Archives For May 2012

…Yep. I drew the title of this entry from here. I apologize if I got your hopes up for a Dawson’s Creek tribute entry. There is much to say about those angsty teens with unrealistically-advanced vocabularies and libidos, but Capeside will (ironically) have to wait. I pulled out that title because this entry is a result of me throwing plans out the window and doing what I want instead. You having that song in your head all day is just an added bonus. You’re welcome.

The first thing I stopped waiting on is a reason to wear this dress. This Betsey Johnson dress was thrifted way back in February. I sang it’s praises here, wore it once on vacation here, and have left it dormant in my closet ever since. I love this dress. I would even say it’s my favourite thrift ever. The cut, the pattern, the fit, the fabric and the price make it the ultimate thrift trifecta (wait, a trifecta has three wins, this is a…polyfecta?). Either way, my blinding affection for this dress has gotten in the way of me actually wearing it. You see, I’ve been waiting for the perfect occasion to strut my stuff in it again. A wedding? An art show? A fabulous beach party in the Hamptons with the cast of Gossip Girl? Well, Penn Badgley isn’t returning my calls, and this dress deserves some love. On Saturday night, I met up with some friends for a drink, and I wore my Betsey. I concluded a simple Sangria Saturday is as good occasion as any to wear something I love. I dressed it down with flip flops and denim, and I felt fabulous (I don’t use the word “fabulous” often, because I bet Carrie Bradshaw had it trademarked, and I don’t like paperwork).

I stopped waiting for a special occasion to present itself, because wearing this dress makes any occasion feel special. Seizing the dress (Carpe Ornatus!) has inspired me to move forward with a few more plans that I’ve been delaying until the “right time” arrived. You see, I’ve got big plans for this blog. Firstly, I want to drop the “” from my domain name, I want to move to a self-hosted account, and I want to redesign the whole dang thing. Then I want to have a big contest to celebrate it. But until the days magically get longer, all of that stuff isn’t going to happen for at least another few months. So, instead of waiting for those ducks to get in a row, I’m celebrating Carpe Ornatus RIGHT NOW. You get what I’m saying yet? I’m saying….




Once of the main features of my blog overhaul is a new banner design, featuring a sketch commissioned by my sister Laura Konyndyk. Laura is a phenomenal illustrator, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my sister. In a few short hours, she crafted this sketch for my new layout. Even though I won’t launch that new look for some time, I want to give you a peak:

SO CUTE RIGHT?! She based it off this outfit.

This contest is a chance for one lucky reader to win their own custom sketch from Laura. Here’s what you need to do:

1) Tell me about your best thrifted find in 200 words or less. What’s your “Betsey”? Where did you find it? Why do you love it? What did it cost you?

2) Attach a picture of yourself in that find.

3) Email all of it to

4) I’ll choose my favourite entry, and you’ll win a custom sketch by Laura based on your photo! You’ll get the high-resolution file to use as you please. Use it on your blog, your facebook, your screensaver, where ever! Or print off a giant copy and have it framed above your fireplace. Definitely the best idea.

5) Submit your entry before June 11, 2012!

Hop to it, readers! Stop waiting, get writing, and start winning!

…Oops, Charlie Sheen probably trademarked “winning” sometime last year. Start…to succeed by striving or effort! That works. Off you go!

My piece of the pie

May 26, 2012 — 17 Comments

EEE! Where did that last week go? I try my darndest to be a bi-weekly blogger, but that hasn’t been the case, has it? My family will tell you I’m a masterful excuse-maker, so I do have one lined up for my longer-than-expected absence.

As mentioned previously, I only write about an outfit if I have something moderately interesting to say. Lately, I haven’t felt all that inspired by anything in my closet, nor have I rushed out to fix that. You see, a few months ago, I arbitrarily assigned myself a monthly thrift-budget. I can’t say I’ve always stayed below my limit, but I have tried to hover close to it. This month, though, I blew it away in one foul swoop with a vintage dress purchase. Since then, when I drive by my favourite thrift shops, I close my eyes, plug my ears, and shout “lalalala!” as I pass, endangering the lives of fellow drivers everywhere (don’t worry, that was sarcastic, please don’t call the po-po). But seriously, even with the summer merchandise continually refreshing thrift store shelves, I’ve resisted. And while that’s meant less blogging, it’s probably good for my marriage.

I married a fella who makes financial spreadsheets for fun. He gets very excited about, and gets very sad when I don’t make the appropriate reaction to his latest plan for a tax-free savings account. I appreciate the pretty charts generates every month, and it’s fun when he tells me how much money we’re saving, but I like using money much more than counting it. So, I relish in the opportunity to play a part in the overall budgetary success of our marriage. Thrifting gives me that. I may not have known what “RRSP” stood for until very recently, and I take way too long to pay my credit card bill, but I also know that the little piece of the budget chart that shows our spending on clothing and house decor would be much bigger if I weren’t a thrifter.

Take this outfit: This blouse was still tagged at $89.99 when I bought it for $6.99. These Theory shorts were a last-minute, no-change-room buy at Talize for $7.99. Similar shorts retail online for $130.00. That’s cray-cray! I spent $15 on this outfit. Normal people (okay, rich people who use five dollar bills to line their pets’ beds) would have spent $205 dollars.

I can’t always tell you my five-year financial goals, and I have to pause before I explain the advantages of a variable mortgage over a fixed-rate one, but if I keep close to my monthly thrift budget, and save 92% on all my clothing purchases, I’ll feel pretty good about my financial health. That may mean less blogging, but it would get me high fives from Suze Orman and Gail Vaz-Oxlade.

Now if only I could be as similarly disciplined when it came to our food rule. We started aiming for two meals out a month, which was just laughable. I blame Hamilton for that one though, there’s just too much good stuff to eat. Speaking of, sushi calls. Sayonara!

Pleats and Fleets

May 16, 2012 — 22 Comments

Last week, I took a break from treasure-hunting at thrift stores, and allowed myself to splurge at the incredible White Elephant vintage dress sale. It was a beautiful collection of dresses from four different vintage boutiques. Racks were packed with tafetta, sparkles, and all the trimmings of old-school evening wear. Since I won’t be getting remarried or going to a ball any time soon, I opted for something simpler, but every bit as fun. I bought this uh-mazing 1960’s a-line shift. It’s so pink! And so mod! I want to wear it EVERY SINGLE DAY.

A good vintage dress almost begs for some kind of Mad Men tribute, but I’ve sort of done that already. While I love Joan, this isn’t her style, and I don’t have the, erm, assets to pay tribute to her (hint: assets = tatas). This dress doesn’t call out any of the fictional Mad Women, but rather one real-life Mad Woman by the name of Mary Wells Laurence. Who is Mary Wells? A badass, that’s who. Basically, she’s the real-life Peggy Olson and Donald Draper, without all the bitterness and infidelity.

I thought of Mary while watching one of my favourite flicks, Art & Copy, last week. Art & Copy is a fantastic documentary that examines advertising’s creative revolution in the 1960s, and goes on to explore some of the more memorable American ad campaigns of the last five decades. It’s fascinating stuff. It features Mary briefly, and honours the work she created in 60s and 70s. She dominated the male-driven ad industry as female copywriter, dreaming up some of the most iconic ad campaigns of our time (like “I Love New York”). She eventually founded her own successful agency. This dress is a tribute to Mary, and specifically is the work she did for Braniff Airlines in the 60s.

Mary came up with the “The End of the Plain Plane” campaign for Braniff. Elements of the campaign included painting all Baniff’s airplanes pink, orange, yellow, blue, and every other colour under the sun. Stewardesses were outfitted brightly-hued Emilio Pucci uniforms, Alexander Girard designed furniture and textiles for every plane, modern art adorned all the walls. Mary brought fun back to flying. These days, we get all excited about brightly-coloured iPhone cases, but this chick got them the paint a whole fleet of planes rainbow colours. Like I said: badass.

When I wear this dress, I feel like I’m embodying some of the fun and whimsy of Mary’s vision. Heck, I even feel a bit like a Braniff stewardess myself. While being a stewardess in the 60s was likely a life of harassment and objectification, they sure had the aesthetics done right. I’m grateful for trailblazers like Mary who recognize the power of adding some colour and sass once and a while. She brought it to a fleet of planes, I’m bringing it to my pleats of pink. Cheers to you, Mad Mary, and the end of the plain pleats!

I have a complex relationship with my neighbours. No, I don’t mean my fellow condo dwellers or even the angry man across the street who yells at me from his balcony. I’m referring to my friends in the south: The United States of America. It’s complex in that I’ve got some American blood in me, but I spent many childhood years raggin’ on the Red, White and Blue. You see, my Dad is an American, and he’s pretty wonderful. But bi-annual visits to the USA as a kid meant I had to develop an extensive list as to why Canada is the superior nation. I had to convince my American cousins I was right and they were wrong. Kid logic. These conversations usually began with me and my siblings adamantly denying living in igloos.

Of course, I’ve moved beyond list-making and igloo-denying. In fact, Canada and America have more in common than they don’t. However, if I were still score-keeping, America the Brave just scored a few very major points this weekend. Most of them come from this dress.

This dress cost me ONE DOLLAR. I’m going to give you some time to let that settle in.

(…Settling time…)

Again, if you didn’t hear me the first time: ONE DOLLAR.

This one-dollar miracle came from the Salvation Army in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, Planet Earth. I spent last weekend in good ol’ GR, visiting my sister-in-law Magdalyn and her husband. The Salvation Army decided to throw a Cinco De Mayo sale, and declare all clothing 5/5$. This is just one of the two vintage dresses that made their way into my bag, along with some other goodies for my sister-in-law. I didn’t really realize this sale was on until we walked up to the cash register. If I had clued in sooner, I would have spent every last loonie in that store. While I still love my country dearly, this one-dollar dress has me reluctantly granting the USA a win in thrifting category. And that’s a big deal.

They also scored major culinary points on my visit. We went to a restaurant that serves nothing but breakfast. Forty different kinds of breakfast, each more delicious than the last. This is such a brilliant idea, I’ve concluded all restaurants everywhere should serve only breakfast for every meal. Wait, I revise my answer: all restaurants should just serve breakfast and hotdogs. Why? Because another big boost in points can be attributed to the restaurant that put chili, cheese, and potato chips on my hotdog. It was the stuff of dreams (wait, final answer: restaurants can serve whatever they want, so long as they put potato chips on top).

But don’t worry, my mild-mannered Canadian friends. I won’t be pledging my allegiance to Old Glory any time soon. They may have perfected thrifting and hotdogs, but we still have way prettier money, more lakes, and a shit-tonne of gold medals. Our fellow countrymen are people like Margaret Atwood, Christopher Plummer and Bryan Adams. Even our fictional peeps are pretty awesome: Anne of Green Gables, Scott Pilgrim and Robin Scherbatsky all call Canada home.

And one more point for Canada: have you ever tried listing the fifty states? People, that’s too many states. Canada has ten provinces and three territories. Much more manageable.

In the end, it really doesn’t matter if you’re an America, Canadian, or something else all together. They’re all pretty great. Plus, we can all rally behind shared interests – you share with me your cheap  dresses, and I share with you Justin Bieber. Here in Canada, that might be called a win-win…eh?

Alright, before you can say it: I know I jumped the gun a little on this outfit. It’s too early for sailor shorts and sleeveless tops.This is an outfit better suited for a July long weekend with a humidex of 41 degrees celcius (sorry American friends, I keep my temperatures Canadian). But when I saw the 26 degree forecast for Thursday, there was no stopping me. Plus, my recently thrifted blouse ($4.99) and Guess flats ($7.99) went so well with my not-so-recently thrifted shorts ($11.99) it would be a crime not put them all together ASAP.

Anyways, this is the kind of outfit that makes me want to get involved in some rollicking 1960s summer adventure. Maybe with a bike, some soda from a glass bottle, and at least three other quirky companions (and yes, I am describing Now & Then). While I’m too old for seances in the graveyard and stuffing my bra with pudding (the bras do that for you now!) that doesn’t mean I can’t get up to a few little adventures of my own.

Not long after we took these photos, I stuffed that leather backpack full of wine and tostitos, and took a walk down the street to my friend Sandra’s for an impromptu potluck. It was lovely. Spring and Summer not only bring back sailor shorts and tank tops, but patios and evening walks as well. It brings the city of Hamilton back to life. While Hamilton possesses a different sort of beauty in the winter,  the warmer months are so much more conducive to urban living. I feel as though I can finally take full advantage of this little city once again!

My friends and and family will tell you I’m quite the advocate for Steel City. Since committing to Hamilton a few years ago, it gives me new reasons to sing it’s praises every day. It’s a welcoming and inspiring community to be a part of. Since you can’t all partake in my tostito and merlot adventures, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favourite Hamilton-based blogs to paint a picture of why I can’t wait to get outside again. Together, they perfectly illustrate the diverse and creative people that make Hamilton a city worth exploring.

Love it a lot: If you google “Hamilton” after reading this post, you’ll undoubtedly come across articles on the transformation of James Street North. To make a long story offensively short, in the early 2000s, artists from all over the map flocked to James Street North due to an abundance of cheap studio space. That influx was the catalyst for a district renewal. James Street is now the home of Hamilton’s monthly Art Crawl, the yearly Super Crawl festival, and many unique and creative independent businesses. White Elephant, for example, is a “delicately curated handmade and vintage shop”, and the ladies behind this store are the bloggers behind  Love it a lot. This blog not only gives you a sneak peak into the store, but provides glimpses into the lives of these ladies, and the beauty they encounter in this city. Plus, they are hosting a vintage dress sale next week. Weee!

Beaux Mondes: Hamilton rarely looks more stylish than when it’s behind the lens of these two. Seriously. They paint an incredible picture of the city. They’re very selective in their focus, writing only about the things that truly inspire them. Their elegant photography and diverse mix of people, products, and places create a sophisticated magazine of Hamilton life.

Crackers: Whenever I get all high-and-mighty about giving up the mall, I head over toCrackers, and it totally cuts me back down to size. This blog tells the tale of a Hamilton-area family who broke up with the Super Market, which is way more work. It reminds me that the walk to Hamilton’s Farmers’ Market is one I need to make more often.

My Edit: I’m sure all my readers have heard of Jentine before. She’s the thrift-champion of the world! She also happens to live not ten minutes away from me. Jen not only proves that you can dress fabulously without leaving the city, but if you look past her stylish ways, you’ll noticed the diversity and beauty in her outfit photo locations. Her blog is a a portfolio of stylish looks and Hamilton locales. Plus, I’ve met her in person – and she’s all kinds of awesome. She’s also a landscaper, so she’s paid to make this city more beautiful.

Love Elycia: If people Like Elycia call Hamilton home, how can it not be amazing? Elycia is crafty and quirky, and her blog is a testament to her creative and colourful outlook on life. It’s a journal of all the little adventures she has every day. She’s artistic, industrious, and incredibly funny. And she loves cats as much as I do. Hamilton is lucky to have her.

While this isn’t a comprehensive list, I hope it’s given you a small taste of the city I love. This is a city worth exploring, with or without a bike and some soda pop. I’ve already far exceeded my self-imposed word count on this bog, so here are a few more #HamOnt blogs to check out:

Happening Hamilton: A blog about culture and community in Hamilton | Spotted Gazette: A Hamilton Photo and DIY Blog  | Needlework: The blog of a boutique fabric shop on James North | The Beehhive: An urban craft collective out of Hamilton | This Must Be the Place: A blog from a girl who fell in love with Hamilton

If you’re in Hamilton, I look forward to more adventures with you this summer. If you’re not, I hope you take the chance to look around your city or town, and learn to love your home as much as I do mine. Happy travels!


Nautical | Everybody, Everywear