‘One of my first memories’when I was five or six’was making clothes for my Barbie dolls,’ recalls Afiya Francisco, who provided style advice to our featured Best Health Challenge participant. ‘Later, I used a little notebook to draw my ‘collections.”
Francisco, 33, developed her fashion sense as the eldest of four girls in a lively Toronto household. ‘Any arguments were because one of us was stealing clothes from another’s closet!’
Snooping around closets is now part of what she does as a stylist: creating outfits that reflect a woman’s personality. ‘I love helping people to express themselves through their clothes.’ She also provides fashion commentary for television shows, including The Marilyn Denis Show and ET Canada, and has her own website, thestylehouse.ca. There she blogs about her style advice, from three looks for a striped sweater to how to wear green. To add fitness to her busy life, she’s also a certified yoga instructor.
She and her husband, Aaron Chown, a copywriter for an advertising agency, have a two-year-old son. ‘Felix is hilarious’a one-man entertainment show,’ says Francisco, who is expecting a second child in February.
When it comes to her own wardrobe, she says her closet has fewer clothes than you might expect for a stylist. ‘My things are pretty classic, almost boring, but with a splash of something different‘like a crazy colour combination or an unexpected accessory.’
Figure out your style: ‘Take an afternoon to go through your clothes, and focus on what makes you look and feel your best. People think they have no idea what they like, but when you look at it all together, you may realize that you gravitate to purple, or like pencil skirts. It makes it easier to cull things.’
A "uniform approach" is okay: ‘Some of the best-dressed people wear almost a uniform with little swaps that make it look different for each outfit. Kate Middleton knows what suits her figure: She wears dresses with somewhat different elements or colour, but with essentially the same cut.’
Energize your mornings: ‘I’m not a coffee drinker, and because I’m pregnant I’m just drinking decaffeinated teas, so my juicer has become my favourite appliance. My go-to morning drink is a mix of apple, raw beet and fresh ginger. It’s a nice wake-up for the day.’
Cook in one pot: ‘For me, soups, stews, curries and chili make ideal meals. I love their brothy goodness. But I also love potato chips; wherever I go, I try the local ones. If I had to choose a ‘desert island’ brand? I’d go for Humpty Dumpty BBQ.’
Don’t overthink: ‘The best outfits come together naturally’not by planning them for weeks. The same goes for food. When you are too worried about what you’re eating, it becomes a recipe for bingeing and deprivation. My approach: everything in moderation.’