Juggling Crime and Clothes

Eva Hoare of the Herald has two main beats: fashion and the justice system.

By Meg Lyons

 Smart, feisty, and dressed in orange, Eva Hoare is one seriously playful fashionista.

By Meg Lyons

Eva Hoare takes a moment to herself, in Paris. (Photo: Jeff Ferguson.)

 

 “You know that feeling where you don’t know left and right? Today I’m just like: fuck!,” Eva Hoare says. “What do I have to do? I’m down to the last of my lists.”

One thing crossed off her list is the “fiasco” of packing for vacation. She is leaving for Croatia and later traveling to Paris where her boyfriend will meet her. Croatia begins with a cycling trip which has her suitcase filled with bicycle jerseys borrowed from her “sporty spice” best friend.

Hoare’s thoughts on cycle wear: “Cycle pants? Really? Shit.”  She’s not really into the whole sports bra thing either, and is bummed she can’t just slip on a normal bra and be good to go.

As Hoare’s blonde doo dances over her shoulders while she talks — she makes it clear it’s natural, unlike those Upper East Side girls in the hit series Gossip Girl — the 51-year-old veteran Chronicle Herald reporter opens up on how she became the only paid, mainstream fashion columnist in Atlantic Canada.

Out flows happiness, loss, and everything in-between.

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When Hoare opened up her almost-ready-to-go suitcase lying out of place ka-splat on the floor, it was remarkable how someone with an entire bedroom designated as a walk-in closet — with racks upon racks of clothes lined up like soldiers, each ready for (fashion) duty — was able to get enough outfits for a vacation to Paris, the fashion capital of the world, in such a mediocre-sized suitcase. Let’s not forget the built-in closet-within-a-closet made especially for “I hate suits but I keep them anyway” and scattered piles of garments spread across the room — the “giveaway but I’d like to keep” pile, “the fix it” pile, and the “holy shit what do I do” pile.

Really?  The “I’m going to die broke — I’ll be a good-looking corpse” lady packing conservative colours in nothing bigger than a carry-on? It’s mind-blowing really, after seeing the average-sized closet in Hoare’s master bedroom selected to display shoes, while in a second closet hangs costume jewellery — a small collection compared to the heaps of accessories stretched across the first drawer of her dresser.

[pullquote]”I still have serious reporting left in me, and I have all this foolishness left in me too.”
– Eva Hoare, reporter for the Chronicle Herald [/pullquote]

Her style is smart and sophisticated. For the airplane she has decided to go the sensible route, easing into faded black Lactose sneakers. After she lands in Split, the largest coastal city in Croatia, she’ll slip on new black ballet flats complete with delicate rhinestones covering the toes. Hoare knows how to make comfortable look chic, and makes it clear she’s not going to be one of those zippy, fanny pack carrying tourists rummaging through Paris. On this trip she’ll be wearing feminine black pieces with a hard edge.

“I don’t want to look like the big Dumb-Dumb in white tennis sneakers,” she says as her little “whack job” of a dog, Chelsea — almost as big as her $1,200 size 5 ½  Jimmy Choo python heels — is squealing and hopping beneath her feet.

The platform heels are just $800 less than the 2,000 bucks the average family in Nova Scotia spends on clothing each year. “It’s not like my financial advisor is going to thank me for that one,” says Hoare. She has yet to wear the works of art with the silky and slithery snake print exterior, given she is just getting over a broken wrist due to “dancing exuberantly” at a wedding when wearing platform heels.  She’ll refrain from any kind of similar escapade in Paris.

“There is this one dressy night on a boat. I don’t want to wear heels because I’ll look like an arsehole. And also, I don’t want to fall.”

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While waiting for Hoare at a Starbucks in downtown Halifax on a bright Sunday afternoon, the first sound of her was a feisty voice that tickled the air. “Megan? Are you Megan?” Nope, wrong person. Her interviewer was over here. The petite fashionista breezed over, happy-go-lucky in DKNY strappy low heels and mismatched strings of gold and silver necklaces laced over a black dress, all completed with a “so Sarah Jessica Parker” style belt. With one look at the lineup at the counter, Hoare collapsed in a seat and began to chat.

Let’s talk business. Hoare has written more than 150 articles in the past year for the Herald, mostly crime reports. Only 24 articles were for Fashion Wrap — her biweekly column on fashion.

Ask Eva– Literally!

Find Ask Eva on Facebook. Eva Hoare will answer all your questions about fashion whether you’re looking for something to wear for a winter wedding, or how to rock an old piece from the ’80s.You’ll also find daily posts from Eva:

  • See fabulous new collections
  • Fashion articles from other reporters across the globe
  • What’s in this season
  • Inside scoop on what celebrities are wearing.
  • Attention-grabbing fashion sightings

Fashion. Crime. Together?

Hoare was always interested in both. At six she was a regular at Stedman’s clothing store in Truro, racing to keep up with her mother. The weekly shopping sparked her fashion flare. Hoare’s crime reporting pleasure began during childhood vacations in the States.  “Mom was a teacher and always picked up the big New York Times. I used to read through it and could not stop reading the section about mysterious murders!,” Hoare said. “I always knew that that is what I’d end up doing.”

And she did. Following her graduation from the University of King’s College one-year Bachelor of Journalism program in 1984, Hoare worked as a news reporter for CHNS radio. She moved on to work with the Chronicle Herald in 1985, starting out immediately as a crime reporter — a beat she settled into, learning the ins and outs of procedural matter, what steps investigators were going to take, who to call, and what was going to happen next.

Jeffrey Simpson, a former investigative reporter at the Herald who worked beside Hoare in 1995 doing crime reports on the night shift, said Hoare was a tenacious reporter who was never one to get beat on stories.  She would be at home before her evening shift, already working the phones. “She managed to always advance stories and land huge scoops for the paper.”

Hoare worked the crime beat for about a decade, giving it up in the late ’90s. “I was tired of it. When you’re writing about the bad guys, then their nephew’s carrying the torch of crime, it’s like oh my God. Does anybody ever change?”

Hoare moved on to business writing, to investigative writing, then to assignment editor. In 2009, when the Herald had the most layoffs in its history, she was bumped into her current position as a general reporter. She still dips into crime reporting often because there is too much crime for one Herald reporter to cover. She  also became a fashion columnist.

Calling nine of Canada’s big newspapers, including the Montreal Gazette, the Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star, reveals only one with a dedicated fashion column. All nine newspapers have reporters or editors who contribute fashion to a Life, Style, Lifestyle, or Arts section, but only the Globe has a regular column discussing fashion. It’s Russell Smith’s Ask a Style Expert column, appearing every Wednesday, Friday, and the occasional Saturday.

Just a peak into Hoare’s accessory drawer. It includes pieces from Italy and Paris. (Photo: Meg Lyons)

Is Hoare really one-half of the nation’s newspapers’ regular, photo byline-adorned fashion columnists? It looks that way. And so it makes perfect sense that she is the only person in this Starbucks wearing two watches. The watch on her right arm is delicate and surrounded by thin, chattering bangles. On her left wrist is a silver, vintage style bracelet loosely coiled like a vine. At a glance, it is simple yet unique, and then a tiny watch face reveals itself on the underside of her forearm. Weird? Maybe. What might be weirder is how Hoare makes wearing two watches look fine.

She never thought she would be a fashion reporter, but she knew fashion. Hoare had a taste for cool clothes after a decade of watching her “clothes nut” mother put together beautiful outfits. “Everything looked great on her and that was always the point. If you could make something look great on you it doesn’t matter how much it cost.”

When Hoare was 14, her mother died at 52 after a tough battle with cancer. Hoare never kept any of her mom’s clothes — she was too young to think that way — but it’s clear she thinks about her mother often, nonchalantly mentioning her in conversation. “My mother taught me how to put lipstick on without a mirror,” she says as she reapplies her lipstick.

Like her newly painted lips, Hoare’s fashion sense is vibrant and has gotten noticed at work.  One day she wore orange, shocking everyone with the flamboyant colour that Herald staffers referred to her as “the Great Pumpkin.” When the Herald decided on starting a part-time fashion column, naturally Hoare was asked.

She took the column wanting people to have fun with clothes, rather than feel “tormented” when they open their closets. She injects humour into her writing. Hoare admits she is by no means an Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue, and won’t try to be that kind of expert. Still, experience and devotion means she can offer advice, not mere opinion. She has been a contributor to several publications, including Elle Canada online, and over the last two decades has interviewed many Canadian designers —David Dixon and Debbie Shuchat among them. Every morning Hoare’s routine includes plowing through fashion websites, from instyle.com to saksfifthavenue.com, and flipping through the pages of Lucky and Vogue.

Hoare has also given fashion advice on Ask Eva — an online Herald column which allowed people to write in questions but was taken offline last year and is now on Facebook. The Herald, Hoare says, is planning a re-launch.

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Nadine LaRoche, an award-winning writer who has worked with Filly.ca, Halifax’s online women’s magazine, and a past style editor for Lifestyle Maritimes, says Halifax doesn’t have a fashion scene vibrant enough for full time fashion coverage. “When it comes to somebody dreaming that they can do full time coverage in Halifax, I don’t think it exists.”

Hoare agrees. She would love for the Herald to have a dedicated fashion section like the Globe, included weekly in the Saturday paper, but says there needs to be a financial gain for the paper to go that route.

Danna Storey, a popular fashion blogger in Halifax whose blog youlookfiiine gets as many as 785 hits a day, would love to write about fashion in Halifax more — for money. She agrees there isn’t enough going on to sell constant fashion exposure in Halifax. To make big bucks in fashion writing, Storey says she would have go to the big city — Toronto.

“We’re just so small. I don’t doubt people would be interested in a magazine about fashion and beauty but the content would be recycled.”

Fashion Wrap is enough for Hoare, alongside general reporting. “I still have serious reporting left in me and I have all this foolishness left in me too.”

Fourteen years after Hoare’s mother passed in 1974, her father died of congestive heart failure while struggling with Parkinson’s disease. In 2002, Hoare watched her “mighty warrior” husband, Luke Cable, die after a two-year battle with colon cancer. Her column, started in 2003, “helped ignite a passion in me again. You go through a lot of loss and (Fashion Wrap) was fun. It made me happy and it still makes me happy.”

As it turns out, Hoare had a blast cycling in Croatia, despite the hills — and bra change. She returned from vacation with some of the in-between stuff that adds to who we are, among the loss and happiness: earrings from Croatia, small tapestries from the Loire Valley, and two pairs of knee-high boots from Paris. Two? That suitcase must be magical.