By Julia Eskins
Photography by Aleyah Solomon
Black-and-white striped pants aren’t common in the heart of Toronto’s financial district. But on a Saturday afternoon, Nelia Belkova has safely hung her financial analyst hat for the weekend. Today, she is in full-on fashion blogger mode and brings a touch of stylish ‘It’-girl to Bay Street.
“If you look at my closet, there are 50 or 60 striped shirts, literally. I think I have over 20 pairs of ‘crazy’ pants and my husband hates them,” she says with a grin.
It’s Belkova’s signature style, personable nature and her fashion blog (styleblog.ca), that have helped her land several brand collaborations over the past year.
Along with being on Yorkdale Mall’s Style Council, she became one of MasterCard Canada’s Stylicity bloggers and a Moon Apparel blogger-ambassador. With collaborations with Jacob, Holt Renfrew and Ford Canada under her belt, Belkova is among the top Canadian bloggers taking the retail scene by storm.
“I think there is friendly competition between bloggers. When one of us gets a contract or a collaboration with a brand, we’re happy for each other and it pushes us to do better as well,” she says.
Belkova refers to Kimberly Lyn from The Souls of My Shoes and Sharon Ng Hayes from The Backseat Stylers as her “blogger family”, whom she met at Toronto Fashion Week.
Fashion has always been interesting to Belkova, who grew up in Kyrgyzstan and lived in Texas before finally moving to Toronto. Inspired by Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist, she decided to start a blog focused on Toronto’s street style. After nearly four years, Belkova’s blog has evolved to focus on wish lists, shopping adventures and her personal life.
“Next year, I want to focus more on travel-style posts, because I do travel a lot. The most popular post on my blog is about a Prada outlet in Florence,” she says. “I have a very soft spot for Prada because they do a lot of whimsical designs. I’m all about the whimsy and the kitsch.”
Take one look at Belkova’s quirky Luna pumps by Charlotte Olympia and you’ll see exactly what she means. Along with an everlasting love of stripes, Belkova is currently obsessed with all things bold, graphic and patterned.
“Seeing the Louis Vuitton spring 2013 collection, I was dying! I wish I could afford all of it,” she says with a laugh.
Belkova’s dramatic adoration of fashion is evident. Still, she admits she isn’t in a hurry to leave her day job to become a full-time blogger. For 2013, she plans to continue working with Yorkdale Mall and Garnier Canada, and she also attended New York Fashion Week earlier this month.
On her days off from blogging, Belkova leaves the crazy pants at home, but she isn’t afraid to add a bit of edge to her nine-to-five style.
“The environment I work in is very conservative, but I try to push the boundaries in certain ways. I’ll wear a peplum leather top with a pair of dress pants,” she says. “I definitely dress more ‘out there’ than most of my co-workers. It’s just a matter of weighing how much you can get away with!”
A photoshoot with Nelia