The late great costume designer Edith Head once said: “You can have anything you want, if you dress for it.” I’m not sure that always happens, but some people are able to so clearly imagine the life and image they aspire to, that the way they dress automatically casts them into a role that speaks of creativity and credibility. Take 28 year-old Amy Patel for example: Her passion for high-end fashion and meticulous style was totally apparent the moment I feasted my eyes on her, at an intimate luncheon held recently at the Louis Vuitton store on Bloor St. W. I had no idea who she was, but I was taken with her bold sense of colour and elegant air of sartorial ease. It wasn’t until the end of the lunch that I had the chance to speak with her, and find out about her true aspirations that I realized that beyond being a successful businesswoman, Amy Patel is also an aspiring stylist, whose site, www.les-best.com, is an ode to her wonderful fashion sense and a celebration of perfecting the high/low mix.
Born in Rexdale, Patel is currently VP of Equity Capital Markets at an investment bank. She grew up as a tomboy, and remembers wearing her first pair of heels to her senior high school prom. By second year university, she began wondering about the degree she was going for when she started buying fashion magazines and studying the work of stylists. “I became more aware of what I was wearing and how I was making myself appear to others,” she recalls. Describing her personal style as “cheeky, elegant, and timeless, with a twist”, Patel relies heavily on the power of accessories to transform her looks, and in that department, her operative word is “eclecticism”. “I honestly find accessories anywhere,” she says. “I love buying the classics like Hermes and Chanel, but I’m also obsessed with looking at every street vendor’s jewellery stand in any city that I’m in. There are so many gems that can be found that are unique and truly one of a kind,” she notes. Some of her go-to places to shop for accessories are Ardene, Forever 21, H&M, Aldo, Heels and Bowties, Anice and Head Mistress. “Another gem is Suzy Shier for jewellery,” she shares. Patel’s style inspiration comes from a variety of places, depending on the day. “It can be from watching a show and loving an idea and direction of a look, to watching people and seeing how they style themselves,” says Patel. Recently, she was inspired to buy a crisp white blouse, because of someone she spotted on the street. “I saw a women who was about 70-plus, who looked so effortless and elegant with a crisp white shirt, red trousers and a pair of Tods driving shoes,” Patel explains. “ I loved that the look was so timeless and classic. I decided then and there that every woman and man, regardless of age, should have a white button up shirt in his or her closet.”
When it comes to the question of style versus comfort, Patel chooses style all the way. “Dress for the job that you want, not for the one you have. And be fabulous doing it!” she laughs. This aspirational approach to dressing obviously serves her well, because at the end of the day, it makes her happy. She also thrives on her spontaneous approach to dressing. “I usually wear what I’m in the mood for and dress for how I’m feeling,” she tells me. “I don’t think too much about an outfit beforehand, or lay out an outfit the night before.” When it comes to making wardrobe choices, Patel browses online and examines all the collections that come out. Then she asks herself two questions: Does she already have that trend or style in her closet? And is it worth it to buy a new trend as a cheaper piece, or invest in a piece she’ll want to have in her closet forever. “That’s how I make a decision on whether I need it or want it,” she explains. Her favourite online stores are Forever 21 and Net-a-Porter. “But I also love going to Zara, H&M, Topshop, J Crew, Intermix, and The Gap for my everyday essentials,” says Patel. When it comes to shoes, her daily go-to flats are Chanel. “I’ve had the same pair for a few years now and all you need to do is change the soles and they are like new,” she shares. When I met Amy Patel she was wearing an H&M blouse and trousers, that cost $49.95 and $29.95 respectively, Zara heels that she got for $79.95, a Celine bag and sunglasses; a Kate Spade necklace that cost $350.00; several rings, from a $600 pearl Chanel ring, to a hammered spoon ring she got in the Distillery District for $35; and bracelets ranging from a $400 Hermes one in cognac leather to a skull bracelet from a Miami street vendor that cost $3.
Most inspiring style icon?
New York fashionista Iris Apfel. She is so elegant. She is the lady I want to be! She accessorizes over the top everyday. I want to be her when I grow up.
Favourite fashion era?
The 1920’s. It was a rebellious time for women. There were no more corsets and it was a time when women could cut their hair and wear trousers and hats. I loved the silk midi dresses, fur stoles, pearls and headbands. I feel like it was a time in which women had an opinion of their own and expressed it through their look.
Your style trademark?
I have an obsession with stacking my wrists. I did it aggressively before the term “arm party” was coined. At any given point there are at least 2 or 3 (at minimum) items on my wrists.
Ever second-guess an outfit you’ve chosen to wear?
No. The moment you second-guess yourself is the same moment that you show that you aren’t confident. Confidence is one of the best things a woman can wear.
Best fashion advice?
Save up and invest in classic pieces. Instead of buying 20 trendy bags, buy one good one that is timeless. The same goes for a pair of shoes and a leather jacket. Most importantly, stay true to yourself and wear what makes you feel at your best. Copying someone may not work for you, so take inspiration from here and there and make it your own.