Defining Halifax street style | Shoptalk | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Defining Halifax street style

“Wow, you look really...Halifax.”

She didn’t mean it as an insult, my Toronto friend. She had just observed, from her limited time spent with Haligonians, that there was a certain style, a particular way of pairing dresses with jeans, screenprinted t-shirts with cardigans, that was completely of the city. In her limited Ontario vocabulary, she describes the look as “University of Guelph meets Kensington Market,” which translates loosely to “a laidback, granola-crunchie, vintage-loving bohemian hipster.”

Of course, as designer Akshay Tyagi points out on page 12, there isn’t one Halifax uniform. It varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, Saturday night downtown to Tuesday night at Charlie’s. But every city does wear a certain unspoken philosophy on its sleeve and skirt length. If you’re a fan of street style blog The Sartorialist (, you can tell when Scott Schuman leaves New York for Milan, just by the cut of the men’s suits. When I travelled to Helsinki, I did not expect to see the psychedelic colours and bizarre combinations captured on their website, Hel Looks (, outside of the clubs or galleries, but everywhere I turned, women and men of all ages were wearing some of the most adventurous outfits I’ve ever seen.

Halifax street style is not about trends, it’s how we collectively express ourselves. It’s also a matter of history (and the weather). There’s the undeniable creative influence of a downtown art school and a strong music scene. For years, a lack of designer shops meant trips to Toronto or Montreal, and so Haligonians learned how to mix labels with the local cheap stuff. Let’s face it, most of us aren’t exactly making Manolo wages, either. And we don’t have a major financial centre like Bay Street, so we’ve luckily avoided the suit-as-prison-uniform, too. But we’re still pretty conservative, even when our tattoos are showing. For the most part, it’s more casual Sunday brunch than power lunch.

Like the city, though, street style evolves. Slowly we’re giving up our layers of fleece and trackpants (though sadly they’ve been replaced with yoga pants as everyday wear). Haligonians are exploring more local designers and sustainable fabrics. Second-hand isn’t a big deal. Even guys are taking a baby-step of a risk with accessories like vests and hats. Hilary Beaumont’s new street-style blog, Bohemian Town (launching today at, appropriately named after the lovely Helen Hill short film, really epitomizes what’s happening, capturing the city’s “an aesthetically pleasing approach to anti-style.”

We’re so excited by the momentum, and by what you’re wearing, that Street Style will be a regular feature.

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