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Fashion Statement: Leah Van Loon

Style starts at the Salvation Army

Oct 1, 2014

by Alberta Venture Staff

The Good Life Fashion Statement On Trend One Off
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Photograph Bryce Meyers

For Leah Van Loon, a Calgary stylist and personal shopper, it started at the Salvation Army. “I’ve always been into clothes, and I used to do a lot of thrift shopping as a teen. They used to have a rack at the back of the Sally Ann for me. I’d go in once a week, and they would hold everything they thought I’d like – nothing would go on the floor until I had a look at it.” She’s spent the last two decades using that eye for quality to help her and her clients build wardrobes that can both outlast and pre-date the prevailing trends of the day.

On why everyone should try to push their sartorial boundaries from time to time: “For the most part, people like to be challenged a bit – and sometimes it’s good to get your eye to see things differently. You can get stuck in what you think you look like, or what you think you should look like.”

On why designer clothing is worth it: “It has to still look current in five to 10 years for me to spend money on it. And it has to look modern, like something you can continue to wear and not look like you bought it this season. For that to happen, typically, you have to buy designer, because they’re the ones who are pushing those things forward. By the time it trickles down to something like Club Monaco – and I do buy Club Monaco, because it’s a good mid-range brand – it’s been a couple of years.”

On what she got from thrifting: “That’s how I learned about construction and fabric and what made something beautiful and what made something cheap. To be able to have these things that probably cost a lot of money in the ’60s and ’70s for a dollar – it’s an amazing way to be a clothes horse.”

On why it pays to spend: “I have a dress I bought for the spring and I’ve worn the crap out of it. But because it’s such a quality piece and I spent money on it, it still looks great. When I average out a cost-per-wear (which sometimes I do to convince myself it was worth the price) I have gotten my money out of this dress in one year. And I plan on wearing it for as long as I can.”

On her favourite designers: “I love Miuccia Prada, but I don’t necessarily think her stuff is that practical. But as a designer, she’s always leading. Her fabrications are unique, and she spends a lot of time creating things that people haven’t seen before. And then I love Lanvin, as well, because his draping is really masterful.”

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