Canadian Living's home and garden director shows off her curves in a body con dress.
Photography by Carlyle Routh. Hair by Jukka/Davines/Plutino Group. Makeup by Jodi Urichuk/Bite Beauty/Plutino Group.
Have you ever flirted with the idea of trying a daring style but weren't quite sure how to pull it off? We found six women who were intrigued by a trend they usually avoid, then we gave them the support and style advice to help them make it their own. Here, Canadian Living's home and garden director, Sarah Gunn, steps out in a body con dress.
Much like Sarah's decor esthetic, sunny hues and pretty pastels are her wardrobe mainstays, along with ladylike fit-and-flare frocks. But there's one item of clothing Sarah has always admired on other women yet hasn't slipped into herself: a body-conscious dress. "I have curves—some in the right places and some not—and I'm not sure how to enhance the good ones and hide the bad ones in a formfitting style," says Sarah.
Karl Lagerfeld dress, $189, thebay.com. Earrings, bracelets, ring and shoes, bananarepublic.ca. Clutch, coach.com.
The first step to feeling confident in a body-hugging dress is a good foundation, a.k.a. undergarments. Sarah donned a Shapeez Tankee slip ($125, shapeez.com), an all-in-one bra, slip and shaper that helps eliminate visible bra lines and back bulges while slimming the waist and the stomach. When it comes to choosing a fitted dress, keep it sophisticated; we selected a style with elbow length sleeves and a high neckline, allowing Sarah's silhouette and her legs to be highlighted. Finally, the dress features black panels on the sides, which ever so slightly cinch the waist, helping to create the illusion of a more defined midriff.
This stylish notebook might just be hottest organizing accessory of the year.
Everyone is supposed to have 24 hours in a day but for some us, it feels like there must be a rip in the space-time continuum. How else can you explain being constantly busy but having nothing to show for it? If this sounds familiar, learn how you can make the most of your time with our five fave productivity tips.
1. Write it down
Billed as "the analog solution for a digital age," the Bullet Journal is a diary, to-do list and catch-all for all your random thoughts. Developed by Brooklyn-based designer Ryder Carroll, this trendy organizing method involves writing down quick, memory jogging statements rather than complex entries. Use it to organize your tasks by day and month pages, keep tabs of books you want to read and things you want to buy or create new lists whenever inspiration strikes. An indexing system allows you to quickly find what you're looking for.
2. Plan your time
Sort of like HIIT for your to-do list, the Pomodoro Technique involves working on your tasks for a short, timed cycle of 25 minutes. With no distractions allowed, it’s great way for those with short attention spans to focus. Take a 5-minute break before starting your next 25 minutes of work and, after four of these cycles, you're rewarded with a longer, half-hour break. Sound a bit too structured? Maybe that's why it works—it was voted the most popular productivity technique by the readers of lifehacker.com.
3. Try a tech-savvy solution
The If This Then That app might be the closest you'll ever come to a personal assistant. Got any apps on your phone? Automate their functions by using If This Then That statements, or as IFTTT calls them, “recipes.” For example: get an early morning text when the forecast calls for rain, use it to get coffee going without getting out of bed (using a programmable outlet) or tell the family you're on your way home (with an email triggered by your location app once you've left work).
4. Go KonMari on your clutter
While organizing trendsetter Marie Kondo’s method of minimal living has been criticized for being a bit too twee, an organized, uncluttered home can be key to increased efficiency. "In most cases, things that function well are inherently neat and clean," says Clare Kumar, a professional organizer based in Toronto. It's not hard to see why. Simply owning less makes it easier for you to find what you need and streamlines your decision making (no need to choose between your 6 pairs of jeans, for example), saving you time that can be better spent elsewhere.
5. Let it go
There'll be days you can't get to everything. Your work presentation sits unfinished, the house is a mess and dinner was takeout (again!). Instead of stressing out, try to cut yourself some slack. "Our bodies burn out when stuck in fast-forward," says Carl Honoré, an expert on the topic of slow living. Sometimes the best way to be productive is to take some time out to recharge. So curl up with a good book, take a long bath, or enjoy a glass of wine...guilt free! After all, there's always tomorrow.
Twists, braids and soft fringe for the new season.
Many of us have fallen victim to some horrifying hairstyles ('80s perm, anyone?). Luckily, current trends are more forgiving—and much less damaging.
EASY DOES IT
This season, the low bun isn't just for hiding unwashed hair; it's also an easy wand elegant way to be on trend. The best part about this season's bun is that you get to decide on the details. A smooth and elegant chignon was spotted at Creatures of the Wind, while at protagonist (below), the look was twisted and undone. Just remember to ditch bulky and visible elastics in favour of the clear variety or, better yet, opt for bobby pins.
Protagonistby: Bumble & Bumble
The fashion world has been toying with the idea of youthful 'dos for a while. Marc Jacobs sent models down the runway with Wednesday Addams-esque pigtails in 2014, while, in 2015, Chanel had models wearing prim girlie headbands, and Prada embraced a cheerleader-inspired high ponytail. This season, embracing your inner child translates to a more romantic look—think soft (not severe) French braids and plaited double buns, as seen at Mansur Gavriel (below). Make this look age appropriate by keeping it polished—no frizzy flyaways or piece-y strands.
Bumble & Bumble for Mansur Gavriel
If the past couple of seasons have been all about the long bob (a.k.a. the "lob"), get ready for everyone to make the switch to the shag. This layered look, made popular in the 1970s, is a low-maintenance style with lots of movement, and we're all about that wash-and-go life. Spritzing hair with sea-salt spray brings out any texture, steering this look into rocker territory (a la Alexander Wang), but you can also embrace a softer shape (as seen at Custo Barcelona, below) with a good blow-dryer and a round brush. The only rule: Nothing too perfect, please.
Maybelline New York for Custo Barcelona
Scent lingers on your hair for longer than your skin, which is why perfuming your tresses has been a beauty move for years—only now, fragrance brands are starting to make scents specifically for hair. These new products won't dry your locks, and they come in scents you already love.
Self-improvement and self-care are important, but this time of year always brings me back to the focus of my childhood New Year's experiences: my family.
By the time the fireworks crescendoed over Cairo and my 22-month-old-daughter woke up to witness midnight on her second New Year's eve, my mind raced with changes I wanted to make in the year ahead to strengthen my family.
Ringing in the New Year with my sister at a Nile-side café, sharing plates of Arabic mezze such as hummus, baba ghanouj and kebab, was very special. Separated by thousands of kilometers and national borders, I don't get to see my loved ones nearly as often as I'd like and the holidays present a rare opportunity to rekindle the bonds of family.
As we talked—and the clock moved closer to midnight—sharing our plans for the New Year and reminiscing about our childhood, it struck me that the types of resolutions we usually think of around this time of year are foreign to me. Growing up in Kuwait and Gaza, the New Year was a very different affair.
Sure, there were fireworks and parties—but even at their loudest, our celebrations felt quieter, more subdued and grounded. There were no glaring campaigns encouraging you to join a gym, take that dream vacation or switch phone companies. New Year's Eve was another occasion to spend time as a family and connect with those closest to you.
It wasn't until I moved to Europe and eventually came to Canada that I saw the full force of the self-improvement craze as people promised to slim down and tone up, get more sleep and stick to a budget.
Self-improvement and self-care are important—being fulfilled in ourselves empowers us to care for others—but this time of year always brings me back to the focus of my childhood New Year's experiences: my family.
Firstly, I'm committing to use technology to enhance my family's relationships, instead of just to fill time while commuting. I'm going to be present with the people in my life, leaving my phone in the other room to make the most of the time I have with my loved ones over dinner. And for my family we can't share a meal with, I'm going to make sure they're an active presence in my daughter's life through video chats and photos.
Next, my husband and I are committing to volunteering together. Families that are actively engaged in their communities create a generation of change-makers and one of the greatest gifts I can give my daughter is the knowledge that she can have an impact. That starts with modeling behaviour for her now.
Lastly, I'm going to ensure my daughter grows up knowing what it means to be a part of a diverse community that cares for each other. Whenever I travel I'm reminded of how special Canada is, where people from all backgrounds speaking a multitude of languages celebrate cherished cultures side by side. This year my family is going to celebrate the threads that make up our diverse tapestry by sharing meals with our neighbours.
As 2016 drew to a close, headlines around the world declared it the worst year in recent memory: darker; more politically divisive; full of disaster, disease and an uncharacteristically high number of celebrity deaths. We have the potential to make 2017 better—not just for ourselves (when we finally lose that extra five pounds or remember to pack lunches for work) but for our family's and for each other, when we learn about issues together, leave notes of kindness to brighten one another's day, or tell the people in our lives what we're grateful for.
These are simple steps I plan to take for my family but my goal is much larger. I imagine a day, not too far off, when my daughter is a little older and we can talk about the issues and challenges she sees in the world. I want to raise her to care about little injustices and dream of ways she can help because she knows she can have an impact. That starts now, with a strong grounding in our home and our family.