Friday, October 30, 2009

Super thrift outfit

Happy Halloween!

Here's what I'm wearing at work today for my costume, which is a generic Super Girl Hero type ditty. My pal and colleague Jill is Superman, or Superman's gal, depending how you look at it.

One of these outfits is thrift and the other isn't - can you guess which?

Natch, most of my outfit is thrift, and most items I wear in my every day life when I'n NOT super.

The red cashmere cape was $24.99 at Value Village, the short blue skirt was dug up at Goodwill yesterday for $5.99, the tights and top I had, and the funky disco belt was found at True Blue Vintage in the Junction (2919 Dundas St. West, no website yet) for $15 - thought it was pretty special.

The real deals were the blue suede boots made in Italy, bagged for $14.99 at Stretch Thrift on Pape Ave. in Toronto.

But I didn't win the contest, alas; Jill came in second.

Still I think thrift is pretty super. Maybe I should have called myself Shopping Girl?

Was your Halloween costume thrift or used?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Updates & new thrifted blazer

I have some important Grunge Queen updates:

One, the Oriental Screen in the trash stayed there for a few, very wet and rainy, days and then was hopefully carted off by some brawny person instead of being dumped in the landfill.

Two, remember my Statement Piece Blazer dug up at the Parkdale Sally Ann for $4.99? Knew it was spanky as it was made in France by Canadian-born designer Tara Jarmon. DIDN'T know it was worth so much until I did a shopping column in Midtown Toronto the other day as saw her blouses for $500 and dresses for $600 in a boutique there. My blazer must have retailed for the same if not more, wowsers!

Three, speaking of blazers, I found this Theory blazer at my local thrift shop. Stretch Thrift, for $6.99. It's a fitted brushed cotton style in this olive-brown colour I'm nuts for these days, and it goes perfectly with my thrifted Bongo jeans (Value Village, $14.99) and magenta Dex top I'm wearing underneath (thrifted for a few bucks).

Also goes perfectly with the Statement Piece Pashmina I bought at a 3-for-1 sale in Yorkville in the summer with my shopping pal, Andrea.

Theory sells at places like Holt Renfrew and the blazers appear to run around $400-$600!

While shopping for the blazer I met a kindred thrifting spirit, Pam, who also shops thrift all over the city. Pam told me she's found Gucci and more in the shops. Hope she calls me so we can do a dig together!!

Thanks to my Editor in Chief at the Town Crier newspapers for letting me pose in front of a picture in his office - makes the perfect backdrop. By the way if you want to read my latest Toronto Shopping Column please follow the link!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The story of a lamp

I have this crazy Grunge Queen story for you:

I didn't always have a fab apartment.

When I first moved to Toronto just over 4 years ago, all I had was an air mattress, a crappy outside table for a desk, a laptop and a chair. My furniture was in storage in Ottawa, waiting to be moved up when I had cash and opportunity.

I desperately needed a lamp, so one day I bought a lamp on the street for $15, pictured here. I got it from a lady who was having a garage sale on the Danforth.

She was really nice to me, even driving me to her place (which is just around the corner from the place where I now live) so I could look at some other furniture she was looking to sell.

Fast forward 4-plus years: I'm in a Kengsington Market vintage shop a few weeks back, desperately looking for a cocktail dress for that rooftop wedding I attended a few weeks back.

A women who was minding the store for her friend, the owner, helped me. We both had this feeling we knew eachother, but couldn't think of where. I stylist, she swore she had dressed me before.

A few mornings ago I bolted out of bed and my first thought was: stylist lady and lamp lasy are the same!!

Crazy how the brain works eh?

And isn't it nice that us junky kindred spirits found eachother again? I have her card and I'm going to call her and tell her where I know her from - and that I still have her lamp! (shade was mine).

I call that grunging karma.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Magic window

My Moroccan hanging lamp (see yesterday's post) has me thinking of this pretty hanging ball I received as a gift recently.

I finally strung it up in my window the other day, substituting ugly fish wire for a bright bow another gift came wrapped in.
Looks pretty magical doesn't it?

I've tried to make this little nook cozy and magical looking at the same time.

I've tied back the Value Village curtains with a ribbon, and put the flower boxes from the balcony (dug out of the trash by my ex) on the window sill. So far the lavender is doing ok but it's so hot in this apartment I have to water diligently to ensure the other herbs don't dry up.

I hung up a blue glass ball I bought for myself on sale years ago beside the other ball.

And if you look closely you can see the tiny yellow crystal I bought a year or so ago (then stuffed in my closet and forgot about it until I unearthed it with joy the other day during a closet clean put).

You're supposed to put it in the south-western most corner of your living space to promote harmony. So that's where it is.

Hope it'll help those plants survive.

Meanwhile I've got my trusty purple water bottle - which just happens to match the sheers, go figure! - on the ready to spritz that lavender away.

I just love plants in the window like this. Not sure what I'll do when the winter comes and the windows get cold - will the plants be ok, do you think?

As you may have guessed I'm new to the plant thing.

My Hibiscus, also hauled in recently from the balcony, is turning yellow. Think it could be experiencing culture shock in this warm and non-humid space.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blue star, super deal

If you live in Toronto and have always wanted one of these hanging Moroccan lamps, get thee to Broadview and Danforth Aves. today 'cos there's a screaming sale there.

Pealac Corp is having a $20 sale on all furniture, lamps, wall hangings and accessories. Owner Nima is clearing out these goods so he specialize in Persian rugs.

This blue star lamp, which I could put put a tea light in or wire up, was originally $89.95 but I bagged it for $20. On Saturday there was a whole pile of clear lamps like this for the same price, though I betcha they're going fast.

I'm temped to go back and get more. Do you think I should attempt to wire this or just leave it as a pretty accessory?

The lamp just happens to match the antique Persion rug I bought at Nima's in February.

Pealac Corp., 815 Broadview Ave. just a couple steps north of the Broadview subway station.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Disco belt & Halloween inspiration

When I was in grade 2 in the late 1970s, my Mom made me the most kick butt Halloween costume: and I became Wonder Woman.

She sewed silver tinfoil stars on my shorts, made me a crown of cardboard and tinfoil, and glued a red construction paper star on the front of the head piece. Red rubber boots, a red halter top, and a Christmas tree garland for a lasso completed the look.

Wish I had a pic of that.

Though this belt, which I picked up at a vintage-second hand store in the Junction in Toronto while doing a shopping column there, has a disco-crossed-with-an-Alexis-Carrington-from-Dynasty look to it, it reminded me of that Wonder Woman costume....

I love vintage and retro elasticized belts and am developing a little collection of them. They showcase my small waist and are just a fun way to zoot up an outfit.

Going to a Halloween party next week. Mmm. May be Wonder Woman if I can figure out a way to do it without donning shorts!

Thrift, second-hand and vintage stores are fab places to get ideas and pick up the fixings for Halloween costumes. Has anything you've found in these shops, or even in the back of your closet, inspired you to make and wear a costume this Halloween??

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Could have been so beautiful ... in my apartment

Sorry for the late post today; Grunge Queen is feeling sick today.

She was feeling pretty ill yesterday too, when she saw this Oriental lacquer and wood screen on the way to doing a couple shopping columns.

I've always wanted a screen like this. It's not perfect, but you must know by know that I think imperfection has its benefits.

I tried to pick it up but it's solid wood underneath and was just too heavy for me, alas.

I see a lot of great things in the trash while on my travels - most temptingly close to my apartment. Much of the stuff I leave there as I'm on my way to do something and invariably running late. Other times the item in question - normally a solid piece of wood furniture - isn't something I can pick up and carry on my own.

I hope it found a good home. If it's still there on my way to work tomorrow I may have to hatch a plan!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My thrift tribute to Chanel

The new Coco Chanel flic is out, so here's my thrifty tribute to one of the biggest style icons of all time who still influences fashion today:

It's all thrift.

The pink wool-cashmere sweater with cute pockets is Chanel-ish by virtue of those pockets and the pink. The ruffle is darling too. $5.99 at my local thrift store, Stretch Thrift in the east end of Toronto.

The faux pearls: $10 at Around the Block, a great consignment store in North Toronto.

The skirt: black silky Jacob skirt thrifted for under $10 years ago. The tank is a black stretch Bedo top found for a couple bucks at my local thrift shop.

The shoes and tights are new.
Total for outfit: under 30 bucks.

What would Coco think?

Thanks for reading!

I just gotta say, it makes my day when readers comment, email me, become official followers and otherwise get in touch and let me know they like this blog!

I received an email yesterday from a reader who lives in Utah and just discovered my blog. The person wrote that the blog has heart and great style.

He or she could not have made me happier. It's such a happy feeling to know that what I write and picture here - my life, essentially - interests and resonates with people.

And since this person had not made a comment or become a follower, I would never have known he or she was a reader unless I got that email.

So, fellow grungers, thank you for reading. If you'd like to participate please leave a comment or become a follower, or if you'd prefer to be a silent reader you can always email me at if you'd like to comment on any post or ask a question - though remember that you can remain anonymous if you leave a comment or become a follower.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Outside comes in

This is how part of my apartment looks from my balcony.

Kinda cozy, yes?

I admit it: I love looking in front living room windows while walking along the street at dusk - not to see people but rather to look at their decor!

But it would seem kinda creepy if one of my apartment neighbors was looking across the way into my pad ... unless of course they happened to be editors of decor mags!

Yesterday's post in which I showed some worn chairs my Mom found in the trash and decorated her patio with has inspired me to bring in my balcony chairs - it's getting colder and the wicker and rattan will get damaged in the rain and snow that will inevitably come, alas....

Outside, these chairs took on a Shabby Chic look, with flowery pillows and such. Inside, though, that frilly dilly look won't go with my decor. Here I created a little nook with empty picture frames and a suede multi-coloured pillow. Cozy wozy.

The faded striped pillow was found used at Goodwill for a couple bucks and the blue wicker chair was from the trash.

With this rattan chair, found at the Sally Ann for $10, all it took was tossing a faux fur rug over top - a look I've seen in decor mags on chrome chairs. The effect is cozy with a modern twist.

I finished off the look with a plush brown pillow found at Value Village for a couple bucks.

Who says you have to store outdoor summer furniture?

For a peep at my balcony with these chairs in the summer, and other outdoor decorating projects, head here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Proud of my Mommy

When I was at home on my vacation I snapped some pics on my parents' back deck before the frost would drive the plants in forever - or until the Spring at least.

My Mom has done this cute thing with potted plants and old chairs she's found in the trash along the side of the road.

This little guy is your average white outdoor chair, except it's a mini chair for a kiddie.

Check out this wee one.

It's wood and worn and has a definite Shabby Chic look to it.

And it looks just fine sitting next to those cheap faux wrought iron dollar store plant holders, thank you very much.

As I was about to go in the house I spotted this regular size chair, again distressed with time, at the side of the house.

Didn't get a chance to ask Mom what she had planned for it, but I bet I'll find out in the Spring.

Will she let it linger outside all Winter, I wonder?

No matter: Mom, you do this trash picker proud!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Family thrift

I'm back from a lovely vacation and it's nice to be the Grunge Queen again.

But who says I wasn't the Grunge Queen back home? My sis and her fam have become dedicated Value Village shoppers in the last few years (I'd like to think I've inspired them), so one day we ALL piled into the car and hit good 'ole VV.

You can find great designer jeans if you look through the racks carefully.

My sis found a pair of Parasuco's for under $10 there, which she is wearing in the above pic, and another member of the fam pictured here is wearing some Bongo jeans she found for super cheap.

I found a pair of Bongo SKINNY jeans (haven't worn skinnies since the 1980s - I won't be posting a pic just yet) with lovely detailing on the back pockets for $14.99.

And my sis found me the pair I'm wearing in these shots - a City of Angels (by Paige denim) pair of jeans from their Rock n' Roll collection - the button is shaped like a guitar pick and there are sooo many nice details. These jeans, if they still made them, would retail at $200 or so. My price? $14.99.

Did I mention they look brand new?

Wish I could take credit for this find but I gotta cede to my sis's supreme designer jean thrift radar. Thanks sis!

TIP: I get ALL my jeans at the thrift stores. Value Village is good but the jeans I find there are pricier, $14.99-$19.99 generally for makes like Parasuco, Guess? etc that are in good shape and in a current style. I tend to get the bulk of my jeans at the thrift shop around the corner from me, where they usually run from $4.99-$6.99.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Until next week

Grunge Queen is in need of a wee break.

I'll be back next week and look forward to sharing more thrifting exploits with you!

Until then, take care and happy thrifting.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Olive Oil boho skirt

When I was in grade 9 I had an outfit I loved: a long thin straight plaid skirt; a white blouse with a yoked neck and a brooch at the neck; and oversize navy cardi; and black granny boots.

My Mom called it my Olive Oil look, in honour of Popeye's stick-thin straight-skirt toting chick. She still talks about that outfit.

That was 20 years ago but I've updated the look to make it more boho. While searching for the cocktail dress I never found, I dug up this fab long black wool skirt - with buttons down the front and pink detailing - after trying on practically every dress at I Miss You Vintage in Toronto. It was under $30.

I paired it here with my Anthropologie scarf; a wool JCrew thrifted blazer (under $10); a cashmere sweater bought for $40 at an end-of-the-line sale, and my new shoe booties.
Olive Oil, I have definitely missed you

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

East end antique tour

As you may know, I shop - a lot. With 9 shopping columns a month at a local community newspaper, in addition to my own thrifting exploits, I know a lot of what's happening on the streets of Toronto - who's opened, who's closed, and who carries that unique find you won't find anywhere else.

These are hanging Victorian hall lamps made of glass, found in Antique Row in the east end of Toronto in a shop there. They're hard to find and represent the shop owner's entire collection....

This is a shop downstairs from the one featured above, where I bought the velvet blue chair. There are four dealers here, each with their own aesthetic and look, from Shabby Chic to French Country to, well, a bit scruffy (my personal preference!).

This is the outside of yet another shop on the antique block, which sells mostly decorative accessories like old globes, chandeliers and other bibs and bobs.

My pick: crystal chandelier strands (from broken chandeliers), $10 each or 2 for $15 - perfect for a choker necklace or drippy Christmas tree ornaments!

For the full article check it out here

Monday, October 5, 2009

Weddings on rooftops

Eep. Grunge Queen is feeling a bit fragile this Monday morning.

She went to a fab wedding on the rooftop of the Drake Hotel yesterday.

I was worried about wearing black - but everyone else was in the end. My silk tulip shape skirt by Peter Lam, thrifted at Value Village the week before for a mere $6.99, was perfect for the occasion.

I paired it with a sequin top by Planet I've had for years, some pewter shoes and nude fishnet stockings, a vintage bag and my black cashmere cape.

There were plenty of other stylish ladies there, including this lady who danced in the rain with yet another stylish lady.

I have a feeling her cape wasn't thrifted. She looks very Olympia Dukakis.

In fact the whole afternoon - the wedding, the rooftop, the rain, the champagne, the black - it was all very New York.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cashmere cape

I wore this red cashmere cape yesterday - too bad I didn't get a pic with me in it and my new-old boho skirt ....

I found this at Value Village for $24.99 - a bit steep for Grunge Queen blood but I'm so in love with capes this time of year. They're endlessly stylish and can be worn with anything, really.

The tag says it was made exclusively for the House of Cashmere in London, England.

Like my statement piece blazers and other coats, I have several capes that I've thrifted - another one is black and made in Scotland by a famous wool house, so lovely.

They're fab this time of year when it's not quite time to wear winter coats but still too cool to go without a cover....

I can wear it done up as you see in this pic, but I prefer the more dramatic look of the shawl over my shoulder, dah-ling.

Have a great wkend!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My new fall statement piece blazer

I was going to continue yesterday's post but I had to interrupt regularly scheduled programming to tell you how happy I am (can't you tell?) about the blazer I found in Parkdale, Toronto yesterday afternoon at the Sally Ann there.

My heart started beating a little faster when I saw it as it's got a boho look to it. It's a Tara Jarmon blazer, made in France, and it fits me perfectly.

I'm wearing it here with a Neiman Marcus cashmere sweater my honey gave me; a pashmina scarf I snagged on major sale; a pair of thrifted Bongo jeans for less than $20; and a red faux croc tote I got years ago as a gift-with-purchase at the Elizabeth Arden counter.

I have a definite thing for statement piece blazers. This one would go with everything from jeans, as you see here, to a long wool skirt with boots and perhaps a chunky sweater.

Statement piece jackets, especially in the fall, have been a theme of mine the past few years. Come to think of it the man I'm dating is wild for them as well (though his aren't of the thrifted kind), and when I met him I was wearing the second blazer you see here - gee I wonder if that's partly the reason for his asking me out???? Thrift and romance: it's happened before.

I also picked up a black stretch A.X.L blazer, again with a perfect fit, for $9.99.

Have more to show from one of T.O.'s best and well-priced vintage stores - stay tuned!