Archives For February 2012

Behind the Seams

February 28, 2012 — 26 Comments

I’m coming up on my two week anniversary with the new love of my life, my iPhone. I am currently obsessed with every little thing this fancy phone can do, so I thought it might be fun for me and my new buddy to take you on a thrift trip. This past weekend, I documented a typical saturday in the life of a thrifter like me. I’ve created a play-by-play of all the laughters, tears, heartbreaks and victories that accompany my average thrifting excursion, peppered with the occasional tip, and the frequent unnecessary Instagram filter. Let’s begin!

The first thing one must do when thrifting is prepare for the long journey ahead. For me, this included a breakfast of champions. This has nothing to do with thrifting, but I can’t resist bragging about the life-changing orange-chocolate french toast that kicked off my day. Sweet mother of mary, that’s some eatin’!

With a belly full, I stopped at home briefly to ensure my outfit was thrift-friendly. What makes an outfit thrift-friendly? Leggings. I always thrift in leggings because then I can try on shirts, skirts, and dresses without having to change my bottoms. I also put on some slouchy boots that I could easily remove, and pulled my hair away from my face. That changeroom is a hotbed for static activity.

Hamilton is home to a wonderful assortment of thrift-stores. I could easily hit up five without having to drive more than twenty minutes between them. But I set a more realistic goal for myself, and decided on the Salvation Army and Bibles for Missions. Salvation Army was up first.

I have a specific order for attacking thrift stores. It usually goes: dresses, long sleeve blouses, skirts, short-sleeve blouses, coats, shoes, and housewares. I intended to stick to the order, but upon arrival, I laid eyes on a most-awesome sheer blouse. It was cropped in the front, long in the back, with tres long sleeves. I was already imagining myself looking super-awesome drinking super-lattes (I don’t even drink lattes…) when my vision was abruptly cut short.

Turns out the previous owner of this blouse also drank alotta lattes, and one ended up all over the sleeve. Too bad. Onward!

I resumed my regular order, rounding up a very colourful first haul:

That H&M peach dress in the bottom right corner made it to the change room strictly because it looked so very Kelly Kapowski.

With my arms nearly full, I was about to try on these finds when something unexpected caught my eye.

This sweet jacket was in the pyjama section, with a “Men’s Sportwear” tag. The only person who would consider these pyjamas would be Sue Sylvester. This jacket sums up what I love so much about thrifting – the surprises. Was I looking for an purple and orange Adidas jacket? Heck no! Did I try it on? Heck yes!

All the other items I tried were too big, too short, and too tight, but this jacket was a winner. Will it compel me to start workin’ on my fitness? Probably not. But still – purple!

The last item I tried also referenced another favourite TV character of mine. Can you guess?

Hint: FLARE! 

That delightful stripy number didn’t fit quite right, but I was already satisfied with my jacket. On my way to the cash, I gave a longing look at all the cute heels that a tall chick like me will never get to wear, and strutted out of the store with my new find tucked under my arm.


The next stop was Bibles For Missions. I love BFM because everyone there sounds like an Oma. I also love BFM because while their selection is smaller, all the clothing is in fanastic shape. The final reason I love BFM is because they have belts for $.50! That’s a deal from Archie comic days!

I found two belts, and my sister snagged those awesome leopard flats you see. I wanted them, but my toboggan feet wouldn’t fit.

I picked up a few more items to take the change room. Braemar by Jeremy scott is one of those brands I see all the time at thrift stores – he could have his own section. I also giggled when I saw “Totes Coat”.  I’m a loser.

Sadly, that lovely coat had just a lingering scent of mothballs. I’ve learned my lesson with that – it doesn’t go away. I did manage to find another item to take home though:

I love the floral trend that’s here, there, and everywhere these days. Could I have found a similar top at a Forever 21? Probably. But the tag on this top looks so old-school, I take comfort in the fact that it’s probably ten years old and still looks great. I challenge anyone to say that about something from F21 in ten years.

The grand total? 2 belts, 1 jacket, and 1 top. All in all, not a bad little saturday. I hope you enjoyed my play-by-play. Maybe next time I’ll make a video, with effects! It will go something like this: Star-wipe! Profound quote! Fade to black. Morgan Freeman Narration. End scene.

You can just give me my Oscar right now.

Black Tie Only

February 26, 2012 — 15 Comments

The year: 1998. The day: March 23. The event: The 70th Annual Academy Awards, the Oscars. Film’s biggest, longest, sparkliest night. I was maybe 12 years old, and only watched for one reason: In the vain hope my main man Leo would show, even though the Academy had committed a most-grievous crime in denying him a nomination. He was the king of the world for cryin’ out loud! And so dreamy! Rumour had it Leo would not be attending the ceremony, but I’d still get to hear Celine belt out Heart of the Ocean one more time.

It was honestly a magical moment – I didn’t really know why the camera panned to Jack Nicholson so many times, or what was wrong with that Joan Rivers lady, but I did see my parents laugh a whole lot at Billy Crystal’s opening monologue/montage, thus I, too, laughed a whole lot. Leo never showed, Titanic swept every category, and I bragged to anyone who would listen at school the next day that I stayed up for the whole darn thing.

Most people find them boring, silly, and just a little over the top. But every year, whether I’ve seen all or none of the nominated films, I carve a little time out of my night to buy into it all. In honour of film’s greatest night and Ryan Seacrest’s stupid face, I’ll be wearing my version of tuxedo for tonight’s festivities – complete with a bowtie.

The necklace was a pre-checkout buy at the Salvation Army, the clutch I can’t recall, my faithful CK blazer is also from the Sally Anne, but my favourite part of my “tuxedo” is the blouse. This blouse is Zara, 100% silk, and brand-spankin’ new. The tags were still attached, and some poor sucker spent $89.99 on theirs. I, on the other hand, spent $6.99 on mine. It may not be an Oscar, but that sure feels like a win.

PS – I’ll be live-tweeting as much as possible. Follow along for my picks on best dressed and whether salt n’ vinegar chips really are that much better than dill pickle.


February 21, 2012 — 13 Comments

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little ho-hum about my kitchen. It’s really the plainest space in my house – white counters, white cupboards, plain tile and old appliances. Matt and I know that someday we’ll give it a grand ol’ makeover, but we hadn’t given much thought to what that might look like. Not too long ago, I headed over to Pinterest to gather up some kitchen decor ideas.

For the rock-dwellers among us,  Pinterest is an online bookmarking system that houses, well, everything – clothing, recipes, home decor, memes – you name it, they’ve got it. It’s wonderful for wasting time under the guise of “finding inspiration”. More often than not, though, I head onto Pinterest looking for something particular, and before I know it, an hour has passed and I haven’t found anything that I originally set out looking for. Rather, I’ve made 113 new pins, and am suddenly certain I need some leg warmers, I should make something out of old mason jars, Joseph Gordon Levitt sure is handsome, blue is the new yellow, orange is the new blue, I should wallpaper my face, make an infographic about it, and then watch tutorials on how to make my hair look awesome with using only a fork and a single bobby pin. You get the idea – Pinterest is an amazing way of connecting with other creative women, but it can all get just a little overwhelming if left unbridled.

So, I put my little kitchen makeover in the back of my mind and stepped away from the Pin board.

I hadn’t really though much more about it until I thrifted the sunny H&M tunic you see here. I was instantly drawn to the retro print, and more so, the palette. Within this tunic, I saw the safe, neutral tones that would get my husband on board, and the warm, saturated hues I think a cozy kitchen needs.

I wore it with my thrifted Zara jacket and my leather ballet flats – I was a big fan of all the taupes and grays at work in this outfit. It was the perfect platform to return to Pinterest with a vision.

First, I started looking for patterns and palettes, using my new tunic as a reference.

From there, I broadened my search and began looking for rooms that worked in this colour family. I instantly found it much easier to navigate the murky waters of Pinterest with more defined search parameters.

I’ve since gathered up all these pieces and placed them on one board. They are now all hanging out together in a simple, organized, curated collection. So, if/when we decide to turn our attentions to the kitchen, we’ll at least have a place to start arguing, and that’s something!

As an aside, you’ll notice in the above pic I’m perplexed by the abundance of zippers, buttons, and pockets on my jacket. Who needs six tiny pockets on one jacket? A candy smuggler? A penny collector? A chauffeur to The Borrowers? So many questions! But perhaps these are queries better left for another day. I’ve solved one mystery today, I’m not sure I can handle another. Until then, happy pinning!

Making Amends: Music Wars

February 14, 2012 — 21 Comments

In the spirit of St. Valentine’s Day, I’ve prepared a bit of a longer entry today. One thing to get us started: I hate modern country music. And yet, last week, one of my thrifted outfits made me feel a bit like a cowgirl. Why is this important? Because it’s provided me an occasion to make amends with all my Garth-Brooks loving friends. You’re out there, and I love you. What prompted this public display of affection for dusty boots, desert skirts and denim jackets? Memories from my youth of music wars, subcultures, cliques and geeks. Here goes:

I went to a funny high school. We were a funny high school because while we had all the typical Glee/Mean Girls clique dynamics, it took on a bit of a different face. Instead of jocks & band geeks, we had hippies & punks. The male population of our little school was fiercely divided into these two very distinct groups.

The hippies were the popular kids. And the hippies adhered to a very distinct dress code comprised of plaid hunter jackets, dirty jeans, long shaggy hair, work boots, and a pack of cigarettes (think Hyde from That 70s Show meets Paul Bunyan). In addition to their uniformed attire, they all listened to one radio station – Classic Rock Q 107. Bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, The Doors and AC/DC made up the CD collection as approved by the hippies. The only other bands that made the cut without being actual classic rock where The Tragically Hip. Oh, and they all had animal nicknames for each other.

In stark contract to the hippies on the right were the punks of the left. This scrappy young group of rebels were the underdogs in the social scene (as punks usually are). They, too, had a very uniformed style: A DC/Volcom/Etnies t-shrit, Dickies shorts so low they almost broke the dress code, and Vans shoes. They wore a lot of studded belts, they skateboarded, and they listened to Punk, Ska and Pop-punk. Acceptable bands included Blink 182, Goldfinger, Rancid, and for a brief window, Simple Plan (shudder).

Now, while my particular social group leaned towards the hippie aesthetic, I had friends in both camps. For the most part, these groups stayed out of each other’s way. The hippies would play hockey and the punks would go snowboarding. But because teenagers are so full of angst, it wasn’t long before these two groups entered into an official feud. Here’s how it started:

Every Friday morning, our school would meet in the Commons for an hour or so, and students were encouraged to preform songs, skits, and magic tricks, etc. On this Friday, a rambunctious bunch of punks took to the stage for a few numbers. While I don’t remember the set list, I distinctly remember how they ended the show: In one high note, the singer sang into the mic: “Classic rock suuuuuucks”.

A flurry of grumbles and threats erupted from the hippie crowd. Teachers did their best to quell the tension, and I rolled my eyes at the hilarity of it all. The following assembly, a plaid-clad hippie and his friend played Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and ended with a hurried speech on all the reasons Blink 182 was the “worst band ever”.

A few days later, one of the punks dressed up in a plaid jacket, dirty jeans, and carried around a pack of cigarettes all day. He called himself Spade– a direct take on one of the hippie’s nicknames – Ace (I can’t make this stuff up!). The hippies, of course, took direct offense to this, and made murmurs of retaliation. Luckily though, our school wasn’t Degrassi and so nothing tragic ever came from the feud, and by graduation we were all best buds. Okay not quite, but we did all go to the same prom party. Great times!

What did I take from all of this? Music + fashion are inseparable, and the way we dress is absolutely a reflection of the subculture to which we choose to identify, especially when we’re 16. In hands of adolescent males, this is a recipe for silly hatefulness and testosterone wars. I can still see this exact scenario playing out in high schools across the world. Maybe Emo kids are are feuding with Hipsters. But today, on St. Valentine’s day, let’s set an example for another way, kids!

Listen here, new country music lovers – I don’t like your music. You might even say I think it sucks. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be pals. I may not like your Faith Hill or your Blake Shelton, your sparkly cowboy hats or your “sexy” tractors. But I love your boots and I love your jean jackets, I love your fine leather and I love your handsome cowboys. I even have the occasional soft spot for your Taylor Swift. So let’s not feud, and let’s not fight. Let’s celebrate our shared interests, like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton! And most of all, let’s do it in love. Because, as Dolly would say, if we’ve got real love, “we’ve got everything we need”.

Happy Valentine’s Day guys!

Outfit breakdown: Ralph Lauren Skirt, Parasuco Jean Jacket, vintage top – all, as always, thrifted.

Newsies & Streetwalkers

February 9, 2012 — 12 Comments

Since going on a strictly-thrift shopping diet, my style has become just a little more adventurous. I’m taking more risks and having more fun with what I wear everyday. I can identify two reasons for this: 1) I can take a risk with minimal financial investment, and 2) Thrift stores just prompt more ideas. They are home to a variety of styles and trends from pretty much every era – I’d call them the original Pinterest.

That said, I still approach certain trends with (often ridiculous) hesitation. I was afraid to wear shorts with tights because I worried I’d look like Peter Pan. I was afraid to wear my new billowy silk blouse because all I could hear was “Puffy Shirt!”. I was afraid to wear my Oxfords because I thought I’d look like a Newsie (then I realized looking like a Newsie would be five kinds of awesome). And, up until recently, I was afraid to wear cheetah, leopard, or any kind of animal print for fear I’d end up looking like, well, a lady of the night.

Cheetah print is tricky – it can go from classic to classless in a few short inches. But it always catches my eye, and I’ve always wanted an excuse to give it a try. Enter my latest thrifty-find. Three things about this dress: It’s 1980s Maggy London, it’s 100% silk, and all it cost me was a five dollar bill at the Salvation Army.

I love this dress (not just because it’s dry-clean only and that makes me feel fancy). I love the wrap detailing, the easy fit, and the over-all lightness. This lands me squarely wear I want to be when handling an animal print – more like a Carrie, and less like a Samantha (hey, are SaTC references passé? Then again, everything else I’ve referenced in this post is from 1994…)

When summer eventually returns, I’m going to wear this dress with sandals, bare legs, and some fruity drink on a patio. For the time being, I made it office-friendly by wearing it with a thrifted Calvin Klein blazer, warm leggings, and my trusty thrifted AE booties.

So there you have it, I silenced my irrational worries, and hopefully pulled off a look that was neither Peter Pan, pirate, or prostitute. What else can one aim for, really? Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got big plans to seize the day, and that starts with youtubing the rest of the Newsies soundtrack.

Hybrid Theory

February 3, 2012 — 25 Comments

One of the upsides to thrifting is the speed at which I can get in and out of the changerooms. When thrifting, I never need go back out for an additional size, I never have to talk myself into another colour of the same garment because that’s the only large size left, and I never have to ponder if it’s worth driving to another location to see if they have the item I want. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit. No fuss, no deliberation. I just put the item back on the hanger, and trust it will find a good owner. 99% of the time, I’m pretty zen about the whole process. I release any ill-fitting garments back into the thrift universe and move right along.  The other 1% of the time, I go nutso and invent imaginary enemies. The story:

Last week, I tried on an 80s black lace minidress. This little minidress was so lovely. High neck, scalloped sleeves, little sparkles here and there. And, from the waist up, it fit perfectly. From the waist down, however, we had a few issues: it was too short. It wasn’t 60s mod short, it was “that girl forgot to put on pants” short. This sad fact, compounded by my sizable badonkadonk, meant I should have put it back on the rack. I should have left it for a girl slightly shorter, with a bum slightly smaller. But the vision of this slightly-more-petite woman was not sitting so well. Why should she get my fabulous lace dress? I bet she has no trouble finding clothes with her tiny goat legs and itty-bitty buttocks. Plus, I bet she never has bad hair days, and her face is never shiny, and her clothes never wrinkle, and her nylons never run. That bit… 

…Well, you get the idea. So, soley to thwart my imaginary rival, I bought the dress. The day after, I spent a good long while staring at my closet, looking for a way to make it work. It didn’t work with leggings, it didn’t work tucked into a skirt, and, try as I may, it still didn’t work as a dress. I didn’t shrink over night.

Then, finally, a light bulb moment! I pulled out a basic black H&M strapless dress I thrifted from Talize months ago. This dress is perfectly nice – good structure, roomy pockets, fits well, etc. But I’ve never worn it, mainly because I don’t really feel comfortable in strapless dresses, and I usually forgo basic black if there is a more fun alternative available. But in a stroke of genius, I concluded this basic black dress would be the ideal companion to my new lace mini.

The lace part of the mini has some stretch to it, it was lining inside that was causing trouble for my curves. So, I cut out the lining, and instead of pulling a Britney,  I wore the lace under the strapless H&M dress. And wouldn’t you know it, two wrongs make an alright dress. This hybrid dress has the lacey sleeves I like, and the length my badonkadonk needs. Hurray!

Take that, imaginary goat-legged nemesis. Until next time…