Covers & Content: April 2016

How did major Canadian fashion magazines stack up this month in terms of diversity? Read on to find out.


The Cover Star: Soo Joo Park

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: Asian. Side note–I’m pretty sure this cover is the first and only Canadian fashion magazine cover of the last three years to star an East Asian women exclusively on the cover.

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: There was one fashion editorial this month starring one thin, white model.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No



The Cover Star: Iggy Azalea

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: White. Side note–the Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks feud is infamous, but don’t you find it….interesting…that Iggy Azalea is the only one who ever gets magazine covers? Its rather a metacommentary about race, racism, and the publishing industry.

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: There were two fashion editorials this month, both starring one thin, white model each. This means that the April issue of Elle Canada was a Whiteout Issue.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No


AprilCoverFlare 2016

The Cover Star: Ania Boniecka, Sonya Esman, Alanna Durkovich, Kayla Seah, and Dajana Rads

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: There were 5 women on the cover (which, lets face it, was barely a cover so much as it was an embarrassing Joe Fresh ad like they did for their September 2015 issue), but the majority of them were white. Too bad Flare couldn’t manage to get more diversity on their cover like Elle Canada did last month.

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: There was one fashion editorial this month, starring one thin, white model. It was nice, however, that they identified the model, Carly Moore, up front. Most magazines don’t do that.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No

Editor’s Spring Wish List: Lydia O.

Wondering what The Closet Feminist’s editors are coveting for Spring 2014? Lydia Okello, our Advising Editor and fave Canadian personal style blogger has her picks for spring below.
Spring Fling

Monki pink top, 41 CAD / MuuBaa cropped leather jacket, 1,005 CAD / Opening Ceremony strappy high heel shoes, 385 CAD / Charlotte Olympia box clutch, 1,715 CAD / Club Monaco wide brim hat, 240 CAD / Karen Walker cat eye sunglasses, 435 CAD / NYX coral lipstick, 4.38 CAD

This spring I’m coveting flirtatious looks that are a little bit bad ass. This cobalt blue bomber is a lust-worthy statement piece to play with. A cheeky printed skirt + glossy chunky oxfords are just the saucy punch I’m looking for. Add a cherry pout, a chic clutch, and a comfy sweatshirt and I’d have a bonafide spring-fling look!

6 Body-Positive, Affordable Style Resolutions for 2014

By: Emily Yakashiro

Come this time of year, there is endless talk of new diets, exercise regimens, joining gyms, etc. Little of the talk I personally here is about creating a vision of health that suits you and your specific needs, and reflecting on old habits in a meaningful way that is gentle and constructive for yourself. Unsurprisingly, a lot of these insecurities foisted onto us by a misogynistic media and a sexist, fat-phobic society at large can bleed into our clothing choices. I say screw that–here are six body positive, slut-shaming free, and affordable style resolutions for 2014.

1. Remember that clothes are supposed to fit you, you are not supposed to fit your clothes.


Above: Love this romantic top by Youtheary Khmer–would look great with faux leather leggings or an emerald pencil skirt.

We all know that clothes are made to fit certain types of bodies by the fashion and garment-production industry at large. Vanity sizing exists, and different stories size things differently ( a size 8 at the Gap will likely be different from a size 8 at Forever 21, for instance). There is no regulating/governing body which makes shopping accessible and easy for all body types and shapes, sizes, and needs across different stores and labels. That means it’s up to us to figure out what works, which is frustrating, yes, but also not a reflection about what our bodies are, but what this industry thinks will work for the majority of the population. The fashion industry is not taking your shopping experience personally, and neither should you if stores are stupid and only make sizes 1-8 available.

Bottom line: find the clothes that fit you, and resist the negative messages that say it’s your body that doesn’t fit. If you want to exercise, go ahead, but know there are other ways to make your clothes fit: belts, tailoring your clothes, making your own clothes, shapewear, trying vintage clothing because fit is made for different bodies each decade etc.

BONUS: You know who is hilarious and has killer style? Lesley, who writes for xoJane on Fatshion. Check out her insanely funny (and practical) fatshion advice here and here to start.

DOUBLE BONUS: You know who has an amazing, accessible style column where everything from wigs for gals with alopecia, to cute handbags for folks with injured backs is up for discussion? That would be Rookie’s Damn Girl Ya Look Good column.

2. Lose the Labels

I’m not talking about the clothing brand, I’m talking about style labels like “preppy”, “hipster”, “conservative”, “slutty”, “bohemian”, etc. Such labels can be useful if you’re trying to redefine your style, but ultimately they put everyone into a box they usually don’t want to be in. It limits yourself and other people.


Above: Love those bright colours, love United Colors of Benetton ads–all with people of all backgrounds wearing whatever they want (or at least portraying this idea). This ad is from their Spring 2012 campaign.

I had a friend ask me the other day if Doc Marten boots are “too hipster” for her style, and she was literally so scared that I would say “yes” that she would consider returning them because “hipster” style was not for her. This made me really sad–again, putting people and objects into boxes hurts everyone. For me, Doc Marten boots are like black pumps or a peacoat: classic and super-practical. Docs (or a similar, durable, heavy-duty waterproof boot) are my #1 recommendation for people moving to Vancouver as they are well-made, sturdy, waterproof, and won’t fall apart (I’ve had my pair for 4 years and they don’t have any holes or need to be resoled yet)–perfect for our super-rainy weather. Whether they are “hipster” or not doesn’t even enter into the equation to my mind. Leaving labels behind takes off unnecessary limitations and allows room for growth and exploration, and that is what style is all about.

3. Check out the stuff by a local designer.

Whether you’re in Edmonton (Malorie Urbanovitch) or Charlottetown (Dreamboat Lucy), chances are there is a local or in-province designer whose designs you can check out. I’m not talking automatically buying their clothes as I understand that can be pricey or inaccessible, but just see what your community has to offer. It’s good to support local designers by at least knowing their name (you can recommend their line to someone who can afford it if it’s expensive) and giving their website a hit–a little goes a long way. Remember that a “fashion designer” doesn’t just mean someone who makes incredibly opulent couture, it can mean someone who designs jewelry or t-shirts. Plus, a little pride in local talent never hurt anyone!

BONUS: Check out our interview with Vancouver-based designer Lexi Soukoreff of Daub + Design, or our Holiday Gift Guide which also refers to many local designers and businesses.

4. Try on a trend

One thing that I always tell people when shopping with them is that clothes look different on you than they do on the rack. Hanging clothes on hangers or folding them up on tables just doesn’t do them justice a lot of the time–you can’t be sure that they will work for you or not unless you try them on. Curious about peplum tops, but think they would look terrible on you? Not sure if high-waisted trousers will work? Convinced you’d look stupid in a leopard-print mini? You won’t know until you try–that’s what changing rooms are for. There’s no harm in just trying something new on–you don’t have to buy it, and you can honestly see if it suits your taste.

5. Incorporate at least one new colour into your wardrobe.


Above: This blouse from Joe Fresh (found here) comes in this gorgeous tangerine, a red, light yellow, a pale lime green, and a lovely light blue. New colours in basic silhouettes are the easiest way to incorporate a new colour into your wardrobe.

Awash in a sea of neutrals? Boring! There’s a lot of research that suggests mood is tied to colours, why not boost your spirits with a bright colour? The colours you wear also naturally enhance whatever you’e got going on skin-tone wise. For example, I know that orange or salmon makes me look washed out (sadly–I love these colours!), but I look great in bright pink, it makes me look nice and glow-y, and it’s because of my skin tone.

If you’re not sure where to start, why not take a look at what “season” suits your skin tone and hair colour? You could also just head out and try on clothes of different colours. Fast fashion stores like Joe Fresh, the Gap, or Smart Set often have basic shirts in a variety of colours, grab one of each in your size and see which one makes you feel and look good.

Lastly, here’s a cheat sheet for choosing colours that will work well with what neutrals you already have going on in your wardrobe:

BLACK: Bright blues (turquoise, cobalt,) emerald green, yellows,

CAMEL + BEIGE: Purples (violet, lavender), fuchsia, bright pinks (bubblegum, carnation, etc)

GRAY: Sea-greens or mint, light pink, coral

BONUS: The StyleList Canada Style Council does a regular feature where the bloggers involved show readers who to tackle a new trend or colour from purple to pale blue to oxblood, and even pastels for winter. Their bloggers represent a variety of sizes, ethnic backgrounds, and are all Canadian, so you’re sure to find a look you want to emulate.

6. Accessorize!


Above: See this adorable little charm bracelet? It is less than two dollars, would add a pop of neon fun to your outfit, and would give your outfit a little something extra. When I say “accessorize”, I don’t mean you need to dive in and wear a giant colourful bib necklace (unless you want to of course!)–it’s okay to start with something small and subtle.

I know I talk about this one a lot, but until I see people actually doing it more, I will not stop my accessorizing Evangelism! A new necklace, earrings, scarf, etc, is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to ease into a trend or wear a new colour. Think about the suggestion above–scared to try colour in your repertoire of grey and black? Get some cheap, fun earrings from an accessories store in a new colour and see how it goes, or throw a scarf on before you head out the door. It adds a little bit of colour if you’re nervous–you can remove a colourful necklace or scarf easier than you can a colourful shirt or pants. Accessories further take a nice outfit to a great, memorable outfit. Just think–when you compliment someone on their outfit, it’s usually because they’re wearing a new necklace or an interesting ring, right?





Fashion Blogging is not Dead. Our Conversations are.

By: Arij Riahi

With each passing season, a new writer adds a nail to the fashion blog coffin. The critiques are plural, but they seem to be articulated around two major ideas.


Image above on R29 via NY Times here.

First, there are the likes of fashion journalist Suzy Menkes who, with a hint of elitist nostalgia describes the fashion blogosphere as a “circus of people who are famous for being famous.”

Second, there is the thoughtful ex-blogger who’s been on the scene since its pioneering year of 2006, and who now laments the directionlessness and sterility of the current fashion blogoscape.

Historically, an increased frequency in the use of the “… is dead” expression signals not a death, but the transformation of a cultural phenomenon. Nietzsche and paperless gurus are a testimony to that. To put it plainly, fashion blogging – like religion and the paperback – is not dead, but evolving. Devolving, maybe. But it is changing.

Speaking on this change, Jennine Jacob, fashion blogger and founder of the Independent Fashion Bloggers network, writes :

Whatever it was, I noticed there was a trend of general decline in interest in personal style blogging. People aren’t leaving as many comments, and the commenting on the big ones are mostly blogger-spammers promoting their own sites. Content on personal style blogs had become minimal, some just listing their clothes. Others just talking about what they ate for breakfast, or how they were so excited to work with this brand or that brand. Bloggers who “make it” aren’t just cute anymore, they have business plans, niches, a specific purpose other than broadcasting their own vanity.

And therein might lie the main difference in fashion blogging from its early days (think LiveJournal and MyStyleDiary, circa 2005). There is a definite move away from conversation and towards strict consumerism. The average personal style blog is a list of purchased items and retail locations. Fashion blogging in general has been commodified, and the success of a blog is measured through entrepreneurial lenses.

A good example of this is the evolution of fat-fashion blogging, from the early Fatshionista conversations to its current days. An article aptly titled  “Fatshion Police : How Plus-Size Blogging Left Its Radical Roots Behind” discusses the idea at length. In a nutshell, “…while fat fashion blogging has cracked into the rarified world of the trend piece, fat activism is struggling.”

I’ve noticed a similar evolution in “do-it-yourself” fashion blogs. I see some of them selling DIY kits to create an item at a price comparable to the retail value of the item…new. The idea of spoofing this by creating a step-by-step DIY-DIY-kit did run through my mind. I also saw a blogger feature a completed DIY project they created on their site, but linked to a paid publication to view the full step-by-step tutorial. The point here is not to ask DIY-ers to be faithful to the punk origins of the notion. I question, though, how an idea that grew out of a rejection of mainstream capitalist consumerism could turn so easily into mainstream capitalist consumerism.

I understand the reasons for monetizing a blog. The choice of compensation (why and how) is a personal one. I also understand how access to high-profile gigs and fashion job prospects might ease some frustrations about acceptance and representation in the industry.


Above: Picture by Gunnar Larson, found on R29 here.

What I don’t understand is how or why it erases critical thought about that industry. I worry about the trend of fashion bloggers who were initially nurtured by a political community or driven by radical incentives, but end up turning their back on it once they “make it.” In this context, it seems unsurprising that the most important/popular fashion blogs are painfully straight, white, and upper-middle-class: why is it that fashion is “just fashion” only to those who feel included in the industry?

Scholar Jo Reger notes in an essay* how contemporary feminists use a, “consciously constructed look as a way to live out, on an everyday basis, their politics and ideologies.” Examining the ways in which young feminists construct fashion, she adds that the, “body becomes the location where larger issues are played out.”

I do find that there are a lot of larger, political issues in fashion– I like your camouflage coat, but I’d also like a conversation about the ethics of wearing military apparel. I don’t mind your luxury items, but I want to find out if it is craft(hu)manship or branding. I prefer a full tutorial, because I enjoy the agency that comes with wearing my own skirt. I have questions about second-hand clothing and the effect it has on African textile markets. I want to have these conversations, but I can’t find many spaces for them online.

I think that by narrowing down our fashion conversations, we miss the opportunity of reclaiming the body -the individual and the collective one- and highlighting how its presence, movement, and adornment is as an act of political resistance– not a commodity.

*Reger, Jo. “DIY Fashion and Going Bust: Wearing Feminist Politics in the Twenty-First Century.” Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style. Ed. Shira Tarrant and Marjorie Jolles. SUNY Press, 2012.

Arij (Twitter: @arijactually) is a writer based in Montreal, Quebec. Favourite topics include law, colonialism, and pugilism. 

Closet Feminist Trivia: Year One

Most Popular Article

kristen stewart cf

We never thought in a million years that we would owe the success of our website in part to Kristen Stewart–how random is that? Seriously though, our article Kristen Stewart: Disrupting Gender Roles One Blank Expression at a Time published in February was a runaway hit, and to to this day still holds the record for most hits in one day on our website and the most commented on article we’ve ever posted. It caught the attention of a national reporter and resulted in a bit of press for us, and everyone once in a while (still!) enjoys a renaissance and we get a bunch more hits on it!

Closet Feminists All over The World: Readers & Writers

In terms of readers, our top five fans are the States, Canada, the UK, Australia, and France.

Our writer from furthest away? That would be Cassie over in Australia, the blogger extraordinnaire behind The Reluctant Femme. Read her CF pieces here, here, and here.

We’ve got bicoastal appeal, being especially popular with folks in California and New York, yet our American writers have been in Pittsburgh (Priyanka Sacheti) and Georgia (Dara Mathis)!

On the home front, BC is our #1 fan, followed by Ontario and Quebec.

Our BC team of writers includes Ada, Courtney (read her posts here and here) and of course our editorial team. Back East we’ve heard from Fiorella, and Nicola was in Quebec over the summer, even checking crossing the border to New York to report on the Punk: Chaos to Couture Exhibit.

Halloween Madness

Ya’ll were really panicking about what to wear for Halloween, eh? The week leading up to Halloween was the busiest overall week for us traffic-wise, giving the Kristen Stewart article a run for its money.

Design Decisions

We had three different designs/layouts for our website over the past year before settling on the beautiful design we currently have by Katie Dixon!

Home-Grown Talent

The Closet Feminist editorial team is from Abbotsford–Emily, Lydia, and Katie all went to high school together! Our other major contributors, Courtney, Nicola, and Ada are from Calgary, making this blog a very West Coast effort.

Beauty Queens

We don’t write too much about hair and beauty on The Closet Feminist, but that’s about to change (oooo suspense! what new series is around the corner?). In the meantime here are some of our fave hair/beauty picks:

Piggy in the Middle by Cassie G.

Red Hair is not an Invitation by Courtney S.

Women & Short Hair by Silvia C.

The Politics of Pink Hair 

Class Clown

FA March Ed 1

Above: From Fashion March 2013

Who says feminists aren’t funny? April Fool’s Day was a blast–we posted prank-themed content all day including:

12 Fashion Lessons from Arrested Development

Foodie Fashion DIYs for the Desperate Fashionist@ 

Funny Fashion Links

4 Funny Funny Fashionist@’s you Should Follow on Twitter


We also have our Funny & Fashionable series focusing on the style of some of our favourite lady comediennes and their characters.


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