Q+A with Jill Barber

From traditional country to Motown to motherhood -- Jill Barber has it covered.

May 14, 2015

Turned away from high-school musicals for having too deep a voice, Jill Barber eventually found her groove at 16 with a guitar and some loose-leaf that allowed her to write songs to suit her distinctive tone. The aspiring chanteuse further honed her Brill Building sound at university while studying philosophy. “I was feeling very bohemian, so I bought an old record player and thumbed through dusty bins of vinyl; I was fascinated by old music’s timeless quality.” While her daytime wardrobe is mostly contemporary with a classic feel, “There’s nothing like a beautiful ’50s cocktail gown to transport you to a different era, and make you feel as glamorous as an old-time movie star.”

What’s the most beautiful piece in your closet? A vintage Persian-lamb coat that was my grandmother’s.

Your favourite piece? It changes from week to week, but right now it’s a ’60s-inspired floral jumper that I bought at a pop-up shop in Palm Springs during Modernism Week.

Favourite jeans? J. Crew’s Toothpick skinny.

What’s on your nightstand? A copy of Women in Clothes, a collection of essays by women about the meaning behind the clothes they wear. It was a gift from my stylish friend Lizzy Karp, cofounder of Vancouver storytelling night Raincity Chronicles.

Most interesting souvenir? A madeleine pan from famed cooking store E. Dehillerin.

Name one item in your closet you couldn’t throw away. A very chic maternity shirt that I purchased in Paris when I was seven months pregnant.

Weirdest thing in your purse? An extra nappy.

Favourite colour? Blue, all shades of.

What must every fashionable woman own this season? This season and every season, a beautiful scarf.

Favourite nail polish? OPI passion

What designer do you love the most and which piece would you buy this season?  I have a penchant for beautiful hats and I absolutely adore the work of Kelly Dunlap.

What’s the one best style advice/tip you know of? If you wear it with confidence you can pull off any look.

What’s the most recent splurge item you bought for your home? A vintage Vancouver bus scroll from The Found and the Freed.

Name three things that are always in your fridge.  Eggs, butter, marmalade.

Your favorite bottle of wine to splurge on Muga Rioja. My dad has great taste in wine; he turned me on to this bottle.

Name one gift that you’ve received and enjoyed in the last three years? Some stunningly beautiful hand-knits for my baby after he was born. It kind of breaks my heart when he grows out of them and I have to pack them away. Gifts made with love and by hand are always the very best.

Your favourite gift? For my 35th birthday recently my husband treated my girlfriends and me to a unique culinary experience at Vancouver’s Kitchen Culinaire. (http://kitchenculinaire.com)

Something that you always bring as a hostess gift or to a party? In addition to wine I like to bring a tea towel. It lasts longer than flowers and is both pretty and practical.

List three things you always pack when you travel. Slippers, travel mug, MacBook Air.

Favourite destination to vacation? The south of France.

What’s your favourite place to lunch? The slow-baked chicken and freekeh salad plate at my neighbourhood Palestinian restaurant; Tamam is my favourite lunch in the city.

What restaurant do you recommend out-of-town guests visit? Bao Bei is a sure bet that combines Vancouver’s Chinese culinary flavours with chic presentation.

When you’re feeling indulgent…where do you go or what do you buy? I go for a cheap and cheerful pedi, and splurge on a bottle of Veuve Clicquot to enjoy fireside at home.

The art you feel closest to in your home?  The centrepiece in our living room is definitely our big shark, a painting that my husband bought a decade ago, by Canadian musician Andrew Scott, drummer of the band Sloan.

What’s your favourite book? I just finished Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. Loved it.

Favourite singer? Etta James. Love the way she delivers a message.

I never, ever leave the house without… Baby wipes, iPhone, giant purse to carry all my bits and bobs.

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