Whether you have five minutes or five weeks, we've rounded up five ways to give back during the season of giving.
If you have 5 minutes
Whether the cause close to your heart is education, health or food and water, there's a way to donate directly. Outfit a classroom with 40 slates for $13. For $30, supply 129 polio vaccines. Buy 2,531 water purification tablets for $16. Or donate directly to the emergency fund, which will help the most vulnerable children and families.
If you have an hour The Shoebox Project collects and distributes shoebox gifts (filled and decorated) to homeless or at-risk women across Canada and the US. This national, registered charity operates in over 40 cities across Canada. Last year, they delivered 25,000 gifts to women in 13 communities.
Host a shoebox party with your co-workers or friends, and in lieu of hostess gifts, ask guests to bring items to fill the box. What you'll each need: a shoebox that's filled with approximately $50 worth of goods. Think: cozy scarf, mascara, cosmetic bag, gift cards and subway tokens.
If you have a day Holiday Helpers deliver (literally) Christmas to hundreds of needy families. With the help of volunteers, the organization collects, wraps and delivers gifts to those who need it most. Volunteer on the ground or behind-the-scenes as one of Santa's helper. Book a day, and grab a friend or your family and sign up for one of the following jobs: sorter, wrapper or driver.
If you have a week
Have you always wanted to see India, Kenya or Ecuador? And, do you have a call to volunteer? Why not combine the two passions and book a volunteer-based trip through Me to We and Trafalgar. You'll have the opportunity to take in the country's sights while gaining hands-on experience working with local families and the WE charity on a development project.
If you have months
If you don't have a dedicated day to volunteer or the resources to donate one lump sum, then spread out your charitable investment over several months. Through Camp Ooch, a monthly contribution, starting as little as $10 can help send kids with cancer to camp.
Customize your topper by ironing on some DIY patches—or opt for the quick-and-easy approach by purchasing a vest or jacket that's already decorated.
Jean jacket, $267, tommy.com.Image by: Genevieve Caron
6. Denim squared
Denim on denim has earned its right to be considered a modern-classic way of dressing. A good rule is to mix up your washes: Wear lighter denim on top, with darker on the bottom. The deeper shades helps create a slimming effect.
It's hard to remember a time when skinny jeans weren't the standard in denim. The slim silhouette is still the shape du jour and can be found in just about every wash, colour, pattern and level of distress.
Wrapper, mac, gabardine, slicker—a trench coat by any other name is still a wardrobe classic.
The sartorial legacy of Breakfast at Tiffany's is, of course, that little black dress. The sight of Holly Golightly, munching on a pastry while admiring the jewels from the street, is iconic. But it's not the best fashion moment of the film. Instead, think of the final scene: Audrey Hepburn drenched in the rain, sharing a passionate kiss with Geroge Peppard, wearing a trench coat knotted at the waist. The trench, you see, if not typically the tool of romance, which tends to lean in the direction of soft, romantic ensembles.
Prior to its Hollywood boom, the trench coat was largely a man's garment. In fact, the coat got its start in the early 19th century as waterproof outerwear for military and civilian use—though when the First World War began, it became primarily associated with British military officers. Burberry, the brand synonymous with the classic wardrobe staple, is often credited with the trench coat's invention, though it likely shares that honour with Aquascutum, as both companies outfitted soldiers.
Postwar, the trench permeated Hollywood. Leading men such as Humphery Bogart (remember his goodbye scene with Isla in Casablanca?), Peter Sellers (in The Pink Panther) and Robert Redford (in The Way We Were) all counted the topper as part of their uniform, and the item began to be linked with a more worldly, quiet man, instead of the soldier. The trench's masculinity is often associate with detectives—intelligent but brooding solitary men who give off mysterious vibes.
It didn't take long for women to co-opt the trench for their personal style statements, thanks in large part to many ladies embracing a more masculine and casual wardrobe in the mid-'60s. This decade was its turning point for casual dressing, which saw a major shift toward unisex styles. Hepburn was hardly the first woman to make the garment her own; Marlene Dietrich, Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren all donned the topper, in A Foreign Affair, Babette Goes to War and The Key, respectively. But it's that scene in Breakfast at Tiffany's that's the defining trench moment for women. Strong, proud Holly Golightly found love, and it wasn't her LBD that did the trick; it was the trench—practical, genderless, classic.
With the growing trend of love blending with technology, there are a variety of online dating sites with mobile apps that are helping connect more people. Whether you're looking for a casual encounter or something more serious, there’s a dating app to suit almost every need. Here are seven top dating apps for you to consider.
1. OkCupid (free for both iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site also has a location-based mobile app that allows you to take your experience on the go. Users can sign in via Facebook or directly through the app to find local singles. The app allows you to watch the activity stream for potential matches, "favourite" a profile and rate your potential matches through the Quick Match feature. With over five million registered users since 2010, you never know whom you might find.
2. Match (available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices) Match.com, a pioneer dating website that launched in 1995, has users based in 24 countries around the world. People can sign up through Match.com and then download the app on their mobile devices. The app allows members to view profiles, upload up to 24 images, add users to their "Favourites" and rate their "Daily Matches." Subscriptions range anywhere from a month to a year. Pick one that suits you best.
3. eHarmony (available for iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site launched in 2000. Its claim to fame? Over one million people who used eHarmony went on to find lifelong partnerships. Users can sign up via the app, complete a relationship questionnaire, upload photos from their mobile phones or from Facebook, and receive daily matches—all free of charge. Paid subscribers get access to email and can also see who has viewed their profiles. It's the perfect app for those of all ages who are looking for long-term commitments. 4. Badoo (free for both iPhone and Android devices) With a community of more than 208 million users, Badoo is perfect for those looking to socialize and meet new people. The free basic service allows users to chat with and message other members, and upload photos and videos. Members can sign in with a Badoo or Facebook account via the mobile app or website to connect with locals who share common interests. The app also features a fun game called Encounters, which allows users to view potential matches and then tap "yes" or "no" to indicate whether or not they would like to meet. If you're not looking to date, Badoo is also a great app for social networking and friendship.
5. Plenty of Fish (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Plenty of Fish (POF) allows users to find potential dates and perhaps even their soul mates for free! It does have paid services as well, but users don't really need to upgrade; most of the best features such as Meet Me, which allows members to flirt with locals in their areas, are free of charge. This app allows users to search for singles using filters such as education, height, religious affiliations and body type. Another cool feature is Date Night, which tells other singles in your area that you're available for a date.
6. Zoosk (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Zoosk is one of the top mobile dating apps for iPhone users and is one of the Top 10 grossing social networking apps in the iTunes store. This app is available for free and also has a paid subscription option that allows you to access more features. If you’d rather not pay, you can still browse millions of singles, create a profile, upload photos, see who has viewed your profile, and scan and show interest in another member by using the Carousel feature.
7. Tinder (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Tinder has quickly become the go-to dating app for young adults. And the best part? The app is completely free and works on the premise of anonymity. Users, who need a Facebook account to create a profile, can upload up to six profile photos and scroll through recommended matches from your area. If you don't like what you see, you can anonymously "like" or "pass" on the person. But it isn't just for the younger demographic: Tinder reports that 31 percent of its users are aged between 25 and 34, making it a great app for anyone looking to casually date or form potentially long-term relationships.
We spoke to stylist Talia Brown about how to shake up your wardrobe when you feel like you’ve got nothing to wear.
It happens to everyone. You open your closet and sigh to yourself. You have nothing to wear. Even with a wardrobe full of great pieces, we all feel style fatigue sometimes. In favour of putting our best (and most stylish) foot forward, we spoke to stylist and personal shopper Talia Brown for some tips on breaking out of a style rut.
How do you know you’re in a style rut?
Most of us can tell when we’re feeling sartorially uninspired. “You look in your closet and everything starts to look the same,” says Brown, “nothing excites you.” If you don’t feel good about the duds you’re putting on, it’s time to rethink your approach to getting dressed.
You need a quick fix to your style woes
Adding a couple new pieces might just be the quick fix you need to jump-start your wardrobe. Brown recommends adding a pop of colour, especially with accessories, which can go a long way to brightening up (figuratively and literally) a stale wardrobe. “It’s nice to have a few pieces that will catch the eye of others—it will make you feel like a million bucks.”
You wear the same thing day after day, and you’re bored
If you find that you wear the same thing all the time—despite plenty of choice—then it’s time to reevaluate your closet. “If there’s something in your closet that you’re not wearing, there’s probably a reason for it—it doesn’t make you feel good,” says Brown. Evaluate what you like and are comfortable in and try to find ways to update with new colours and textures, or by adding new accessories. “Picture what your favourite little black dress would look like in pink, navy or oxblood,” says Brown.
Tip from Talia: Turn all of your hangers the opposite way (pointing out) and every time you wear something, put it back in your closet with the hanger facing the right way (pointing in). Give yourself a timeline (a month, six months, a year) and if anything is still facing the wrong way, it’s time to think about letting it go.
You find that your outfits look sloppy or unpolished
“This usually happens when we’re trying to hide something about our bodies,” says Brown. Instead of focusing on the negative, think about what you love about your body. It might be as simple as adding a belt to enhance your waist, hemming a skirt to show off your gams or donning a statement necklace to draw attention to your face.
You want to find a new style
Before completely ditching your wardrobe, assess if there’s an important piece missing. Do you have the perfect black pants? Or a pair of jeans you can wear anywhere? What about a classic button down blouse? Figuring out what you’re missing and getting it can really breathe new life into your existing pieces. Having trouble? Find another set of eyes. Ask a partner or friend what they think you could add.
If you’re looking to try something new, Brown suggests heading to your local vintage store or finally splurging on that designer purchase you’ve been eyeing. If you really want to change your style, heading to a vintage shop will introduce you to silhouettes and patterns that aren’t currently in stores. “Sometimes it’s just taking that leap.”
Find a new mantra
Fashion is supposed to be fun—so make that notion your new mantra. “Play with colours and shapes and really find what it is that works for you and that makes you feel good,” says Brown. “Your body is your canvas, so express yourself.”