Cottage Chic

Photographs by Ashley Fraser

On the left Flower-hued and relaxed, a long shift dress from Cartise $235, is cottage-casual, but ready for a trip to the nearest café. Copper, enamel and brass Sharon Nodelman necklace, $75. On the right Looking for the coolest look of the season? Pair white cotton and lycra jeans, $160 from Margaret M, with a breezy cotton cut out jacket, $148 from IC, and chunky silver necklace, $78.

Just because you’re going to the cottage doesn’t mean stained sweatshirts and cut-off jeans are the order of the day. Step it up with these body-shape hints

The cooler is loaded. The kids are in the back seat. And the luggage is packed with your standard cottage clothes.

Let’s see what you’ve got in there. Ah, yes: a super-comfy, but stained and now faded hoodie emblazoned with your university crest; two bathing suits not fit for public viewing; assorted cut-off jean shorts you’re considering turning into crafty handbags on a rainy day with the help of a Bedazzler and your 11-year-old; a pair of flip-flops; your second-best sneakers, newish skateboarding tees your teen son just grew out of, but you can’t bring yourself to discard, and a few decent sundresses for going into town.

We thought as much.

Just because you’re taking a holiday from the city doesn’t mean you should go on a style vacay, too. Yet if your first bonfire on the beach consists — as it should — of the stuff you usually roll out of bed into, what should you pack to ensure you a) have clothes that look like Muskoka country, but feel like Westport and b) wouldn’t be out of place if Michael Fassbender suddenly motored up to your dock with a bottle of chilled Veuve Clicquot and a winning smile?

Start with the basics and make sure they’re “crushable,” meaning packable and wrinkle-free, says Marlene Shepherd, who recently opened her 5,000-square-foot flagship store at the Trainyards.

“Really, the look this year is the skinny white or coloured jeans and the billowy top, which is perfect for cottages. It’s smart and casual, but very comfortable, especially the loose tops from L.A. designers such as Nally and Millie. The tunic has been really popular because it camouflages a lot. It isn’t skin tight and you don’t have to worry about every roll.”

Crushable jersey dresses and easy-wearing shirts from Montreal’s Joseph Ribkoff or Vancouver’s Simply are both great choices, she says, because the fabric is forgiving on feminine curves. “They’re packable and figure-flattering, because they’re solids. But whatever you do, make sure you choose shapes and silhouettes that work for your body.”

To ensure you do, we asked Shepherd’s body shape expert, Sam Poole, to give us the rundown on the dos and don’ts of how to handle problem body parts.

Soft pastels and vibrant colours mix well for summer in Montreal-based Second Yoga Jeans (not shown), $100, Barbara Lesser twisted-neck tank, $58 and silky coverup by Bemberg $132. Turquoise and silver thread necklace by Sharon Nodelman, $150.


Height: For the vertically challenged, this summer’s luscious, bold prints will just have to stay on store shelves. “Those prints walk into the room before you do and wear you instead of you wearing them,” Poole says. Likewise with the ever-popular capri pant. The shorter you are, the more likely the capris will end somewhere above your ankle, thus making “you look stumpy,” she adds. “Capris really need to end half-way to three-quarters down the leg, not just above the ankle.”

Necks: If you have a short neck, keep your earrings that way; avoid dangling baubles. Choose v-necks and deep, rounded collars over high-necks, she adds. “They make an arrow down and elongate the body.” For women with long necks, it’s more a case of making the most of it, she says. Draped scarves, statement jewelry, high collars, low collars… nothing is off the menu. “Taller ladies often slouch to appear shorter, so we have to make them stand out. Wear a choker-style or bateau neck that creates a horizontal line,” she advises.

Shoulders: Narrow shoulders are problematic for more than just slipping bra straps. “You have to counterbalance narrow shoulders because they can emphasize a wider bottom. Build the shoulders up with soft shoulder pads — nothing from the ’80s!” Summery halter necks that emphasize shoulders and asymmetrical tops also draw the eye away from imbalanced proportions.

Women with broad shoulders, beware: Your tees and knits should have a measure of lycra in them, or they will stretch. Alternatively, buy short-sleeved blouses that fit the shoulders and have a tailor adjust the rest to your body.

Busts: As a small-chested sister, you may wish you had more front than Dolly Parton, but the truth is you can wear anything — except shapeless tops. Go for pockets, ruffles, cable knits and spaghetti straps, all of which are hot for summer. “You can add gathers, and higher, or really deep, necklines. Larger-busted girls can’t go there at all.”

But the latter should go straight to a good lingerie store, “to get their bras checked every four to five months, as opposed to every two to three years.” Once you have a good foundation garment, avoid heavy necklines and long, draping jewelry. Rather, choose shorter pieces and flattering Diane von Furstenberg-style wrap sundresses.

Waist: Are you short-waisted? If you can fit your hand under your bust and still reach your waist, we have some bad news for you. Ideally, the distance between armpit and waist, then waist to crotch should be the same. But the good news is you can create a long look with drop-waist tunics, monochromatic colour stories and low-rise pants. Avoid wide belts like you avoid those leeches lurking in the reeds by the lake’s edge.

The opposite is true for long-waisted women, who should shorten their body by using contrasting belts, horizontally striped shirts or a camisole layered with a cropped jacket.

Hips: Non-existent hips sound great — unless you have them. True, you look sensational bumming around cottage country in chunky cargo shorts and capris, but anything that creases and creates vertical lines is a no-no.

Wider hips, meanwhile, can be tempered by avoiding all pockets and pleats, as well as large shoulder bags that rest at the hip and “accentuate how wide you are,” Poole says. Bootcut jeans are best. A-line skirts also work well to create fake hips.

Loose and forgiving, a crinkle-cotton shift by Gloze, $115, gets a new silhouette with an obi belt from Turbine Design, $98, and a matte silver lily-shaped collar necklace, $78.

Bottom: Our fascination with skinny jeans such as Montreal’s hyper-popular and oh-so-wearable Second Yoga brand is good news for women with neat little bums. If your backside is a bit on the deflated side, look for skinny jeans with fuller back pockets and a bit of bling — two things big-bottomed women should avoid. For active summers at the cottage, the latter should slip into high-rise pants and shorts with flat back pockets.

Above all, fuller bums should never be seen in skirts and pants with elastic waists, which pucker and add visual pounds.

Legs: Long or short, it’s the shoe that counts when it comes to dealing with legs, says Poole. Shorter legs should be clad in boot-cut pants and finished with a neutral shoe or one the same colour as the garment. “Be careful with straps across the shoe or across the ankle,” she adds. Avoid cuffed pants and enjoy the summer in short-shorts or pedal-pushers that end half or three-quarters of the way down the leg.

Tall, leggy women “don’t have a huge problem,” observes Poole, who is five-foot-two. “They look great in everything because they have the length of leg.” Even so, they may want to choose wider, fuller summer skirts and shorts and sandals with a rounded toe that doesn’t elongate the foot.

And finally, Poole’s top tip: When trying on clothes in stores or at home, have someone take a photo of you before you decide if it works. “Women get mirror blindness and don’t see what we’re seeing,” she says.

Fashion supplied by Shepherd’s.
Handmade jewelry by Sharon Nodelman, available through
Belt by Turbine Design, available at
Thanks to Allan and Sharon Nodelman for providing the location.

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