MY LOOK: The Urban Element’s Payton Kennedy talks about her style — and her three closets

This story appears in the October edition of Ottawa Magazine, on newsstands now. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.

Photo by Jessica Deeks; makeup by Jessica Tomas from The Loft.
Payton is wearing a customized vintage dress by Canadian label Daymor Couture, from Value Village, and an H&M ring. She was shot on location at Urban Element with Seascape by Michael Smith, courtesy of Gallery 3. Photo by Jessica Deeks; makeup by Jessica Tomas from The Loft.

You have a really unique style. How would you describe it?
Eclectic. It changes on a daily basis. I literally get up in the morning and say to myself, “How do I feel today?” and take it from there. It’s almost costumey; it can be hippie, dressy — and I love the ’70s. I have stuff that I bought in the ’90s and have worn recently — I never throw anything away.

Where do you keep it all?
I have three closets. My blazers, skirts, and pants are in my room, my jeans are in my son’s room, and my dresses are in my office. I thought about turning my office into a walk-in closet, but I still need to work. Someday!

What are some of your go-to fashion pieces?
Hats are definitely a wardrobe staple for me — any time of year. And vintage dresses. You put it on and you don’t need anything else. I go through phases with accessories: I went through a big earring phase, and now I’m in a ring phase.

Where do you shop?
In Ottawa, at Value Village, Zara, and Young Janes on Dalhousie. But my best vintage finds are at small-town second-hand shops. I look for ’70s prints — those I can spot from a mile away.

What’s the trick to pulling it off?
Attitude. You’ve got to own it. You’ve got to make a decision, a commitment to wearing it, and go with it. I’ve certainly looked back over the years and thought, What was I thinking? But I love the thrill of pushing it. To me, it’s like putting together a puzzle.

What about work wear?
Well, my job basically allows me to dress like I’m going to a nightclub.

What’s it like working at The Urban Element?
It’s great. I’m the operations and events manager, so basically I take care of all private and corporate events. I came to it from catering, so it seems very civilized. Our chef, Anna March, is wonderful, and she makes beautiful food. And it’s a beautiful space. I joke to our guests about the fact that it’s an old fire hall, so firemen were once here, all the time! Beauty is infused in the walls.

Last year you were a finalist for Ottawa Festivals’ Volunteer of the Year award for your work at Ottawa Fashion Week. Why do you volunteer with OFW?
I went one year, when it was at the National Gallery [of Canada], and I was blown away. I knew people who were involved, and I wanted to keep the event alive. It’s a part of our city that we have to nurture. Frankly, I’m probably way too busy to do it — we started full-bore on the fall edition in spring — but when you work so closely with a group of people, you really get attached to it. It’s a bit like a family there. And it’s given me great experiences.