À La Mode

Six Torontonians on their fashion inspirations, favourite pieces and what they’re loving this spring

Mark Sakamoto

Executive vice-president at Think Research

spring fashion

1. Linen scarf from Stable of Ireland, in Dublin
2. Custom tailored white linen suit by Sydney Mamane (of Sydney’s)
3. Shoes from Jil Sander

“Spring is my favourite season in Toronto. Some of my most beloved wardrobe items are pieces I saw on the streets and picked up while travelling. Dufferin Grove Park captures everything I love about the city in springtime. On a busy day, there’s someone from every continent out enjoying themselves, so you see fashion from around the world.

“I think of clothes like food. Every time I have sukiyaki, I’m transported back to my grandma’s kitchen. When I put on a scarf that I picked up in Lyon, I go back to that trip. I love the memories clothing evokes.

Related: The freshest looks at last year’s Field Trip music festival

“I would describe my style as ‘Zen and the Art of Making as Few Decisions as Possible.’ I get the essentials—T-shirts, blue jeans—from Sydney’s on Queen West. Then I overlay them with fun things I’ve picked up over the years.

“Life is hectic, so the less you have, the more you can focus on what’s important. My spring uniform is a Sunspel T-shirt and my favourite pair of jeans, which I’ve had for 15 years. They’ve been patched and re-patched, and I just can’t give them up. They’re like comfort food.”

Emma MacArthur

Social media specialist at Collective Beauty Brands

spring fashion

1. Thrifted 1960s flower brooch (one of the first vintage items she ever bought)
2. 1960s jacket from Expo Vintage
3. 1960s handbag swiped from her mother
4. Polyester skirt suit from Public Butter Vintage
5. Mary Jane shoes from Steve Madden

“My style is probably best described as kitschy. Most people would want to avoid that, but I celebrate it. When I was a kid, my parents showed me the movie Grease, and I fell in love with the bright colours of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. I love cartoons, anime and manga art, so I’ll mix some of that in too. I also collect old Fisher-Price toys, and I like to infuse that childlike playfulness into my wardrobe.

“I do the majority of my thrifting in the GTA. I’ve worked at Public Butter Vintage on Dundas West and Black Market on Queen West, and I found a lot of my wardrobe at those stores. I’m also a diehard Value Village, Salvation Army and Goodwill fan. I get excited when I have to dig a little harder to find what I’m looking for.

“I love spring and summer. In the ’60s and ’70s, spring was an amazing season for womenswear, especially the whimsical hats, gloves and accessories around Easter. As children, we all play dress-up. That never really went away for me, and I hope it never does.”

Nanook Gordon

Inuvialuk LGBTQ activist, community organizer and co-founder of Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction

spring fashion

1. Custom hat from Coup de Tête
2. Leather jacket from AllSaints
3. Black cargo fit pants from Zara

“Fifteen years ago, I helped launch Adrenaline Tattoos on Queen West, and I was spending a lot of time downtown. Seeing so many different kinds of people and styles really sparked my interest in fashion.

“I dropped the sartorial ball during Covid. I wore a lot of sweats and baggy clothes. It’s been hard to get back into fashion, but now that I have a three-month-old son, that passion is returning. I’m excited to take him shopping and get matching outfits.

“There’s a special energy in the city in the spring. People are in better spirits. You see a lot of trends, but that’s not really my thing. I take elements from different styles I see—I never go for one specific look. Being non-binary, I wear whatever I feel comfortable in, and I don’t judge myself for it.

“For me, it’s the accessories that make an outfit. I love hats, and when I was younger, I couldn’t afford bespoke ones. Now, I get my custom hats from Coup de Tête on Dundas West. I’m thinking about asking them to make one for my son.”

Sean Brown

Multidisciplinary designer and cultural archivist

spring fashion

1. Custom North Carolina jersey from I Love DIY by Panida
2. Vintage Rocawear shorts
3. Custom Gucci Air Force 1s

“I find creative inspiration on the subway. It’s like a runway for the average person. People are in their own worlds, listening to music or reading, while I scan, take notes and pick apart what I see.

“My style is very emotive. Some days, I’ll wear baggy clothes with bigger silhouettes, and other days, I feel like being GQ—really gentlemanly, really James Bond. It all depends on how I feel, but there’s always a lot of vintage mixed in. I’ve thrifted all over the world, from Japan to Korea to Paris, but for me, the best thrifting is in Toronto. I believe in mixing high-end pieces with cheaper items that last. Lately, I’ve been into sequined sports jerseys. I send my jerseys to a woman named Panida in Thailand to get them iced out. It’s sportswear but glam.

“When I’m getting dressed, the first thing I think about is silhouette, then comfort. This may be my design mind talking, but I think shape is what makes a good outfit.

“I like that spring is unpredictable. As a transition season, it allows for layering or minimalism. It’s a lot of fun.”

Dianne Gouveia and Karian Nicholas

Creatives behind 50sfine, a brand that inspires mature women to make elevated fashion choices

spring fashion

1. Pleather coat from Pretty Little Things in the UK
2. Cropped jean jacket from Zara
3. Noisy May jeans from Hudson’s Bay
4. Orange denim pants from H&M
5. Raid loafers from Hudson’s Bay
6. Steve Madden chunky loafers from Hudson’s Bay

“Karian and I met when we were nurses at Sunnybrook Hospital 33 years ago. We had a mutual love of shopping, and style came naturally to us. We started posting our outfits online, and we developed a following.

“Fashion has no age limit, but we’ve found that many mature women feel like they’re invisible. We want to encourage women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond to say, I’m here. I’m alive. I’m relevant. If you look good, you feel good. So it’s important to put in some effort.

“Our style is classic, but we embrace trends here and there. We’ll add a new piece to a classic outfit or wear a trendier pair of shoes with an older dress. It helps us keep our style fresh and current.

“This spring, we’re into the denim look. Denim is comfortable, and it works for almost any occasion: you can dress it up or down. We’re both of Caribbean descent, so it’s exciting that vibrant colours are still trending. We have a lot of fun getting dressed, and we don’t place any limits on what we can wear.”

Danielle Robitaille

Managing partner of Henein Hutchison Robitaille LLP

spring fashion

1. Vince silk shirt from Nordstrom
2. Green Emporio Armani suit from Holt Renfrew

“I spent my 20s trying to hide my body because I thought that, if I wanted to be taken seriously, I had to downplay my looks. Now, in my 40s, it’s about finding easy ways to look put together so that I can move on to the next thing.

“Dressing for the occasion is key. Whether I’m heading to the office, going to court, interviewing witnesses or leading a meeting, my style has to reflect credibility. I need to look professional yet authentic. And I won’t sacrifice comfort.

“As I’ve grown professionally, I’ve become more daring in my style. I love wearing bright fluorescents in the spring. A statement suit is a great piece for me because I don’t have to think about accessories. It’s easy to feel empowered in a pantsuit. But it also has to have something special about it, like an interesting clasp, flared bottoms or a vibrant colour. And it has to fit well. I love the Toronto brand Smythe.

“Style for me has been about gaining confidence, until I could step out into the world exactly as I am.”