7 Things You Should Know to Rock Your Look

Designers share their fashion tips

By Elizabeth Withey

February 23, 2018 •

Which is worse: overdressed or too casual? Is it true that black looks good on everyone? Who buys custom-made clothing? Does beauty really have to be painful? And how important is it to be on-trend?

We asked three Edmonton designers who are also UAlberta grads for their tips and wisdom to help you nail the perfect look this year.

1: Get comfortable

For Jessica Kennedy, '04 BSc(HEcol), fashion is about wearing what you love. And what you love is what makes you comfortable. The co-creator of the Vera Véro capsule collection says we ought not to think about the latest styles but rather what we see ourselves wearing all the time. Consider comfort when choosing hem length, neckline and fabric, because comfort translates into confidence - and that looks good on everyone.

"It's all about comfort at the end of the day," agrees Derek Jagodzinsky, '10 BDes, creator of Luxx. "It's about how you feel. If you're not comfortable, it's not working."


Dress: LUXX, Hair: Western Canada Davines Artistic Team, Makeup: Chevi.R and Deenee.R Kelly Rosborough
2: Be yourself

Fashion is about who we are, how we want to be seen and how we feel about our bodies, says Kathleen Todoruk, '92 BSc(HEc). For 25 years, Todoruk has been stitching custom-made, or bespoke, garments for women from all walks of life with Todoruk Designs. Bespoke design is an opportunity to create an original and enduring look that reflects you, she says.

"I'm all about letting people be themselves," adds Jagodzinsky. "Every rule is made to be broken." Ask yourself, what do I like? What do I want to wear every day?

3: Think longevity

It's easy to fall prey to the consumption machine that is the fashion industry, says Kennedy. Exercise caution when it comes to the latest fad.

Look for pieces designed to be worn "regardless of season, whether it's to work or a social event or taking your kid to the playground," Kennedy says. What can you wear - and feel good in - anywhere?

Don't be afraid to consider custom pieces. "People assume it's frightfully expensive," Todoruk says. But buying custom can end up being cheaper because clothes fit properly and last far longer. Consider longevity in your choice of fabrics, too. Natural fabrics such as linen, cotton and wool are good picks for sustainable, long-lasting garments. "Bar none, wool is the workhorse of all textiles," Todoruk says.

Dress: Todoruk Designs, Hair/Makeup: YegAdorn Lisa Leung Photography
4: Dress up, not down

Sure, there's a place in the world for ultra-casual: sipping craft beer around the campfire, road tripping with your bestie, chilling on a tarp under the stars at a music festival. But in situations where it could go either way, designers say a little overdressed is best. "It sets a tone," says Kennedy. "You want to feel good about yourself. It's about that confidence."

Jagodzinsky is a fan of dressy, too - but it doesn't have to hurt. That old adage about beauty being painful? Baloney. "You're dressed up but you're still wearing comfortable clothing that makes you feel good," he says.

5: Accessorize: less is more

People tend to over-accessorize, says Jagodzinsky, and that's where they run into trouble. "Less is more. Quality over quantity," he says, citing Coco Chanel's advice to take off one accessory before you leave the house.

His favourite accessory? Earrings. "It's something really simple, a little shine."

Dress: Véra Vero
6: Know that colour is the new black

"Black will always be there," says Todoruk. It's inoffensive, flattering - a safe bet.

But don't be afraid to try something exciting. Todoruk's clients will often look at textile swatches and get excited, "This is really cool, and I've always loved red." Go with that instinct, she says. "They take a small chance that they think is a huge chance. Relax. It's just a colour."

7: Speak the language of fashion

The most important thing to consider when it comes to getting dressed? Ask yourself what message you're conveying with your wardrobe. "Fashion is an instant language. It says who you are in the first 10 seconds you see someone," says Jagodzinsky.

With any wardrobe choice, he says, the big question is: why? "It's all about motive and intention."

Jessica Kennedy, former co-owner of Nokomis Clothing, works in alumni relations at the University of Alberta while pursuing her master of arts in material culture from the Department of Human Ecology.

Derek Jagodzinsky is the creator, owner and operator of LUXX. He received a bachelor of design at the University of Alberta and completed an internship in New York City with Michael Kaye Couture.

Kathleen Todoruk, owner and creative director of Todoruk Designs, has her atelier in the heart of downtown Edmonton. With clients all over the world, her love for bespoke design has flourished since 1992.

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