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Finding Vintage Off The Beaten Path

Courage My Love: Like an apothecary of exotic accessories. Courtesy of BlogTO.com

Many moons ago when I was a professional teenager, I used to beg my mother on weekends to take me to thrift shops in order to peruse the multitude of racks for clothes I could rip apart and re-construct.  My friends and I joke this is pre-Imitation of ChristShopping vintage is an adventure, sleuthing for the best of finds and ultimately coming home with one-of-a-kind treasures.  These days, Toronto is fortunate to see a plethora of vintage shops popping up on every corner.  Here, steamed Pucci’s hang next to brocade Fendi and gilded clutches and rhinestone brooches lay in glass cases.  

For those of us who lament the days of digging through ‘everything for a $1′ boxes, the true essence of ‘vintage-vintage,’ is in scoring amazing finds for under five dollars.  You always heard the urban legend about the girl that found her vintage Prada under a heap of canvas bags and thought: “I want to be that girl!”  Then you would run out of your apartment, twirl around in the middle of the street and throw your beret into the sky like Mary Tyler Moore.  That last little bit was a fantasy sequence. 

Where in the world are the best vintage markets?

If you are looking for some adventures in vintage shopping in the city, here are some tips to ‘vintage-vintage’ shop where others fear to tread:

  • Kensington Market – Inside the side streets of Dundas Street West and Spadina (on Augusta & Kensington Avenue) lies the hippie, boho enclave of Kensington Market.  While many know it for its fresh produce, incense products (patchouli, anyone?), cheap imports and old clothing, there are still many fine vintage stores which can appeal to the cosmopolitan fashionistah.  MK & Ash love it, as do I.  While weekends can be jammed with tourists and local citizens window shopping, try to come on a weekday afternoon to enjoy a less-crowded shopping experience.  I think Courage My Love (14 Kensington Ave.) has the best fashion jewellery, chunky wooden bangles, reconstructed clothing and vintage slip dresses.  I recently saw the sweetest dip-dyed chiffon capelets with sequin appliques on the shoulders.  Flashback (33 Kensington Ave.) also has a nice selection of colour-blocked dresses, from cotton sundresses to pouffy tulle and sequin 1950’s cocktail. 
  • Antique Shops – Many fashionistahs walk by antique shops because they don’t need a naked porcelain of David or they have their condo outfitted with a chandelier (thank you very much).  This is perhaps the biggest mistake of your life.  Yes, I am being dramatic but if you say you love vintage jewellery, you mustx3 stop in your tracks and make a bee-line for that entrance.  Beyond the dusty wooden frames, many times are glass cabinets and suitcases filled with costume jewellery and enamel brooches.  These secret stashes are generally taken from estate sales or bought as assorted lots.  Yesterday, I sternly (tough love) told my friend C, “You better negotiate” as she was taking a substantial volume of crystal.  And you can do this as tiny shopkeepers appreciate your business.  Remember, to smile, be friendly and keep your cool in negotiations.
  • To Market We Shall Go – My heart longs for a vintage or antique market here, like the reknown one in Pasadena California, The Rose Bowl Flea Market or the famous Portobello Market in London (which is actually very good but packed like a can of sardines).  We do have The Clothing Show (formerly The Old Clothing Show) which happens every Spring and Fall.  I haven’t been in years but perhaps I should give it another go to see if it lives up to its brilliance of my youth. 

And now that I have given you sage advice on how to find the vintage of your life, may the fashion gods look down favourably upon you and may you return with many high-ROC treasures to adorn your beautiful self.  Success! 

Where do you find your vintage off the beaten path?  I would love to hear from you! xoxo

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May 22, 2010   No Comments

Jewels of the Summer

Goodness Gracious: A lightweight way to make a statement, RJ Graziano Lucite Necklace

Gearing up for a jewellery (that’s jewelry for my readers south of the border) party that I am hostessing, I painted my fingernails an outrageous, iridescent blue green hue from OPI for Sephora called ‘Mermaid to Order.’  Blue is the colour of creativity, so I did this to bolster my creative juices.  haha.  Only half-kidding.

I have always been an accessory person.  If I happen to step out the door without at least one (earrings, bangle, necklace or ring), I feel a smidge naked.  Only recently did I discover my knack for making jewellery after pondering taking up an activity I might enjoy that combined my love of fashion and my crafty, nimble fingers.  There really is nothing better than digging through fabric rolls in archaic stores where one false move into the threads and buttons, and the shelves may topple on your head.  Danger.  Kind of like dating a bad boy.

Did someone say Bad Boy? Gratuitous shot of Chuck Bass & his fave accessory the pinky ring. Kiss it.

  • Lucite – Don’t be fooled people.  Lucite is a fancy way of saying plastic, however, it is a lightweight and less expensive alternative to crystal.  Clear lucite is all the rage for Spring/Summer and the best versions I have seen have been mixed with multi-strand gold chains, smokey matte or made into facetted chunky bracelets.  Lucite also comes in a variety of bold colours.  Don’t be shy.  Be daring and experimental since you won’t be paying a fortune. 
  • Petal Pusher –  We’re having a romantic season and nothing says it like a bouquet of roses or leaf motifs.  You will see the trend on enamel jewellery (painted and lacquered) or in the design of semi-precious stones bordered with rhinestones.  Lovely brooches fashioned out of gold metal or with filigree are extra sweet and dainty. 

Juicy Does it: Oh delicate cream flower with pave accent.

 

Ridiculous: BCBG enamel bird ring has invisible flowers on it, but you love it anyways.

  •  Pave –  Pave isn’t really a trend because it’s a style of setting usually associated with diamonds.  The design is achieved by taking tiny stones and embedding them into the metal.  This can be applied all over or as an accent; the end effect is radiantly sparkly. 

How I articulate how much I love these Starfish pave posts from Urban Outfitters: "Dude...Sweet." "Sweet...Dude."

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May 17, 2010   No Comments

Love, Love, Love, Love, Love…

Love is a Lanvin fuschia statement necklace.

Love is beautiful, is it not? 

While at times the emphasis on Valentine’s stresses the importance of celebrating Love on a singular day, on Love Collage I like to celebrate it regularly and in everything I do.  From an artistic and aesthetic standpoint, I am crazy-town for the contrasting colour combination of red and pink – so sweet, so sugary, vibrantly summoning glitter and pastels.  I am obsessed with the girly combinations of mini heart motifs and lip imprints. 

Gifts are always lovely, however, here is a F-U-N, DIY (do-it-yourself) and thoughtful idea that will surely put a smile on your Valentine’s face and make hearts glow.

Delightful Crafternoons:  Wisely coined by my childhood bestie F, we are spending a Friday afternoon crafting statement necklaces.  Afterwards, I will look for scrap materials to fashion giant heart brooches to give to friends.  There is nothing like the homemade quality of artisan gifts to inspire ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ and ‘where did you get that?’  Sharing is caring after all!

  1. Using tracing paper, I will cut a perfectly symmetrical heart by folding the paper in half and drawing a half moon-petal shape. 
  2. After cutting out the heart, I will attach it to two pieces of material with straight pins and cut out two identical hearts.  You can use two different fabrics such as a polka dot or a bright solid (mix & match!).  Or to go with a romantic Paris theme, a toile or mini hearts.  The possibilities are endless!
  3. Using a needle and embroidering floss seal the edges using a simple stitch. 
  4. Before enclosing the heart, stuff with a bit of cotton stuffing.
  5. Using your pink mini glue gun, embellish the edges with lace trims, sparkly rhinestones or beads.
  6. For a delicate look, attach a safety pin or brooch backing to the back side of the heart OR for a punky Sid Vicious vibe, use a giant kilt safety pin and pin it through the middle of the heart (so000 rock n’ roll/love hurts).

Let's KB behind this Giant Heart.

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February 11, 2010   No Comments

I Declare A Bohemian Spring

Italian Vogue: Sasha Takes a Morrocan Holiday

It’s six days into January and after a few days of snowfall, I can tell you now, “I’m over winter.”  The only vestige of hope is my impending vacation to warm Miami.  That, and that the retail flip is starting to take place.  It’s when last season’s merchandise retreats and the selection of Spring 2010 gradually begins to overflow onto the floor. 

What excites me most is that it’s going to be a Bohemian Season.  As a self-proclaimed boho-chic fashionistah, this means wearing jewelled caftans, adorable lace up gladiators, layering floaty chiffons and tying scarves in our hair…Essentially walking around like MK, Ash or Nicole Richie.  Say “Pruuunes!” (Very inside joke: The Olsens say ‘prunes’ when taking photos to achieve a pouty lip)

Iconic photo of Talitha Getty by Lichstein

Although many of today’s starlets adopt the luxe hippie, the roots of the Gypset look are steeped in the swinging 1960’s, iconically by Brits Talitha Getty or Marianne Faithfull.  During the decadence of this era, Londoners took flight from the city and lived lavish lifestyles in Morrocco.  You will see the trend really emerge when SATC 2 comes to theatres in May.  I am sure Carrie Bradshaw will be trekking through the dessert in Marrakesh, wearing a sequin tunic to ride a camel and her ‘J’Adore Dior’ to smoke a hookah.

What are some modern updates to avoid looking like a pauper?

  • Gold with Coral – This will be a very strong look for Spring.  All pastel hues of blush pinks, tangerines and pale yellows will be in, so you have a multitude of choices to choose from.  Both red and orange coral will be popular and these colours will be prominent in jewellery, clothing and accessories.   
  • Updated Vintage Caftan – I am very particular about my caftans as I never want to look like my mother roaming around the house in something that appears like a shapeless potatoe sack.  The best tunics have a cinched waist or the pattern/hue is feminine enough that it flatters. 

Dashiki chic: Freaking out over these vintage patterns for caftans

  • Striking Embellishment – One of the reasons why I love boho is because of the uniqueness of the style, the over the top exaggeration and the fashion contrast of messy and put together.  You can find this in unfinished edges with gilded details clashing with a sweet floral and fringed leather.  It’s a veritable ratatouille, a hearty fashion soup, shall we say.

K's fave: Alexis Bittar Jewel Mesh Bangle. Lucite will be BIG too this season.

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January 6, 2010   No Comments

Birds Of A Feather

The Bird is one of my power animals, specifically the Sparrow.  What is the significance of the sparrow?  Well, per the article Bird Totems on About.com it is “a common song bird that reflects the significance of the common traits we share with others in humanity and life in general.”  For me they signify freedom and I have always had a fancy for flying a la Peter Pan.  Poetic.  No wonder I adore them.

Fascinated from childhood with these winged creatures, I like to splish-splash them on home decor, wear them on pendents and on my casual leisure hoodies.  Much as I try not to go overboard, it does illicit the same response from friends, “Obsessed much?” Or the occasional knowing glance and giggle when my eyes dart to anything birdie-style.

Here are some avian reasons why you should get down with our winged friends:

  • Shabby chic heavenly creatures – Everyone is veryx3 complimentary when they see my wrought iron sparrow bangle stand and matching wall hooks which dangle long beaded necklaces, charm pendants and vintage multi-chains.  Tres Anthropologie meets Chatelat.

Sparrows watching over your gold & silver.

  • Plumeria Chic – I like the vintage-y look of tiny birds screened onto the softest cotton tee’s.  I have also seen some adorable versions that appear like an artist’s sketch.  If you have to choose a stylish look that is bird inspired, most select the peacock because of its rich texture and gradient tone.  Few can resist the combination of turquoise, jade green, majestic gold and regal purple.  It’s a no brainer! 

DVF Peacock Mini Dress: Tiered ruffle, sweetheart neck, belted in peacock tones. Killing it on so many levels.

  • Hand-Crafted birdie – Felted little birds remind me of grandma knitting in front of a roaring fireplace sitting on a rocking chair in a muu-muu and oversize bootie slippers.  This is a figment of my imagination but it is a memory conjured up by these little felt friends.  Not sure what you would do with them but I love them nonetheless.

Felt birdie: Might be cuter than the real thing.

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December 17, 2009   1 Comment

Attire For a Rockstar Karaoke Party 101

Some people think I’m nutters when it comes to throwing a thematic soiree.  Clearly, I don’t hang with these people.  My friends, however, enjoy that the fact that as a partygirl since my tweens, I have experience setting the mood for an OOC party that delivers on many counts such as a) creativity, b) original party venue, c) cohesive fashionistah dress code, and d) follow through on party hype. 

The first event of to kick off the festive holiday season is a Rockstar Karaoke party where guests will summon up the courage after a few rounds of  liquid danger (aka vodka) to belt out power ballads in front of strangers.  I have persuaded friends to arrive at The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St. West) dripping in Queen West West Sequins meets Hipster Rockstar.  What does this look like, pray tell? 

My imagination runs wild.  Allow me to style this outfit to life…

  • Black Sequin Blazer or Sequin leggings – Pick your poison but you can only have one.  Just like I would never advise double-denim.  Seriously offensive if you double dip.  While the sequin blazer is the hottest thing with jeans or leggings, the version by LaRok has a tailored fit and tuxedo styling.  I have been trying to persuade girls with twigs for legs to buy a pair of sequin leggings.  Let’s save this trend for the SB’s (skinny bitches) we love.  Both are stunning evening looks.

Perfect for rocking the mic: LaRok Vegas Vacation jacket

 

Boyfriends forget roses. True romance=LaRok sequin leggings.

 

  • Rockstar Jewellery – Your tour stylist would pull multi-chain necklaces or chunky gold links.  If you’re on stage, you must think about the glow you will cast as you belt out tunes. Anything reminiscent of a disco-ball is the right direction.  I am loving these RJ Graziano bracelets with the crystal accents and lightning bolts. 

Stupid Cute But Don't Mess: RJ Graziano Zig Zag Cuff

  • Stud Accent Pumps – If you aren’t in line to become the next American Idol, keep the crowd distracted with your studded stilettos.  Nothing keeps the audience (or at least the girls) engaged like killer shoes.  And yeah, yeah, I’m obsessed with studs. 

They don't love you like I love you: Dolce Vita Trinity Stud Pump in Clay

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November 24, 2009   No Comments