Canadian Designer Hayley Elsaesser Shares Her Best Tips For Wearing Bright Wintertime Colours


Photo: hayleyelsaesser on Instagram 

With arctic temperatures looming ahead as Canuck fashionistas prepare for another classic Canadian winter, it’s easy to turn to dull neutrals as a sartorial staple. After all, forbidding grey skies sadly seem to call for a matching wardrobe. However, emerging Canadian designer Hayley Elsaesser is a firm believer in the cheering powers of vivid hues. Appropriately suited to her tastes, Elsaesser’s rainbow-coloured Toronto studio beckons like Candyland in the midst of the city’s Queen West strip.

Elsaesser, who first left her mark on the Toronto Fashion Week runways, is now styling stars such as Miley Cyrus. Even as the weather changes, the colourful young designer stays true to her love of neon brights and playful prints. Real Style spoke to Elsaesser about her best tips for wearing bold colours this season, how to rock wintertime pastels and more.  

Real Style: What are your favourite tips for wearing bright colours as the weather cools?

Hayley: In summer, people love to have fun with colour, and I truly don’t understand why it’s not the same in the winter. I guess because the weather is grey, people like to wear neutral colours. I think you should be doing the opposite.

If you aren’t used to it, it’s always nice to start off with one kind of piece- for example, a printed jacket, dress or pants. Then, pair it with neutrals. Wear the dress with black opaque tights and a black beret. You can even wear a black turtleneck or a solid-coloured sweater underneath. I think it’s all about choosing one statement piece, and then going from there, or you can also do colour stories where you have a pink sweater and a different coloured pink jacket.

Real Style: You’re known for your vibrant shades. Do you have any advice for wearing your all-time favourite colour?

Hayley: My favourite colour is definitely pink, but also blue. It’s pretty clichéd, but I think learning your season is important. For me, it gets hard because my hair colour changes a lot, and I have to adapt to what my hair colour is. It’s important to dress for your colouring, with what colour you’re wearing, because you’re just going to feel more confident if it’s brightening up your face and skin tone.

For me, pink is actually really popular right now, which is good. In the past, it’s been hard for me to find pink outside of my own store. It’s all about being in your comfort zone, and possibly, also pushing a little bit outside of it.

Real Style: Do you have a top print or pattern for Fall/Winter 2016?

Hayley: I like the print that I’ve brought back in a new colourway. That was from my first collection that I had in Toronto and showed at Fashion Week here. It’s a lip print that used to be in a red and blue colour, and I’ve done it in a chartreuse and pink. It’s brand new and fresh here in Toronto, and it’s just one of my more iconic prints in a crazy new colourway.

Real Style: How can we continue to rock pastels, even as the temperature drops?

Hayley: Pastels are probably more common and easy in the winter, especially really popular right now. You don’t want to go full out pastel, or you’re going to look very out of season. I think there shouldn’t be any fashion rules, and there’s no saying why you shouldn’t do pastels in the winter, basically.

Real Style: What is your best advice for those who are afraid of colour?

Hayley: In our store, I find for people who are a little bit timid, once they get in the clothes and try them on and see the transformation, they feel very good about themselves. You put on something bright and fun; you can’t help feeling the same way. If you want to do one colour with printed pants and a matching jacket, then that’s a good way to start. As long as you have one hero piece to your outfit, that’s a really safe way to go.

Real Style: You’ve been earning big name celebrity fans like Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus. How does it feel to dress the stars?

Hayley: It’s always exciting. It doesn’t get old, and I’m hoping for many more in the future. It’s really awesome to see someone like that who has so much at their disposal. They can choose any brand in the world, and the fact that they chose me is really flattering and awesome. I guess it speaks to the originality of the brand and what I do. The stuff for Miley was especially fun, because I did some custom prints for her. The outfit that she was wearing for the advertisement for The Voice was a custom look that I did with little pigs, inspired by her pig Bubba Sue. It’s really fun working with celebrities, because they love to push the envelope, which is obviously my ideal customer.