Shoe Addicts: Meet the Shoes.com Store in Toronto

When people ask me what I miss most about Toronto, I usually mention the shopping. During the time I lived in the city I was extremely spoiled when it came to my retail options. I never shopped online because if I needed something, I could literally step out of my door and find it. My office was located a stones throw away from stores like Zara, H&M and Holt Renfrew (Canada’s answer to Neiman Marcus or Saks.) If I wanted to browse Chanel and Prada on my lunch break, I could. Even when I started working from home, I could easily walk down to Queen St West or take a short subway ride to a bunch of different shopping areas.

While shopping in Victoria, BC isn’t terrible – we have a decent selection of vintage stores and indie boutiques – when it comes to name-brand items (like finding that sought after pair of Nikes that you’ve been jones-ing for), the selection often leaves a bit to be desired. Since moving back to the West Coast, I find that I do way more shopping online.

Since Zappos no longer ships to Canada and buying from the States can involve hefty duty fees and/or ridiculously pricey shipping, I do a lot of my shoe shopping via SHOEMe.ca – a Canadian online retailer based out of Vancouver. So, I was really excited to find out that that ShoeMe.ca had recently opened a brick and mortar Shoes.com store on Queen West (my old stomping grounds!) Since I wasn’t able to be there in person, their lovely PR manager gave me a tour of the new space via FaceTime.

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The 3000 square foot space, designed by Canadian architecture and interior design firm, Dialog, originally opened as a pop-up shop in November 2015 and has since become a permanent store.

It probably seems counterintuitive that a company would open a physical store after achieving online success (isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?!) but Shoeme.ca wanted to bring the digital experience to life for their customers.  By the sounds of it, they’ve done just that.

The front space of the Toronto store is named the ‘Home Room’ and reflects the products and messaging of the Homepage on SHOEme.ca. The mirrors in the Home Room create an optical illusion of an endless selection of shoes, just like the online experience.

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The middle of the store is called the ‘Dressing Room’. This space host 5-6 new brands every two months with the goal of allowing customers to discover the styles, stories and the people behind new brands, while rediscovering brands they know and love.

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However, my favourite part of the space has to be the ‘Editors Room’ which is located at the back of the store. Designed as a community space for workshops, speaker sessions and/or taking a break from shopping over a coffee with friends, the Editor Room also displays curated collections of local handmade products by well-known Toronto makers.

Coffee + Shoes = Swoon.

Behold this South Western themed curated vignette that makes my West Coast girl spidey-senses tingle.

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Also located at the back of the store are computer stations where you can access the Smart Shopper tool. Instead of browsing through 1000’s of shoes, Smart Shopper is an AI-powered shopping experience that uses visual intelligence technology to show right product, to the right consumer, at the right time. As you click on product images, Smart Shopper rapidly learns your unique style preferences. The tool identifies and draws connections between hundreds of shoe attributes, creating a deep understanding of the individual’s personal style preferences.

To fuel my shoe addiction and so I could test out the Smart Shopper tool for myself, the lovely team at Shoeme.ca sent me a gift certificate. A few minutes and clicks later, I was lead to the Steve Madden Nilunda sandals – a gorgeous pair of shoes that I didn’t even know I needed.

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About a week later, my shoes arrived and I was able to wear them out for drinks with friends to celebrate my 36th birthday. Made of real suede, the leather is super soft and the heel is the perfect height. These are honestly some of the most comfortable heels I own.

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Overall, I really enjoyed my SHOEme.ca shopping experience (both virtually and online.) I try to always support Canadian retailers, so that my money stays in Canada. So, while I probably won’t be able to stop by the brick & mortar Shoes.com store anytime soon, it’s great to see companies pushing the envelope when it comes to creating new and better shopping experiences for Canadians.

Favorite Things: Valentine’s Edition

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 12.17.41 PMValentine’s Day has meant many different things to me over the years. Good times. Bad times. Awkward dates. I’ve embraced it wholeheartedly some years (planning a weekend away with friends) and scorned it other years (stayed at home eating chocolate and watching The Hurt Locker.) I’m sure as I continue to grow and evolve, so will my relationship to Valentine’s Day. Now that I write about love, sex and dating for a living, Valentine’s Day feels more like a two month long work event – not that I mind. I actually think that Valentine’s Day is really fun – after all, it is the season of one of my favorite color palettes. So, I’ve decided that going forward, I’m going to make a point to enjoy Valentine’s Day in all it’s puffy heart glory – no matter what.

My best friend and I have a fun getaway planned for the following weekend, so I’m going to spend Sunday being cozy and enjoying some of my favorite books, shows and podcasts. If you’re looking to inject a bit of fun or pampering into your V-day this year, here are some of things me and the rest of the team at Skinny Dip are currently obsessed with.

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1. This Betsey Johnson “Pop Art” Robe – While sexy lingerie is great and all, never underestimate the awesomeness of a cozy bathrobe. This pop art inspired robe by Betsey Johnson is perfect for a sex and relationship writer like me, who probably spends more time than she should in cozy lounge wear.

2. The perfect work bag – If I was going to plurge on anything this Valentine’s Day, it would be this bag by Rebecca Minkoff. I spend a lot of time going to and from the coffee shop, meetings and traveling, so I’m always on the lookout for a sturdy, stylish tote to cart my laptop and other necessities around in. I like how the bag is just structured enough without being bulky. However, if I was to actually purchase one, I’d get the larger MAB tote in black to match my heart. (Kidding. About the heart, not the bag.)

3. The Giving Keys (Jewelry) – I’m a huge fan of jewelry that has meaning. Based in downtown Los Angeles, The Giving Keys employ people transitioning out of homelessness. They engrave recycled keys that are then turned into jewelry. When I read about the company’s story online, I fell in love with the idea and ordered myself a key necklace that says “Brave” as a Christmas present. If you’ve ever been to Downtown LA or the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, you’re aware that homelessness is a very real problem. So, I really like supporting a company that is making gorgeous products infused with personal meaning while helping the community. I think my next purchase will be a bracelet or something from the love collection.

4. Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour by Dita Von Teese – If what you’re after is the perfect retro glamor beauty look, Dita’s new book is right up your alley. I really liked Dita’s coffee table book Burlesque & The Art of Teese and am curious to see what this one has in store. At the very least, I think it will offer some alternative beauty inspiration for those of us out there who prefer a classic red lip and arched brows, to the ubiquitous, airbrushed and contoured-to-hell, Kardashian-esque makeup look that seems to be all the rage right now.

5. Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date by Katie Heaney – “I’ve been single for my entire life. Not one boyfriend. Not one short-term dating situation. Not one person with whom I regularly hung out and kissed on the face.” So begins Heaney’s memoir about being very unlucky in love. I haven’t actually read this one yet, but it’s sitting on the top of my to-read pile. By the sounds of it, this laugh out loud memoir is the perfect anti-love story to indulge in this weekend.

6. I Don’t Care About Your Band by Julie Klausner – I know I’ve mentioned this book before, but this memoir about dating disasters and all the life lessons that can be pulled from the wreckage, is still one of my favorites as far as anti-Valentine’s day reads. It’s a must-read if you enjoy this blog.

7. And the Heart Says Whatever by Emily Gould – The title says it all. Although the book got mixed reviews, I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would. Gould perfectly captures early 20-something angst & everything that goes along with it.

8. Lianne La Havas – Blood As far as albums go, this one is nearly flawless. Lianne’s voice – which is equal parts strong and breathy – is simply gorgeous. I can easily listen to this album on repeat without ever pressing skip. Also, the cover art? Swoon.

9. Jane the Virgin – I am completely in love with this show. It’s tongue in cheek, ridiculously addictive and features a host of strong female characters. It’s also not hard to love Gina Rodriguez’ performance as Jane. This show reminds me of another favorite: Ugly Betty. I can’t believe it took me this long to start watching.

What are you currently obsessed with?

Pretty. Rocker. Chic. Totally Bad-Ass.

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Pretty. Rocker. Chic. That’s the tag-line of Colleen Poitras‘ jewelry line. When a friend introduced me to Poitras jewelry I was immediately intrigued – after all, swap “Rocker” for “90’s R&B/Hip Hop aficionado” and you’ve basically described my personal style in a nutshell. I love the juxtaposition of tough + pretty. When it comes to clothing, I gravitate towards classic basics, so to kick things up a notch I’m always on the look-out for accessories that add some edge (not to mention, I have a weakness for black leather.) Colleen Poitras delivers exactly that.

Poitras works with metal, concrete and leather to create jewelry that’s totally bad-ass yet inherently feminine. In other words, exactly what her tagline describes. As Poitras explains, the tagline describes “the different sides of my style. It can be pretty and soft. It can be edgy and rocker. It can be sophisticated and chic. My brand is really an extension of who I am.”

As a Toronto native, Colleen also has a handful of pieces that feature familiar scenes from “The Six.” I have a soft spot for this pendant featuring the ubiquitous TTC streetcar and text that pretty much sums up 85% of my time spent in the city, ha.

A few months ago, I had the chance to interview Colleen about her collection and try some of her top pieces. The Interchangeable Necklace II, a show-stopping statement piece and two sets of earrings – the Cobalt Leather Earrings & a custom variation on The Silver Leather Earrings.

Although she uses lots of different materials, the pieces I received were all made of a mix of leather and metal – which, suits me just fine. Like I mentioned above, this lady loves leather. So, I was really happy when the pieces arrived and I discovered that the leather used for the necklace and earrings is super soft and luxurious to the touch.

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Let’s start by talking about the custom Leather Earrings. I’m going to be honest here – I rarely wear dangly earrings anymore, preferring instead to wear understated studs. With that said, the Leather Earrings ended up being my surprise favourite.

Although they’re only available in silver on the site, they can be customized to be whatever colour leather  you want. I love that Colleen chose black leather for mine!

Featuring chain and a metal hoop suspended from a leather strip, I thought these earrings would look really “heavy” on me, but they’re strangely subtle. They’re lightweight and delicate with just a hint  of a bondage/rocker vibe. I could totally see myself wearing these with a sleek black cocktail dress, heels and not much else.

Want something softer and a bit less dramatic? These Cobalt Leather Earrings are a great option. Once again, you have the same rich leather with a minimal stainless steel hoop dangling below.

FullSizeRender-8 2Of all the pieces, the The Interchangeable Necklace II was the one I was most looking forward to wearing….and it’s easy to why. It’s a stunner.

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Made of three different kinds of chain (silver and pewter tone) that are suspended from a velvety soft leather strap, the The Interchangeable Necklace II is sure to make a statement. It’s a very dramatic piece but still versatile. You can wear it with a cocktail dress, to dress up your favourite well-worn t-shirt & jeans combo or even with fetish-wear in the bedroom (I recently paired it with a black leather bustier. Photos forthcoming.)

I chose to wear the necklace with a simple black top and my beloved leather jacket. I have to say, I felt like a total badass biker-babe.

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FullSizeRender-11If the ability to channel your inner Lisbeth Salander wasn’t already enough of a selling point,  The Interchangeable Necklace II also comes with an alternate interchangeable strap in the colour of your choice. Colleen was kind of enough to send me both leopard print and cobalt blue. As you can see, if you change the strap, it totally changes the look of the necklace.

FullSizeRender-12 copyThree necklaces in one? I’ll take it.

Overall, I was really impressed with Colleen Poitras jewelry. It’s Canadian, it’s handmade and is great for any of us who want to add a bit of rocker edge to our everyday look.

 

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Thank you to Colleen Poitras for providing these lovely pieces. All opinions are my own, because that’s how I roll.

How To Style Your Nightstand 3 Different Ways

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Today I’m here to talk about one night stand – and not the kind I usually write about on this blog. I’m talking about nightstands of the furniture variety, not the “I overindulged at  99 cent margarita Monday and now I can’t feel my face” variety. While working my way through Mission: Make Bedroom Sexy, I’ve learned that when it comes to making your space feel like your own, furniture is important. Up until a few months ago, I was using a repurposed stool (that I’m pretty sure my parents bought at Ikea in 1981) as a nightstand/bedside table. While functional in the most basic sense, my stool didn’t exactly ooze sex appeal or offer any additional storage.

Now enter Overstock.com. This website has been instrumental to my bedroom makeover (remember those cute chevron pillows?) When the nice people at O.co offered to help me upgrade my nightstand game, I leapt at the chance.

For my nightstand I wanted something that would go with my existing furniture and offered both a drawer and a shelf underneath where I could display some of my favourite coffee table books. If it had a bit of a retro look – even better. I was really impressed by how many really great nightstands and end tables that I found on O.co. There’s literally something for everyone. However, I decided on the Daniella 1-drawer Wood Storage Accent End Table (below.) It had all the features I was looking for & had received really good reviews.

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The Daniella table came disassembled. I’m always weary of putting together furniture, however I was pleasantly surprised by how easy and straightforward the assembly was for this piece. From opening up the box to positioning the product in my bedroom, the whole process took about 20 minutes, tops.

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the Daniella table. The quality is great. The piece is made from sturdy wood veneer and finished nicely. It’s also incredibly versatile – you can use it as a nightstand or an end table. I also love that it has a drawer to stash everything from your lipbalm and Kindle to your sexy time goodies.

To show off it’s versatility, I decided to take photos of “Daniella” styled three different ways. Not sure what to do with that awkward space next to your bed? Here are a few fun options –

1. BRIGHT & QUIRKY

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Although I was attracted to the Daniella table in yellow, I am so glad that I went with white. The smooth white finish looks amazing with bright accents. When you’re living and working in a  small space, it’s so important to surround yourself with objects you truly love, so for this look I chose to style it with some of my favourite books, pottery pieces, my beloved 2Pac print and cactus – a gift from The Secret Agent. The pottery animals are all from Jonathan Adler – including the zebra tray that I picked up on a recent trip to Seattle. The Jonathan Adler store = my happy place.

(PS. I just finished Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance & it’s definitely worth checking out. I snort laughed throughout.)

2. ELEGANT & SEXY

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For the second look, I wanted to do something sexy and glamorous. Cheetah print? Check. Glam gold accents? Check. Erotic literature like The Story of O? Check. Handcuffs? Feather tickler? Sexy coffee table books? Check. Check. Check. Check. The lovely print is by Jen Ramos of Made by Girl. The vintage gold plate and hand are thrifted. The sexy products on the bottom of the shelf are by two of my favourite companies, Kama Sutra & Sliquid. Meow!

3. KIDS ROOM

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When I was putting together this post I realized that this nightstand could totally work in a kids room (in the case of this photo, a very hipster-y kid who reads Dave Eggers…) I paired a few of my beloved sock monkeys with some of my favourite pottery and voila! A cute & chic kids look (however, I’m not sure how well pottery would pair with tiny, curious hands..)

So, which one of these setups is actually in my bedroom? If you guessed the first one, you’d be right! Although I love how the ‘sexy & elegant’ look turned out ( I imagine this is what people think my bedroom looks like – you know, handcuffs lying around like no big deal), I prefer my nightstand to be bright & bookish with 2Pac looking over me while I sleep.

Which look do you like best?

This lovely nightstand was provided to me free of charge by O.com in exchange for my honest review of the product. All opinions are my own because that’s how I roll.

Show & Tell | The View Special Edition Fantasy Box

viewBoxSlider_IANI’ve tried a bunch of different adult subscription boxes over the past three years and Fantasy Box is still by far, the best one I’ve come across. (You can read my original review of Fantasy Box here.) Not only is their packaging gorgeous and well designed, their boxes are expertly curated and feature full size products & lingerie (gimme!) I also really like how they help guide you through your Fantasy Box experience through fun, sexy prompts that help encourage communication with your partner.

So, when I found out that Fantasy Box had created a exclusive, gift box in honour of Valentine’s Day for the show The View, naturally my curiosity was peaked. The View Platinum Spa Box features a collection of sweetly scented products, a gorgeous lingerie set, candles and other goodies to help transform your home into a romantic spa retreat. (watch the clip from The View here!) Thanks to the lovely people at Fantasy Box who kindly sent me my own View Box to enjoy, I’m excited to show you what’s inside.

IMG_0098Created with a romantic evening in mind, The View Box is available in three different options based on the colour of lingerie that’s included: Sweetness (blue), Romance (red) and Decadence (black) Although my inner goth tends to gravitate towards black lingerie, I fell in love with the gorgeous periwinkle coloured negligee featured in the “Sweetness” option. It’s super pretty. How could I not?!

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In true Fantasy Box style, when you open your box you’ll be greeted by a set of glossy, instruction cards that are designed to help guide you through your spa fantasy.

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