Introducing Style Panel: Canada’s best dressed It girls share their unique style know-how in answer to your toughest how-to-wear questions

Style Panel | Summer Prep

Style Panel | Summer Prep

FASHION’s got a brand new bag! Well, eight of them to be exact. Introducing Style Panel, our carefully selected group of Canada’s best dressed It girls who know a thing or two about how to put a knockout outfit together. (Want proof? Their blogs, Instagram and Twitter accounts provide plenty of evidence!)

The Style Panel will share their unique style know-how each week through photographs and answer your toughest how-to-wear queries. Got a question for the gals? Send ‘em through to stylepanel@fashionmagazine.com and watch as your most irritating styling problems are solved.

Check out full profiles on our correspondents at fashionmagazine.com/stylepanel and read up on their first challenge here:

Question 1: How can you wear a summer outfit before the weather is ready for it? Read the answers now! »

Or jump to: ALYSSA LAU, EDMONTON | AMY NELSON, CALGARY | GRACIE CARROLL, TORONTO | LOLITTA DANDOY, MONTREAL | NIKI BLASINA, VANCOUVER | VANESSA HONG, BEIJING VIA VANCOUVER | VICKIE LALIOTIS

Alyssa Lau, 20
Edmonton | The Ordinary Peoples

As soon as winter hits Edmonton, I already can’t wait for it to be summer. Usually I’m stuck wearing leggings and shorts to try and re-live the glory days, but the revival of maxi skirts has given me another opportunity to pretend that the summer days are back. If you live somewhere in Alberta, the chances are that winter will be around for more than half the year. This means that the bright palettes of summer and spring are usually suppressed until Mother Nature can find it within her good soul to grant us some warmth and sun. So if the weather isn’t quite ready for high-waisted denim and tanks, pastel palettes and maxi skirts are there to save you. Also, why not pull yourself away from the dreariness of black and grey and add some colour? If you can’t have summer, you might as well look like it.

Alyssa’s wearing: Peach maxi skirt, LOVE. Blouse, Goodnight Macaroon. Heels, ASOS. Necklace, Chicwish. Yellow bag, ROMWE. White bracelets, Greater Than Less. Skull bracelet, Required Flare.

Amy Nelson, 19
Calgary | Amy Flying a Kite

Summer is my favourite season for dressing up, so the minute the sun eats the snow, I begin tossing my winter coats in a box, and pulling out my Levi’s shorts. Most years, I’ve regretted the decision when the cold air returns and I’m left wearing shorts too early in the season. This year, I’ve decided to listen to the weatherman’s words when pulling an outfit together:

My feet are the first part of my body to get cold, so I like wearing bold, colourful socks—these particular feet warmers are from Claire’s. They warm my toes and can be as pretty as a spring bloom. We all know summer calls for bare skin, so I like to prep by exposing my shoulders before the weather is warm enough to expose my whole arms. The Forever 21 blouse I’m wearing is black so it absorbs the heat. I’d probably be too cooked wearing it in the summer, making this a perfect choice for transitional weather. To add a little whimsy, I wore my doughnut necklace from Boopydoodle.

My favourite secret to keeping warm? Wear shorts made of spandex underneath your skirt! When the summer arrives, you can ditch the socks and the spandex for the sunshine.

Amy’s wearing: Off-shoulder blouse, Forever 21. Feet-warmers, Claire’s. Necklace, Boopydoodle.

Photography by Paul Hillier

I’ve been dying to wear all the white lace, crochet, knit and see through little things I’ve been stocking up for summer. And while the weather has been less than perfect this so-called spring, there are still ways to wear summer pieces in cold climates.

Layers can make almost anything look seasonal. Here, I opted for a lightweight leather jacket, with a silk moto vest layered on top. Knee-highs also add some warmth, making bright peep toe heels wearable despite the (ugh) rain and cold. Some bright bracelets and lipstick to keep from feeling too wintery, and voila—ready for spring.

Photography by Steven Lee/SilhouettedSkyline.com

Gracie Carroll, 24
Toronto | Gracie Carroll

The transitioning season is like being tickled by Mother Nature. For fashion lovers, I think it a particularly frustrating time because we’ve already been waiting months to wear the new trends, considering we see them on the runways six months in advance. In Canada, it seems that as soon as the sunshine returns and we hit something above 5 degrees, everyone strips down to a T-shirt, hits a patio and pretends it’s mid-July. It is between the months of March and May that (what I consider to be) the biggest “transitioning” wardrobe faux pas are spotted throughout the streets. For example, wearing heavy knit closed toe tights with summer sandals, flip flops when there’s snow outside, and being heavily layered up top and wearing sandal below. These outfits don’t make sense. Don’t get me wrong; as soon as it is warm enough to go bare leg and rock an open toe, I am over the moon, but one of my key tactics is to pay attention to the texture and weight of fabrics to see how they can work together. The next step is to layer well with lighter pieces.

This look is a perfect example of how I play with layers and lighter looks in the transitioning months. It is no doubt a spring look that’s stepping towards summer, but instead of baring too much, I’ve chosen to show a lot of leg with a short dress, but covered up and counter balanced with a long trench. I recently wore this outfit to a store party at Bird in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and while I walked out the door feeling slightly worried that people might think I’d messed up the date of Diddy’s White Party in the Hamptons, I felt warm, chic, sexy and received nothing but compliments the whole night.

At this time of year, you’re always going to pass by the person in the parka, next to someone in a halter-top and straw hat, but what you’ve got to do is find your own balance and take a risk.

Gracie’s wearing: Silk trench, Alexander Wang at Jonathan + Olivia. Ink print dress, Jessica Mary Clayton at Fawn Boutique. Shorts (worn underneath), Topshop. Shoes, Aldo Rise x Preen. Clutch: Mogil at Fashionably Yours. Nail Cuff Bracelet, Giles & Brother. Brass bracelet, Mainsai. Friendship bracelets, assorted.

Lolitta Dandoy, 32
Montreal | Fashion Is Everywhere

To me, it’s simple: If you want to wear a summer piece before the weather allows it, you have to give it a more autumny feel but still show some skin. A good way to do that is by adding a lightweight jersey turtleneck (one of my favorite transition pieces) under the dress, and maybe a blazer on top.

Even if black tights seem like an obvious choice, I wouldn’t suggest it because it will just look like you are wearing a fall ensemble. I prefer going for thigh-high socks that allow me to show a bit of leg. In the shoe department, a bootie with cut-outs is your best bet. I love these suede peep-toe booties because you can wear them (almost) all year long!

Finally, you can show your spring attitude by wearing a fresh-coloured lip and bright nail polish.

Lolitta’s wearing: Turtleneck, Club Monaco. Blazer, Smythe. Choker, Winners. Thigh-highs, French Connection. Booties, Urban Outfitters.

Niki Blasina, 26
Vancouver | A Haute Mess

One word: layers! I’ve been getting away with breaking out my summer wardrobe by layering more weather-appropriate pieces over top. This is a chiffon summer dress underneath a T-shirt, and a cropped sweater. The shorter silhouette is great for wearing over top of longer layers to avoid too much bulk on top. If you need some extra warmth on your legs, throw on a pair of nylons (tights will weigh down the look too much), or blondes, you can just skip shaving for a few days (I jest—keep shaving). If the weather isn’t ready for your summer wardrobe, chances are your feet aren’t either (my feet could currently be a Halloween costume—they’re scary!) so stick with closed toe shoes until they are.

Niki’s wearing: Dress, Patterson J. Kincaid. T-shirt, H&M. Sweater, JNBY. Shoes, Jeffrey Campbell. Bag, Rebecca Minkoff. Necklaces, Stella & Dot, Forever 21. Bracelets, Stella & Dot.

Vanessa Hong, 28
Beijing via Vancouver | The Haute Pursuit

The moment—no, the second—the temperature rises and there’s a whisper of spring, I’m pulling shorts out of my closet. I think shorts are incredibly versatile for making the sometimes-awkward transition between seasons. Here I wore my leather shorts with a faux leather raglan shirt and a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors for a casual Sunday out. A take on the ol’ shorts + sweater combo, mixing utility with something skimpy.

Vickie Laliotis, 28
Edmonton | Adventures in Fashion

To my mind, nothing says summer quite like pastels, linens and bare, sun-kissed limbs… Unfortunately the weather doesn’t always correspond with your friendly neighbourhood mass retailer’s latest offerings, now does it?  So how do you reconcile the two? Easy! Just add thin tights and transitional layers to make your summer duds pre-summer appropriate. Opt for vibrant hues or soft pastels, fabulous accessories (why not try a hat?) and a strong coral lip, but ground your it’s-way-too-cold-to-be-wearing-this look with tights and some light outerwear. This way, you’ll get double takes from people because you look cute, not because your legs are an alarming shade of blue… It’s a win-win.