The Art of Fashion — Ariel Troster

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 print edition of OTTAWA magazine, on newsstands now! Image above (cropped) by Nick Lafontaine, in full below

What do you consider office-appropriate?
I think it really depends on the work environment. I could wear a T-shirt and jeans to work if I wanted to. But when I started in 2008, I was under 30 and one of the youngest workers in the office. Carving out my own sense of style and dressing up a little gave me confidence.

Favourite way to insert colour into an outfit?
Red lips and nails and often a set of red beads, a bright cardigan, or one of my many pairs of Fluevogs.

Fashion rule you love to break?
I wear my dresses year-round. I just layer them over fleece-lined tights in the dead of winter and add a cashmere cardigan. Clothes are for wearing. Don’t save something you love for an event, and don’t be scared to be the most dressed-up person in the room.

I also believe you should figure out what shape works for your body and rock it. The A-line knee-length dress is always a winner for me. But I also embrace the “fuck flattering” mantra of the fat activist movement. There should be no rules about what kinds of bodies get to wear certain clothes. If you love it, wear it.

Labour union campaign officer, mom, queer femme — Ariel Troster. Photo: Nick Lafontaine

Has being a mom affected your style?
It certainly did when I was on maternity leave, perpetually sleep-deprived and often wearing the same hoodie and jeans (usually stained with yogurt or vomit). I felt really adrift, as I patiently waited for my beloved clothes to fit again. Returning to work was a revelation. Suddenly I could wear a cute dress for a full eight hours without the risk of random vomit or sticky fingers. As a queer femme, the way I dress is a huge part of my sexual orientation and gender identity. I felt so much more like myself when I could finally wear my clothes again.

Though I will say that a year of wearing maternity jeans has ruined me on waistlines forever. Down with pants! I am much more likely to wear leggings and a stretchy dress now. Why suffer when you can look cute and also not be oppressed by waistlines?

Best reaction you’ve ever had to an outfit?
Some (consensual) cheerful lechery from friends at queer events. Can’t complain.

Favourite place in Ottawa to shop?
Workshop and Flock Boutique for frocks. Max’s Footwear for amazing Art brand shoes and boots. Magpie for silver jewellery. And I would not get through the winter without the fleece-lined leggings they sell at Costco. Seriously.

Do you have a go-to “uniform” of sorts?
Yup. A-line dress, often retro inspired (layered over tights or leggings in the fall/winter). Stompy boots or platform sandals. Chunky silver jewellery. Red lipstick. Cat eye glasses. A really good haircut.