year many times, go for it! Don’t feel the need to start a new story, when you already have a great one written out for you waiting to be continued! The idea of ‘new year, new you’ can be stressful and should be avoided if you don’t think it’s necessary to completely redefine who you are.

 

My final piece of advice going back to school, would absolutely be, take advantage of the crazy sales. Retailers go crazy with back to school discounts and often you can find a piece you’ve been dreaming about for much less! For example, one year I wanted a pair of tan oxford flats, that were priced at 50$ the entire summer. However, when I looked in the shop during back to school season, they had been reduced to 17$! Despite this being perhaps tedious, waiting for something to go on sale and then purchasing it for much less is one of the best feelings!

Back to school, can be a stressful or exciting time. Whichever it is, why not go in feeling confident and dapper, in your outfit and style and embrace the oncoming year, wearing your best shoes and your fav top!

 

 

          

       

 

When you’re wearing clothes that are ‘see through’ we cannot see YOU!”

By: Guinevere Santaguida 

I’m a firm believer in the concept of fashion as a language. Fashion is a way to communicate to the world who we are. It is important to first be able to answer the question: Who am I? Am I simply the sum of my actions? Am I the sum of my emotions and desires? Am I my beliefs? Now, I can by no means tell you who you are, but I can give a brief overview of the faculties that make up a person, which we should take in to consideration when making fashion choices.

Human beings are complex creatures, with physical, intellectual and social dimensions – to name a few. Certain ways of thinking about people might contradict this notion, but people are so much more than a culmination of actions or beliefs. When asking a group of young people “Who are you?” it is not difficult to realize that the answer is BIG. In my experience, their responses are diverse and range from, things they love, to thoughts and experiences they have had, and choices they’ve made. But what does this mean when it comes to making choices that are authentic to who we are?  

The philosophy of making choices is very interesting. When one brings up choice, a natural subject to follow is freedom. When the concept of dressing in a way that is very revealing is brought up, as in this article, the discussion quickly moves to choices and possible, unfair limitations on freedom. Some might argue that dressing in a way that shows a little more skin is a manifestation of freedom, and telling someone otherwise is limiting their freedom. I believe there is another way to look at it.

When you dress in a revealing way, you’re presenting and emphasizing only one aspect of your person; your body. Dressing that way does not diminish how much of a person you are, but it does not accurately represent you as a full person in all of the beautiful things that make you, you. I was reading an article that was published by a magazine on Snapchat, and was giving examples of things in movies that are accurate in real life. One of the things, was that to be taken seriously in some environments you have to ‘cover up a bit more’. This got me thinking, this media source has accepted that there is are certain aspects of personhood that are hidden or lost when we show more of our bodies: our intellect, our talents, our story. No one can see into our hearts, no one can know who you really are, unless you tell them. One way we should be telling people is through our dress – our clothing should remind people that there is more to us than meets the eye, because there is!

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I want to point out that this is not a standard that only applies to women, men have standards of dress applied to them at the gym, at work, and in other context. A man who wears short shorts to court or a job interview may like what he is wearing but it will draw everyone’s attention away from his professional capacity and focus it on his poor judgement. The difference today is that girls and women are encouraged to wear revealing clothes through media and marketing – and men are not. We need to ask questions about what and who is driving our choices before stopping the conversation.

Despite the fact that this idea is counter-cultural, seemingly unpopular and perhaps radically different from what we hear online and from pop culture, I think it worth thinking about. Perhaps we don’t think about it this way often, but “when you’re wearing clothes that are ‘see through’ we cannot see YOU!”

 

Summer Fashion Hacks

By: Guinevere Santaguida

The summer season is fantastic for so many reasons. For us students, school is out, and for most people a vacation of sorts awaits; for all blue skies and warm weather is the norm. However, in terms of fashion sometimes summer fashion can be hard to tackle. It’s so warm, so a T-shirts, flowy dresses and shorts are called for. However, if any of you are like me, these three options are both limiting and leave me with dual toned plain outfits. Summer is often when I feel most insecure about my outfits. However, I have come up with solutions to keep my outfits summery, but exciting.  Here are four of those solutions:

Accessorize:  One accessory I’ve discovered, which seems quite simple is a watch. In the past, I’ve simply worn watches to tell time and given them no further purpose, however in the past six months I’ve discovered that a person’s watch can tell a lot about a person’s style. I’ve been going for minimalist watch faces, with brown and black leather straps. However, there are endless possibilities, and added to a simple summer outfit a watch can bring everything together. Similarly, maybe you can add a baseball cap or very unique shoes to an outfit to personalize, while staying cool in the heat.

Be Bold: I often steer clear of anything with patterns or very bold prints. My trick is to layer simple pieces on top of one another, however, in the summer that can be an unsustainable solution as the weather can get pretty extreme, and wearing three layers is not an option. So I made the decision to wear bolder patterns and colours, and I’ve never looked back. While layering will always be my go-to, I have fully embraced the bold pattern look for summer. Paired with a subtle and elegant accessory, this look is perfect for summer. I’ve picked up a couple dresses with floral designs, and some tees with cute embroidery or graphics. If you find the right pieces you can still be true to you and be cool in the summer!

Put in the Effort: I will often find myself deflated during the summer, as I feel like I have nothing to wear, or what I do have to wear doesn’t reflect my personal style. What I’ve found helpful is actively working against that feeling and finding ways to work with what I have to make beautiful summer outfits. Just taking a quick glance into your closet or drawers might not be enough, set items out on flat surface and see what works and what doesn’t. Something I tend to do is take out those pieces I might not have worn in several years and find a new and exciting way to wear it.

Summer means warm weather and relaxing times, but can sometimes be stressful in terms of making fashion choices. In those situations, try using one of the three tips above to put together an outfit that stays true to you, while still allowing you to stay cool.

 

 

Do you know what TREnDS is up to?

When my friends asked me what I was going to be doing as a summer job, I told them that I was going to be an intern for TREnDS. These friends of mine knew about TREnDS, and had participated in some of their initiatives in the past. They asked me “What is TREnDS up to nowadays, we haven’t heard anything for a while?”. I can now officially give an answer- for the first time ever- the reply will be coming through an annual report.  

TREnDS is releasing an annual report, highlighting the very exciting things that took place and were accomplished during the 2016 year.  It is so important to us that our benefactors and supporters know how TREnDS is using its resources, and how it is conveying its message.

The annual report covers many things, 2016 was an exciting year! This year we attained charitable status. During the summer of 2016 a student intern was hired and began the exploration of sustainable fashion, and how it aligns with our mission. One of the highlights of this year was a project launched at the Sacred Heart School of Montreal (SHSM), that explored fashion as it relates to freedom and choices as well as personal communication. Finally, there were some changes with the board memberships. Please click below to access the annual report to learn more about these initiatives.

After reading this report, please consider donating to our mission. Without your generosity TREnDS is not able to continue its mission to empower young women, by giving them the tools to face the hypersexualization in the fashion and media industries. Please reach out to us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/trendscanada/) if you’re interested in being a contributor to our blog, we’re always looking for new contributors. 

Click here to access the annual report document. 

 

 

be-you-tiful on Instagram

By: Guinevere Santaguida 

Social media is an excellent tool and an exciting way to communicate and express yourself. Thanks to social media, there are now platforms upon which to share your style. For fashion aficionados, like myself, Instagram has been a place to share current fashion favourites and my OOTDs. However, I also found myself spending a lot of time comparing my own style and body to those of other users who post fashion-related content.

 

After reading some articles I discovered that comparing my style and body to others was not only reprograming my brain to have negative self-image, but was also removing much of the individuality and creativity from my personal style. I found myself trying to look less like myself and more like the Instagram models.

 

Here are four tips to help you be confident and be you, while still staying active on Instagram:

1.     Stop using the explore feature. Let’s start off with something very practical: stop using the “explore” feature on Instagram. As soon as you begin scrolling down that feed of never-ending, public posts, you inevitably end up scrolling through images on accounts that transmit the message that unhealthily skinny is beautiful. You also end up subconsciously trying to look more and more like the model on the screen, and lose that individuality I was referring to before.

2.     Be picky. Feel free to follow fashion accounts, but be conscientious of who you chose to follow. When following fashion accounts, be aware of your personal style and values. There are many impossible standards that young women are invited to try to imitate. Try not to surround yourself with images that will facilitate setting those standards for yourself. On our Facebook page we have links to some great fashion bloggers who also have Instagram accounts and we think they are fantastic!

3.     Have personal fitness and style goals. If you have your own standards figured out, then you’ll be more prepared to take on whatever Instagram throws at you. A concrete example of this could be having a theme on your Instagram to help you stay on track. Designing themes can be a great creative feat and can allow you to remain true to your own style and self-image. Fitness can be very personal, but often having reasonable personal goals allows you to ignore the unreasonable goals or expectations based off of photos on social media platforms.

4.     Be authentic. Why would you try and re-create someone else’s photo, style or look when you can bless Instagram with something it has never seen before. Since fashion is a means of self-expression and a language to communicate who you are, show your followers the true you and be daring in your authenticity. It might take courage and daring, but the world will be a better place if girls take ownership of who they really are and are fearless about sharing that with the world (or in this case, Instagram).

Sustainability in Fashion

By: Guinevere Santaguida 

The fashion industry is the second greatest polluter after the oil industry. There is a massive push in western society to be more environmentally friendly. This rising movement is both necessary and pressing. Most industries have launched some form of campaign to achieve environmental sustainability, and others have launched campaigns that are simply façades and behind the façade is a world of unsustainability.

An example of this would be the H&M campaign launched this year, focusing on recycling clothes donated by customers as well as efforts to make the overall process by which their clothes are created more sustainable. H&M, certainly, has been investing large amounts of money into making H&M an overall more sustainable brand. Despite these noble efforts, they have been accused of something known as “green washing”. “Green washing” is the term used to describe the process in which an organization presents an environmentally responsible public image, while it continues to practice environmentally irresponsible operations. An example of one of these operations in terms of H&M is the amount of clothes produced each day.

H&M is one of the many mainstream label brands that contributes to the frightening western phenomenon known as “fast fashion”. Fast Fashion is the term to describe the fashion cycle split into fifty-two micro seasons. Big brand retailers bring in new clothes at unprecedented rates, and consumers purchase it at those rates. This makes for very cheaply made clothing being mass-produced, and being thrown out after a single use. This is very common and many of the lucrative clothing companies are practising industrial trends catering to “fast fashion”.

Now you might be thinking to yourself: what is the solution? Believe it or not the solution is in your hands. The solution is not to stop shopping at these big brand names altogether and switch over to smaller local shops. This, despite being a possibility, is not a possibility for everyone. For some this solution is simply unaffordable as local brands can be very expensive. Rather, the key is to buy few, quality pieces and to not participate in the “fast fashion” trend. By not buying into these trends, and encouraging your friends to do the same, you are sending a message to the industry that the “fast fashion” way is not the what the consumers desire any longer. If companies see that the consumer wants a good quality piece, they will start to change the industrial processes.

Another question to ask yourself is: is environmental sustainability the only type of sustainability that exists within the fashion world? There are actually two other forms of sustainability: social sustainability and personal sustainability. Social sustainability is ensuring  that the humans that fabricate the clothing we wear are paid and treated fairly. I’d like to quickly comment on the form of sustainability that our western culture often pays no attention: personal sustainability. Personal sustainability is putting importance on long term choices in terms of one’s personal style. We need to ask ourselves, will the choices we make about our wardrobes and how we chose to present ourselves, form positive habits or negative habits? At TREnDS, we understand fashion as a means of self-expression, and personal sustainability puts importance on making sure that the way we express ourselves aligns with our intrinsic dignity. In other words, personal sustainability in fashion is what TREnDS is all about. From this blog post, I hope you’ve retained that sustainability extends further than simply stewardship of the earth, but also our bodies.  

 

 

 

TREnDS Workshop 2: Who are you becoming?

We were back in Montreal on October 17th to deliver our second workshop – this time for grade 7 and 8 students. Our theme was making smart choices and on using your freedom to become the best version of yourself. As facilitator and former TREnDS Board member Sonia Padamadan highlights, part of choosing wisely is asking what kind of person we are becoming when we make certain choices. Am I growing in qualities that I admire in others

Students also reflect on who a human person is and just how complexes we are, with not just a physical selves but an intellect, a spirituality and even a relational identify as friends and daughters. Girls worked in small groups to think about the different dimension of their personhood and what it means to dress in way does justice to the full picture of who we are. 

The parting message was that we are all role models, communicating ourselves to the world and influencing others. Our words and actions matter, they can empower or they can limit – each of us matters a lot in transforming society. We have the power to present a positive and powerful message about girls and women and about our authentic and complex selves. In doing so, we encourage others to do the same. We don’t need celebrities to tell us what style is – we are all style creators!

TREnDS in Montreal

Over the 2016-17 school year, TREnDS will be delivering a program entitled a Transformative Fashion Reflection at a Montreal highschool. We launched our program in late September with presentations by TREnDS committee member Guin Santaguida (age 16) and TREnDS President Shannon Joseph. And this was followed by a keynote speech by author Wendy Shalit. 

Our big message to student was, be a critical consumer of fashion and media. Sometimes you might be participating, without realizing it, in messages about style and beauty that put unfair pressure on girls. But you don’t have you and you have the power to change the fashion world.

It was a great first event and over the course of our program we’ll provide updates! A big thanks to our volunteers for supporting our opening and to photographer Delphine at Delphine N Photography https://www.facebook.com/DelphineNPhotographie

To my Girls!

By: Bernadette Grondin

One of the most important and often underrated necessities for young girls and women is to have close and true female friends. I'm not talking about those temporary cliques you join to prevent yourself from being swallowed up in the crowds of school and university, but those other women who you really connect with on a deeper level. Why is this so important? Because we are shaped by the people we surround ourselves with and so it's important that those people are the ones who are helping us to become who we want to be. And, likewise, they are the people that we can be proud of helping them become who they want to be. This is a role that guys can't play for us; it's something special and transforming.

 

Now, while I think most people will agree that this kind of friendship sounds terrific and desirable, some people aren't sure either how to find it or what it looks like when they do. Like all friendships, whether transitory or long-lasting, they begin by putting your feet out in the waters and finding who comes to stand with you. I know this can be difficult! As an introvert, I usually spend a month or more people-watching before ever speaking to them. Yet, even in doing this, I am happy to say that I have more than one truly fantastic friends and these ladies have helped me and encouraged me in my journey into womanhood and to understanding myself.

 

The girl-friends that you should be looking for are those who support you in pursuing high ideals. As young women, we can't be half-hearted about life: we need to take a stand for something and be willing to let that be a developing ground for us. However, if the people we surround ourselves with aren't encouraging us, or move us away from those ideas, we will eventually lose our footing. The world is a big place: we're going to be bombarded with all kinds of things and people who bring us down, so it's important that we have a girl-friend beside us who will weather the storms with us.

 

We should be looking for fellow women who make us feel good about ourselves. The media tells us enough how we should look or dress to be attractive and popular: we don't need to surround ourselves further with those messages. As young women, if we want to be able to recognize that inner and unique beauty that is present in ourselves, we need to have people in our lives who can see it when we have trouble seeing it ourselves. In my experience, it is often easier to feel more insecure about our appearance, quirks, and habits in the presence of other women rather than men. That's why it's so important to have girl-friends who make you feel that everything about you is what makes you irreplaceable and loveable.

We should also find friends who want to be with us because they love our presence. We need the girls who will cry on our shoulders and allow us to cry on theirs to teach us empathy and the girls who will stay up until 3am laughing about nothing with to teach us how to be lighthearted. We need friends with whom we can discuss our passions and together learn how to be strong, change-makers. We need girl-friends who we can make lasting memories with who will teach us to enjoy every moment.

As women, we have the greatest impact on each other. That's why we need to have other girls and young women as our best of friends. We're the ones who can really help shape us into the great women we're all destined to become.

Love Your Body.

By: Bernadette Grondin

In different articles I have discussed just how important it is for us as women to really accept how our bodies are shaped and fall in love with them. There's no such thing as the “perfect” body. Whatever shape you are, that is the unrepeatable you! You are beautiful and amazing.

However, it is fair to say that some styles of clothes flatter one figure more than another in the same way that plaid on plaid flatters nobody (despite my ten year old brother's insistence). Although the media tries to convince us that all female bodies should be Hourglasses, there are so many great outfits that an Hourglass can't wear because they only look great on a Diamond or Apple. Many of our most prominent celebrities aren't Hourglasses, but they still rock their body type and dress to flatter every aspect of it.

 

Adele is a classic example of a celebrity who knows how to show off - her beautiful, curvy, female body. Adele has an Apple shape and she looks great as one. Apples typically have a large bust, and their hips and waist tend to blend into each other, which is why Adele shapes her curves with dresses and tops that cinch at the waist and then flare out. It emphasizes her hips and defines her waist in a way that shows off the gorgeous Apple shape. Flared skirts or pants also emphasize the hips and give the legs a nice shape, which is obvious to see in Adele's photos. Going for flares usually looks better on Apples, since tight pants or jeans tend to restrict the natural curves of the body – they try to mold the leg into a particular shape and can make hips and legs look bulky. Adele, however, knows her body and loves it, which is easy to see by how she dresses in a way which doesn't hide her figure, but expresses it with elegance and charm.

Beyond hour glass: a tour of body types:

It is worth exploring some of the other body types, of which there are at least six besides the popular hourglass.

The Diamond Figure is so named because women with this shape have wide hips, slim shoulders and bust, and an undefined waist. Tops and dresses that tend to cinch underneath the bust or waist look great on Diamonds as they let the fabric flow down naturally over a Diamond's already great hips. And, because Diamonds already have awesome hips, it's better to find jeans or skirts that fall straight to give their legs a longer, straighter look. If you have a Diamond figure, be proud of it and love it!

The Pear and the Triangle figures often get put together as they look similar. The Pear shape features large hips, average bust and shoulders, where the Triangle has slightly more petite shoulders and bust. An example of a Pear/Triangle figure is none other than the gorgeous singer, Kelly Clarkson. Kelly, like Adele, is one of those celebrities that has had to fight the long fight against the media to show just how much she loves and rocks her body.

Kelly shows women that the Pear/Triangle shape is a figure worth having, and one that is no less beautiful than any other. Triangles and Pears look good in tops or dresses which try to embellish the bust and shoulders, such as how Kelly wears dresses with lace at the top to make the bust line of the dress more prominent. Triangles and Pears typically have a nice waist and so they can look good with tops that come in to shape the waist, either by a belt or cinching, or have shirts that fall straight to give a nice flow into their great hips. For bottoms, Triangles and Pears look great in skirts or pants which fall straight without too much flare, such as bootcut jeans; more flare can make them look wide rather than flatter their natural shape.

Ah, the Hourglass! The most coveted body type; the figure Hollywood calls the “perfect shape” and says all women should strive for. If you are an Hourglass, you have a great body and you should love it! If you don't have an Hourglass shape, you have a great body and you should love it! The Hourglass is not more special than any other type, although it is so beautiful in its own ways, just as the others are. An Hourglass is known for the aligned waist and hips and the slim, cinched waist. However, because the Hourglass shape has the slim waist to deal with, it can actually be difficult to dress. The Hourglass can’t rock free-falling tops as well as some of the other figures, but looks amazing in ones which cinch either at the waist or under the bust, or tops that have ruching built in. For bottoms, Hourglasses look great in pencil skirts and straight pants, as both types emphasize an hourglass's great hips and slim down her legs.

The Inverted Triangle is a very unique shape, but one we have been seeing a lot recently with the Olympics currently in play. Inverted Triangles have broad shoulders and bust, and a slim waist and hips. Our Canadian swimming Champion, Penny Oleksiak, is one of the beautiful women with this figure. Penny is not only an example of what hard work and dedication can accomplish, but she also shows just how beautifully triumphant the feminine body is.

Inverted Triangles like Penny look amazing in tops that cinch at the waist or below the bust to draw out the waist and hips; ruching would look fabulous on Penny. Because the Inverted Triangle has a slim waist and hips, A-Line skirts or ones that flare out help give some curve, although you could also style a flared jean (which is finally coming back into style!) or a bootcut to emphasize an Inverted Triangle's slender legs.

And finally, the Rectangle. The Rectangle is the most common female body type, with aligned shoulders and hips, nothing necessarily accentuated, and no pulled in waist like the Hourglass. I personally adore this body type, but I am biased as this is my own personal figure. The Rectangle looks spectacular with ruching or tops that pull in at the waist, as they give a bit of definition to the hips and bust. I also find that shirts which have embellishing at the bust or draping fabrics look fantastic on the Rectangle. We Rectangles don't have those glorious hips of the Diamond, Pear, or Triangle, but that's alright: we can still look mighty fine in some straight leg or flared jeans. I personally love flared skirts and think they look great for my figure; they emphasize my hips just enough to make my legs look long and straight. If you have a Rectangle figure, recognize how beautiful it is. It may be the most common body type, but it's also incredibly awesome. Trust me: I love every ordinary aspect about it.

A closing reflection:
The reason women are all built differently is to show the diversity of beauty. We women have to fight the idea that one figure is more “perfect” than the others, and this begins by loving the body you have. I challenge all of you to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that your body is yours and that it is beautiful. If you start with that fundamental Truth, dressing your body in clothes that flatter your figure will become a much easier task. No matter the figure, the shape, or the size, we women are pretty dang attractive and it's about time we acknowledge that.

 

The Bra-top: A Summer Fashion Flop?

By: Bernadette Grondin 

It's summer. The sun is beating down, people are hitting the beaches, and sitting in the 5'o'clock traffic is unbearable. The winter gear is put away and the spring jackets are hung up; out come the shorts, t-shirts, and sandals. We all know the signs of the approach of summer. However, we often can get so caught up in the heat and trying to keep cool that we can forget about still looking and dressing in an appropriate way.   

A new fashion (pictured above) is emerging this summer, and as you can see it is little more than a bra and jeans. I think we need to take a second to think about this new fashion statement and ask ourselves: what does this summer outfit say about our view of ourselves when we wear it? And, as it is being promoted by the big fashion industries, what does it say about society's view of women? Unfortunately, it doesn't say anything exceedingly positive. It draws immediate attention to the torso – and let’s face it, the breasts – preventing genuine interactions with people who should be drawn to our face and eyes first. It sends a message that the woman wearing it is looking for attention rather than connection, whether or not that is her true intent. It also tells me that the fashion industry is trying to convince women that attention is better than connection.  

For the most part, many women probably choose to wear this style because it is a billion degrees outside and the “shirt” definitely provides ventilation. However, people read our outfits and respond to what they seem to be saying about us. We owe it to ourselves, and all the other women and girls who may be influenced by our style, to dress in a way that speaks of who we really are as individual persons. 

I've spoken before about how we should dress to suit all of our daily, every day calls to be leaders, teachers, nurses, mothers, wives, and every other duty we take on. Our style can help us to more efficiently convey who we are and why we are there – a lawyer doesn’t wear a bra top to court, although she might be free to do so. She would instead wear a great dress or power suit that tell everyone around that “Yes, I am a woman and I am great.” This new summer style, unfortunately, does not empower women or help them convey who they are. If anything, by making cleavage and belly-button the focal point of the outfit, it shows a lot of skin but not much else. It hides the uniqueness and real beauty of the wearer – which goes beyond the physical. In many ways the style in this store window says that a woman is great insofar as she has an appealing body, and it puts that body on display for judgement.  

The female body is beautiful, great, and amazing, but it alone does not constitute who we are as women and peopleWe should never wear anything that shows less of who we really are by focusing all of the attention on our bodiesEach woman is powerful because of all of the little traits, abilities, gifts, and qualities that only she possesses – somehow our look has to allow all that complexity to shine. 

Yet, in the summer, I won't deny that it is hard to find outfits that flatter our bodies, keep us cool, and are still complementary to our femininity. That's why we have to put together our own and not give in to what is currently the “style of the season”. Shorts and tanks are always a go to, and you can find a never ending supply of blouse-y or casual tank-tops at any store. Maxi dresses and bright, sleeve-less dresses are great for trips to the beach; throwing a blazer or cardigan over one also works to turn it professional for the office. 

 

We have so many options for stylish outfits as women. All we need is to put a little creativity into it, and we can put together so many different adorable summer styles with only a few wardrobe pieces, and without compromising our privacy or unique beauty. This summer, let's brighten the office, the beach, and everywhere we go with stylish outfits that say: “Yes, I am a woman and I am great”. 

 

 

Dressing for Success: a look at three women in politics

By: Bernadette Grondin

Since 1921, women have become increasingly involved in the political sphere of Canada. Many MPs in our government are now women and work tirelessly to bring the feminine genius into the public sphere. Examples of these hard-working women, although there are many, are Ruth Ellen Brosseau (NDP), Michelle Rempel (CPC), and Maryam Monsef (LIB). These women are all young, highly involved in their careers, and are quickly rising in their respective parties. For these women to have made such an impact a career path that was once dominated by men is truly monumental for our country and something Canada’ should be proud of.

Something quite striking about these three women is how their ways of dressing reflect the responsibility of their office, and I think it is fair to say that it plays a role in helping them to be taken seriously. People who are often in the public eye, such as celebrities, tend to dress in showy outfits that make them stand out to garner attention with the media.

These women, however, stick to neutral colours and often simple flowing garments – such as seen in the picture of Brosseau – or wear flattering and feminine blazers, as seen in the pictures of Rempel and Monsef. They dress for the office, to make a statement that they come to do their job, and in a way which complements their individual body types. However, they also manage to retain femininity and charm in their styles, which are both similar and unique to each one of them.

Monsef, Brosseau, and Rempel are alike in that they keep their outfits in neutral colours and simple in taste in order to direct the attention they receive towards their ideas and policy achievements rather than their outward appearance. But at the same time, all three MPs are incredibly unique and have styles that are all their own.

Monsef dresses in business attire, sticking to blazers and cardigans. She complements her dark hair and eyes with darker outfits, but pulls it together with dashes of light colours.

Brosseau claims the flowing garments. She keeps them simple enough to be professional, but she works her draping jackets and shirts to flatter and draw attention to her slender face and great hair. She works a bit of colour into her outfits to add a bit of flair and personality, but never enough to take away from the decorum of her position.

Rempel manages to take casual outfits and turn them professional through the addition of a blazer to an everyday blouse, or dress pants to a white tee. Unlike Brosseau and Monsef, Rempel more frequently makes her style her own by adding accessories, such as bracelets and long necklaces.

As women, we are all called to be leaders: leaders in our families, in our friendships and communities, and in our society. When we dress according to that call, we draw attention to our talents and signal to others that we are ready and competent to lead. Rempel, Brosseau, and Monsef are great examples of feminine leadership within politics, and their ways of dressing is part of the package they bring to public life.

Kate Middleton- Style Inspiration

By Bernadette Grondin

Kate Middleton has become a renowned and impressive figure in modern society. This is not only because of her connection to royalty and her charming and delightful demeanour, but also because she has become a prominent presence to young girls and women around the world for how to dress tastefully while still looking fabulous. From everyday wear to formal dress, Kate never fails to impress.

Perhaps the most significant and incredible part of Kate's fashion is that she never seems to feel the need to have her outfits reveal very much skin in order to let her beauty shine. Kate is aware of her own body type, which allows her to dress it in ways which flatter it; she doesn't try to match her outfits to someone else, but owns herself and allows that to come through by dressing accordingly. Kate's fashion shows that she is proud and comfortable with how she is built, which is inspiring for all of us women. If we can come to love our bodies the way Kate shows us how, then the way we dress will be able to let that feminine beauty shine even brighter.

Looking at some of the outfits she has been captured wearing, we can immediately recognize this. Her dresses all have a similar style to them that flatter her small waist and hips, either flowing out or falling straight to elegantly enhance her figure. However, in the photo of Kate when she is pregnant, her style changes to suit the changes in her body. Her dress is simple in colour and pattern, and flows loosely to accommodate her, avoiding any pinched in sides that would cause her abdomen to become more prominent. Through her style, she manages to capture the beauty of her personality, which is why she is so often mimicked and adored by women around the world.

The problem with using the word “modest” to describe Kate's style is that people can get confused as to what that word means. Being modest means keeping hidden what is meant to be hidden and revealing what is meant to be expressed. As women, we have a great value and intrinsic beauty, and that is meant to radiate for the world to see. The way we behave, the way we dress, and everything that we do is part of this self-expression. However, we also have a great dignity and mystery to us that is meant to be shared with people to whom we show our intimate self. They are radiant mysteries and they are ours, and the way we dress helps to respect this. Our style and fashion is meant to reveal the beauty of femininity and womanhood. Kate Middleton helps to affirm that reality of how modesty and dazzling gorgeousness can be brought together in every girl and woman.

TREnDS Tapping into the Power of Women

By: Bernadette Grondin

The other day, a photo like this one came up on my brother's Facebook posted by a friend of his. We were both saddened and put off by the photo, not because there isn't some sort of beauty in the way she has applied her makeup, but because of the fact that the makeup is all you see. Where is the woman behind it? Who is she? You can only see the sheen of foundation and the grains of powder on her face instead of skin and pores; you see her mascara-painted lashes instead of meeting her eyes; you're drawn immediately to the shimmering red of her lips. My brother, commenting on the picture of his friend, said: “This isn't even anything like what she really looks like.” Makeup is meant to enhance the natural beauty of women, but our Hollywood society has begun to think – maybe without realizing it – that it is the makeup itself that is beautiful and not the woman herself. She is a type of inter-changeable canvass for a product or an image. Hollywood and corporations want to sell products; they want to mass-produce, and to do that they need to mass-produce buyers through media and fashion. They may not give any thought to the possibility that they are burying the true identity of women behind the layers of foundation and mascara.

It is crucial that we, as women, fight back against the trendy stereotypes and particular invisibility of the women we see plastered on so many bill boards. Women are not mannequins, and we are more than potential customers. We have an intrinsic value that is worth more than all of the makeup and hair product in the world. Because of this, blogs like TREnDS are incredibly important; they have taken it upon themselves to fight the good fight for and with women by reminding them of the beauty within them and teaching them how to present that beauty and power in a unique and truly feminine way.

If women want to that unique beauty and power to be seen and valued then we, as women, need to take control of how feminine beauty is presented in society through media, fashion, and everyday living. Women have the power to shape cultures. TREnDS helps girls and young women shape our society into one which recognizes the authentic and unique beauty of the feminine by showing them just how beautiful women are when they dress and behave as themselves: real, unique, feminine women. TREnDS doesn't reach all young women yet, but by living out the authentic beauty that TREnDS promotes, we can slowly redefine a hypersexualized fashion culture that tries to either craft women into china dolls or a dominatrix depending on the latest market research.

Women have that power to change the world if only we would take control of it: in 1429, Joan of Arc led the French army to victory against the English; in 1903 Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize for her scientific discoveries; in 1955 Rosa Parks stood up against racial injustice. Women have the ability to do great things—things which no one else can do—but we cannot perform these feats of strength if we are afraid of being our authentic selves. Once we reclaim our feminine power, I believe that women will change our culture.

False Liberation

By Doriane Angers 

What has sexual liberation meant for young people? This is the question Thérèse Hargot asks in her newly-released book,  Une jeunesse sexuellement libérée (ou presque),  which translates "Sexually Liberated Youth (Or Almost)". Her answer is that “liberation” has in fact created a new kind of oppression for young people, where performance and the drive to please others visually or otherwise is creating anxiety and unhappiness.   

A sexologist with a philosophy background, Hargot sheds light on a phenomenon she observes from various vantage points:  her job  at a  Parisian school, her couples counselling work, or as a mother (see her blog). At the core of her book is the observation that in the past sexuality – from the way we dressed to the way couples once formed - used to be  more about no than about  yesThere were explicit rules provided by social and religious authorities and for many, these rules were experienced as a type of puritanism and negative view of the body. 

Fast forward fifty year and here we are – liberated – or almostAs Hargot points out this liberation is an illusion.We may no longer be blindly accepting the  no of the past, but today’s yes  culture is now making many young people feel like hostages to sexuality. The explicit rules  that came with "no sex before marriage" have given way to  the implicit demands of  a "sex of performance" that accepts everything, endures everything, and allows everything in the name of liberation. Cultural outlets from fashion to the entertainment industry are showing girls and young women in particular, more and more ways to perform, to be “hot” and to see it as liberation even though it often doesn’t feel that way. 

In her bookHargot addresses questions raised by teens and young adults who  face the  demanding  task of constructing their own  identity and relationships in this new and challenging pornography-informed context. Hargot challenges the mainstream approach to  sexuality and offers  a new and refreshing perspective on  a  delicate  but critical  matter. 

 

HargotThérèse.  Une jeunesse sexuellement libérée (ou presque),  Les éditions Albin Michel, 2016. 

 

Take a Stand! #WomenNotObjects

By: Vivian Cabrera

Often we hear the expression – ‘sex sells’ – but really that is not quite accurate. A quick look at most music videos, billboard and television advertisements will tell you what really seems to sell: sexy women.

Granted, this isn’t anything new. For ages, women have been used to sell anything and everything, from undergarment to beer. And the way women are portrayed in these ads in no way, accurately showcases the true beauty and unique dignity of the women being involved. (Because let’s be real. If Victoria’s Secret was really trying to sell bras and panties for women, they would talk about how comfy they are instead of giving us unrealistic expectations of what all women should look like.)

Have we ever thought about why that is? Are we really okay with this? We’ve gotten so used to having semi-nude women plastered everywhere that we might not even notice anymore. Some readers might think to themselves – does it really matter?

The answer is yes. Our acceptance of advertisement and products that portray a woman as a sex object says to the world, ‘Hey, go on ahead and continue to see women as things you can buy and use.’ It teaches society – whether we admit it or not – how women (and girls) should be viewed.

Think about those in our society who are most impressionable – kids. What do you think little girls are going to grow up thinking and believing? That their worth mostly comes from what they can offer to other people, instead of from who they are as a person. And what do you think little boys are going to grow up thinking and believing? That it is normal to view women as a set of attractive body parts and not as a whole, unique person. And that cycle will continue forever unless we do something about it.

Don’t remain silent. Let’s tell people that women are not just eye candy. Women are human beings, worth so much more than you can possibly imagine. Tell them that we, as women, are not ok with the way ads portray women and we’re not stand for it any longer.

Use the hashtag #WomenNotObjects to tell the online world that we expect better. We have a bigger vision of women and we have greater creativity for how to get people interested in a good product, or song or movie. Who knows, someone in the marketing world might be waiting for that bigger vision.

Imagine, what if someone had spoken out during a marketing brainstorm meetings saying, ‘Hey, I’m not comfortable with the way we’re using that woman to get our message across. Instead of cleavage (again) why don’t we come up with a catchy choreography for the ad?’ It could change everything but we won’t know until we try. So what do we have to lose?