I often wonder about dressing for relaxed country weekends. On one hand, I’m always keen to unwind, curl up in cozy sweaters, and trade in my usual stilettos for a pair of comfy mukluks. Then again, if there’s a social aspect to the agenda, country chic maybe be a better dress code to adhere to—especially for those who are adamant about always looking their best, and aim to inspire others along the way. Last weekend, I attended a women’s retreat at Oceanstone Resort, just outside Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia. Along with the essential yoga wear, my bag was packed with some pretty dressed down looks: jeans, jeggings, a couple of cool jackets, and some comfy Frye boots. But there were a few other stylish ladies at the retreat who decided to up the style ante, and I was duly impressed. It got me thinking about the pros of turning on the chic quotient, even if you are just going to hang in the country with a bunch of women. Take Leslie Keevill for example. The 46 year-old native of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, who’s manager of fundraising and corporate development for Kids Help Phone in the Atlantic Region, has loved fashion for as long as she can remember. One of her closest friends is Canadian designer Lisa Drader-Murphy, for whom she’s proved to be a very loyal muse. Leslie wears Drader-Murphy’s Turbine label as often as possible, (www.turbine.ca) and really does the easy-to-wear collection justice. Because Turbine’s Halifax boutique carries such a wide range of styles and accessories, it’s one-stop shopping for Leslie, who describes her personal style as being both elegant and sexy, with a good helping of attitude thrown in for good measure.
There’s an inherent dash of daring in Leslie Keevill that seems to be reflected in her spirited approach to dress. She’s got her pilot’s license, and soloed an airplane even before she got her driver’s license. But while she enjoys high flying as a hobby, when it comes to shoe-shopping, she remains quite grounded. Shoes are her “ultimate favourite thing in the world”, but she tries not to be extravagant in her shopping. “I’m always on the lookout for my next favourite pair,” she laughs. And she finds most of what she wants at The Shoe Company, Towne Shoes, Winners, and Aldo. She’s not big on vintage, preferring contemporary looks, but does have a penchant for the ‘20s. “That era marked the beginning of a new freedom and comfort in women’s fashion. I’m drawn to ‘20s-inspired dramatic hats and accessories,” explains Leslie, who says her style trademark is all about accessories. “I try to wear a unique or standout item with every outfit. It might be a bag, a hat, or statement piece of jewelry,” she notes. Leslie’s biggest style inspirations come from her travels, and the other women she meets. But at the end of the day, it really is a matter of being true to herself. “You always have to listen to your own voice as to what’s right for you. No matter how much you might like a certain style or trend, if it doesn’t suit you or your body type, then don’t wear it,” she advises. I particularly loved two of the outfits Leslie wore on our women’s retreat at Oceanstone Resort. Her relaxed yet chic Turbine bubble dress, that she wore to dinner, cost $168. She teamed it with a cowhide “Sam” satchel, also from Turbine, that cost $148. Her patterned hose are by Yelete Chiller Legs, and cost $28, and her “Poetic License” booties were from Winners, and cost $60. Leslie’s earrings are Lia Sophia, and her Indian bangles and ring also came from Turbine. The next morning, Leslie was jauntily decked out in a sheer Turbine top that retails for $148, a hat and black tights from Turbine, and wedge booties from the Shoe Company that she got for $69.
What is your fashion philosophy?
I try to make a statement through what I wear, by selecting pieces that speak to me. I’m drawn to pieces that are versatile and can be worn several ways, and can take me from day to night, casual to dressy. And most important, that I love and feel great in what I am wearing.
What is a fashion faux pas in your stylebooks?
Matchy-matchy accessories or too many accessories.
Most inspiring style icon and why?
Audrey Hepburn & Jackie O for their timeless classic style. Sarah Jessica Parker and Patricia Field, who styled the wardrobes for Sex and the City. I admire Pat for her fearless approach to fashion, and showing women everywhere to have fun with fashion and express their own personal style.
Top 3 accessories of all time?
Diamond dangle earrings from my husband on our honeymoon in Bonaire;
Pair of black leather boots that I got at a little shop, off the beaten path, in New York;
Beijo teal envelope clutch that goes with everything http://www.beijobags.com/
What is the most important or beloved item in your closet?
My mum’s cropped faux fur jacket from the 60’s. It was my Dad’s favourite when they were dating, and I coveted it for years before she gave it to me about 10 years ago. I love that I have something that was special to them when they were first together.