Amy Patel—a Bay Street banker turned mixed-media artist—is changing the way we think about corporate attire, swapping out boring suits for chunky jewellery, punchy prints and cool culottes
My work uniform
In my old job as a Bay Street financier, I was technically a suit, but I never dressed like one. I would wear a cool pair of culottes and a black tank top with a blazer and pumps, but if I wanted to go out after, I would throw on my Nike VaporMaxes and head to Ossington.
My first splurge
A Smythe blazer. Their stuff is so transitional—you can create a professional look or something more fashion forward. When I started on Bay Street, everyone wore dress pants from Jacob. Today there are so many more options in corporate attire. I love Smythe’s Tab blazer, which has a tab at the waist that you can adjust to look either like a skinny crop top or a cummerbund.
My childhood style
There are baby pictures of me where I’m wearing jewellery. I was wearing a watch before I could tell time. That was my mom’s influence. When I got older, I was into hip hop and shared my brother’s closet: sweatpants, jerseys, overalls. I wanted to wear a suit to prom, but my mom wouldn’t let me. I was ahead of my time.
My fashion investments
I see myself as a fashion collector. From the time I was young, I saved my money and invested in pieces. Now I have all of these older items that pass as vintage, and I style them to create looks that feel authentic. It’s not all just whatever is new or big this season. It’s not about, “Oh, I have a wedding this weekend, and I need a new outfit.”
My social media rule
The outfits I show on my Instagram are the ones I wear in real life. There is this trend in the fashion world where people wear these super-crazy outfits because they want to get noticed. At Fashion Week, you see the peacock parade and you think, where do these people hang out the rest of the time? I never see them.
My bargain-hunting tips
People don’t realize that you have to put in the work. You have to train your eye. If I have something on my hit list, I know exactly how much it costs. That way I know when I find a good deal. I found a Céline winter coat at Winners. It retailed for $6,000 and I bought it for $500. I wear it all the time.
My most essential item
A black bodysuit by the Canadian brand Mary Young. I like wearing it with jeans and a blazer in the winter and with shorts or a skirt in summer. It’s a key travel piece because it’s fitted to your body, so you don’t have to worry about ironing.
My current obsession
I buy Hermès scarves and tie them in different ways. I got my first one during my early days working on Bay Street. It’s orange, and I still wear it all the time. I probably have about 10 in total. I’ll do a headband or turban or just a chic little necktie.
My skincare regimen
I love the Goop exfoliating facial. You’re only supposed to do it two or three times a week for five minutes, but Gwyneth does it every day, so that’s what I do. I love using a dry brush on my face. The one I use now is by Province Apothecary. And I do facial yoga because I’m in my 30s and things are dropping.
My signature scent
I wear Le Labo’s Santal 33, which makes me feel strong, confident and sexy. Anytime people smell it they’re like, “I knew you were coming.” It doesn’t smell too feminine or two masculine—it’s a nice in-between fragrance. For something a little more dramatic I love a fragrance by Juliette Has a Gun called “Not A Perfume.” All perfumes start with a base note called Celatox, and then the other scents are layered over that. This one is just plain Celatox. It’s warm and clean, kind of musky. I feel like men could also wear it.
I’m currently coveting
A new trench coat. Maybe a Burberry. A classic that has something interesting, maybe a pop of colour or patent leather. In Canada, our coats often end up being our outfits, so that’s something worth spending on. I keep a list of items I’m coveting in my head. I don’t take screen grabs.
My morning routine
I don’t plan my outfits. When I get dressed, I figure out the one thing I want to wear that day and then build around it. It’s an idea of the person I want to be that day: maybe a classy old lady or maybe someone more sultry.