Archives For retro

Barbie Girl

July 20, 2015 — 6 Comments

80s Barbie Dress // We So Thrifty

80s Barbie Dress // We So Thrifty

80s Barbie Dress // We So Thrifty

80s Barbie Dress // We So Thrifty

When I shared this dress straight from the thrift store change room on Instagram, I said it made me feel like I “walked out of the Barbie colouring book I had when I was eight.” I’m happy to report that, upon wearing this dress in the wild, that is still 100% true. In fact, I’m now beginning to suspect this dress has magical Take On Me properties, and when I wear it, the world itself becomes a Barbie colouring book.

I wore this dress to a birthday dinner out on the Hamilton waterfront. While the food was only OK, the atmosphere was incredible—the sun setting on the choppy water, the boats bobbing like birds off in the distance, the warm summer breeze that we all dream about for 9 months out of the year—just the best. After dinner, we took a stroll along the bay, and with each step, a new page of Barbie’s California Dream Colouring Book came to life. There was a roller rink, an ice cream shop, an assortment of adorable dogs, an old-timey trolley giving tours, and if that’s not enough, seniors and hipsters alike chillin’ on the hillside, taking in a free jazz performance (I’d also wager that AT LEAST one of the dudes on the water from the nearby Hamilton Yacht Club is named Ken).

barbiecoloringbook02And because the internet is a blessed-wonderful-nostalgia-giving machine, YOU TOO can relive the joy of a Barbie Colouring Book. Just click on that happy quartet of waspy teens to the left to make all your California dreams come true. (h/t to this blog for the scan!)

Since I can’t wear this dress every day, I think I’ll dust off the ol’ Laurentian pencil crayons and give this page a whirl. Just hoping I’ve still got the crazy skills on display in this photo:

L to R: Adele, Me, Robyn, and Laura, who is too cool to colour, and would rather play with an actual Barbie.

Dress: Salvation Army | $6
Shoes: Payless | $25
Sunglasses: The Edit | $15

Past Due

January 15, 2015 — 6 Comments

Slouchy gray sweater + toque // We So Thrifty

Slouchy gray sweater + toque // We So Thrifty

Slouchy gray sweater, knitted bag + toque // We So Thrifty

Slouchy gray sweater + toque // We So Thrifty

I’ll be honest: I knew my previous post wouldn’t be my last one before D-Day. I had a real strong feeling this little fella/bella would be kickin’ around for, minimum, a few days after my due date. I’ve long expected to be a long-expectant momma, and that’s actually been incredibly healthy for my mental state. It means I’m less “GET THIS BABY OUTTA ME!” and more “I guess I’ll make brownies?” I’ve been assuming this babe will take it’s sweet time, and that a due date is just a marker to make sure you’ve done all the important laundry. So, here I am, two days after my due date, and still no strong signs of labour. But I’m good with it! Really! I’ve even kicked myself off of the “let’s read about the WORST CASE SCENARIO” message boards. The oddly-comforting reality is that there is nothing I can do about how this baby comes into the world, and anyway/time that gets it here safely is the right way/time. Whoa! Look at me getting all advice-y and evolved. Must be the brownies! (Also, remind of these words when I’m, like, 12 days overdue).

Anyways, seeing as I’ve had some time to kill lately, I’ve made sure to visit all four of the main thrift spots in Hamilton over the past few weeks (Talize, Salvation Army, Valu Village, and Bibles for Missions). The outfit above is 100% Bibles for Missions. I found the sweater for $6, the hat for $2, and the boots for $10. I was immediately pleased with the way the gray sweater and red and white stripes went together, but couldn’t figure out why. When I got home, I figured out why: It’s because I look like those socks, and, by extension, those sock monkeys. You call it a coincidence, I call it the easiest Halloween costume ever!

In this look, I also fit quite nicely into the palette I set for our nursery. “Setting a palette” almost sounds too fussy for how I approached decorating the space. I just wanted it to be FUN, full of primary reds, blues, and yellows. And you know what? Fun it is! Matt, with the help of his Dad, cousin, and a few handy friends, really did all the hard work in prepping this space: He created a brand-new room out of our way-too-large living space  – walls went up, trim went down, and paint went on. All I had to do was fill the room with furniture and the fill the walls warmth and whimsy.


The first decorative items I received for the nursery were these beautiful paintings by my sister Laura. Matt, ever the thoughtful one, commissioned some artwork from her for our fifth anniversary in the summer. Laura had heard a few things about my “vision” (again, that sounds too fussy) for the room, and she completely nailed it. I really did use those paintings as a launchpad for everything else in the room: the patterns and stripes, the golden yellows and punchy reds – it’s all there. I was able to take that influence, and fill the rest of the room with gifts from friends and family, items I already had, and new buys from Ikea and Target (I’ll miss you, boo!). OH, and so much Kijiji:

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty


More pics and such below!
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Break the Rules

August 13, 2013 — 13 Comments

Bejewelled 60s Vintage // We So Thrifty

Bejewelled 60s Vintage // We So Thrifty

Coral and turquoise // We So Thrifty

When I thrift, I have rules. These rules are essentially in place to slow my transition into one of the Junk People from the Labyrinth. Shopping second hand can easily get out of hand, because when items are $5-15, every purchase seems harmless. So, I try to keep a few key things in mind:

– Don’t buy it if it doesn’t fit. You can’t sew, and you won’t fix it
– Don’t buy it if you don’t have specific occasion to wear it. Your life isn’t as fancy as you might think, and you are not a Gossip Girl.
– Don’t buy it if it’s not in season. By the time it’s in season, you’ll want something else. You’re fickle.

Most of the time, I stick to the rules. For this dress, though? I broke every single one. This incredible coral 60s number dress from Netty Vintage made a hypocrite out of me, but I have no regrets.

Background: Jentine had been talking up Netty Vintage for some time, so way back in March, we devoted a Saturday to it. I tried on his dress because of the colour, fell in love with it because of the collar, and committed to it because of the price (on sale for $10!). However, the sleeves were way too big at the time, and the length went right past my knees. It didn’t fit, I had nowhere to wear it, and it was a wholly impractical purchase given the dreary March weather, but I was smitten.

A few months later, I received an invitation to my cousin Kayla’s wedding. There was my occasion. A few weeks ago, Yen offered her sewing skills in exchange for my camera skills. There was my seamstress. And at last Saturday’s wedding, the weather was cool, sunny, and absolutely ideal for a thin dress with sleeves.

Since I already broke so many of my own rules just by buying this dress back in March, I broke a few more while wearing it. Are you supposed to match your dress with your bag? I don’t think so. Are you supposed to match your bag with your nails and your lipstick, too? Definitely not. But I did. I also drank beer before liquor, used my dessert fork for my salad, and even broke my “no dancing to country music” rule by letting Taylor Swift tell me all about her doomed dalliance with a man named Trouble.

If that’s how the the Junk People party, you can count me in.

Bejewelled 60s Vintage // We So Thrifty

Vintage jewelled neckline // We So Thrifty

Dress: Netty Vintage | $10
Banana Republic Purse: Clothing Swap | $0.50
Earrings: Ten Thousand Villages
Sandals: c/o My Edit 😉

Now and Then

May 24, 2013 — 17 Comments

Structured vintage // We So Thrifty

Structured vintage // We So Thrifty

Structured vintage // We So Thrifty

Does this dress need a post? No, it doesn’t. It speaks for itself. But if I were to say a few things about it, I’d mention that it’s fully-lined, impeccably-made, and it fits me like a glove. In fact, most of the gloves I own don’t fit me that well, so when I find gloves that fit, I’m going to say “these fit me like that dress!” I really could leave it at that, and be on my merry way, but we all know I can’t leave a post without at least cresting the 400 word mark.

If I were to say a little more about this dress, I’d point out that I’m its very first owner. This dress has been around since the early 50s, and I’m the first lady to call it my own. How do I know that? It came complete with a lovely little hot pink tag, that revealed it to be an Alix of Miami original, and was priced at $22.95 back in the day. Considering what a loaf of bread cost back then, that was a pretty penny. Upon further Googling, I discovered that Alix of Miami made all sorts of gorgeous cocktail and dinner dresses with a “tropical edge”.


I love finding original tags and labels on vintage, and I love it even more when the internet hasn’t forgotten about these labels. It gives the whole look some context, and makes me feel connected to the women that originally worn these sorts of garments. 60 years ago, a woman with slightly smaller hips may have worn the very same dress in another size. Maybe she wore it to fabulous pool-side party, and sipped cocktails as she complained about what the salt water did to her hair. A few weeks ago, I wore my Alix of Miami dress as I sipped G & Ts at a wedding overlooking the Ottawa river. She likely had a decent tan, I’ve settled for a blotchy sunburn. Her concerns were probably widely different from mine, and her daily life a far cry from the routines and rhythms of my own, but when I’m wearing this dress, I feel just a little closer to her. For all our differences, we both appreciate a well made dress.

Structured vintage // We So Thrifty

Bow earrings // We So Thrifty

Dress: White Elephant
Earrings: Bibles for Missions | $2.00
Purse: Bibles for Missions | $5.00
Flats: Salvation Army | $5.00

Predictable Peplums

February 25, 2013 — 40 Comments



I don’t usually eat my lunch in the staff room. This isn’t because I don’t like my fellow staff (I do!). It’s because I’m a graphic designer, and graphic designers are essentially trolls that live inside caves built out of monitors and reams of paper. We emerge from these caves for three reasons: to pee, to glean snacks from the Birthday treat table, or to go home. When it comes to our precious lunch hours, we allocate that time to catching up on what happened on the internet in the morning, because that’s just what designers do. But occasionally, I’ll bring a lunch that requires heat, and I’ll peel myself away from Buzzfeed to heat up yesterday’s leftovers in the staff room microwave. The nice thing about only using the  staff room on an occasional basis is that the magazine stock pile always seems fresh.Today’s outfit has me reflecting on an exchange that took place in this very context.

One this particular day, me and my soggy left-overs crawled out of the cave towards the staff room. I was pleasantly surprised by a new (to me) stack of In Style magazines. As I casually flipped through the pages, I came across a spread of very flamboyant printed pants, forecasted as the next big thing. A fellow employee leaned over and said, with utter disdain, “Ugh, I don’t like these”. I replied, with annoying assurance, “You will.”

This person probably found my ominous, confident prediction insulting (and unnerving, as it was delivered in a weird troll monotone). She probably thought “Um, you’re not even a regular down here. You haven’t even contributed to the book swap. I’ve seen you take books and I’ve never seen you put any back in. How do YOU know I’ll like printed pants, cave troll!?” If that were in fact her response, it would be totally justified. But, dear fellow employee, I speak from personal experience! Behold my polka dot peplum dress:



See, last year, when the peplum first became a thing, I was all “That’s weird. I don’t like it. Too 80s.” But slowly (predictably) I saw bloggers making it work, I saw one pop up on my girl Emma Stone, and I saw how it could disguise the fact that I eat Ruffles by the bag. Thus, suddenly (predictably) I wanted a peplum as much as I wanted another bag of sweet salty Ruffles.

Like the denim shirts and pleated skirts that preceded it, the peplum moved from something I resisted to something I wanted in my wardrobe. That just how fashion works. Those sneaky powers that be tell us we’ll suffer inside leather pants, and we think they’re crazy, but the next thing you know we’re all pulling a Ross in the washroom. So, fellow employee who’s fortune I tried to read, I don’t know if you’ll ever warm to printed pants. Perhaps you will forever find them ugly and distracting, but it’s more likely you’ll realize how well they disguise the crumbs from your bag of Ruffles and warm right up to them.

There are many people that will forever deny the influence designers and magazine editors have over their tastes. They’ll remain pre-makeoever Devil Wears Prada Anne Hathaways. That’s OK. I, on the other hand, welcome these fashionable overlords with glee, because they’ll never hold sway over my wallet. They may influence what I like, but they’re not going to profit from it. The Salvation Army, on the other hand, is taking the $3.50 it got from me for this peplum dress, and laughing all the way to bank. And in return, I’m happy to keep them laughing, because at least it gets me out of my cave.


Dress: Salvation Army | $3.50
Belt: Salvation Army | $0.99
Bag: Talize | $8.99
Booties: Talize | $12.99