“I describe my style as ‘if Rihanna was a librarian,’” laughs Hadiya Roderique, who is going back to school this fall, albeit as an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Her teaching uniform: A silky blouse or Radiohead tee (she has eight on rotation), a high-waisted midi skirt (this one is by Vancouver-based slow fashion house Harly Jae) and a splash of colour or pattern—or both (like this jacket by Canadian brand Red Sky). When it comes to fashion, the 40-something is all about vintage, local finds and community. “There are so many talented Canadian designers,” she says. “And it’s really special to get to know the people behind the labels.”
Here, she shares the formula behind her flawless back-to-school style and shouts out some of her favourite local brands.
How would you describe your style?
On dating apps, I used to describe my style as “if Rihanna was a librarian”—my partner’s first message to me mentioned it. Rihanna’s slightly less edgy older sister also works, or I’ve heard sassy librarian as well when I’m doing the pencil skirt and silky blouse look.
Who is your style icon?
I’m inspired by anyone who dresses in a way that makes them feel comfortable in their own skin—you can tell when someone feels like they can conquer the world in their outfit. I love to tell strangers on the street that I like what they’re wearing; I know it always brightens my day when someone compliments me.
What are some staple pieces in your closet?
I’m either going into school or my co-working space every day and it’s given me a reason to get dressed up again, which makes me so happy. I found it so hard to be inspired to dress in anything other than sweats when I was working from home, and I would just throw a fancier shirt on whenever I had a meeting. Now, I would say pencil skirts and colourful long-sleeve shirts are staples, as well as colourful knit sweaters. I like to stay cozy when I teach, with a pop of colour to keep things interesting.
I have a formula when getting dressed for work: I find that high-waisted midi skirts are really versatile, and I can dress them up with a blouse if I have an event to go to after class. Usually though, I tend to go more casual with a tee (either Radiohead or a graphic feminist wordplay). I also like the mystery of a hat with a big brim, though it can be hard to find ones large enough for my braids. And then there’s my Red Sky leopard print jacket—it’s a stunner, I get compliments every time I wear it! I have a matching jumpsuit and cloth face mask as well to complete the look.
I also love jumpsuits. I just love putting on one thing and being done. I own about seven jumpsuits from Toronto-based label Horses Atelier—they are perfect and so easy to wear.
What is your process when picking an outfit?
I usually wake up with an idea or in a particular mood—is today’s vibe casual, or extra fancy lady?—then try on a few different outfits and wait for my gut to say ‘YES!’ I used to try planning my outfits a bit more or even schedule my outfits for the week, but I find that the weather and my mood really influence what I want to wear.