September 22, 2023

Eclectic patterns and bold colours prove that more is more.

Vancouver entrepreneur Anna Heyd wearing a maximalist style outfit including a patterned skirt and green cardigan, photographed against a murale.

(Photo: Rachel Pick)

“You can wear whatever you want as long as you wear it like you mean it” is a piece of fashion advice Anna Heyd has always lived by. The co-founder of Vancouver-based home brand Wilet (formerly Flax Home) developed her sense of style early, sometimes picking clothes—like a full-length hoop skirt with lace trim—right out of her dress-up box. “Even then, I wanted to wear things that other people didn’t have.” True to her eclectic roots, Heyd now favours pieces with colourful, eye-catching patterns she can see herself wearing for the long haul. Like a collector, she loves a good backstory: “If I buy art and put it on my walls, I want to know about the artist,” she explains. She picked up the skirt pictured here during a trip to Copenhagen, where she was finally able to visit the boutique of her favourite designer, Henrik Vibskov.

Here, she shares her love for maximalist patterns and bold colours as well as a genius way to style special-occasion pieces.

How did you develop your personal style?

Someone once told me “you can wear whatever you want as long as you wear it like you mean it” and that stuck with me. It’s the ethos I’ve had since I was a very small child. I was homeschooled so I had no notion of what other kids were wearing—I got to explore whatever interested me. It was usually a combination of what we got at the thrift store, what I learned to sew—I took my first sewing lesson at age six—and my dress-up box. I remember so clearly the first thing I was ever obsessed with; it was a full-length denim skirt trimmed with lace from Goodwill, and my dad made it into a hoop skirt. Even then, I wanted to wear things that other people didn’t have.

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What are some staple pieces in your closet?

I don’t do a lot of accessorizing, but I love wearing different glasses every day. I have nine pairs—a green one, a blue one, a red one… Anytime I’ve gone into the store thinking ‘I need a tortoise shell pair’ or ‘I would really like some pink wire frames’, I always leave with something else. I just go in and see what happens and always come out with something totally different than what I expected.

I also love sneakers. I didn’t get into sweatsuits during the pandemic, but I was like ‘okay, I don’t ever have to wear heels again.’ I can style anything with a sneaker. I love wearing pieces that traditionally would be for special occasions with sneakers. I have a big skirt that looks like a wedding skirt, but I wear it with a T-shirt, a denim jacket and a pair of sneakers, and suddenly you have this casual, everyday outfit. I really love that mix.

And these accessories can carry the whole outfit. On a day where I keep it simple with my outfit, the right sneakers and a good pair of glasses still mean my look is interesting.

Vancouver entrepreneur Anna Heyd wearing a maximalist style outfit including a patterned white jumpsuit and a black vest with graphic shapes, photographed against a murale.

(Photo: Rachel Pick)

What is your process when picking an outfit?

I think about what I’m doing that day. Sometimes, you dress for yourself, but sometimes you dress for other people as well. So who am I going to see? When I know that I’m in a new situation with new people, then I feel like I really need to really bring it. Or if I’m not feeling my absolute best, it then becomes important that my outfit wows because it helps facilitate conversations that maybe I don’t have the energy to facilitate on my own. A great outfit opens the door for the conversation. There’s a world where I’m feeling my very most confident and I’m wearing a boring outfit.

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What do you look for when shopping for new pieces?

Colour and pattern, and a backstory. Learning about the person who makes my clothes or about how they are made is something that’s important to me. If I buy art and put it on my walls, I want to know about the artist and what their motivations were. Especially for my investment pieces, they need to have a story, the same way that a painting would.

Fashion has informed the way I travel. I went to Copenhagen to visit the boutique of my favourite designer, Henrik Vibskov. I carefully selected the skirt [in the first photo] after going through several different things because you can only purchase one item at a time. That piece is so special. I picked up the matching top later in New York.

There’s a lot of talk about cost per wear and apps that will help you calculate that. But that’s never been the issue for me. When I invest in an expensive piece, the last thing that I feel like I should do with that piece is leave it in the closet for a special occasion. I might spend a ridiculous amount of money on a skirt, but if I’m going to wear it once a week and if it’s going to bring me joy every time, it’s okay.

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What kind of fabrics do you tend to gravitate toward?

Unless a piece structurally needs a synthetic fabric, I like natural fibres like linen, cotton or sometimes Tencel. Wilet is all about linen because that’s what I love to wear.

How do you organize your closet?

My closet is very visual. It’s generally organized by colour, with as many things as possible on hangers—as opposed to folded up and put in drawers—because if I don’t see it, I don’t remember what I have. In my last house, I didn’t have a closet so I hung driftwood from the ceiling for my clothes to hang from. My whole bedroom was basically turned into a walk-in closet. In my current place, I have a Carrie Bradshaw-style walkthrough closet, which I really love.