Runway Run-in’s, Paris Fashion Week Edition
On a sliding scale of glamourous events, let’s all agree that fashion shows exist in the top tier.

There is, of course, a hierarchy in the world of glamour.

#GlamLife Flow Chart

First, you have the local fashion shows where designers are stars in their homeland, then, several notches up is , say,  the Victoria’s Secret fashion show that has become a pop culture event and #modelgoals for young beauties to strap on a thong, 5 inch heels and giant wings and stomp their fiercest game for six million viewers. (This year’s show is November 28th on CBS if you were wondering)

Then there are the big shows. And, among cities that have become iconic for atelier royalty –  New York, London, Milan -with their whirlwinds of designers, supermodels and sunglasses-wearing-front-row celebs, Paris Fashion Week is top dog.

Paris Street Steeze

Any day of any year, Paris is teeming with a kind of style and fashion oeuvre that has cast it in the role of king of the fashion world.

Click here to read Nine Things I Learned From French Women

On the Metro you might find yourself squished against a woman in her 60s emanating effortless in a button-down shirt, popped collar, tailored trousers and red lipstick. Or, you might be at a traffic light beside a twenty-something in barely-there make up and a cheap (but not cheap-looking) coat over her skinny jeans as she cycles along the Seine. Le sigh.

But, when it is officially Paris Fashion Week, Holy Karl Lagerfeld, triple-snap, it is on.

The ratio of high-style to normal people skyrockets.  The streets are crawling with dazed models, over-dressed posers hoping for a street-style moment with the Sartorialst, annoyed publicists, celebrities and their entourages.


l'areal paris fashion show champs élysées france

Entrance to the L’Oreal Fashion Show, Paris Fashion Week

I was in Paris on a Sunday morning a couple of months ago when I ran smack into one of the biggest events of Paris Fashion Week, the L’Oreal Show. The runway was a spectacle of lights and music in the middle of the Champs Elysées. The Arch de Triomphe and the moody Parisian sky served as the magnificent backdrop. It was glamour in all it’s glory.

helen mirren model paris fashion week france loreal

Dame Helen Mirren, walks the runway, Paris Fashion Week


 Barricades were lined with camera-thrusting giddy voyeurs as far as the eye could see.  On the giant screens they’d erected for the plebes, images cut between the ring-side audience, backstage flurry, and the catwalk. Big name models wore big name designers. Jane Fonda tottered her way in a leopard  Balmain dress. Helen Mirren stole the show.It was spectacular.

We have been trained to aspire to this, non?

Without these multi-million dollar (seriously) opulent displays of fantasy, fashion and beauty, starring (mostly) impossibly thin young models and clothes with price tags for the 1%, the fashion industry would not have the caché it now enjoys.

Before you start yelling at me, yes, many of these designers are artists and cultural influencers. Their skill is to offer style and looks that make us feel something. But, at what cost?

What’s Real

But, there’s a notable change of mood.

I stood there on the Champs watching Paris swirling in it’s most natural state; the models are more beautiful in real life than their photoshopped images imply.  Designer clothes are full of nuance and structure and colours that (sadly) you don’t find on a department store rack. A jacket might cost as much as a car.

But it could be that the people closest to the most expensive and beautiful clothes money can buy don’t look that happy, beyond the lights and cameras.  Once the music was turned off and the applause died, everyone took a bow, the actors in that show all returned to their normal face. The happiest people seemed to the be ones like me, watching it all unfold.


10 Q’s with Innovator Style Bae’s: Smithery If you described all of the things on your wishlist for a dream shopping experience – personalized, fun, low pressure and fantastic curated pieces to choose from – you’d be describing Smithery.   Founders Rena and Mavis have been through the advertising world trenches together and have forged a partnership and online retail business that is taking off.  They’ve got big plans for 2018.

Scroll down to learn how the letters X, H, A, V and O will rock your world, as will their magic butt pants.

And, don’t miss their exclusive offer, below.





1.How did Smithery begin?

The idea of Smithery really came from our own life experiences and conversations around fashion. Rena loves, loves, loves shopping and Mavis always found it was a chore and was frustrated with the lack of solutions and struggled with styling.

Two of the best insights that propelled us are that only 1 in 10 women know their body shape (the key to fit and style) and that models are typically 6’ tall with 34” B, 25” W, 35” H while the average Canadian woman is 5’4, 155lbs with a 33” waist and 41.3” hips. That’s how we knew there was a need out there for ‘stylesmithing’ and Smithery was born!


  1. What’s the shopping experience like with Smithery? – how is it different?


We have two ways you can shop with us; online or in our Studio (located at Queen and Spadina in Toronto).

We have a Shape Finder that helps you identify which of the main 5 body shapes that you fit into. They are named after the letters X, H, A, V, O and once you determine your shape, we provide a style profile outlining the styling goals for that shape and most flattering cuts.

We model all the clothes on real women representing those body shapes and we provide the measurements for every model so you have a true comparison as to what it might look like on you.


  1. What’s your philosophy?

To democratize personal styling so no woman ever feels like she has nothing $#@%! to wear again! We want to be the antidote to that shopping migraine.





  1. Does Smithery have a particular aesthetic or style that I can always find with your clothes?

We both agree that Olivia Palermo has greatly influenced not only our personal styles but the aesthetic of Smithery.

When we’re buying each season we’re looking for elevated basics, the pieces that will become your ‘go to’s’ in your closet. So they have to be good quality, easy to wash (we avoid the dry cleaner whenever possible!) and at a price point that you can afford (90% of our pieces are under $150).

  1. What are the most common fashion questions you get?

1) I think I’m in between shapes?

It’s not uncommon for someone to be in between two body shapes and we can take rules on how to dress for your shape from both of the letters in order to give you an arsenal of styling tips that work for you!

2) How do I cuff my jeans?

It’s bootie weather and ladies everywhere are rolling up their hems. Luckily we worked with our friend Susan from @islapearl to show everyone just how to do it. Click here for the article.

3) What colour tights should I wear?

In our humble opinion, always black opaque. Always.

  1. A lot of women are frustrated with their wardrobe, or their bodies – what are some typical frustrations you hear?


Oh man, we have heard it all! And it is sooo hard to listen to women beat themselves up, even though we ourselves have that internal voice in our head. In essence that’s why we started Smithery, we want to help women become less frustrated with their arms they don’t love, their belly they’ve been trying to hide and instead focus on the parts that they do love and have those shine.

  1. Fortyology is all about leaning in to your forties, how do you see fashion and clothes help us get there?smithery girls laughing pants fashion

 Mavis: I turned 40 this year and have seen my style evolve over every decade. As I’ve aged I find I’m not as nostalgic for my old clothes and body, so don’t tend to hang on to the jeans that don’t fit or those short shorts. I’ve come to terms with who I am (although like everyone if I lost those 10 extra pounds I’d be happy!) and am generally comfortable dressing for that age and body shape, especially now that I know what to wear and how to wear pieces that flatter that 40 year old body!

Welp, since leaving office life I’ve said sayonara to my heels. That actually really changes how you style a look. As I’ve grown, I also increasingly invest in beautifully crafted pieces. The fast fashion offering is less expensive but it’s also usually less flattering, lower quality fabric, and guaranteed to be on someone else I pass on that street.


8. Is there a deeper conversation – what do you think it is you are connecting with when you host your events?


When we started Smithery, we didn’t realize that in-person events would become such a large and satisfying part of our business.

The best part of our job is when someone walks out of those sessions feeling confident and armed with a set of tools to help her feel her best each and every day. So many times, we have heard ladies say they didn’t think they could ever look this good and that twinkle in their eye is worth every ounce of blood, sweat and tears that we put into this business



9.What emerging pieces /trends/styles are you wearing and are you excited about?

A Coatigan: A long sweater with a substantial weight that takes you in an out of the car and work and errands.

Smithery, Sweater coat

Waxed Pants: We’ve hunted down what we’ve dubbed the magic butt pants.

Smithery waxed pant

A Wild Card That Makes You Happy 

This our first design project a custom blazer collaboration with Toronto’s Dotty Dress Studio!

blazer smithery yellow door fashion

Smithery, Blazer

10. What new things are you working on for 2018?

We are launching a style concierge service called “Style Mail”. We’ll ask you a few questions to get to know your fashion mojo, body shape and lifestyle and from there a Stylesmith curates a box with 3-4 pieces picked specifically for you. Keep what you want and return the rest! Sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Instagram to be kept up to date on the launch date for that.

Click here for an exclusive offer and discount code from Smithery for Fortyology subscribers!

Cover photo courtesy: @flashbackphotoco


The Life Changing Magic of Fashion Psychology Fashion Psychology is nearing it’s moment in the sun.

While there are more than just two Fashion Psychologists to be found in the world, the one’s you’ll most likely come across in a Google search are Carolyn Mair and Dawnn Karen.  They’re disrupting the worlds of Fashion and Psychology, simultaneously.

Anyone who’s spent a minute in a therapists chair will know that our internal angst – what landed us there – is on some level generated by the existential gap created when who we really are is different from who we wish we were.

The inverse of that is happiness – when we feel authentic, and truly ourselves, we are calm and content.

It’s the same with our clothes.

This is what Dawnn Karen, Fashion Psychologist, tells me as we are discussing the arm of psychology that she has helped bring into the 21st century.

“What I do is help people understand their relationship to fashion from the inside out.”

Karen is a professor at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology and investigated the idea of focusing on authenticity in dress to help people feel better about what they wear and empower them with new ways to think about why they wear certain items.

“We wear clothes every day and it’s a huge part of our existence. We think we have to care about what others think of our clothing choices. We wear a sort of ‘uniform’ based on what we think is expected of us and it’s a kind of performance. It’s hard.”

fashion psychology

It’s why ‘retail therapy’ is a short-lived fix. Or why your closet full of cute clothes doesn’t always produce the effect you’d hoped, and ends up in a pile while you wear the same black-on-black combo you can’t seem to break away from.  “You throw on something and don’t feel good, or go alleviate the frusration.”  The problem, she explains, is that we focus on the external.

The Substance of Style

She tested her theory in a series of case studies where she had clients dress according to how they authentically felt and recorded their feelings over several months. Some clients claimed it was life changing.

The mindful approach is, before you get up, to “Lie in bed and say, ‘How am I feeling today?’ If I’m tired, or in a shitty mood, I’ll dress to illustrate that mood and as a result I feel authentic.”

Sounds simple, but generally, we dress to be appropriate not to be authentic.

The idea is that dressing according to how you feel and not to conform to expectations creates an authentic expression of yourself. Authenticity breeds content.

Case in point, on top of her regular schedule, Karen had been prepping for a Ted Talk and remembered she had an event to attend that evening. “I just wanted to be my introverted self, stay inside in my sweats and keep working.  I found a way to honour my feelings and still show up. I wore my sweats… with heels.  I felt very comfortable and most importantly, I didn’t feel like a fraud.” (Scroll down to see the a photo of her outfit.)

The Emergence of the Fashion Psychologist  

In London, UK, Dr. Carolyn Mair, takes Fashion Psychology much further. Until recently, Dr. Mair was Professor of Psychology for Fashion at University  of the Arts, London, launching the only Masters program in the world that brought together the scientific study of human behaviour and fashion. She now works as an industry consultant on the subject.
fashion psychology


“Fashion psychology is about the understanding of human behaviour within the entire context of the fashion industries. It’s not only about clothing as a form of communication and enabling us to negotiate our identity, it’s also about using fashion as a form of good across the swath of industries from production to consumption to disposal.”

Carolyn mair fashion psychology london

Dr. Carolyn Mair, Professor of Psychology for Fashion

“When we are choosing which item to wear, what our clothes look like is barely scratching the surface. It’s more complex than it appears to be. And, one of the reasons is that human beings are different. There really isn’t a one size fits all.”

fashion psychology

For instance, the red jacket that makes you feel confident and powerful, might make me feel garish. That nose-ring you think is tacky might be her secret to confidence.

Whether it’s magazines of past decades, or today’s social media influencers, brands and celebs – fashion exists in a singular one-style-for-everyone vacuum. ‘Teal is the colour of the year!!’   ‘Millenial Pink is in!!’ Fundamentally, this flies in the face of what fashion is, and how we’re wired.

“When we talk about how our clothes portray and effect us we need to take into account the individual differences of the wearer and also the context of which garment is worn.”

Increasingly, the context – where and how a garment is made – is on consumers’ minds.

Would knowing that your perfectly fitted jeans were made in a sweat shop and will live in a landfill long after your gone make you feel icky? Maybe.

It ‘s pressure from cash-strapped Millenial’s, not the middle-aged consumer that’s behind this growing awareness. They’re demanding transparency from brands in exchange for their patronage.

“It’s not just enough to look at the profit, brands need to think about explaining to customers where their product comes from,” says Mair.

It’s no coincidence that wrapping our heads around modern fashion calls for analysis of our behaviour. Makes perfect sense that now is at a time when Mindful Fashion is gaining momentum.

Read more about the Mindful Fashion movement.


dawnn karen fashion psychology leopard coat, burgundy sweats pumps woman model

Dawnn Karen Photo :Frank “Augie.1” Fraley

Dr. Carolyn Mair‘s website.






Conscious Fashionista
At first blush, the idea of “mindful fashion” sounds like an oxymoron. Possibly even a buzz kill.

Isn’t fashion about looking 💯and feeling fab?  Isn’t our dressing based on spontaneity, creativity, and self-expression? Doesn’t the very thought of a new outfit, a new pair of shoes give you a little thrill?

For some yes, for others, wardrobe dissatisfaction is indicative of a deeper issue.

Turns out, mindful dressing can be a game changer for your day-to-day, and, if you take it seriously, it might be a world changer.

And this is true whether your jam is Zara or Louis Vuitton.

Closet Case

As with most learning curves that take us from numb to ‘woke’, it typically begins with something small and highly personal. Something so ubiquitous it’s nearly impossible to see.

Fashion Psychologist Dawnn Karen suggests in this article on Fashion Psychology that we take a minute to connect with our inner dialogue before mindlessly reaching for something to throw on every day,  “Ask yourself what, if any, negative feelings come up when you’re staring at your closet? For example, frustration or boredom. So, you throw on something, but, you still don’t feel good. Or, you might go shopping to alleliviate the negative feelings.  All that does is focus on the external.”

The issue isn’t your wardrobe. It’s the gap between how you feel inside and how you are presenting yourself to the world.  And, mindfulness, she says, can turn that around.  Your clothes won’t  suddenly make you happy, but, at least you’ll know why.

It doesn’t stop there. 

Beautiful Clothes Ugly Truth

The fashion industry uses an obscene amount of resources – water, electricity and chemicals, to produce the billions of pounds of clothes we consume every year. It is one of the worlds largest polluters, Not to mention the human toll far from our eyes and consciences.

Sorry (#notsorry) to rain on your True Religion parade, but, y’know, mindfulness.

christina dean redress eco mindful fashion sustainable honk kong

Dr. Christina Dean, Founder, Redress

In 2007 Christina Dean, a former journalist who had uncovered “so many horrific truths about the fashion industry’s impact on the environment”  that she decided to devote her life to raising awareness of this issue started Redress, an NGO that holds the industry accountable and helps it to change it’s polluting ways to a more sustainable industry across the supply chain and ultimately make for more mindful consumers.

Last year Vogue named Dean as one of the UKs Top 30 Inspirational Women.

She hasn’t bought new clothes since 2013. (Check out her insta for inspo)

“…[After] years of understanding the challenges, both at the industry level and also on a personal level, I have changed completely. I now only wear (and buy) clothes made from re-used or recycled sources. This essentially means that I wear secondhand clothes or clothes made with up-cycled fabrics or recycled fibres. This ensures that in my personal quest to reflect my own style, I am not consuming new fabrics or driving up demand for virgin fabrics.” source

Mindful Trend: BioTech

Now in their tenth year, Dean and her Redress co-founders published a consumer handbook Dress (with)) Success:The Practical Guide to a Conscious Closet and this fall launched a luxury up-cycled clothing line called B Y T.

Partly thanks to the Green Carpet Awards, held in Milan,  sustainable clothing designers who use up cycled and recycled textiles, are becoming stars and making money.

Luxury clothing designer Stella McCartney is one of the OG’s of ethical garment sourcing.  She recently gushed on her social media about a partnership with Bolt Threads, a San Francisco biotech lab that’s developed a number of sustainable textile options for luxury brands.  Her gold dress made from their protein-based silk is on display at MOMA in New York City.

yellow dress mama stella mccartney mindful fashion ethical sustainable

MOMA: Is Fashion Modern? Stella McCartney one of a kind dress made from biotech silk. Photo: Forbes

Adidas, with whom McCartney’s had a longstanding partnership, is also focusing on recycling and upcycling to produce it’s products. They’ve partnered with Parley to recycle plastic harvested from the oceans to make high performance footwear.

Not that long ago we didn’t think to read the labels on our food (if it was even listed) .Now we demand it because it’s better for everyone. The garment industry is headed there.

Ideally, we can merge both of these approaches to mindfulness to transform the decision of what to wear today, and transform the fashion industry that holds the key to our choices.

For more tips on how you can be a more mindful fashionista, check out the Redress consumer guide here .

Read more about Fashion Psychology.

Christina Dean’s TedxTalk



Mavis and Rena, founders of Smithery, are teaming up with Fortyology to offer subscribers a sweet deal, just in time for the new season, and P.S. Holiday party season is literally, around the corner.  You’ll have a great time, find out some fantastic styling tips for your body shape AND get a 20.00  gift card for each of you to play with!

Grab a girlfriend or two (make sure they subscribe here, obvi) an snap up this limited time offer.

The Deal:

  1. A personal styling consult with Rena and Mavis in the Studio at 174 Spadina Ave, Suite 408.
  2. They’ll determine your body shape, give tips and tricks on how to dress for that shape
  3. Browse through a few goodies picked out just for you.
  4. A $20 gift card to get you started!

To redeem the offer, it’s super easy.

  1. Subscribe to this blog (scroll to bottom of this page)
  2. Like Fortyology on social. We’r on Facebook, Twitter, Insta and Pinterest. Like your faves.
  3. Send an email with the code FORTYOLOGY to
  4. Enjoy an amazing evening and get some sweet clothes.



Nine Fashion Lessons I Learned From French Women A trip to France is an opportunity to check yourself in the fashion and confidence departments. I spent a lot of hours on trains, walking for miles and dining in several French cities and towns,including Nantes, Bordeaux and Paris, carefully studying what French women are wearing these days. Here’s what I brought back with me to share with you. De Rien.

  1. Women dress like women 

    Sometimes when I look in the mirror at my hoodie, ripped jeans and Converse, I wonder, what exactly sets me apart sartorially form the 12 year old boy I sat across from on the bus yesterday? I get it, it’s comfy. The weeks that I was traveling, staying in towns, villages and cities of France, traveling by bicycle, metro and on foot, there was something that struck me. Regardless of age, women dressed like adults. The styles varied wildly, it could be feminine, masculine, edgy, sophisticated.. but, I got a clear sense they were not trying to dress like a teenager.  They did not dress like a 12 year old walking home from school. Their clothes spoke of a personal standard.

  2. Your clothes and make up should be flexible enough to do anything

    Not just one thing (like sit in an office). You should be able to bicycle through traffic, run to catch the bus or have spontaneous afternoon drinks (Did I mentioned it was France?)

  3. Tight isn’t always right

    The coolest looking women I saw were wearing loose, semi-structured, skimming togs – snug was less common; tight, rare  Surprising? If one were to hypothetically get sucked into the infinity scroll of Instagram, and see beautiful women of note, e.g. your friends on a night out, models, magazine spreads and influencers, you’d logically deduce that sexy = tight.  This is not the rule in France. See #2.

  4. Leggings are mostly not a thing

    Sure they’re in every store you can name and Millennials are stockpiling them. They are much harder to find on the streets of Paris than you’d think. At least on their own, passing as outerwear. My conclusion, French women are better than me.

  5. Shape is Embraced not Hidden

    The shape of your body (or your age for that matter) need not stop you from rocking the fashions. The confidence of the French woman, combined with an innate style and knowing means that large small, lopsided, flat chested, big-booty – they manage to make it all look good.  (Side note: Our friends at Smithery are rockstars at dressing for your shape.)

  6. Skinny jeans and booties are everywhere

    In the words of one my most fashionista friends “skinny jeans aren’t going anywhere,” and France is proof positive (Nantes in particular, what’s up ladies of Nantes?). The skinny jean trend has been with us well over a decade and it refuses to die. It will be the embarrassing fashion flashback of the future. Booties became the go-to skinny jean combo and now it’s an endless parade of skinny-jeans-and-booties-wearing soldiers everywhere. Even guys.  Perhaps we’re about to reach our saturation point?

  7. The secret is in the shoes

    Having said that, booties are not everything. This might be my favourite observation, not least of all because I love shoes.  Fancy shoes can change everything- fancy sparkly tennis shoes with a shift dress; silver flats with ankle jeans,  high-heels, biker boots  with a skirt. And obviously, #6. The French woman’s shoe game is on fire.

  8. Less is more

    Edit, edit, edit.. When I was casually stalking the street style of French women, young and old, it was easy to take it all in with a glance. It’s a simple aesthetic. A great scarf, a cute overcoat or sparkly flats – just one of these items was enough to elevate a look. Make-up was the same. Barefaced with a pop of colour and easy hair is their MO.

  9. Cold weather is just another fashion season

    I was there when the temperature was starting to get chilly. All the same  fashion rules applied, just in chic layers with nary a puffy coat to be seen.