Archives For November 2012

See My Vest

November 19, 2012 — 22 Comments

Since I launched this blog over a year ago (Happy Anniversary, self!) I’ve enjoyed all sorts of blog-related benefits: I’ve made friends, I’ve had more fun shopping, I’ve developed a creative outlet. It’s been good, happy, fun times all around. But another benefit is all the simple fact that I get to share goofy things I find on the internet with more people than just Matt and my cat. And today, I have a real gem to share with you. Like, the best thing ever.

It starts with this vest. This vest came from Revolving Closet on Ottawa Street, from a sassy, awesome lady with white hair and ‘tude for days. I love her and want to be her apprentice, but I digress. Back to the vest: I found this vest on the lower level of her shop, where she houses all her vintage. It was $7 (and she let me have it for $5) so I left the store happy as a clam. As with all vintage I find, I later did some Googling on the label: Faded Glory. Sometimes these searches reveal really interesting stories, and sometimes they yield nothing. Upon first search, this one, unfortunately, seemed to yield the latter. Most results suggested that Faded Glory was and and is Wal Mart’s long-time in-house denim label. So, my vest  was more “old Wal Mart” than vintage. Sad face.

However, something about it all didn’t add up. My new sassy friend back at the shop would know her vintage from her Wal Mart. Right? Right. So, I refused to accept this as the end to my vest’s story. I Googled some more, and eventually learned what my gut was telling me all along: Faded Glory wasn’t always a Wal Mart brand. It’s actually been around since 1972, and was only bought out by the Happy Face in 1995. The label enjoyed over 20 corporate-free years of coolness before sellin’ out to The Man.

And thank goodness for that, because this is where it gets really good. This is where I get really really happy about having a blog because all of you can share in joyous discoveries this this. Not long after I confirmed Faded Glory’s independent past, I found this:

HAHAHAH! WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?! I know I should be horrified by the blatant objectification of that woman’s behind, but the whole thing is just so hilarious. I kept waiting for Bill Hader to show up because I was convinced it couldn’t be real. But it is real, and it’s spectacular. Did this work for people in the 70s?

Apparently, it did, because not long after I found that ad, I found several others that confirmed this was the only way to get people to buy jeans. Check out this one by Sasson Denim:

That one also gets a pass because A) It, too, is hilarious, and B) Roy Orbison?!

The real winner in YouTube’s pile of denim delights is this music video by Dr. Hook (who get bonus points for their band name alone):

The whole video is just this girl walking while dudes creep on her! And why isn’t be she alarmed by the two guys stalking her with song? And what’s with the eye patch!? (Oh wait, that’s probably the Dr. Hook thing.)

Okay. Brief pause to enjoy the fellow with the boom box guy 2:24….and there’s a guy on roller skates….and, wait. Really? A blind man?! Oh man. This is too much!

I guess that’s just what advertising was in the post-Draper 70s and 80s. If these videos are any indication, people just sat around boardrooms continually having this conversation:

“Here’s the pitch: We’ll have this girl in tight jeans walk by, and a bunch of pervie guys will stare!”
“Yes! That’s it! And dogs! Dogs will also stare!”
“NAILED IT! Cheers to us and feather haired!”

To be fair, I did find a few other commercials that tried for a more original plot. I don’t know if they succeeded in selling more jeans, but they still packed an obscene amount of unintentional hilarity into a 30 second spot. Here’s a prize piece from Zena Jeans:

The first thing I gleaned from this commercial is that these jeans are right for you on the STRICT CONDITION you’re a woman. No boy jeans allowed. Then, even though the jingle clearly states these jeans are “the jeans to be seen in,” all three ladies end up on a boat with no other human beings in site. And then there is the obvious impracticality of wearing heavy denim bell bottoms on a boat. What if they fall into the water? Jeans get so heavy when wet! They’re going straight to the bottom. But, death-trap jeans aside, this commercial ends on a high note, and the babe in the middle breaks out something I didn’t know existed: a cell phone bigger than Zach Morris’s.

Just think, if I didn’t thrift shop, I never would have found this vest. If I never found this vest, I never would have found these amazing commercials. I’ve I didn’t blog, you never would have had said commercials forced upon you. You’d have gone on living your quiet little life, wearing your tight little jeans, completely unaware that people like this are standing outside the movie theatre, watching you:

My blog: Home of thrifted clothing, outrageous internet videos, and now this guy. I’ve never seen a more compelling reason to keep at it.

Happy Movember!

What We Created Today

November 12, 2012 — 32 Comments

Last week, I announced my participation in a contest called “What Will You Create Today?”. I partnered with the lovely and industrious Jentine for a week of shopping, painting, pinning and picture-taking. Today, we’re done creating and ready to show off the fruits of our labour (and maybe, if you’re feeling generous, pander for some votes?).

For our project, we wanted to touch on all the things we love about Ottawa Street in one sophisticated ensemble. We created alook that’s a combination of new, old, and hand-made – which is Ottawa Street in a nutshell. Our search began with a blank canvas: white cotton, ready to be pinned, sewed, and painted. We purchased the fabric from Discount Fabric, and then purchased our fastenings and fabric dye from Fabricland. Next up, we searched through the racks at Revolving Closet, and sourced a vintage black dress, that we would eventually modify into a blouse.

We returned home with our materials, and spent the next few days collecting ideas, assembling pin-boards of our vision, and creating our garments. First, Jentine sewed the skirt, and then we hand-painted it with our fabric dye. This may sound all kinds of cheesy, but this contest sort of re-awakened me to the social benefits of being creative. More often then not, I gather with my friends to eat, drink, and watch The Bachelor. But this time around, we met to sew and paint. There was something so pleasant about sitting Jen’s table, surrounding by fabric, little bowls of dye, paint brushes, and cats, just chatting the hours away.

For the pattern on the skirt, we were inspired by this image: a Hamilton skyline tattoo! We decided that abstractly referencing that skyline on our skirt would be the perfect way to pay homage to our great city. We also used that skyline as the backdrop for photographing our ensemble. The photo shoot in itself was way too fun. I channeled my inner art-director (sporting my Dior blazer), and insisted Jen spin until she puke (“SPIN FASTER!”). And she delivered! (On the spinning, not the puke). Look at that skirt move. Even if she had puked, it’d be worth it.

The look was finished with a vintage necklace and ring from Antique Avenue for some added sparkle, and a simple clutch from the not-yet opened Orange Tree Boutique (which will be a beautiful space!).

We’re thrilled with the end result, but even beyond the finished product, we loved the opportunity to visit so many of Ottawa Street’s retailers. They were helpful, encouraging, and always friendly. If you feel so inclined, head over here to cast your vote for your favourite blonde-haired duo at entry #4. Obviously, we’d like to be the victors, but we’d love to donate $1000 to the Alzheimer’s Society. You can help us do both. Happy voting!

UPDATE: WE DID IT! Actually, YOU DID IT! All you votes made us the winners of the WWYCT Challenge. THANK YOU!!!

In the third grade, our class held a Show and Tell: Jokes Edition. One of the boys started us off with this classic:

“What’s black, white, and red all over?…A zebra with a sun burn!” Upon hearing this joke, I had two reactions: The first? Confusion, as zebras don’t get sunburns. The second? Panic, as this boy had just used a set-up very similar to my own (hilarious) joke. However, I soon realized that he had actually done me a favour, as he set up my joke in the best possible way. See, I followed his turn with this this head-scratcher:

“What’s black and white and red all over?…A Newspaper!” (Get it? “Red” is a homophone for “read!” Har har har.)

I still think my joke was far superior, and today, I’m dressed as another possible answer. I’m outfitted in black and white, and lately, I’ve been “read” in a few more places that usual. You see, a few Saturdays back, I had my moment in the sun (no sunburns, though) and played cover girl on the Saturday edition of the Hamilton Spectator. Every week, The Spec (my city’s local rag) profiles the style of one local citizen, in the shape of a brief questionnaire and a few photos. They use them as space fillers all across the newspaper, wherever and whenever needed.

Well, lucky for me, there obviously wasn’t a lot goin’ on in Hamilton two weekends ago, so they slapped my silly face on the front page of the GO section (ie: the fun section with all the celebrity gossip and crossword puzzles). This was a great surprise to me, as I had assumed they’d squeeze me in between the classified and obits in a few months from now when their well had run very, very dry. But some congratulatory tweets filled me in on my cover spot, and I set off on a rainy walk to grab the last copy of from the newspaper box down the street.

I was very, very nervous about seeing the feature in print. For one, I now fully appreciate the opportunity to revise, redo, and rehash every sentence on this blog from the comfort of my keyboard. Alternatively, this interview was done in person and recorded on an iPhone, so it was FULL  of “ummms,” “uhhhs,” and “likes.” Quite frankly, I was certain I’d come across as Frankenstein from Beverly Hills. Thankfully, the interviewer kindly edited out my “uhhhs” and I didn’t say anything too embarrassing. (Spanx, though? Really Julie?)

There was, however, one question in the interview that didn’t make it in the final cut. To get the ball rolling, Sheryl asked me to describe my personal style. A wiser woman would have seen this question coming and formulated a nice, succinct response, but I am not she. I, instead, launched into the world’s longest run-on sentence. I described my style as vintage-y, yet modern; that I like colour, but also black; that I’m drawn to clean, minimal styling…and quirky, crazy patterns. I basically piled contradiction on top of contradiction, and called it a personal style.

Well, unsurprisingly, none of that made for a very print-friendly answer. However, while I don’t blame them for omitting it, I’ve come to conclude that it’s the truth.  I don’t have a two or three word answer that describes how I want to look every day. I don’t have a style manifesto that I take with me every where I shop. Instead, I thrift things that I like, and things that I feel good in. Sometimes they’re simple, sometimes they’re bananas, but they’re all me.

The outfit I’m wearing today is not only another punch line to a dorky joke, it’s an example of this oxymoronic approach at work. I like this skirt because it is clean and linear, but I like this cardigan because of the swirly-whirly lines. I like black, but I also I like red, pink, and green. My style isn’t relaxed, tailored, bohemian, or mod— it’s all of those, and whatever else I find at the thrift store. I don’t think I’ll ever confine my style to one snappy little sentence, because I want to continue to pull dresses from the 60s and blazers from the 90s. I want to be both Zooey D. and Michelle O. I want to wear whatever I want, whenever I want. And sometimes I want to wear my cardigan backwards just because I can.

While that doesn’t make for a very good answer in print, it sure makes thrifting much more fun.

Thanks again to the fine folks at the Hamilton Spectator for deeming me interesting enough for the Saturday GO. And thanks to you, readers, who come back to this little blog, whether I’m wearing black, white or something else entirely.

There are many advantages to the glorious thing that is daylight savings time. For one, on Sunday morning, I read a whole magazine, leisurely sipped my coffee, cleaned my entire washroom, and (most miraculously) made it to church on time. That extra hour is a wonderful, fleeting gift. However, it also means that by the time I depart for home at the end of the day now, it’s dark. So, no more after-work outfit photos for me or you. Instead, the dark and dreary nights of November are ideally suited for evenings indoors, in front of the TV and behind a bowl of soup. Or, even better than an intense Fringe marathon, a project. The birds aren’t tempting us with their pretty chirps, the sun doesn’t beg us to sit under it’s rays. The world is saying get inside, and get creative.

Headshots. We mean business.

And so, this new schedule perfectly coincides with a new after-work project this week. My gal-pal Jentine and I were asked to participate in a contest, put on by the Ottawa Street BIA, entitled “What Will You Create Today?“. The premise is simple: provide a bunch of Hamilton enthusiasts some funds to spend any which way on Ottawa Street; Rack up some votes; Give some money to charity! Awesome, right?

This contest is partly to celebrate the Ottawa Street BIA’s brand new fancy website, and partly to remind the good people of #HamOnt of Ottawa Street’s many charms. For those of you not versed in Hamilton geography, Ottawa Street has long held a reputation as the textile district of the city, and its appeal has only widened in the past decade: It’s now the go-to place for antiquing, and new cafes and restaurants are popping up all the time. It’s a street in the midst of a revival, and I could sing it’s praises all day.

However, talk is cheap. So rather than tell you how great it is, we’re going to show you. Jentine and I spent Saturday morning exploring Ottawa Street. We started with breakfast, we ended with totes full of supplies and heads full ideas. I’ve posted a few sneak peaks below, and you can always follow our progress on twitter with the hash tag #WWYCT, which stands for “What Will You Create Today?” I have to give a shout-out to an instagram follower that speculated it might also stand for “What Would Your Cat Thrift?”, which is absolutely a contest we would enter, and win.

A breakfast of champions at The Cannon.

Our Ottawa Street Muse.

Real-life Pinterest-ing ideas.

Jentine, armed with her “You Can Do Anything in Hamilton” tote, scopes out our fabric options. Appropriate, no?

So, follow along as we aim to create something worthy of our muse. We could alternatively crash and burn in a spectacular fashion as well, which will still make for great viewing. I’ll be sure to update ya’ll when our project is complete, and the polls open. Wish us luck!