Best of the City 2014: Style
1070 Yonge St., 416-924-8080
True to its name, the new storefront from the Montreal brand Want Les Essentials de la Vie is styled like a Victorian drugstore—albeit one that carries bergamot-scented Swedish lotions and myrtle-infused face balms. Beyond the cosmetics counter, however, is a collection of exquisitely crafted goods: Swiss-made rose gold watches, shredded Acne moto jackets and some of the city’s finest handbags. Our summer favourite is a tote in cobalt waxed cotton and white leather—a statement bag that’s still hardy and roomy enough to withstand a day at Ward’s Island. $575
9 Hazelton Ave., 647-931-6270
The Dutch suiting chain arrived in Toronto this spring, taking over a sprawling bi-level space in Yorkville. The wares hit a sweet spot for men who fetishize bespoke but have off-the-rack budgets. We’re particularly smitten with this summer’s linen houndstooth in the slim, unstructured Havana fit. The fabric is from a 90-year-old Italian mill, and the whole thing comes in at a refreshing $500.
This new Toronto-based company makes a women’s rain jacket that, happily, doesn’t look anything like one. It has a blazer shape and cute print lining by Liberty of London, as well as a slew of hidden features that make it invaluable in a downpour: buttons that run up to the neck, a hood tucked away inside the collar and a waterproof outer layer made of stretch Italian twill. $730.
67 Portland St., Ste. 200, 416-599-2711
Elaine Lui of LaineyGossip fame calls Lorinda Zimmerman her “skin whisperer”—the woman who keeps her pores invisible and her face blemish free. At Zimmerman’s new King West clinic, the signature treatment (the one favoured by Lui as well as numerous Hollywood starlets) is the cold laser combo. It’s a session of microdermabrasion followed by a half hour of low laser therapy, used to rejuvenate collagen. There’s a whole bunch of NASA-approved science behind the process, but the main takeaway is this: it’s an injection-free fountain of youth that will give you an ingenue’s glow (see Jennifer Lawrence) as opposed to a reality star’s melt (see the Real Housewives franchise). $250.
Oak and Fort
12 Karl Fraser Rd., 647-341-9199
This Vancouver company immediately won over professional women and youthful style bloggers alike when it launched in 2010. Now that it has opened in the Shops at Don Mills, we see why west coasters were so bullish. Floaty tunics and draped dresses are office-appropriate but still breezy enough for August’s oppressive heat—and most are priced under $100. A pop-up shop on Queen West will run until the brand secures a permanent downtown location.
87 Avenue Rd., 416-923-1717
Prince George, sartorial ruler of the under-three set, has single-handedly made preppy baby clothes cool: the nautical navy overalls he wore on his tour of New Zealand sold out online in hours. Monarchy-loving moms eager to emulate the look should head to Jacadi. It has Toronto’s choicest selection of polished childrenswear, including a pair of teeny-tiny leather boat shoes that would fit in at a royal regatta. $138.
412 Danforth Ave., 1-800-833-1055
Rebels Refinery got a jumpstart on Dragon’s Den, but our love for the Toronto brand has more to do with its all-natural approach. It’s run by three childhood friends—Eric Fallon, Justin Maclean and Elan Marks—whose small batches of soaps, facial cleansers and lotions frequently sell out at the Danforth grooming emporium MenEssentials. The black, coconut oil–based soap is especially good: it has none of the unpronounceable chemicals you’ll find in drugstore brands, and the smell—billed on the label as “f*cking amazing”—is subtle and manly. $12.
This season’s crop of overalls are a far cry from OshKosh B’Gosh. To wit: The Narwhal (8 Price St., Unit 101, 647-351-5011) carries a slinky, date-appropriate version by Rag and Bone with leather straps and a sexy low back ($699). A more casual pair at Blue Button Shop (1499 Dundas St. W., 647-606-3270) has details that evoke a worker’s apron: lightweight Japanese denim, skinny straps and a drawstring waist ($289). Over at Jonathan and Olivia (49 Ossington Ave., 416-849-5956), Current/Elliot’s shorteralls feature an abundance of rips and a faded hue ($328)—a rebellious alternative to yet another sundress.
Dry cleaning doesn’t get more convenient than this clever new service started by a former development manager named Matt Young. You put your dirty clothes in one of Alfred’s lockers, located in condo towers across the city (if your building doesn’t have one, leave garments with the concierge or at the 24-hour depot at Church and Wellesley). The company whisks them off to an organic cleaner, and pings your smartphone once they’ve been returned to the locker. Shoe shine and shoe repair are also available. $3–$50.
133 Avenue Rd., 416-962-0133
Monk straps, once deemed the dressiest of all men’s shoes, are suddenly an everyday staple. At Loding—a high-end French menswear store disguised as a club, complete with a tufted leather couch—they’re made with buttery calf’s leather and proper Goodyear welt construction. Black and tan leather models are all $315, but we suggest spending an extra $235 for a coloured version—say, forest green or deep purple—which are dyed by hand in a workshop in the south of France.
Leesa Berry Haircutting
264A Dunn Ave., 647-223-8408
The cut of the summer is a breezy, grown-out pixie, like Robin Wright’s in House of Cards. Chopping it all off requires guts—and a good hairdresser. From a brick-walled salon in Parkdale, Berry quietly churns out impressive transformations. Her resumé (which includes 15 years at Queen West institution Coupe Bizzarre) and easygoing manner have earned her the trust of some of Toronto’s most stylish people, including vintage shop owner Sarah Magwood and stylist Fiona Green. From $60.
Fashion Truck Canada
Even after witnessing our city’s food truck woes, several pioneers felt brave enough to wade into mobile retail this spring. The best was started by Emily Dobbie, the owner of the boutique Vocado, and stylist Ashley Barber. It looks like a regular 16-by-seven-foot cube van on the outside. But inside it ticks all the boxes on the boho-chic checklist: maxi dresses, urban kimonos and pre-fringed denim shorts. The truck is often parked in Liberty Village and on Queen West, but of course the beauty is in the mobility—over the May long weekend, it hit up cottage country. And yes (to answer the obvious question), there is a change room.
Ani and Wren
1172 Yonge St., 416-944-1260
This Summerhill boutique stocks sophisticated maternity pieces, like stretch dresses by Isabella Oliver and biker jeans by Slacks and Co. Owners Lauren and Lani Levy also cherry-pick bump-friendly shapes from chic contemporary brands: breezy Joie blouses, sharp-shouldered Laveer jackets and a Rebecca Minkoff tote that would make a fashionable diaper bag. The clientele is a testament to their discerning taste: many of the well-heeled women who come in to browse aren’t even pregnant.
Hard Rock Nails
790 Broadview Ave., 416-818-8971
The “stiletto manicure”—nails that end in lethal points—is a favourite look of fierce celebs like Beyoncé and Gaga. In Toronto, the best place to get them is Hard Rock, an east-end salon where spiky tips are a house specialty. For clients with long and strong natural nails, the look can be achieved by filing, but for most, a plastic tip is applied using a UV adhesive. Decorative add-ons are limited only by imagination: neon, metallic, jewels, stickers. $30–$100.
50 Bloor St. W., 416-922-2333
Our favourite shoes right now offer surprise glimpses of skin: ankle boots with the sides cut out, laser-cut flats with more perforations than a colander. The look is sexiest when it’s sky-high—as in a pair of heeled Tamara Mellon sandals with curving indigo straps that wrap the ankle in a web of windows. Indisputable proof that barer is better. $825.
Cutler and Gross
758 Queen St. W., 416-966-5149
The glasses at Cutler and Gross’s Queen West shop have no flashy branding or unnecessary flourishes. Instead, it’s their craftsmanship that differentiates them from the drugstore variety—and has won the devotion of stars like Victoria Beckham, Elton John and Rihanna. The frames are made entirely by hand, from cutting out the shapes with a jigsaw to stitching the leather sleeves that cover many of the styles’ arms. The hand-polishing process gives every pair the lustre of fine jewellery. From $475.