Style is an Attitude, Not an Age: An Interview with Style Icon Libby Ordel


Have you ever had those times in life when everything just seems to fall into place? You start with a change or a decision and hope it leads you in the "right direction". It's known as the "Law of Attraction" — what you put out into the world comes back to you in various forms.

Unfortunately this works for both positive and negative energy, so it’s important to try to reign in the negative stuff, ‘cause it comes back in droves!

We're starting this post on the topic because there’s a bit of a backstory before we introduce our actual "blog subject”...

So here goes — a lesson in the Law of Attraction. When we first purchased the Sympli line, shortly after opening our Sandbox location on Broadway and 9th St. over 10 years ago, we dabbled in the line's extensive collection. We stuck to a few basics (in black) and although we loved the line and it retailed well, it got lost in our small space. We weren't able to do it  justice, and because of that, we eventually decided to leave it behind. After about 7 years in that location, we were offered an opportunity to become a tenant in a new development on Main St., which was twice the size!  (And of course more than double the rent.) That is a lot of floor space to fill with product.

We already had some strong brands, but needed another "anchor" brand. Re enter "Sympli the Best"! We already loved the line, and now with more space to devote to it, we felt it would in turn love us back. Today it is one of our most successful lines. Why?

Many reasons! The fit, style and colour selection, quality, re-orderability, wearability, the fact that it coordinates well with other lines, is made in Canada, and has wonderful positive messaging for embracing women of all ages and sizes! Last but not least is the team of devoted, creative women behind the line.

So as the "Law of Attraction" goes, enter Libby Ordel, our Sympli rep in Vancouver who works closely with founder Jan Stimpson. After reading a Sympli blog entry on their website, titled, "Style is an Attitude, Not an Age: An Interview with Style Icon, Libby Ordel”, we knew we had to share it. So much of what we do and what we believe in at The Sandbox is reflected in this interview. It’s well written and expressed in a no nonsense kind of way. Amazing how "like" is attracted to "like"! We hope you enjoy this Q + A with Libby and gain some insight into creating your own sense of style.

Stay tuned for next week's "7 days of Sympli" Facebook posts. This is the perfect time to either freshen up your current Sympli wardrobe for summer, or, if you're a newbie to the Sympli line, get a jump start!

Style is an Attitude, Not an Age: An Interview with Style Icon Libby Ordel


As a successful business woman who shows up with great style, where do you find your style inspiration?

I am inspired by what makes my eyes happy. I love fashion magazines and am always perusing them for what is new. But much of what I wear for work has always been my Agency brands. Fortunately I have had incredible brands throughout the years – some very classic and some completely ’KRAKERZ” (pardon the pun!!!).

Who inspires your fashion choices?

There is truly no one that I follow or look too. But if I see a celebrity or a model rocking something that is new, fresh, age appropriate or that I can translate to work for me – then I will seek something out. Last purchase was a pair of old school Stan Smith Adidas all white with green trim. I was in New York and saw Karlie Kloss wearing them in a mag. They were sold out all around town but the clever sales guy at the Soho Adidas store sold me a kids size 6 and they worked. Wore them right out of the store.

When do you feel most yourself? When do you feel most inspired?

I am comfortable in my own skin pretty much anytime… dressed up in a ball gown at a formal function or wearing ripped jeans, sneaks and a great sweater at brunch. I feel most inspired when I stand in my closet and create a look out of items that work together that I`ve never tried before

What factors the outfit you choose for each day?

During the week, by what appointments I have and what I will be selling! If you wear it, it sells.

Do you shop with an outfit in mind?

Almost never. I shop to get new ideas for my collections a lot, and if I see something along the way that I LOVE and HAVE TO HAVE, I pick it up. I did have a special birthday last year and set out one day to find something to wear, which I think is a pretty daunting task. I had surprising success and my `Mirror Ball` silver sequined sweat suit was a hit at my party!! I felt fabulous and perfectly attired.

What factors do you consider to make a purchase? Do you sacrifice comfort for style?

The main factor is that I need to love it and I won`t buy anything that is uncomfortable ever. Price certainly does come into play and I am very happy paying as little as possible for the purchase; however, I will spend a lot on something that I know I will use for a long time. Handbags, shoes and fine jewelery are in that category and I know that quality and great style will last.

Have you always had an interest in style?

Yes – forever. My Grandfather passed away when I was about 14 and he left me $600, which was a lot of money at that time. I spent the whole thing on clothes and had a ball. After high school, I found a program at Ryerson that no one really knew about and got myself accepted after two really lousy years at university taking courses that were of no interest to me. I attended Ryerson for three years and excelled in my field of interest.

When getting older, is there a standard of how to dress for your age?

For me – with sophistication and class. You can use any latest fashion trend – just do it up nicely and appropriately.

What do you do now that you wouldn’t do at a younger age?

How has your style evolved?

I think my casual wear has become more youthful. But maybe the whole world is doing that now!

How do you feel about media that tells you to dress or act your age? 

I still think and feel like I am 29, so whatever. I don`t pay attention.

Where do you see your style in 10 years?

I can’t see changing anything about how I put myself together. My only concern is that my eye wear has become quite a defining feature for me. I`ve had to wear glasses since a teenager and have always searched for the coolest, most amazing frames I could find that I felt looked good on me. It seems I need to have some corrective eye surgery soon and am absolutely terrified about not having to wear glasses!! I think I`ll probably put clear lenses in my frames as I don`t think I’d feel myself without them.

Have you seen a positive change in the fashion industry that you’d like to see more of?

I think the whole concept of dressing to express your own self is the most positive change. The days of really dressing up as women did in the fifties are gone now and the yoga inspired day wear trend is apparently here to stay. That tells me that comfort is now key, so I feel pretty lucky to be selling SYMPLI to the women of the world. Women can be dressed in beautiful, fabulous, inspired, easy to care for and COMFORTABLE clothing. AND – look AMAZING!!

Bio: After graduating in 1977 from Ryerson Polytechnical with a diploma in Fashion Merchandising, Libby has been the Fashion Coordinator for BC and Alberta, has managed the BC Lions cheerleaders, taught Fashion Merchandising at Capilano College and started The Ordel Group Agency in 1984. Libby began working with Jan Stimpson in the 90’s with REVIVAL and then KRAKERZ. Then SYMPLI THE BEST was born and she has been proudly representing SYMPLI since its inception in Western Canada. Libby nominated herself as the president of Jan Stimpson’s fan club and has been happily married for 36 years with 3 great adult kids.

Colleen Tait