Archives For December 2011

Ahh, that blessed week between Christmas and New Years. A time to read, a time to sleep, a time to clean, a time to thrift. That just about sums up my life for the past few days. In between taking down the Christmas tree, and racking up the mileage on my car from one family to another, I found the time to enjoy my new gifts, and thrift some old gifts too.

I’ve often mentioned that I thrift because it ties all my passions together. I’ve already posted on thrift-fusions pertaining to my love for art history and photography, and over the Christmas break I stepped over yet another blurry line.

Some background: I’m a graphic designer. Everyday, I pour over fonts and fuss with serifs. So, naturally, the hot item atop my wishlist was Simon Garfeild’s Just My Type: A Book About Fonts. This is a wonderful book – it’s fresh, funny, informative, and quite simply a must-own for type geeks like me. It reminds me that fonts are bits of living history. Just My Type gives us the stories behind the fonts, and tells of the masterful craftmanship that goes into every letter. And in turn, those masterfully crafted alphabets shape our histories, and provide sign posts to look back on The fonts we use, and the ways we use them, give us insights we too often overlook. This was proven especially true on Wednesday evening, after yet another trip to the Salvation Army.

Not having much luck, I was just about ready to call it a night, but not before I took one last look at the jacket aisle. There, I  plucked a bright red blazer from the hanger. Oh, what a find! This was no ordinary red blazer, this, friends, was Christian Dior. So, I put it on, put my money on the counter, and headed on home.

However, there was one little thought bugging me about the jacket. More specifically, the jacket label. It looked all wrong. The Dior logo is elegant, the font likely designed by Nicholas Cochin, the serifs (the little feet on fonts like Garamond and Times New Roman) are slight, and the D has a grand sensibility. The Christian Dior logo in the jacket wasn’t any of those things. It was a simple font, with harsh slab-serifs. Below is a basic comparison of the classic logo, and the logo on my blazer.

The jacket was just too nice to be a fake, so I went to the Google-mobile for some mystery-solving, fonty-style.

I looked through many’an ebay auction, read up on vintage labels, and nailed down trademarks for specific Dior collections. Through it all, I discovered that Dior has used at  nearly 20 variations on the logo over the years, and these variations can tell us what collection an item is from, what year it was created, where it was manufactured, and how much it’s worth.

After much sleuthing, I came across a big tip when I found another reputable vintage fashion dealer, selling a very similar red jacket (with an hilariously 80s wig). Even the sizing was in the same font and style.

I found more matching labels on additional jackets and trousers, and the history of my jacket came to light. Turns out, in the mid-eighties, Dior launched a diffusion line called Christian Dior Coordonnes. This line was an offshoot of the larger Dior brand, creating clothes for the modern working woman at department store prices (much like Lauren by Ralph Lauren or D&G by Dolce and Gabanna). Suddenly, the variation in the classic Dior logo made perfect sense – of course Dior would select a font of a more casual nature, something a little more modern, a little less stuffy, and a little more attainable for this everyday collection. Dior chose a font to convey something specific, and yesterday that font gave me the specifics I wanted to know. Full circle. Nice.

If you’ve stuck with me during this little history lesson, I applaud you! While it may seem dry to some, these sort of pleasant intersections between life, design, and fashion are what it’s all about for me. And you know what else makes me happy? Wearing something with shoulder pads so big, they could hurt somebody.

Just one more teensy fun fact: my jacket was likely made in Canada, so you know what I’ll be wearing Canada Day 2012! Except this thing is pure wool, so it’s going to be a very sweaty July 1. I must really love my country.

Update: a friendly tweet from the ever-stylish Jentine at My Edit reminded me of her most-excellent post on what to look for when thrifting blazers. She has wisdom, go absorb it!

I am overwhelmed in the best possible way! Since being listed on the the WordPress Freshly Pressed page, I’ve received so many kind comments and enthusiastic new readers, I can hardly keep up! I’ve been given the gift of a readership, and I promise to deliver the goods. I can’t wait to thrift along with all of you in 2012.

I’m currently packing up my closet to spend a few days with family. I have two objectives: Eat everything that comes my way (I’m lookin’ at you, cheese log), and work in my latest thrifted find, these supa-fly Sketchers boots. The only thing better than getting boots for $9 is getting them for $4.50 at the Salvation Army -50% shoe sale last weekend. Right now they feel like figure skates in a size too small, but I love them enough to make them fit (that’s how it works, right?).

Anyhoo, sore toes aside, I wish all you vintage votaries and thrift addicts a most happy Christmas! May it be merry and bright!


Christmas is almost here! Gah, I can hardly stand the wait – nog, carols, presents and my nieces in adorable Christmas attire (I’m just assuming). With only a few days to go before Santa comes to town, its time for one more Christmas post – exploding with vintage-holiday glam!

A few weeks ago, two of my gal-pals were over the moon about their newly-aquired vintage finds. These two style mavens made a trip to Downtown Dundas, and discovered Andrian’s Armoire – a consignment shop with vintage finds all hand-picked by the owner. Now, consignment shops can be scary territory for thrifters like me – what price tag are are we looking at here? Can I still call it a steal? My friends assured me that all clothing was reasonably priced with a variety of vintage finds and quality brands, which means I’m headed there ASAP. Kristin picked up an incredible gold 60s cocktail dress that fit her like it was MADE for her, and Sandra got herself one of the more fabulous coats I’ve ever seen – a furlined hood, New York-made, amazing! So, we did what any normal girl would do – schedule a photoshoot!

glam shoot_nuts

I called on my two sisters to round out our crew of Mad Women. Adele wore a thrifted bright orange shift-dress I picked up on Queen Street in Toronto four years ago (and no longer fit). And Laura wore a mid-calve white beaded number I’ve been hoarding, right out of Betty Draper’s closet. (I’m going to do another post on that find, its got some interesting history.)

I took a break from standing behind the camera for a few photos aswell, in my favourite polka-dot dress. All in all, it was a fantastically fun time. It also spoke to the pure quality you can aim for when shopping second hand – thrifting doesn’t mean cheaply made! All our looks were beautifully crafted pieces from bygone fashion periods. And, at the risk of sounding like an old bitty – they don’t make ’em like they used to!

glam shoot_outside

Note the added details – what fascintor! Kristin thrifted the above hat for her “Mustaches & Hats” birthday party last summer, and was delighted to have a reason to wear it again. It’s from from Weird Stuff – Antiques, Collectables & Nostalgia in Hamilton. Kudos to her for not being scared off by the website. It’s weird!

glam shoot_orange

What bunch of stunners. Merry Christmas all!

Art Attack

December 8, 2011 — 14 Comments

Let me confess something to you: I don’t love fashion. I don’t read runway reports, I only buy the big September issue of Vogue, and I don’t really care to know who Rachel Zoe is. My relationship with fashion is one of appreciation: I love the idea of personal expression through colour, I love the notion that we can use clothing as visual representations of our identity: the times we live in, and the places we’re from. More simply, I love beautiful things. I feel much the same way about home decor. In fact, most of my decisions about fashion and design come from my deeper love for art and art history, in which I hold my degree. More than any magazine, that tends to be the driving force behind the way I decorate my home, and myself. I’ll buy a bed spread because it matches the Monet in my bedroom, and yesterday, I wore a red blouse with yellow flats because it made me feel like a Lichtenstein panel:

This look was a happy accident. I thrifted the red Evan Picone blouse from the Salvation Army on Saturday, mostly because it looked kind of like Minnie Mouse. I found that it tucked in nicely with a navy skirt, and only once I added the yellow flats did the Roy Lichtenstein girl come to life.

Like any good edgy art student, I was in a Pop Art phase for most of my college career (I kinda still am), so I was quite delighted by this pop art palette. If the image up top didn’t ring any bells, Lichenstein was a pop artist from the 1960s New York scene. He is the man behind the now-iconic recreations of vintage comic book panels, using hard lines, bold colours and half-tone (dotted) filling.

Given the subject matter I was referencing, it only made sense to top off the look with a bold red lip and a Betty Cooper pony tail.

This won’t be the last time I reference an art movement in my choice of dress – I thrifted a RAD Modrian-style mini dress the same time I picked up this spotty blouse, so you’ll have to stay tuned for the De Stijl edition of We So Thrifty. Don’t hold your breath for a Duchamp-inspirted outfit though (#artjoke).

One more fun fact to close out the post: The lovely notebook I’m holding was a gift from my friend Jenna, who dresses up dull notebooks with retro fabric and makes them look way more stylin’. Thanks Jenna!

Pinstripes Vs. Polkadots

December 8, 2011 — 14 Comments

I remember my very first day of work at a “real” job. I was taking the big, scary train, and I was so nervous I could have peed my pants. I was also on very little sleep, mostly because I spent the evening prior agonizing about what to wear, changing my outfit a bajillion times, only to conclude I would probably get fired upon arrival for looking like such a loser. I was headed into the office world, and I had no idea how to dress for it. I mean, what experience did I have? My life up to this point had included two looks. It was either Student at School, or Student at Night:

Student at school: Ah, the classic Co-Ed look. It was an easy recipe really: Ugg boots, a scarf, some kind of tightly-fitting tee, and bam – ready to learn!  This look almost always included jeans that meant you could not, under any circumstances, tie your shoe (catch my drift ladies?). It was pretty basic stuff. I just wanted to come off as a naturally put-together college student with naturally pin-straight hair.  It’s not like I was waking up two hours early every morning to fry the shizz out of it to get it to look that way (*cough-sarcasm-cough).

Student at a night: This was basically the Student at School outfit, just updated for an evening of dancing by substituting said tight-fitting tee for a sparkly tank-top of some kind. Curiously, I often decided the UGGs should stay. I always had very sweaty feet by the end of the night. Oh, to be young again.

So, when I finally landed my first job as a junior designer at a small firm, I assumed I had to tap into that foreign, strange “Business Casual” style of dress. I went to the nearest Tall Girl, got myself three pairs of pinstriped pants and a few sweater vests. I left for work that morning attempting to look like a “young professional”, but ended up looking more like Pam Beesly in the Roy days. It was sad.

I don’t know when I my style drifted away from pinstripes and pale button-ups, but I’m so very glad it did. You know what I wear to work every day now? Anything I want! You know what you can wear to work every day? Anything you want! You can still look respectable in bursts of colour and pattern, and you can still feel pretty whilst looking professional. I wore something to work yesterday that, to me, perfectly personified the balance I seek out when dressing for work.

I thrifted this brightly coloured, pleated dress at Talize a few weeks back. It’s red, floral, a little funky, and it has three buttons on one sleeve for reasons I’m not sure exist. It’s a brand name I’ve never heard of, and I have a hunch it came from 91’. But it’s light and flowy, and when I pair it with this little Guess jacket, I feel like a creative professional – whatever that is.

Since I’ve stopped aiming for “business casual” and started dressing like myself, I actually enjoy shopping for office attire, simply because the items I buy for work are items I can wear again on the weekend, and when I get home.

Over the past year, on the rare occasion that the trifecta comes together (clean hair, some makeup, and an outfit I actually like), I’ll snap a pic on my desktop webcam, just so I can look at those times when I sleep past the fifth snooze and revert back to Beesly. I compiled a little collage of those rare moments. As you’ll see, there is no one right way to to dress for the office. So have some fun with it! All looks, as always, thrifted!

Green cardigan + belt – Talize | Black lace top – Consignment shop | Striped tunic – Talize | Parasuco Jean jacket – Goodwill | Maggy London Polkadot dress – Salvation Army | Cassis Printed peasant dress – Clothing Swap | Red dress – Talize | Le Chateau Purple tunic – Talize | Chicos Polkadot blouse – Salvation Army

How do you dress for work? Pinstripes & cardies or pleats & polkadots?

It’s December 4, and I’ve already listened to more Christmas music than most people can stand. And I’m not even close to changing the channel, bring on the eggnog!

I seriously love the holiday season. Love it! Oh, sure, the commercialized consumer-fest  is something to lament, but I can’t resist the cozy joy that comes from frequent gatherings with friends and family;  it makes working for the weekend even more rewarding. On Friday, I caroled my wee little heart out over a laptop-assisted Christmas sing-along (to make sure we got all the Frosty lyrics right of course), and on Saturday we wined and dined a group of 15 friends, my husband made a successful turkey, and I got to dress for holiday parties both nights. Oh, Christmas, you’re the best!

Enough with the talky, here are a few pics of one newly-thrifted holiday party outfit. As usual, I didn’t like anything I had in the closet, so I made my way over to the Salvation Army for some last-minute Saturday shoppin. I came upon a houndstooth skirt, which I’m pretty excited about (and yes, I googled “Scottish fabric patterns” in order to come up with the proper term for the pattern. You can’t tell from the pics, but it’s actually a stretchy knit. Which means two very important things: It’s warm, and it’s comfy! I also bought the chunky gold necklace at the same time, to provide a little holiday razzle-dazzle, and added the belt to keep it from getting too office-friendly. I put on some the red lipstick, and whistled for my one-horse open sleigh. Okay, I can’t whistle. But I do have a sleigh, and by sleigh, I mean car.

The following night, we held our annual “family Christmas”.  A few days before the festivities, we did a quick survey of our dish ware, and discovered that we have four wine glasses. Four. Now, four is usually plenty for Friday-night wine nights over some Chinese food and Netflix, but it was far short of the 15 we needed to host all our friends. One day, I may cave and buy a nice-looking set of wine glasses (you know, different shapes for different kids of wine and all that silliness). But for two twenty-somethings with student loans and cat, that is not this day.

Someone suggested I stock my cupboards with Dollarstore glasses while I wait for that day to arrive, but why on earth would I blow a $1.25/glass at the Dollarstore when I can get perfectly good (unmatchy) glasses for $.45/glass at my faithful friend, the Sally-Anne? Well, that’s exactly what I did. And everyone was able to enjoy my Sangria without having to drink it from coffee mugs like last time! Man, when did I become such a grown-up?

Oh, and I also made something. In the oven. With ingredients! They even looked kind of like they were supposed to:

(the original recipe)

I’ve also got to give a shout-out to one of my clients, Cheryl, who did a hilarious post on Christmas baking on her newly-designed blog . It involves boob cookies. Now I know you’re intrigued.

The holidays are here folks. Next up: my entirely thrifted Santa costume!