I first met Anastasia Barrett when I used to work at Holt Renfrew. She soon became one of my loyal customers and I was always impressed by her attitude towards style. You could see her walking in with her newborn Georgiana and her toddler Isadora looking like she had 10 nannies and 5 personal stylists: impeccably dressed, wearing heels and midi skirts. So we thought she could be a great example for young Moms out there and we invited her to a very special grocery shopping.
On her personal style. I love both elegance and glamour. My wardrobe is a celebration of the female silhouette with many of my pieces playing in the fashion space between classic and demure and playful and provocative. Sensuality is important. If my husband could wear it, it’s definitely not for me. Starting from pencil skirts and sheath dresses as foundations, I then dress up my look with bold prints, killer heels, and statement earrings. I love the philosophy of Italian styling; la Bella Figura – a beautiful impression. Looking “effortless” is not something I aspire to – not the girl-next-door look – glamour, sophistication, with a dash of mystery are my favourite ingredients.
On being a mom vs. looking good. All Moms know that crazy demands and chaotic schedules play havoc with their fashion choices. But, I have found a few secrets that work wonders for me, such as “fashion layering”. With a backdrop of neutral basics (well-fitting black jeans or pencil skirt) I can then add statement accessories: a dash of glamour from cat-eye or embellished sunglasses, a (faux) fur collar, or an elegant top-handle tote in red or leopard. I don’t save beautiful or luxury items for special occasions – every day is special! It’s quick to adjust my look for the occasion by adding or subtracting various accessories that are stored in my tote. And, it’s easy to tuck these pieces away when we end up at a playground or kids’ party. In Calgary, outwear is my best fashion time-saver when shuttling between school, activities, and errands. Over the years, I have collected many pieces that are as functional as they are elegant. A bold red trench, a sumptuous wool cape, or a classic bouclé jacket are all easy and gorgeous pieces. My “practical” hooded puffy coat lives in my car to be worn only in extreme cold – this is Calgary, not South Park. When we’re on the go I like to keep a selection of different footwear pieces in my car. The kids travel with their indoor and outdoor shoes, so why not Mom too? Right now, it’s a pair of low-heel classic riding boots, Pajar fur boots, and a pair of stiletto boots or patent heels. A quick footwear change takes seconds and I’m ready to play with either the kids or the grownups.
On what inspires her. My first trip to Europe at age 14 ignited a passion for the humanities – art, history, literature, philosophy, and religion. I love to study, explore, and reflect on these records of the human experience. Fashion-wise I can always count on Net-a-Porter for outfit inspiration.
On her love for Italian fashion. I love the Italian philosophy of La Bella Figura: “making a beautiful impression”. Whereas the French style of simple and understated chic seems to pride itself on appearing at all costs ‘effortless’, the Italian style seems unapologetic for it’s dramatic flair and curve-loving silhouettes. It appears sensual and voluptuous, but there is an element of restraint too…nothing is too tight or too revealing, it is tailored perfectly. My favourite designers, Dolce & Gabbana, combine elements of passion, romance, and drama in their creations and then tame them into something very elegant…definitely not subtle, but elegant. “Subtlety is Death” is a favourite phrase of mine that reminds me to add a vibrant or surprising twist to design, fashion or otherwise.
On dresses and skirts. I wear what makes me feel good, and skirts are an easy and flattering fit for me. Some women might feel uncomfortable or out of place in a dress or skirt when it isn’t the ‘norm’, but I don’t mind being different in a sea of blue pants (aka jeans), sportswear, and leggings. I often travel wearing a DVF silk wrap dress, which feels comfortable and elegant. I never thought much of it until a very elderly gentleman went out of his way to approach me in an airport and he told me how nice it was to see a woman in a dress…that he never sees that anymore. When I looked around I realized he was right…there was not one dress in sight.
On comfort vs. style. Looking good and feeling great in day-to-day life with the kids is easiest with a well fitting, neutral wardrobe foundation. From there I can use “fashion layering” and accessories to create looks that can be adjusted depending on the events of the day.
On her style icons. I most enjoy and emulate the style of women who are unabashed about using fashion to celebrate their feminine mystique…the sultry Sophia Loren, Monica Bellucci, Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Sofia Vergara. For pure fashion fun, I love to watch Anna Dello Russo in all her devil-may-care glory.
On her favourite items. A Chanel Reissue bag…it’s an understated day-to-night bag that’s a remake of Coco Chanel’s own bag…I love that it has such history…a story. My wedding dress. A 1940’s vintage styled number in black. I still love to wear it. Everything Dolce and Gabbana…Their costume jewelry is from a dream and the dresses walk the perfect line between provocative and demure. Oscar de la Renta tweed jacket. A timeless classic piece with a nipped waist. Nude patent Christian Louboutin heels…the work with every single outfit.
On timeless elegance. “Elegance is the only beauty that never fades” (Audrey Hepburn). But there is so much fun to be had in fashion…an element of joy in dressing – Charlotte Olympia shoes will always make me smile! “If you obey all the rules, you miss all of the fun” (Katharine Hepburn).
Special thanks to the Italian Center Shop for the great location.
Shop Anastasia’s style: