One of the many things I love about fall is the Atlantic Film Festival. While I’m busy earmarking which films I’d like to see, there’s also another question that plagues me. And that is – what on earth should I wear?! I’d love to throw on my favourite jeans and some great heels but I’m not always sure if that will cut it, especially on opening night. Our festival tends to see a wide variety of looks from extremely casual to those who look like they got lost en route to Cannes. Generally, I’ve erred on the more casual and playful side of attire. But this year, I decided to seek a little advice from some very fashionable sources…
Stylist and columnist Nadine LaRoche always looks camera-ready and she gave me her advice on a creative look for a gala event. I just happened to catch her right in the middle of her self-imposed challenge to mix and match six items over the course of 20 days. With an unlimited selection of accessories and shoes to help her out, LaRoche has been putting her own clever spin on minimalism. I love her unique take on a distinctive gala-ready outfit.
“With those six pieces at hand, I’ll make my own version of the LBD for the gala – minus the dress,” she says. “Formal shorts paired with a silk tee make for an ultra-feminine silhouette, and over-the-knee socks and chunky booties keep the look functional and approachable. And I’ll top it off with a pop of colour and a handful of gold!”
Next up, I visited Biscuit General Store to get some ideas from the fashion-savvy staff. Owner, Wendy Friedman, put together a slightly boho yet edgy look modeled by Gabby Drown. An eye-catching black and silver Free People dress layered underneath a Hot & Delicious pink feathery vest paired with Tom’s wedge booties and accentuated by layering Dreamboat Lucy knotted rings and layered chains necklace.
“This look has so much textile and shine. It’s different and will stand out at events but at the same time the individual pieces could be translated into everyday looks,” says Drown.
Johnny MacDonald also picked out a dashing look for men for a gala soiree. His take on a film festival ensemble is a Matinique lightweight silver/grey blazer and shirt with a textured tie. I love that he kept it laid-back pairing these items with Levis 508s raw denim and absolutely beautiful Sperry leather lace-up boots.
“This is a nice combination of casual elements that a lot of men might already have in their closet. For example, the jeans and boots are items that will be wearable all fall,” says MacDonald. “But the jacket and tie really dress it up. Plus, the shirt and jacket are lightweight so you won’t get hot as the night goes on….”
Meanwhile, Anna Gilkerson of MAKENEW has an entirely different take on gala-ready looks for women that are a mix of vintage and locally made (one of my favourite combinations). Kat Darling models a black beaded oversized t-shirt dress over a periwinkle cotton prairie skirt in a modern version of the drop-waist silhouette with a jolt of a cool crisp winter colour. Accentuated with black suede booties, cool purple lipstick and lots of black mascara – this look is perfect for a creative filmmaker ingénue. For her second look, Gilkerson pays homage to Saint Laurent menswear inspired style. Julia Hutt wears an antique white floral brocade bow tie by MAKENEW worn with a sleeveless mint Peter Pan collared shirt and creamy vintage silk palazzo pants. Hutt has natural makeup (think soft pink lips and metallic taupe lids) and wears a Caitlyn Rose gold chain and blue bead necklace round out this bold look. I really adore this whole ensemble and think it would be fantastic on a confident artist who’s not afraid to push boundaries.
“It’s important to play with proportions and know what silhouettes and lengths look good on you,” says Gilkerson. “It’s key that your look is comfortable yet chic, stylish yet smart with just the right splash of bling.”
With all this stellar advice, I need to sit back and think of a happy style medium that’s just right for me. With the AFF opening gala happening this Thursday night, I’m also looking forward to a little fashion star gazing myself.