My Life As A Fashion Student – Part 1

by Tara Osipoff on September 27, 2013

The Crow, The Burnaby Hillbilly and The Big City.

I’m going to skip all of the “Since I was a little girl, all I’ve ever wanted to do is go to fashion school” mumbo jumbo, because let’s face it — every little girl has a million dreams. We just like to coin that phrase if one of those dreams actually pans out. I wanted to be a Circus Contortionist (fact), a doctor (doesn’t everyone?), a Fashion Designer and a Mortician (doesn’t everyone?). The truth is, I tried a few of those paths, worked hard, and realized there was only one I was passionate about: fashion.

I’m still confused as to whether I am really brave, or incredibly stupid; but what I do know is that I gave up a lot to give a shot at what I was most passionate about.

I applied for fashion school on a Friday evening. I grabbed a glass of wine and sat at my computer typing away. In the application I wrote about my favourite designers. I wrote about where they grew up, where they went to school, their families, where they’ve worked and why they’re the best at what they do. I rambled on about why the fashion industry as a whole inspires me. I discussed the art of fashion, the movement, the culture and how it affects every human being, whether they believe it does or not.

Monday morning came and before I could wipe the sleep from my eyes, my phone buzzed. Across the screen: “1 new voicemail.” It was the Director of Blanche Macdonald Center. “Please give us a call back, Tara.”

Needless to say, it was a great way to start a Monday. Nine months later, struggles and hurdles crossed, I was packing my old ’99 Grand Prix to the roof with vacuum bagged clothes and a few odds and ends for Vancouver. A few bags lay on the floor by the door, one packed with towels and linen and the other with clothes. Mom glances down, “If you can only fit one more bag, you better take the linens and towels.” I kissed my mom goodbye, bent down, and grabbed a bag. She shook her head as the bag with linens and towels still lay on the floor. I smiled, “You can get linens and towels anywhere, mom, but I traveled far and wide, in and out of vintage stores for what’s in this bag.”

I’m not sure whether it was my boyfriend Evan or I who made the decision to leave the morning after the going away party; either way, it made for a great Snapchat video of me puking on the side of the highway. That day we made it to Calgary, where Evan is spending a year doing an internship for his Petroleum Engineering Degree. After spending a week in “cow town,” it was time to hit the highway and get me the rest of the way to Vancouver.

Driving through the mountains, at night, while it’s raining and foggy, may not have been the best idea. Once again, I can’t recall if it was Evan’s idea or mine. Nonetheless, once the fog cleared and the sun peeked its head, we found ourselves stopping every so often to take pictures of the beautiful Okanogan. From the beautiful prairie skies to the snow covered mountain tops, we were feeling blessed to live in a country where every road leads to a photo op.
We arrived in Vancouver on a Saturday. The weather was beautiful, which was deceiving as all we talk about in Saskatchewan is how rainy it is in Vancouver. Maybe that is our way of making ourselves feel better about the -50 degree winters we have in Saskatchewan. Either way, I wasn’t going to complain about the warm welcoming from Mother Nature. I settle into my new apartment, which is gorgeous; wall-to-wall windows and two blocks from the ocean. My new roommate tells me not to worry about there not being any screens on the windows; there aren’t many bugs here. Am I in paradise?

We plan to head to Ikea to purchase a sewing desk for my room. My roommate insists I check Craigslist. Sure enough, a brand new desk: $40.00.

The ad reads: “No emails, please call.” I do as I’m asked.
Ring! Ring!
Me: “Hello, I’m calling about the desk.”
Man on the other end of the line: “Ohh, which desk?”
Me: “The one listed on Craigslist?” Feeling like I may have the wrong number.
Craigslist man: “Oh yes, yes, we have several. Why don’t you drop by and take a look, we got lots of neat stuff.”
Me, a bit hesitant: “Hmm. Sure, what’s your address?”
“Well, if you take Davie Street down to Burrard and then–”
Cutting him off: “I’ll just type it in my GPS.”
Stumped, he says: “Oh, you have one of those crazy things that tells you where to go? We don’t even know how to use a computer.” . . . Foreshadowing.

We arrive safely in Burnaby, a 30 minute drive from my apartment, thanks to that “crazy thing that tells me where to go.” We pull up to the house to get the desk. “Are you sure this is it?” I ask Evan, who has been navigating. “This is the address and the street he gave us,” he says sarcastically, while thinking “She should know better than to question my directions” (like all men).

We walk to the backyard as we can hear some rustling. “Hello, we called about the desk?” A large man in a greasy shirt pops out from behind a massive pile of junk, and with a hillbilly chuckle and only one large single front tooth, introduces himself as Eric. Alen, his partner, who isn’t far behind, introduces himself. Alen, who I should mention was wearing a 1975 Florida surfing shirt covered with holes and grease stains and an odor so bad that the flies don’t even follow him, has most of his teeth… most. Needless to say, after an hour and a half of listening to the two of them banter and watching Eric dance down the driveway in an apron with fake plastic breasts attached to it, we end up leaving emotionally and mentally scarred, with a car full to the windows with their junk. But, I guess you know what they say — one man’s junk is another mans new sewing table, lamp, end table, shelf unit, and pots and pans.

Finally set up in the new apartment, I start to settle into my new routine, running the Seawall and doing yoga in the morning. Reading and sewing in the afternoon. One afternoon while reading, I open our large windows which, remember, do not have screens. I glance up from my book to see a crow perched on the edge of the windowsill. Naturally, I am a bit startled, knowing he can fly in and he may have friends. This could turn into their apartment very quick. The imagined outcome of birds taking over my new residence, I decide it is only appropriate to have a stare-off with the crow; naturally, winner takes the apartment. Luckily, in the second grade I was a stare-off champion, and it came back naturally just like riding a bike. Soon after, the crow flew off. Upon my roommate’s return, I tell her of the altercation. Most people would probably write me off as crazy, but she understood the predicament. She tells me that I got away lucky, as I don’t think she wanted to live with a crow. She also informs me that crows have great facial recognition, so be wise with my interactions. I pondered this for some time, then the thought slipped away. A few days pass and my routine continues. Until one afternoon, on the windowsill, the crow returns. I am certain it was him, the same crow from the other day. He wasn’t there to win back the stare-off title; we just sat in silence, the crow and I. I then realized he was my first friend in the big city.

I have yet to start school at Blanche. I have a few months to find my bearings here. Although school begins on November 6, I have spent a few days there mingling with the delightful staff and faculty. The walk to school is magical, filled with people traipsing around with their hunter boots, small rats (I mean dogs) and their umbrellas. Vancouver is eclectic; a wide range of characters. The city is full of foot traffic that brings energy to the streets here. I have learned to be a “power” walker, slow traffic keep right. The movement of the city is up to you. It’s as fast or slow as you make it. Life seems to be that way; get left behind in the dust, or push forward. That is why I’m here, isn’t it? To push forward, break out of the stagnancy and see where my path will take me if I just choose to follow it with trust and not let anything interrupt my flow. I look forward to see where my journey in Vancouver will lead me next. For today, that’s all I have to share.

Stay tuned for more from “the little fashion girl from the prairies.”

Sailor Stripes and Sequins by Jessica McLeod

by Tara Osipoff on September 1, 2013

While getting dressed every day is somewhat of an event for me, I particularly love event dressing. This is a look I wore recently for Yam Magazine’s Fashion Inferno in Victoria BC. It was a fun fashion event that served as a fundraiser for the Victoria firefighters. The setting was fabulous, right by the harbour. The weather taking a cooler turn and the fashion show being out of doors led me to this look. Part Coco Chanel part Michael Jackson – incongruous inspirations keep it interesting – in a sailor shirt with black oxfords and white socks. Also I am clearly channeling the crosswalks which I am standing in front of in these photos. I added a little leather clutch by Jen V Designs which I picked up at Victoria’s Out of Hand Artisan Fair last year. It has been a staple of my event dressing – I love adding an unexpected jolt of colour and print, especially with a more monochrome look like this. The scantily clad fireman – oh yes didn’t I mention that?

You see the Inferno referred to firemen modelling underwear in between fashions from local boutiques. My favourite collections were the amazing handmade lingerie and the showing from Amelia Lee Boutique – particularly a pair of sequinned pants. Speaking of sequins, I was sporting them too. Turning my favourite shiny blazer right way round provided the perfect jazzy element to pull my jeans and tshirt into evening mode and kept me warm as the sun set and the harbour winds crept in. While I opted for jeans over shorts, I made sure I cuffed them to expose all the glory that explodes forth from white socks and black oxfords. Sometimes you have to sacrifice an ankles warmth. Nonetheless my wardrobe choices kept me warm. There were also the giant fireplaces every where. Those helped too I suppose. On second thought maybe it was my red hot lipstick. The power of fashion.


The Art of the Trench

by Tara Osipoff on August 26, 2013

With fall quickly approaching it is time to autum’ize your wardrobe. The trench coat is an essential fall piece. A trench coat isn’t a fall trend, it is a staple piece in fall attire. It is a item that can be dressed casually to run errands or worn formally to get you to your to the most lavish dinner parties. Choosing a trench coat that is right for you may take some time regarding the correct style. Though choosing a brand of trench, there truly is one choice, Burberry.

When it comes to trench coats, Burberry isn’t just the house-hold name, it’s the best name in the business. There is no trench coat like a Burberry trench coat in my personal opinion.
Burberry was founded in the 1800′s by Thomas Burberry. The first store opening in 1856 in Basingstoke, Hampshire, in Europe. By 1870 the brand had established itself as a leading outerwear apparel company by focusing the brand on quality outdoor attire.
In 1914, Burberry was sought after by the British War Office to adapt its officer’s coat to suit the conditions of contemporary warfare, resulting in the “trench” coat. After the war, the trench coat became popular with civilians. In the 1920′s the iconic Burberry check was created and used as a lining in all its trench coats.

Burberry’s creative director has changed hands throughout the years, but it has never effected the classic design of the trench coat. The trench has evolved with trends, staying on point with color and pattern waves, yet never comprising the brands sleek and contemporary design. The brand has flourished into what could be considered one of the top fashion houses in the world. Some will argue this is due to the Chief Creative Officer, Christopher Bailey, and the Chief Executive Officer, Angela Ahrednts. Both whom have collaborated their talents in marketing and design to have Burberry thrive. The brand is known for its consistency to a level of class. The trench coat is the brands staple piece that speaks for what the label stands for.

In 2009, Burberry released “The Art of the Trench”, a blog dedicated to the Burberry trench coat and the people who wear it. Burberry defined it as “… a living celebration of the Burberry trench coat and the people who wear it, created by Burberry.” . The blog is an amazing marketing tool for the brand. Showing the real everyday people who wear the brand and their personal way to stylize their Burberry trench coats. The blog is a collaboration between the costumer, Burberry and talented image makers. When looking at the photos, it paints a clear picture of the skills of marketing, the brand looks wearable to anyone with any style.

When it comes time to purchase a few fall staple pieces for your wardrobe the year, I recommend the Burberry Trench coat to be one of them. With a fit and color for any style, it is hard to deny that the brand wouldn’t be wearable for you. Practical and versatile, the brand has a way of making you feel your money is well spent. Burberry is the original designer of the trench coat, a brand that has been around for over a hundred years, with that said, I think they make a trench you can trust.

Without further ado, The Art of the Trench;

All photos are from

Life is Beautiful, Dress Accordingly is a Blog by Tara Osipoff

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