Tis the season to celebrate! If you’re anything like me, you have a million parties and gatherings. What better way to celebrate the season than with lots of egg nog and holiday cheer? It really is the “most wonderful time of the year”. To help survive the madness we’ve compiled a list of Holiday Party Tips from all of our favourite expert party planners. Whether you’re hosting or simply a guest, these tips and tricks will come in handy for all of your Holiday events!
Emily's Holiday Party Tips
'Tis The Season: 4 Holiday Party Outfit Ideas We Love
I think it's safe to say that after Black Friday, the holiday season will officially be here in full swing. With this season we're often faced with the abundance of holiday party invites from friends and family that we suddenly have to juggle and plug into our schedules. Although these parties are no doubt merry and fun, they can also be moderately stress-inducing when you have the daunting task of figuring out what it is you're going to wear. In an attempt to ease your pain of this annual debacle, we’ve put together four of our favourite go-to holiday outfits. Check them out below!
1/ Leather leggings, a black blouse or sweater, pumps, and red lips
This chic, yet edgy combination is the perfect go-to outfit for the holidays. Pair the leather pants with a black blouse, jacket, or sweater, throw on a pair of your favourite pumps, and you'll be holiday-party ready instantly!
Take a look at our inspiration for this look below via Miranda Kerr and Kim K.
2/ Sequin, foil or embellished mini dress
I don’t know about you, but we absolutely love any excuse to wear sequins. Because this style is so seasonally limited, pulling out your favourite sparkly dress is an absolute must during the holidays. Pair your dress with opaque black tights, or bare legs (if you're brave enough to brave the cold!) and classic pumps. No accessories necessary! But if you're a more is more kind of girl, we say go for it!
See our inspiration from Lauren Conrad below!
3/ A classic little black dress, jewel tone accessories, and pumps
When in doubt, nothing compares to a classic little black dress that can be used time and time again for a Christmas party. Re-invent that older LBD favourite of yours hidden in your closet by pairing it with a pump in any festive colour, and jewel tone accessories -- by accessorizing with jewelry, a great clutch, and the right shoes, you can make any little black dress festive! If you're looking to add a new LBD to your wardrobe, click here for a few options from V.O.C.!
4/ Crop top and skirt set
A fun and edgy alternative to the classic dress, a matching skirt and crop top set are one of our top picks for this season. Pair it with an elegant stiletto and a statement necklace, and you’ve got the perfect party getup.
Check out Kim Kardashian's festive top and skirt set here:
Crunch Time: How To Survive Exam Season
How To Survive Exam Season
With final assignments piling up and exam season fast approaching, I don’t blame you for feeling totally overwhelmed. Believe me, as a senior at Wilfrid Laurier University, I can totally relate. However, before you start to panic, here are a few of my tips for surviving the stress, and relaxing during exam period. While it’s so easy to get caught up in all the madness, it’s still SO important to find some quality time for yourself! Put away those textbooks, close your laptop and find a way to RELAX.
While I’ve definitely been guilty of procrastinating in the past, I quickly learned that the best way to prepare for your finals is to plan ahead. By writing out your due dates and scheduling your study sessions, I can almost guarantee that you will feel so much more at ease! It’s also kind of fun shopping for an agenda - Kate Spade’s are so pretty.
Image via @katespadeny
By the looks of how busy the gym has been getting lately, I think it’s pretty obvious that most of us know how important it is to mix in a workout at least a few times a week. When you're planning your study schedule, make sure to schedule in a few sessions at the gym to help ease your mind and reduce stress levels. There are not only major benefits to your body and mind, but you will feel so much more confident and will be able to focus when it’s crunch time. Once you’ve made it part of your lifestyle, you’ll quickly see that there is nothing better than a long run outside or on the treadmill to relax. Need a little motivation? We recommend following @nikewomen and @nataliejillfit for inspiration and workouts you can do from home!
Image via @nikewomen
FILL UP ON HEALTHY FOOD
As studying for exams becomes the priority around this time of year, it’s easy to let everything else slip and fall by the wayside. Trust us, healthy eating is not one of those things you will want to let slide. While the occasional pizza night with your roommates won’t kill you, if junk food becomes your main source of food around exams you will not only feel sluggish, but you won’t look and feel your best. Who wants to have to stress about that around exams? Save yourselves the worry and general “gross” feeling after bingeing, and make sure to stock up on healthy food and snacks to last you for the few weeks of exam hell in your future. Your body and health will thank you, and you also won’t feel so bad when you get home for the holidays and stuff your face with turkey dinner. For some healthy recipe ideas, we love The Spoonful of Honey blog and Instagram page, authored by foodie and friend to the store, Rachel Steiman!
To help keep your focus when you're trying to study, it's so important to be comfortable. It seems like a little thing, but having the right outfit for hours of studying makes all the difference. There's a reason people sport sweatpants to the library during exams! To get comfy, I love all of the P.J. Salvage items at V.O.C. -- it's one of my favourite brands that we carry right now. Not only are they the comfiest things ever but their cute prints make them even more enticing to jump into. I mean...who doesn’t want a pair of pajamas covered in adorable little pups?!
DE-STRESS WITH CANDLES
I am obsessed with candles - I strongly believe that you can never have too many. My roommates and I absolutely LOVE getting together at the end of the day and lighting some of our faves so our house feels extra cozy and smells delish. It is so calming and a great little indulgence during exams when you’re often spending a lot of time inside to study. This candle from Bath & Body Works is heavenly.
Image via @bathandbodyworks
RUN A BATH
Bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles. Nothing beats getting into a warm bath to de-stress. It’s so peaceful and the perfect way to turn off your brain after a day of endless readings and flash cards. A little wine always helps too... If you want to kill two birds with one stone, try using epsom salts or lavender scented bubble bath in the bath for the most relaxing way detox! We also love this bubble bath by L'Occitane.
Image via Sephora
TRY A FACE MASK
Under all the stress and pressure of exam season, your skin is far more likely to break out, so face masks are serious life savers. My best friend introduced me to Lush face masks and now I swear by them. Their natural ingredients always leave my skin feeling fresh and flawless. I highly recommend them.
Image via @lushcosmetics
GET ENOUGH ZzZzZzZ's
Last but not least, the most important thing you have to do is get 8 or more hours of sleep during exams. Your brain is working hard all day, and it’s not worth staying up late to cram for an exam, only to be so tired that you forget everything you learned in class and spent hours studying the day before. Take it from me, who takes multiple naps and gets 8 hours of sleep a night during exam period: you’ll feel so much better, get better grades, and won’t have to worry about sleeping through your morning exam because you crammed until 4AM. Sleep is so worth it, promise!
This article was written by Sarah Smith, fourth year student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, and summertime associate/weekend manager at V.O.C. in Oakville! Learn more about Sarah on our "Our Story" page, and be sure to visit her in stores over the Christmas holidays. We can't wait to have her back!
Holiday Gift Guide: Notable Must Haves
If you are anything like us, you will agree that it is never too early to start making your Holiday Wishlist. Whether you’re an “Open Link in New Tab” hoarder, Pinterest aficionado, or have already started your Wishlist on ShopVOC.com, we have a few suggestions that we know you are going to love!
Images from South Parade and VOC
We don’t know where to begin when it comes to South Parade. They have perfected the statement pullover. Cute phrases, and undeniable quality. Sure to be on every wishlist! Shop all South Parade by clicking here.
Images from Extra Petite, and VOC
Blanket scarves! Whether you are bundling up for your commute, adding an accent to the perfect outfit, or need something to throw over your shoulders at the office, every girl has to have at least one blanket scarf. Current colours available: Red/White, Hunter Green, Black/Multi. White and Tan will be back in stock soon!
Images from Stylishly Me, and Lovely Pepa.
The Slouchy Beanie. Bad hair days aside, every girl needs an on-trend beanie (or Toque, to us Canadians!) The PomPom Beanie by Free People is available online now, and we have some more styles to choose from in store. Starting at $24. No brainer!
Images from Rails, and With Love from Kat.
Rails has to be, hands down, one of our favourite brands. How many plaid shirts or chambray button-downs does a girl need? Rails has us asking this question every time we receive a new shipment. Shop our Fall/Winter collection here.
Images from our Instagram
The PERFECT sleepwear by PJ Salvage! Fairly new to VOC, these PJ's are seriously cute and beyond cozy. Check out the Fair Isle Bottoms, paired with just about any top, for a fun festive look. Shop all PJ Salvage here.
Images from VOC, AG Jeans, and Blank Itinerary
Although sometimes tricky to buy as a gift, denim is definitely on our Wishlist. Keep it simple by adding your favourite pairs to your ShopVOC.com Wishlist - look out for all the details below - and share it with the lovely gift-givers in your life! Shop denim here.
(Top Left: Fidelity Axl Girlfriend Jean, Right: Res Denim Kitty Skinny, Bottom Left: AG Legging Ankle)
Images from Love by Elle, A Fashion Love Affair, Fifth & Bloor, and the cutest honourable mention in Mini Mackage, London Scout
The Adali and Kay down-filled jackets by Mackage may just be on the wishlist of every It Girl in the GTA. Boasting fill power to minus twenty-five degrees celsius, these must-have parkas will keep you warm all winter long without sacrificing style. Shop outerwear here.
Images from SS Life + Style, Barefoot Blonde, Pinterest via We Heart It, and VOC
Sweater weather is better weather. There's something so warming about curling up with a good book and a hot tea, while totally bundled in your favourite knit sweater. John + Jenn is the little sister brand to Line Knitwear, thus (obviously) producing the coziest knits! Shop sweaters here.
Last but certainly not least, VOC Gift Cards!! They can be loaded with any dollar amount, and they never expire. The perfect gift!
Have you had a chance to set up your Wishlist on ShopVOC.com? It's simple! First, create your account by clicking here, and on any product page select "Add to Wishlist" and start sharing!
❄ The countdown is on.. 34 days until Christmas! ❄
Profile: Q&A with our model Amber
Q&A with Amber Pyper
Amber wearing our Amuse Society Teller Sweater
Photography by Robin Gartner
Last week the team held another photoshoot at the V.O.C. offices where we shot all of our new arrivals from PJ Salvage, John & Jenn, Amuse Society, Finders Keepers and more, including some special pieces from our favourite L.A. brands. Lucky for us, we were fortunate enough to work with another incredibly talented Toronto based model, Amber Pyper, who we think perfectly encompasses the V.O.C brand, and models our clothes equally as well!
With such a great reaction from our last Q&A with our previous model, we thought we’d give you another opportunity to get to know one of Toronto’s gorgeous and talented rising stars. You can also find her in the latest Simple Plan video: “I Don’t Wanna Go To Bed” - we love it!
Get to know more about Amber in our Q&A below:
Q: Where are you from? What inspired your move to Toronto?
A: I’m from Grand Prairie, Alberta. My background is Irish, Scottish, Ukrainian and Norwegian. I moved to Toronto to model and also because there is generally more opportunity for me here.
Q: Where’s your go to restaurant?
A: Anywhere on Ossington. Or 416 Snackbar.
Q: What’s your favourite food? Drink?
A: I love sushi. I also love steak. And favourite drink has to be water…i’m like a fish! Or whiskey. I love whiskey.
Q: Favourite sports team?
A: The Pittsburg Penguins. I love Fleury and Crosby. I had family friends in Alberta who were from Pittsburg and they loved the Penguins, so I grew up watching their games with them.
Q: What’s your favourite song right now?
A: Ocean Drive by Duke Dumont
Q: How do you like to spend your free time?
A: Playing sports and going to concerts. I love Badminton, Tennis and Ping Pong (I have good hand-eye coordination). Alexis and I started playing tennis recently but obviously had to stop as the weather has cooled down. I also just saw The Weeknd in concert recently, and Shania Twain earlier this year.
Q: How would you describe your off-duty style?
A: I sort of dress like a boy, very tom-boy or athletic you could say. I love the “athleisure” trend because I’m literally always working out on my time off.
Q: Do you have any favourite pieces from this shoot so far?
A: I love the [AG Legging in Shade] jeans you guys have had me wear. They’re amazing. I also love all of the John + Jenn sweaters.
Q: What is the one beauty product you can’t leave the house without?
A: Eyebrow pencil. Anything to do with eyebrows. If I only do my eyebrows, I don’t need any other makeup. I think it’s so important.
Q: What is your favourite thing that you own?
A: I have a really nice faux-fur coat that I love. I also love anything in leather. So my leather jacket definitely tops that list as well.
Q: Describe the most fun shoot you’ve ever done, besides this one, of course! ;)
A: I did a shoot in Tokyo which was really fun.
Q: Do you have any advice for girls or guys that are looking to enter the modelling industry someday?
A: I would say that they should definitely wait until they have graduated high school. And also to make sure it is something you really want to do. I would also highly recommend having another hobby or something that you love, otherwise modelling could consume you.
A few behind-the-scenes shots from our photoshoot!
Amber with our makeup artist: Eduardo!
Amber's wearing our new Ark & Co. Printed Cut-Out Dress in Floral Print
Amber modelling our Free People Lovely in Love Dress
Amber sitting down for this Q&A while getting her hair and makeup touched up!
Designer Profile: Wildfox Couture
The brand is known for its edgy graphics that tell a story. Some pieces are distressed while others have cute phrases, adding uniqueness to the brand's dreamlike quality.
With a strong talent for and background in sketching, photoshop, and experience working with a t-shirt designer in her back pocket, Kimberly Gordon started Wildfox with her best friend, Emily Faulstich, in 2007. It has been favourited by A-list celebrity stylists, and influencers alike and is sold in retailers all over the world.
Since its inception in 2007 the brand has grown to include dresses, swim, denim, intimates, and eyewear.
Behind the Scenes with Wildfox
Have you ever wondered what inspires Kim and Emily's creativity?
Take a peek at their personal blogs here:
Kim’s Blog: http://wedreamoficecream.tumblr.com/
Emily’s Blog: http://hawaiiancoconut.tumblr.com/
Another Wildfox Blog that you will love:
"Fox is very 70's and the girl who wears or likes our clothing is not afraid of getting a bit wild." - Kimberly Gordon, Creative Director and Designer, Wildfox Couture
Recipe: Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp
Who doesn’t love apple crisp in the fall? We couldn’t think of a more festive recipe that everyone enjoys…and what better time to try it out than this week/weekend? It is one of our last “peaceful” fall weeks before the holiday madness officially begins (omg: 44 days until Christmas…). So if you’re in the cozy, movie-watching, baking mood this week (as we expect we will be) treat yourself and join us in trying this traditional fall recipe, courtesy of Ina Garten - trust us, it’s SO good!
Image source: foodnetwork.com
Ina Garten's Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp
What you'll need:
5 pounds of McIntosh apples
Zest from 1 orange
Zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups of flour
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 cup of oatmeal
1/2 pound of cold, unsalted butter, diced.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a large oval baking dish (9 x 14 x 2 is standard for this recipe)
2. Peel, core, and cut the apples into large wedges.
3. Combine the apples with the orange and lemon zests and juices, sugar, and spices. Pour mixture into the baking dish.
4. For the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in a bowl. You may use an electric mixer on the low speed or stir with a fork or mix with your hands until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas.
5. Scatter the mixture evenly over the apples in the baking dish.
6. Place the crisp on a pan and bake for 1 hour until the top is brown and the apples are soft.
20 Questions With Our Owner, Emily
1. Where are you from?
Oakville, Ontario – but I’m a Torontonian for life (sorry Mom!).
Food: Tacos all day long.
Drink: If a Dark and Stormy is offered anywhere I have to have it. Union, my favourite restaurant makes the best version – hands down.
3. Where is your go to restaurant?
Union on Ossington! We used to live across the street from this spot. We’ve moved a bit further West but still go back whenever we can. It’s SO good.
4. What is your favourite pastime?
Hanging out with my dog, Rupert, at the dog park.
5. Describe the best trip you’ve ever taken.
I backpacked by myself through India a few years ago. It was incredible. I can’t wait to go back.
6. Where’s your favourite place on earth?
Home! My fiancé and I bought and renovated our first home this past year. It's my favourite place ever.
7. Most embarrassing moment?
There are many. Most recently Rupert, my dog, ruined my sister in law’s gender reveal party for her baby. He stole a cupcake and covered himself and the rug in pink icing. Surprise! She had a girl.
8. What’s your favourite song right now?
Justin Bieber, Sorry
9. What is the one beauty product you can’t leave the house without?
Does water count?
10. You love to workout and stay healthy, what are your top tips for feeling your best/staying healthy?
I always work out in the morning. If you make it part of your daily routine it becomes a habit. Eventually your body starts to crave it. Crazy right?
11. What is your favourite sports team?
Blue Jays. Obviously!
12. Are you a morning person or night owl?
Morning person! I'm up at 5am every day.
13. Beer, wine or cocktail?
All of the above!
14. Running in the city or hiking a trail?
Running in the city! I live right near High Park. I take advantage of it as much as possible!
15. East Coast or West Coast? and why?
West Coast! I LOVE LA. The West Coast vibe is so relaxed. The lifestyle is so healthy and it’s always sunny. I would move in a heartbeat. For now, I just travel there.
16. You used to be a blonde, do you think they have more fun? LOL.
Yes. I think so. Although life as a brunette is pretty great.
17. What’s your favourite piece of clothing or item that you own?
My AG Farrah Paradox Jeans. They are hands down the best jeans I have ever owned. I highly recommend.
18. What is your favourite brand?
Rails! I own over 20 of their shirts. It’s a bit excessive but I live in them.
19. Where did you get the idea to start V.O.C.?
I saw a need in the marketplace for affordable fashion with a boutique experience. Retailers are getting larger and less personal. Finding great clothing with personalized service is hard to find. We pride ourselves on providing this to our customers!
20. What advice would you give to girls looking to enter the fashion industry and/or start their own business someday?
Learn as much as you can. Expose yourself to everything. Don’t assume you will get your dream job right away. Every experience and opportunity will help you in your path. And of course… just do it.
Designer Profile: Hen Jewelry
Travel: In a New York Minute
Last weekend I took a quick trip down to NYC to join Jeff and enjoy some QT with my roommates from Queens. Most people shop when in NYC; and while I love a good wander through SOHO or Barney’s – my objective while in NYC is to eat. There is never enough time or stomach space to indulge in all of the delights and spots on my hit list. Here’s my recent trip’s guide to eating (and drinking) through NYC.
Lunch at Jack’s Wife Freda:
I’ve been dying to check out this blogger hot spot for quite some time. To pass my solo time, I headed straight from the plane to their spot on Lafayette for a tasty lunch and glass of wine. Perfect start to my NYC trip.
Drinks at the St. Regis:
How fancy is this? Lucky for me, my friend was staying at this swanky spot for the weekend. A few martinis and lots of laughs later we were in fine form for dinner. The people watching is superb and sometimes it’s just fun to see how the other half lives.
Dinner at The ACE Hotel’s Breslin Restaurant:
This “super cool” restaurant in the ACE Hotel is full of NYC hipsters. The crowd is young and very cool. I was keen to check it out after our recent stay at the ACE in Portland. The lamb burger was so good we had to have two!
Drinks at the Nomad:
We finished our evening with a nightcap (or two) at The Nomad’s Library Bar. We even invited our plus ones. A perfect end to a perfect day.
Brunch at Sarabeths:
This classic NYC establishment came highly recommended by our e-commerce guru, Shelby. Overlooking Central Park, the restaurant has A+ real estate. Everything is fresh and delicious. Try the avocado salad – it's literally as smooth as butter. Make sure to wash it down with some prosecco. Afterwards enjoy an afternoon of shopping on 5th Avenue. The shoes!
Brunch at Little Owl:
Little Owl is my favourite restaurant in NYC. It’s teeny tiny and located in the West Village (Fun fact: The apartment from the TV series Friends is right on top of the restaurant!). Having only tried dinner at this gem in the past, we decided to test out their brunch. Everything was melt in your mouth amazing. We even splurged for some dessert donuts covered in Nutella. Yum!
Lunch at The Standard:
Both the beer garden and the patio at the Standard are super fun on a Saturday afternoon. Located in the meatpacking district – this spot is always buzzing with excitement and way too many people.
Dinner at Del Posto:
After hearing hype for days we decided to check out Del Posto. We sat at the bar – which is way more fun and you can eat their A La Carte offerings rather than participating in the full tasting menu. Everything was delicious. If you do go, go hungry!
- Travel: Road Trip Playlist
- Holiday: Father's Day Gift Ideas
- Read: Summer List 2018
- Food: Summer Breakfast Recipes
- Summer Vacation: The June Motel
- Holiday: May Long Weekend Style Guide