Friday, October 29, 2010

Movie star moment & thrifty scarves on St. Clair West

So I had a Grunge Queen Movie Star Moment yesterday when doing a shopping column along St. Clair Ave. West (pictured here, what used to be my headshot for this blog, my lovely logo, if you will, designed by my lovely artist sis).

There I was, sauntering along (in a thrifted outfit), when I hear "Kelly!." I look and see a lady I don't know. She tells me I don't know her. Then she introduces herself as, well let's just say "M." M and I have corresponded via email about our thrifty chic designer finds. She's a closet thrifter and visits good 'ole Grunge Queen almost every day, she says.

Well, I couldn't have been more proud or flattered, or more delighted to meet a reader. Sometimes blogging feels lonely as I post so faithfully and often don't get comments and don't always interact with readers - then I hear through friends, family, and even strangers that they check in every day. So M, thank you, you gave me a reality check, and it was truly great to meet you!!

Back to the thrifty news. When I shop St. Clair West in Toronto, I always hit the Goodwill there, which totally rocks (the Sally Ann nearby,  not so great). But I heard there's a new thrift shop just a few doors over from Goodwill called Advantage Thrift. So natch I checked it out after my column.

Pickings: not so great: I always shop high on the food chain when I thrift and look for leather, cashmere, wool, good designer labels etc, and there wasn't much of that there. This large mohair wool scarf, though, was only $2.99. I've always wanted one. In fact when I was in Ottawa for Thanksgiving I saw a purple scarf like this at the Third World Bazaar for $40, too steep for my purse at the time. This one looks brand new and not a stain on it.

I also found this oblong brownish scarf for a mere $1.99. I'm really into brown these days so I bagged it. It's a soft wool and I liked the flecks of reddish orange.

Even better, the label says Farhat Hosiery. Now I thought the name sounded kind of exotic, like it was Egyptian or something. Well a quick question to the Google Gods reveals that Farhat Hoisery is in Bolton, Lancashire, England - and I have been there! When I went to England in September my man and I went to a place I've written about called Bygone Times. Well, that's in Bolton - go figure huh? And my Brit mannie just happens to have flown in yesterday, so I think it's pretty serendipitous that I find a thrifted scarf from a place so close to where he lives in the UK! I call that thrift Karma!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thrifty Halloween

This was me for Halloween last year wearing a thrifty Halloween costume. I was supposed to be Super Girl but my editor joked I could have been Shopping Girl, tee hee.

The outfit was really easy to put together; in fact I used mostly thrifted items I already had, like the wool-cashmere cape, the Italian suede boots, and the disco belt. The only thing I had to 'buy' was the blue skorts, which I found at my local thrift shop for under $5.


This year I think I'll build my outfit around one thrifted inspiration: this vintage Sarah Coventry pin I bought a while back for a few dollars.

Doesn't it just SCREAM "Star Trek"??

It really does look like the little badges they used to have on their shirts in the retro, original series.

I could wear it with a short black dress, black tights and black boots and pile on the green eye makeup and black eyeliner and be some sexed up little Trekkie - OR I could do what I find more interesting and wear it with short black pants, black boots, a blue top (that I still need to find) and blue eyeshadow ... and who would I be?? You guessed it! Spock! Or Spock's sis!

I'm sure I could find those pointy ear things at Value Village.

If you're still thinking of Halloween costumes check out the post I did two weeks ago with Value Village costume expert Meg Allan Cole.

Monday, October 25, 2010

DIY pink at my sis's place

My sis is a chic is cheap Do It Yourself-er!

Like me, she's in the throes of a household clean up and reorg. Her solution for all the pretty art that her kiddies bring home: cork board pieces sticky-taped to the wall, spray-painted pink to boot.

Isn't this adorable? I love it how all the artwork matches or complements the pink!

My sis used that pink spray can on something else. She's been talking about doing something with this ugly metal tray she found in the trash for months now. She finally did it, and I must say the tray looks 50 billion times better! Before, it was just a tarnished old silver tray. Now it's punchy and sassy.

Way to go sis! I love it when my fam inspires me!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Weekend thrifty shopping news in Toronto

There's some thrifty and vintage news to report this weekend in Toronto.

1). As part of the Kingston Road Village Fallfest, one of my fave thrift shops, Pegasus Thrift 50 percent off sale tomorrow, Saturday, October 23 (note: sale excludes vintage pieces and designer items - not sure how they'll differentiate between designer and non-designer duds but there you go). will be having a

931 Kingston Rd., 416-913-2544

2). This weekend the Canadian Alliance of Film & Television Costume Arts & Design (CAFTCAD) is having its movie wardrobe sale tomorrow, Saturday, October 23 at Pinewood Film Studios, 225 Commissioners Street.

There will be vintage dealers as well as CAFCAD members - lots of ladies' clothing and accessories. I went a couple years ago and picked up a vintage belt I still wear today, along with two fab coats for $10 each.

NOTE: prices aren't always as good as that - those $10 coats were initially priced at $60 each but the lady marked them down later on in the afternoon as no one was buying them - so it could be a good strategy to go later!

Sale is $3 admission (seniors free) and runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Happy hunting! 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Giant Tiger dig, Thanksgiving weekend

A trip back home just wouldn't be complete without a trip to Giant Tiger, Canadian discount retailer extrordinaire. As you can see, the whole gang was pretty excited to do a good 'ole GT Boutique shop!!

I normally find heaps of cotton-blend apparel in the summer at GT. I was a wee bit disappointed this time round, though, as a lot of the fall knits were mostly acrylic. I don't mind acrylic when it's mixed with something else like Lycra or Spandex, but on its own: ick.

The one exception would be something like this acrylic toque, $7.49. It's purple (very Grunge Queen) and has these cute silver threads throughout. Kinda Marc Jacobs grunge with a touch of glam.

I love wearing toques in the cooler months. So long as they have some little embellishment - one I picked up a few years ago had these darling sequins - they are completely doable.

My Mom didn't find anything this time round, nor did my niece (but most of her wardrobe, if it isn't thrifted, is from GT!). A family pal found some tops. So a GT Boutique success, all in all!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sassy pants outfit from St. John's Thrift

Ok, so there are no pants here. But I sure felt sassy in this outfit yesterday, which I thrifted at St. John's Thrift Shop on Danforth Ave. near Woodbine.

I hadn't been into St. John's for a long time. The last time I was in the shop the pickings were good, but the place was a bit ramshackle. So I was pretty jazzed when I popped in this weekend after a scary dig at the nearby Value Village (Halloween shoppers in full force there; eeps the crowds were out). The shop had been remodeled and cleaned up and has a lovely boutique vibe - and the crowds were thankfully at a minimum.

Brown wool skirt: five bucks. Cashmere blend sweater by Alexandra Bartlett (with the most darling neck and bat-wing sleeves): another fiver. (Wedgie Kenneth Cole boots plucked a year ago at Value Village for $49 - expensive for VV but I have worn them to death and just replaced the heels, so well worth the cash outlay). Then I threw on a worn leather belt thrifted at Stretch Thrift for a couple bucks and voila: 1970s chic.

That's not all. I honed in on this faux-suede (that is so soft it took me a while to figure out it wasn't real) coat of an unknown label with these darling military-style buttons. Reader, only $25. It's chic, and it's super warm!

Total thrift dig cost at St. John's: $35, no tax.

TIPS: I shop high on the food chain and look for great fabrics that wear well and feel and look fab, like wool and cashmere.

St. John's is a division of St. John the Compassionate Mission here in Toronto, the same organization that runs St. John's Bakery. All thrift shop proceeds go back into the community.

2155 Danforth Ave., 416-698-9848 St.John's Mission

Thanks to reader and pal Kathy P. for snapping the pics!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bring it foreward, I say!

I was going to show you an outfit I thrifted at a thrift shop I have yet to tell you about (will do so tomorrow, promise), but apropos of yesterday's post about my folks picking wicker curbside, I had to share with you this pic of a rattan chair on the sidewalk that I saw outside my building tonight.

Reader, it was mine, picked up a few years ago for $10 at a thrift shop. I put it by the dumpster yesterday afternoon as I was in clear out mode and figured SOMEONE would pick it up. It is, after all, so 1970s chic, no? Just look at those curved lines!

Well imagine my dismay to see someone had moved it to a more prominent place curbside - and no one had picked it up by 7 p.m. tonight!

BUT there is a happy ending: just peeped out my front window and looked out on the sidewalk -- and the chair is gone. Hope it's gone to a happy home! Love sharin' that thrifty love ....

Monday, October 18, 2010

My parents are trash pickers too!

I feel like a proud mommie. Except I'm really a proud daughter!! When I was home for Thanksgiving last weekend, I saw this wicker set on my Mom and Dad's bricked in area outside their front door. (I added the pumpkin to make it look more festive).

Readers, they trash picked it.

Well you can imagine - I couldn't have felt more proud. Sure it's a wee bit rough around the edges, fraying a bit on the legs, but good enough for outside for the kitties to languish on as they sun themselves these glorious fall afternoons.

There's even a table.

Don't get me wrong: it's not like Mom and Dad haven't trashed picked before. I year ago, methinks, I did a little post after coming home from a Thanksgiving trip showcasing the worn chairs my Mom had plucked from the trash and used as ledges for her potted flowers out on the back deck. And another time Mom took home a teak desk found curbside.

But let's just say they wouldn't have trash picked a few years ago. Granted it IS becoming more fashionable/acceptable nowadays, but well, I'd like to think I had just a wee bit of influence here - a daughter's prerogative, perhaps!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Halloween dig with Value Village costume expert

You know by now that I'm a Value Village devotee and have shared with you my fab fashiony VV finds since starting this blog almost two years ago. But with Halloween fast approaching the quest for second-hand deals can be stretched out to include fun costumes for office parties, home bashes and basic trick or treating.

VV does sell ready-made new costumes and the store, as you may well know, converts itself from the ultimate treasure hunt experience to Halloween costume central this time of year. So when I had a chance to meet with Meg Allan Cole, Value Village costume expert, designer and all round Do It Yourself-er extrordinaire (check out her Nest blog for inspiring DIY ideas) at a local VV store, I jumped at the chance as any deal diva would.

If you're crafty like Meg you can create your own costume from second-hand curtains, bedspreads and other fabrics found in the linens department. VV's Halloween costume section on its website is extensive, and it shows you how to create looks like Eve, the costume pictured here, which cost under $30 to put together.

If, on the other hand, you're like moi and can hardly sew on a button, you can still put together your own DIY costume with some planning, a good eye, and some creativity - as with this Jackie O costume. Meg recommends  
1). Making a list of the items you'll need for whatever costume idea is rolling around in your head (in this case a wig, shades, trench etc - be sure to click on the Jacki O link above to see how they did it), and then  
2). Raiding your closet and looking around your house to see what you can find. Then  
3). Looking for stuff in the new Halloween costumes section that you know you won't find in the used section (in this case the black wig - VV has every kind of wig you can imagine for good prices) and then finally,  
4). Hitting the second-hand clothing and accessories section to fill in whatever basics you need that you haven't found at home to complete the outfit (perhaps some clip-on peal earrings or a strand of fake pearls for a couple bucks in the jewellery section).

If you're fresh out of ideas, do what I'd do and hit the racks for inspiration. Meg suggests looking for patterned pieces of clothing and keeping an open mind when it comes to fabric. When you see a print that jumps out at you, what is it that jumps to mind first? When we saw this rather hideous retro polyester dress (under $15), Meg screamed "Marsha Brady!", forgotten middle sis in the 1970s sitcom, The Brady Bunch. Pair it with fugly boots, slop on a blond wig (new) and some ugly black Coke bottle glasses (used, and you may want to take the frames out!) and whine, "Marsha, Marsha!". Voila! You have your costume!

We both thought Edie Sedgwick when we saw this handmade silver dress that was about $20. Add some black eyeliner and a blond wig and carry a cigarette along with a photo of Andy Warhol - doncha love it? Those last few ideas were mine, ahem.

And as Meg says, if you find something really fab, like this 1980s designer dress from New York (which hasn't even been worn and still has the tag on it!), it's not as though its taboo to wear it in your every-day, non-costume-y life. 

I just have to sign off with a goofy-fun pic of Meg modeling a flapper look. That vintage-esque fringed dress was actually found in a Savers store in the States (Savers is the US counterpart to Canada's VV)! Grab some costume jewellery pearls and a flapper wig, maybe a ciggie holder if you can find it, and out on some black heels and there you have it!

Thanks Meg - had heaps of fun!! 

OH and if you want to see how the VV costume experts put together items in the store to create inspired costumes, drop by any Toronto store at 3pm every Thursday until Oct 31 for a Halloween fashion show! Meg gave me so many ideas that I may do a couple more thrift Halloween idea posts in the next week or so - so check back!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Third World Bazaar feel-good shopping rove

You know me: I will shop at every opportunity, especially when the shopping fare is unique and somewhat heartfelt. So when I was home for Thanksgiving this past weekend, my fam and I made a number of retail pilgrimages, if you will, one of which was to the Third World Bazaar close to Ottawa, Ontario. It just happens to have its opening weekend the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend every year - but don't worry, it runs every Fri-Sun until the weekend of November 19-21st, so if you're thinking of making your own little pilgrimage you still have time!

As you can see, we're at the bazaar bright and early, our shopping engines revved.

The Third World Bazaar is a different shopping experience and has become incredibly well known in the five years that it's been operating. First of all, it's in a refurbished barn in the wee town of Manotick Station. It's a family-owned biz and owners Peggy and Dick Bakker travel to developing countries buying jewellery, accessories, home decor, clothing and other items directly from the artisans working in those countries.

Then they open their barn for seven consecutive weekends a year for the masses to comb through the displays for great holiday gifts and more (my Mom always picks up handmade Christmas ornaments for the kids and grandkids here). The feel-good part is that they offer fair trade prices to the artisans and craftspeople they buy from, but they're able to pass on what they call warehouse prices to peeps like us who love beautifully-made pieces as they ship the items themselves and save on costs on other ways.

Needless to say, I could have bought a swack of stuff if my budget permitted. These wood chain-like neck pieces caught my eye - can't remember where they're from - as they suit the rocker-glam look I've been cultivating of late.

And I haven't admitted it til now, but I heart hearts, especially when they're big and chunky and not so perfect looking ....

As you may know from reading this blog, I'm an accessories statement piece junkie because I find that one funky, different accessory costs way less than an entire outfit and can be used to fashion multiple looks. I lingered over these beaded belts with wood clasps for a long time and couldn't decide which one to buy.

There were thinner ones but this thick black beaded belt caught my eye - only $22! But I ended up leaving it there as it was a wee bit big for my waist.

The cool thing about the place is that, even though the prices rock, you can find hi/low versions of particular items. These cuff bracelets were made of recycled pots and pans by youth living in the slums of Mathare Valley in Nairobi, Kenya.They were under $20 each, $15 if memory serves.

Meanwhile these more substantial cuffs from Morocco were around $60.

I gotta admit it: I was like a sugar-deprived kid in a candy shop. First I picked up a belt and walked around with it. Then I saw a gorgeous purple mohair scarf for $42, picked that up and put the belt back. But wait: this handbeaded bag from India was just too adorable!

I saw these gorgeous metal lamps with designs punched in them, from Egypt, last year and vowed to get one this year. They range from about $50 for a small one to $125 for a larger one. Aren't they beauts? Alas, I wasn't sure how I would cart one home on the train, and as you may know, my lamp and lighting obsession is reaching new heights of late ....

After picking up and putting down about a half dozen items I finally decided on this sheer woven top from Indonesia with gold threading in it, $32. I have so many lovely scarves, pendants, lamps, boxes and rugs that I just couldn't justify buying more. But one always needs tops, and I thought the multi-layers and ruffling too cute for words. Plus it can be glammed up or worn with jeans and boots.

My fellow shoppers picked up handmade pillows, mugs, bowls and Christmas ornaments. All in all a successful shopping sojourn! If you check it out, go early and wear your woolies as it can get cold in that barn. There's also hot cider and foodie fare outside to warm you in case you get chilled.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Putting the pieces back together

Happy Thanksgiving to those in Canada. I'm thankful I went home and was able to see my fam this weekend. Coming back to the city to my little apartment is always a bit bittersweet. I feel like calling back home right away and talking with Mom and Dad.

There's always tons of fodder for nostalgic feelings at home. My Mom has hung on to all sorts of things from our childhood, like these darling little 3-piece puzzles. I remember loving and playing with these when I was a wee thing. Now my nieces play with them when they visit Grandma and Grandpa.

Some, as you can see, are a little worse for wear, with rips and such, and others have a piece missing. But oh, the happiness of seeing these long-forgotten toys again!

So on that note, excuse me - I'm going to call my Mom.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Not that thrifty a post, but happy, tired one

I apologize for my late-in-the-day posts this week. It has been a busy, exhausting week - as exhausting as I look in this photo, taken after work today. This post isn't really about thrift, but for the record I'm wearing my new Value Village jacket ($7.99), thrifted retro specs for $3.99, and a Lauren Moffat silk dress thrifted at VV for I can't recall what, def under $20.

I was thinking a lot about family today. It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and for various reasons, I didn't think I'd be able to go home. Thanksgiving is big in Canada, a major holiday. I really, really wanted to go home and see everyone.

Me taken 10 mins ago. Tired and slightly harried, but happy: I have my ticket, and I'm going home. (and fyi I am wearing a thrifted tee!).

Here's my uber worn leather tote thrifted for $3.99 that I have just tossed some stuff into. Soo tired. So happy to be going home. If you are in Canada, happy Thanksgiving weekend. If not, well, happy weekend to you too, and happy thrifting!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blue suede pants, one year later

THEN: I thrifted these uber high-waisted pants last October ($19.99 at Goodwill) and vividly remember wearing them last Halloween, when this photo was taken. It wasn't meant to be a costume!

Ick. I thought I looked pretty hot then. But now I see how style can evolve. The horsy-horsy look was just too contrived. The teal scarf too matchy-matchy. And highlighting the high-waisted pants? A bit too much, methinks.

NOW: I much prefer the look I came up with two days ago. The strategy was similar yet funkified: this time the cashmere sweater was longer and hanging out, and the hue almost matched the pants perfectly. Brown boots, yes, but this time shorter ankle booties. I kept the thick belt but changed the colour and put it outside the tunic. Then I added a Teenflo blazer and leather bag (both thrifted) and voila!

What do you think? Which look do you like best? Or are they both fugly in your opinion?