Archives For contest

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!!!

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!

Thrifters, Assemble!

July 6, 2012 — 10 Comments

Hey Air Buddies! I just finished a late-night-frantic-packing-fest for a few days of roughing it the wilderness. Okay, by “roughing it” I mean setting up a brand new tent in a campground with running water and lots of junk food. But I have standards, okay?

Since I’ll be MIA for the next few days, I think this is the perfect occasion to share some more entries from my thrift contest a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed sifting though all the entries, and now you can enjoy a few of them in my stead. We’ve got cardigans, night shirts, Coach belts, leather minis, and more. Plus, a handful of these participants have blogs of their own that you should probably follow ASAP. And that’s all the homework I’m assigning today. Have a fantastic weekend!

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My absolute favorite thrifted find has to be the striped vintage sleep shirt I found almost two years ago at a local Salvation Army. I knew the sleep shirt was going to need some work, but for $4 I just couldn’t pass it up! This was actually the first dress I had ever attempted to make over, but I saw so much potential in the chambray stripe and the gorgeous paneling on the front that I knew I had to do my best. After completely removing the sleeves, dramatically taking in the sides, hemming a couple inches off the length and creating ties at the waist, I had the dress of my dreams! It wasn’t name brand, it was better, it was mine. I think that’s what makes this dress my favorite thrift store find: the fact that it isn’t like any other dress in any other thrift store. I had taken an old vintage night shirt that probably no one would have ever worn again and remade it into a custom fitting, totally updated and totally trendy dress. Now, I am definitely addicted to “re-fashioning” vintage and thrifted finds, but my favorite will always be the first one! I hope you like my dress as much as I do! I included a “before and after” picture so you have an idea of what the dress looked like… well, before and after, duh haha!

Kristi | Alligator Toe

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My favourite thrifted find is a red scarf with large white polka dots. It’s nothing large but I absolutely love it because it represents a few things for me. I moved to France last September and my boyfriend and I were out on one of my first night’s here and found this cute little thrift store/bar. My eyes immediately gravitated towards this scarf and it was only 5 Euro! I had to snatch it on my mission to start looking a little more French chic. Now I use that scarf around my neck, around my head and even for background on recipes for my blog!! So versatile!

-Laura | Yummy Laura

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As an avid thrifter it was hard to narrow it down! Here’s one of my best thrifted finds: A cream silk skirt ($3.49 plus 25% off) with a Chevron zig-zag type design on the front (it even has pockets!). The leather bag pictured is one of my favorite thrifted finds ever, it’s in great condition and so versatile ($5.99 plus 25% off). The belt I’m wearing is also a thrifted Coach belt that I found in the kids section. I found all of these items at a thrift store in the Bronx. It’s my favorite thrift store ever because the workers mark up the brands like Gap and Ann Taylor, but leave the (real) good stuff dirt cheap! I got a DVF shirt for $3 and an authentic Coach for $3.49 (it was all leather and had no “C’s” on the front, so no one knew it was a Coach).

-Lindsey | Girl From Scratch

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My best and favorite thrifted find is my pink dress. I found it at my favorite Goodwill in Gahanna, Ohio for $5.99. Before this year, I never thrifted clothing, only home goods and décor. I’m glad I finally got wise to the unique items you can find for amazing prices! Since I started thrifting clothing, I’ve added lots of skirts to my closet, but the pink dress is the first and only dress I’ve ever thrifted.

I love this dress because it’s fun! It feels so girly! I always have to fight the urge to twirl around in circles like a five year old. I also love it because its lack of a tag makes me think it’s homemade. I have no sewing machine and zero sewing skills, but hope to change all that in the near future. I can’t wait to create something as great as this dress! Maybe by then I’ll be ready to pass this one along for the next lucky lady to enjoy…

Jess | J’s Style

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So, here’s the story. I am totally a cardigan collector. I have every color of the rainbow and then some. I have stripes and polka dots. Leopard and long. Cropped and cashmere. This little cardigan was found at an estate sale in a heap of clothes in a closet. There were some small stains on it, but after a few rounds of soaking in oxyclean, she came out good as knew. I love the floral rose design on the front. My mother’s maiden name is Rose, so I am always attracted to items with roses (from dishes to dresses to needlepoints). This sweater pretty much will go with anything, and it’s my go-to sweater when I have a fancier dress on. It’s comfortable, it’s vintage, and I think it cost me $3. I wore it to a Mad-Men-Themed party last year along with a faux fur wrap. 🙂 I received a lot of compliments on both the wrap and the cardigan.

-Amanada | Salvaged Strawberry

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Today I am sharing with you one of my favorite thrifted outfits. I have so many loves, that it was hard to pick one. I picked my leather skirt (which I cut off) and a knitted tank. I love this look because it has different textures and lots of sex appeal 😉 If you want more information on the outfit, here is the link: or you can ask me.

– Tori | My Thrifty Chic

Contest Winner!

June 14, 2012 — 4 Comments

Well that was fun! First off, I have to express my gratitude to all of you who entered my custom portrait contest. Your creativity and enthusiasm has ensured that this contest won’t be the last of its kind. The variety of personalities, styles, and stories that came through were a delight to read. In fact, I’m going to publish all the entries and photos I recieved over the next few weeks, because all of you deserve generous accolades for your own first-hand tales of second-hand style.

And so, without further adieu, I present to you the winner of the Thrifty Custom Portrait Contest. Drum roll please!

Congratulations, Tara! I selected Tara for several reasons. Firstly, how adorable is that dress? She looks demure, yet sophisticated; classic yet quirky. A winning combination all around. The real highlight of Tara’s entry is the accompanying explantion she sent with her photo:

 Hi Julie,

Good morning from Vietnam. This is my submission to the custom portrait contest. My name is Truc Nguyen, but you can call me Tara. I have just started my blog since…yesterday, although I have thrifted for many years. This dress is one of my favorite finds during my thrifting adventures. In Vietnam, we don’t have nice thrift stores, with shelves and mirrors and fitting rooms. You have to go to the wet markets and literally dig into the mountain of clothes on the ground to find your luck. Imagine doing that in the heat of 30 Celsius degrees plus. And fitting them onto what you’re wearing, and using your best imagination to decide if it looks good on you. Anyway, I bought this dress from one of those markets. I like it because everything about it is cute. It has two cute pockets, a cute collar, and came at a cute price, only 50,000 VND (2.5 USD). The hem was originally longer, I shortened it a bit and it looked just fine.

I love this story. Who’d have thought I’d have a reader all the way in Vietnam? Tara cemented the universality of thrifting. It’s a world-wide lifestyle, and she wears it so well! I also commend her for sifting through mountains of clothes in sweaty temperatures and busy crowds. She’s patient, resourceful, and imaginative! Tara proves that persistence pays off – not only does she have a lovely dress, she’ll soon have custom portrait too.

To Tara: Thank your for your inspiring entry. Laura is working on your portrait as we speak!

To my fellow readers: Make sure you follow Tara’s adventures in the wet markets of Vietnam and beyond on her blog. Thanks again for entering!

Happy Monday you kings and vagabonds! I’m posting a friendly reminder about my on-going contest to win a custom portrait for your blog, (or anywhere else, really). As a further further kick in the pants to get your entry in, here are a few quick sample portraits from Laura:

My husband makes his first appearance on the blog! Granted, it’s in storybook-sketch form, but it still counts. Remember that outfit I’m wearing?

I’d say we all look pretty darn cute as watercoloured characters. If you’d like to win your own portrait, the rules are simple:

1) Tell me about your best thrifted find in 200 words or less. 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.

5) Submit your entry before June 11, 2012!

I’ve already received some great entries, but I want more! MORE! Spam my inbox with so much thrifty goodness I have to get a forklift to sift through it. That’s a mixed metaphor but I’m OK with it.

Here are a few more favourites from Laura to close out the entry.

Can’t wait to see more from you all of you!

…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!