Refinery29 Canada’s Carley Fortune wears what she’s comfortable in to work

The executive editor's work style is inspired by Jenna Lyons circa 2011 and celebrates Canadian designers

As our physical workspaces evolve, so does the way we dress. Work Style explores what we wear to work today—and why.

Who you are: Carley Fortune 
What you do: Executive editor, Refinery29 Canada 
Where you work: WeWork 100 University Ave, Toronto 

When Carley Fortune signed on as the first executive editor for the Canadian channel of Refinery29 last year, she had one other colleague. Now, with a team of seven—plus all the clothing, books, and random samples—they stand out amidst the other offices. “I’m sure people think we’re very girlie,” she quips. As for her work style, Fortune says she’s never had more freedom. Here, she breaks down her daily dress. 

Q: What’s on your schedule today?
A: It’s a fun day. Yesterday was the last day of Toronto Fashion Week and the first day of the Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF, so we are working on coverage of both and nailing down our schedule of interviews, screenings, and events for the festival. I’m going to the premiere of Joker on Monday. I have a hot-pink velvet Rachel Antonoff dress I’ve been saving for the right moment, and I think this is it.

Q: Give us the backstory on these pieces.
A: Horses is one of my favorite Canadian labels. I’m really inspired by how cofounders Claudia [Dey] and Heidi [Sopinka] have built a business that allows them to be creatively fulfilled while not following the traditional fashion brand format. But I also love horses, so if people think it’s just about the animal, I’m 100 percent okay with that. The skirt is also from Rachel Antonoff. It’s super comfy to sit in; it has a lining so your butt doesn’t get stuck to it. The earrings are Jenny Bird, another Canadian designer; I wear a lot of gold but the interesting part with these are the dangly bits at the back. My ring is also Canadian, a label called Mejuri. There are a lot of great accessories labels that seem to be popping up.

Earrings by Jenny Bird; ring by Mejuri. Both designers are Canadian.

Q: Is wearing Canadian important to you?
A: We have so much talent, and I try to support that talent when I can. There are considerable challenges to running a fashion business out of Canada, and we don’t often do the best job of tooting our own horn.

Q: Are there any expectations of what you and/or the team wears to the office?
A: At Refinery29—and this is what I love so much about working with women, particularly here—people wear whatever they’re comfortable in. If you want to be super fashion-y one day, you’ll do it. If it’s jeans, a T-shirt, and no makeup, that’s fine. Everybody has a really strong sense of personal style on our team; it just depends on the day. Sometimes, during lunch, I try to sneak out for a 20-minute run, and I will sit in my running clothes all afternoon. I don’t take for granted the freedom we have.

Q: Do you have a certain everyday look?
A: I like clothes that aren’t too different but have a bit of a quirky vibe. Right now, I wear this skirt to work almost weekly. I prefer sneakers for everyday; but these heels look far better. They’re A Détacher and I’ve had them for at least 10 years. I love white shirts, especially if the proportions are different. Also high-waisted pants and worn-in jeans. 

T-shirt by Horses; skirt by Rachel Antonoff; heels by A Détacher.

Q: How does your workspace factor into your daily decisions about what to wear? What else factors in? 
A: The space has an industrial vibe—concrete floors and exposed ductwork, with really bright, cheeky art. It feels pretty casual but stylish. There’s a wide range of style happening in our WeWork community, which is liberating.

Q: What do you put on when you want that extra statement?
A: One of my most loved pieces is a cream silk Maison Martin Margiela blazer with satin lapels. I got it for a steal at a Hudson’s Bay designer sale many years ago, and I still feel pretty smug about finding it. I try not to wear it too often so I’ll have it for years to come.

Q: Is there a One That Got Away—something you regret not buying?
A: I’ll say this: I actually dislike shopping immensely but I love clothing so much. I have an ongoing list of things I feel I always need. Last year, when I was looking for a blazer, I bought a cropped leopard print jacket with puff sleeves from Horses instead. A few days later, I went back and bought the matching pants. I had to have them!

Q: Is there anyone who inspires your style?
A: I remember when J.Crew opened in Toronto, Jenna Lyons showed up in a neon-green, knee-length sequin skirt with a nautical striped shirt. That was in 2011 and I remember thinking, This is my platonic ideal of dressing

“At Refinery29—and this is what I love so much about working with women, particularly here—people wear whatever they’re comfortable in.”

Q: How different is your weekend wardrobe?
A: I do a lot of exercising on weekends, so I’m often in my exercise clothes. Or else I’m usually in jeans and some kind of T-shirt, which I would wear to the office but I have a separate selection. It’s my weekend-mom style. 

Q: What are you excited to be working on right now?
A: We’re launching a series about parenthood this September that I’m really proud of. There are some incredible pieces about motherhood and identity, and I’m writing a personal piece about my own struggle with becoming a mom. It can be nerve-racking to put that kind of personal work out there, but I’m up for doing things that scare me.

The watercooler:

  • Book you’ve read 100 times: Tie between Pride and Prejudice and the Harry Potter series
  • Last great film or TV show you watched: Falling Inn Love 
  • Favorite workday lunch: The rare one that I make myself; I usually buy a salad.
  • Favorite Instagram account: @refinery29canada—we just launched it this week!

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