Monday, April 30, 2012

Boho-sexy dress for a pound

For my first-ever link up, for Visible Monday and Thrifter's Anonymous, I'm wearing a contemporary thrifted dress with all vintage and second-hand thrifted accessories. Not only is this dress visible in that it makes ME pretty visible, but it was also highly visible on the sale rack of a local church charity shop .... for A POUND! (Btw, it seems like an oxymoron to have a sale rack in a charity shop, doesn't it?). Though not vintage, it's a decent knit, I loved the boho print and I thought I could funk it up with some of my thrifty and vintage finds.

I'm wearing it with a vintage statement piece necklace I found for two Canadian dollars in Toronto, a 1970s mosaic cocktail ring ($5.99 CAD at Value Village in Canada), 1970s shades ($15 and never-worn from a Toronto vintage shop), and thrifted brown faux-croc shoes made in Spain (can't remember how much I paid but I'm guessing $5.99 CAD). I added some (new, of course) brown crochet tights to sex up the look (but since the dress is so revealing I could also wear opaque tights, to make the look more casual). I've also accessorized the look with a vintage bag I've had for a while: a handmade Etienne Aigner burgundy leather handbag, which I found in a Toronto Goodwill shop for a few bucks - way! (I've seen them online from $35 USD to $100+).

Aigner was a Hungarian-born designer who started making handbags in the 1950s in Paris for the likes of Dior, them moved to New York - he died in 2000 but his company still exists. His work is known for its craftsmanship and its signature (and also patented) buckle, which you see here. I can't find the source for this at the mo, but when I first found this bag I did some research and discovered that early Aigner bags are in this shade of leather as the designer was cash-strapped, and the burgundy leather was cheaper than the other shades. Not sure if that makes this bag more valuable or less, but I just love that historical tidbit!

Oh: almost forgot to say that I'm wearing the dress back-to-front - I instinctively put it on that way as as I tend not to look good in scooped or v-necks, but better in boat-neck styles. I'm digging being somewhat "covered up" up top - it balances out the dress's clingy-ness and its short length. Then again, if you see the scoop neck from the back, you may think I'm being impossibly tarty!! But I don't think so ....

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pink post-script & UK carpet bag update

Eww. Today is another grim, rainy day so the hubby and I will stay indoors and play house. To follow up on the pink thread, I wanted to show you another pink dream I thrifted in Canada - it's a pink leather crop jacket by Alfani and it was a mere 6 bucks at a 50 percent off sale last summer at Stretch Thrift in Toronto (TIP: When every one else is scouring the racks for sun dresses, hit the winter jacket aisle). I'm wearing it with a ludicrously expensive uber long scarf I bought new at Anthrolopogie.

Hubby calls it the bubble gum jacket. It has this sheen to it, and I must admit that I never would have cast a second glance at it if it were full-priced. But that's the neat thing about thrift and charity shopping: you can experiment with looks you never would have because the monetary risk is low. If it works, great; if not, you can donate it back. Would you say your thrift shopping allows you to play more with your style?

I had to show you another look with the same jacket and scarf, worn about six months ago when my thighs were small enough to fit into these jeans: thrifted boho sweater; thrifted Angel jeans and thrifted leather booties and bag - now that I see that bag I realize it's another bag that's gone missing in my move, along with my treasured carpet bags - WAH.

Photo courtesy KeepitRetro, Etsy.

Speaking of carpet bags, I have an update re: the Etsy-bought carpet bag, above, by UK company Carpet Bags. I emailed the company after I did the post last week and heard back from Alex, who told me this bag (as I had guessed) was from the 1980s, mid-80s, to be exact. It was one of three sizes made that were sold through a full-page spread in Country Living magazine (which, aside from Elle Decor, is one of my decor mag faves). The style is "Gladstone" and the tapestry is called "Forest." Isn't that cool? I'm so excited to have some info on my "new" vintage bag!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday togs & fave thrifted sweater

Happy Saturday! The hubby's home and life is good, good good ... so I hope you'll understand if I keep this short, short short! When I'm scragging around home, I tend to live in leggings and my suede booties. This wool-blend tunic is a major thrifty fave - picked out by my gal pal Nadia in at Stretch Thrift in Toronto's Pape Village (where I used t live). Man, I miss that shop, and the people who work there. Anyway, I love the Nordic pattern and the semi-circle pockets - so cute! It's chilly today so it's the perfect sweater to snuggle up in with hubby ... on that note, I've got to go - have a great day!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thrifty pink antidote to the blues

Pink "harlequin" sweater by Perry Ellis that I've had since 2001
- pretty much the only fashion item I have kept from that era!

This post is dedicated to my dear pal Robbie, with whom I haven't spoken in ages (but rectified that with a Skype marathon yesterday), who also knows the joys and pitfalls of living in a coastal town (in his case, in Vancouver, Canada): the happy part entailing glorious beaches and dunes; the bad part, icky bone-chilling rain and wind.

My solution to the blues I was feeling as a result of the crappy weather and missing my hubby? Aside from yoga, talking with friends, laughing and, of course, browsing in my fave charity shops - colour. I read once that pink makes you look young (is that where that expression comes from, "In the pink"?). I'm not sure if it does, but that jolt of colour certainly boosted my mood.

J Crew wool blazer found in a Toronto thrift shop; pashmina and brooch found in charity shops.

I decided to really pink out - donning an and old Perry Ellis sweater with a recently-thrifted wool cashmere scarf and vintage brooch. I even put pink lipstick on. I don't often do pink, but when I do, it's killer with black.

Could I leave it there? It was a pound!
I'm really getting into brooches now - they're fab on a blazer or denim jacket.

And you know what? It worked. I had such a silly grin on my face as I was walking back from grocery shopping in the drizzle that someone stopped me and commented it. I told him, "There's reason to smile!". Could this be the same girl from hours previous who just wanted to sink back into the duvet and sleep for the day?

Today the sun is back, and all is right in the world, especially since I'll see hubby tomorrow. And you know what? Pink is everywhere. Yay.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Score: auction house bracelet for two pounds

As a result of my roamings in my new town, I recently found an auction house that features an indoor market where sellers rent out cases showcasing  vintage and antique bling, paintings, pottery and other goodies. I've been sans hubby this week and was feeling sorry for myself, so I popped in and found this amazing bracelet ... for a pound ninety-nine!

I'm not sure how to begin dating it but it's tiny, which could be an indication of its era as people were much smaller in, say, Victorian times. It has a slight ethnic look to it too - very pretty boho, in my opin.

Not sure if you can see but it's quite rough-hewn, so maybe it was handmade. Any ideas out there as to its provenance?

It reminds me a wee bit of the vintage bracelet I picked up in TO (for $35) at a vintage shop, though this one looks more new and is obviously more blingy. I don't often wear bracelets so it takes something special to stop me in my tracks.

Needless to say, since the prices for bling there are so fantastically good, I'll be visiting that auction house again. There are also auctions every three weeks and I plan to drag the hubby to the next one to see what's on the block!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Score: vintage carpet bag made in the UK by a still-existing company

Though I am holding out hope, I appear to have lost a few treasured vintage bags and carpet bags in the move from Toronto to Ottawa and then overseas. Maybe it was that loss, but in the last few weeks I've been absolutely obsessed with vintage carpet bags on Etsy. But not any carpet bag will do - I wanted something huge, which, if you've ever trolled Etsy for vintage tapestry bags, you'll know are hard to come by. The vintage styles just tend to be smaller. Enter the handbag pictured above.

Photo courtesy KeepitRetro on Etsy

It's just so gorg, featuring an idyllic woodland scene with flowers and trees and various creatures. And it's large enough to fit a whack of stuff in it - love!

I did some research on the maker and discovered that Carpet Bags is a UK-based company that still exists. It started hand-making carpet bags out of recycled fabric in the 1970s and its products have graced the shelved of Harrods and Liberty of London. Wowsers. Somewhere along the line it started using tapestry, which my bag is made of, and then switched back to new carpets that reproduced old patterns. I am so thrilled to have this piece of UK heritage and am also chuffed the business still exists - a tough feat in this mass-produced offshore manufacturing kind of world, to be sure. I have to email the owner to find out how old my bag is but I'm guessing 1980s. Will keep you posted.

For the bag's first outing, I wore skinny jeans and a tunic (bought new in Canada) with a thrifted jean jacket and my fave thrifted leather lace-up booties. I love that I can take the long strap off the bag and use the bag handle if I so choose - though I may feel like Mary Poppins if I did that!

To honour the home-made heritage, and to make the outfit a bit more feminine, I added my fave Liberty of London scarf (found in a junk shop in Canada for two bucks) and a pretty silver ring with a large cut green stone (new, but 50 percent off). Notice the button on the jean jacket that I wrote about this week?

This is why I love old things: they bring the satisfaction of knowing a bit about the history of the maker, and also of giving the piece an appreciative home!

Photo courtesy KeepitRetro on Etsy

If you're a novice buying vintage handbags, especially online, I've learned to always take a whiff of the bag or ask the seller if it smells. Some old handbags just smell too musty when you open them, so it's always worth asking. I haven't had extensive experience buying on Etsy but I have looked at a lot of pieces and I find most sellers will declare any flaws and if if they don't I imagine it's in their best interest to answer such a question honestly. That's my two cents! Anything else you seasoned vintage bag hunters look for or ask when shopping?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New charity shop, a cardi & a carpet bag, and a friend

Welcome to my new carpet and tapestry handbag obsession. I normally stalk these babies on Etsy, but since hubby's instructions to mind what I spend, I have had to back off from Etsy (but if he wants to buy me the 30-pound, plus almost that in shipping, leather and tapestry bag I am currently lusting after there as an early B-day pressie, I suppose I shall have to deal with it). But I digress: yesterday when I checked out a thrift shop in a nearby town that I've never been to, a church charity shop, I found this 1990s-esque tapestry bag with the tags still on ... for three pounds! Isn't it a beaut?

There's more to this tale. In said church charity shop, I met Shoo, a lady who lives in the same town in which I do and shares my passion for charity shops. Shoo kindly invited me to dinner at her place after discovering I'm new to town, haven't made a lot of friends and am often on my own. What a sweetheart. So I went to dinner and donned my "new" bag in honour of the occasion, along with an oversize purple wool cardi in perfect condition that I also bought at the shop for three pounds (note: church charity shops have waaay better prices than the corporate charity shops here, where these items would sell for double or more).

Under the cardi I wore a thrifted Teenflo little black dress, a vintage velvet elastic belt, new Guess? booties and crochet tights, and a thrifted statement piece necklace. Dinner was a blast and I know I'll soon be charity shopping and experiencing other adventures with Shoo!

I was pretty pleased that I was able to somewhat glam up a slouchy cardi for my dinner outfit, but I wanted to show you a more casual look showing the same pieces I bought yesterday: under the cardi I'm wearing a new turtleneck bought on sale at Danier Leather in Canada; a gorg scarf gifted to me by the owner of my fave thrift shop in Toronto, Canadian Thrift (now called Ontario Thrift); and riding pants gifted to me by my pal Nadia (of the green dress, see two posts below). I made the look more casual by wearing my new purse cross-body.

P.S. I have a few more vintage carpet bags to show you. Coming soon!

Monday, April 23, 2012

One of my latest vintage obsessions: handpainted boho brooches

I recently found these boho-like brooches in two different charity shops, one for a pound and another for a pound-and-a-half.  I'm not sure how to describe them as they're not in line with the typical vintage brooches you find out there - they have a boho, artsy and almost rustic feel to them that, along with the flowers, I find appealing.

The first, a mere pound, I dug out of the bottom of a bauble dish at a charity shop in St. Annes. The flowers are recessed and look handpainted as there's some wear. Sizewise, it's between a pound and two-pound coin.

This one is larger and looks like it was painted and then shellaced. It was a pound-forty-nine. So pretty!

The problem with some brooches is they're too fancy to incorporate into every day life. Not so with these babies as I saw them instantly on one of my many denim jackets, which I tend to live in in the spring and summer, with jeans and even over sexy sun dresses to keep me warm. With a fine wool floral scarf, the look is pretty pretty, n'est pas? (and I made a consious effort to smile here so I don't look like Victoria Beckham, lol).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Green day: dress gifted by Nadia & other goodies from Toronto

In Honour of Earth Day, and thrifting lovelies everywhere, I'm showing you a vintage 1970s dress that used to hang on my gal pal Nadia's wall (it's nylon - don't come near me with a match as I may melt). 

A fellow thrifter and style icon in her own right, Nadia gave this to me when I left Toronto. Je love. Je also miss Nadia.

The bodice is super small - perfect for me! Not a lot of room in this baby now that I've put on some curves, but that's a good thing, I think. I'm wearing the dress with a bone multi-strand necklace and bracelet, gifted to me by a lovely lady in Toronto, Lucy of Boj Decor on Mount Pleasant Blvd. The sandles, which you'll be seeing a lot of as I trashed most of mine when I moved, were a screaming deal, new (25 pounds instead of 100), at a closing sale in St Annes - Lacuzzo high-heeled platform strappies that make you look like a movie star.

I bought these vintage but never-worn sunnies a few years ago - a definite splurge item. The seller, Ratas Optical in Toronto, has a huge stash of never-worn retro and vintage shades - if you're ever around the Danforth and Broadview area in Greektown, check them out. They ended up replacing the faceted lenses for me, for free, as they had a slight magnification to them that made me dizzy. Nice eh? I have thought about selling them if I ever open an Etsy shop as I'm not sure they suit me. They're a definite statement piece item that you don't wear with just any old outfit!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Charity shopping "problem", simplicity & my Victoria Beckham look

My hubby came home from a day out with the boys at St George's Day to find me wearing this white tuxedo top and statement piece necklace, both of which I found at charity shop for a few pounds each. He calmly asked me if I had a "problem" with charity shopping.


Well, I do love finding great deals and I do roam the shops when he's away flying and I'm lonely - then again I always have been a thrift shop maven, and let's face it: it is slightly addictive. But it's not like I'm a high-maintenance babe going out and buying Chanel every week. Right?

Mmmm. When I think of it, I guess I don't need any more necklaces - but this one was so pretty, and I have been absolutely looking for a simple white cotton shirt, like one I used to have years ago, to create a simple look for myself this spring. I tend towards drama in my outfits when I'm not in hack-around mode, but the idea of a white shirt, a lovely necklace, jeans, booties and a killer bag is rocking my world these days. Simple style - what a concept. Does this mean I'm getting older?

I digress but I had to show you this snap as I look freakishly like Victoria Beckham in all her 
unsmiling media glory ... and I think I know why she never smiles in photos: it makes one look older, as I sadly discovered while snapping these pics! But don't worry, I haven't given up smiling ... yet. That will happen when hubby takes the bank card away, haha.

But I will try my very best to obey his parting words to "not spend too much" (though a carpet bag obsession on Etsy has recently taken hold). But I have to ask: do charity shops and obsessive shopping go hand-in-hand? I've often thought that thrift shopping allows me to shop MORE and OFTEN as it's so cheap, thereby fulfilling a need for constant consumption of pretty things. Taken in that light, my shopping doesn't seem that green or that different than the mass-market hyper consumption I can sometimes be critical of. Deep thoughts - thanks, husband!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Granny-Annie polyester skirts can look chic

Not to be insulting to little old ladies but the polyester fashions of Finn Karelia are pretty granny-Annie, in other words what my Grandma would have worn when she was alive - elasticized polyester pants and huge printed blouses. But when I saw this polyester skirt with the Finnish label in a charity shop this week, for three pounds, I instantly fell in love with the 1970s print and shape.

I'm wearing it with my fave Michael Kors lace-up boots (over six years old but bought for 50 percent off), a thrifted blazer by Theory (only a few bucks but it would have cost hundreds new), and a thrifted suede handbag that was made in Italy (again only a few Canadian dollars). The cashmere sweater was a gift.

The gloves are from a charity shop (two pounds) and the statement piece necklace was a steal, purchased new for $45 in a Toronto boutique. The maker was a lady recovering from addiction and the shop owner was helping her out by selling these necklaces for her, commission-free. Good Karma, that.

If I can, I may see if I can transform myself from a non-crafty person to a crafty person and try to make this necklace - I get so many compliments on it that I would like to share it with others. Will keep you posted!

Thanks to my new photog (my hubby), who snapped these pics in Blackpool.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My fave thrifty decor creations

Now that I'm married to a contemporary streamlined decor kind of guy, I've had to make some major style concessions in our new home together - and indeed, most of what you see in these photos are no longer in my possession, sigh. Not to say that our newly painted living room (pics coming soon) won't have a wee bit of boho injected into it, but let's just say, compromises have been made - on both sides. This post will honour a couple of looks I created in my old Toronto apartment, using salvaged curbside pieces and thrifty decor finds.

TRASH: An ex brought me this wooden dining room table with flip up table extentions - so cool. He found it in the trash. Though it had heaps of shiny paint and varnish on it, I still liked it. The white vinyl chair - covered in a dollar store faux fur rug and velvet pillow - was another garbage find; so too was the curved chrome chair at the front.

THRIFT SHOP FINDS: The silver chair in the back was part of a set of four salvaged at the Salvation Army in Ottawa years ago, spraypainted silver by moi and then covered with a silver tablecloth from the dollar store - tres grunge chic. Ditto for the painting, wall lamp, and handpainted bowl. The lamp was a junk shop find.
BOUGHT NEW BUT INEXPENSIVELY: The curtains were on sale in a fabric shop, tied with ribbon from a gift. I found the heavy crystal Art Deco style vase at a dollar store, if you can believe it. The large black and white photo was a gift, and the two smaller ones are old photos of me that I framed with inexpensive white mattes and frames.
INSPIRATION FOR VIGNETTE: I love the droopy tulips. I had a dinner party the evening before and someone brought them to me after walking through minus 30 degrees temperatures - so they wilted, rather artfully I think. I started with the vase and tulips on the table and went from there.

INSPIRATION FOR VIGNETTE: I really, really loved this creation - I call it my boho corner. The fun thing about this look was that it was created in the dining room space of my one bedroom apartment - but I said, what the hell, let's put the living room in the dining room - something my best friend and I did when we were 20 and living in our first apartment together.

TRASH: The loveseat, a Barrymore made in Canada gem (covered with an inexpensive slipcover from Zellers, a Canadian store) that a beau from years ago hauled out of a dumpster (actually, there were two, and I go them both).  Blue velvet chair: a curbside find in Toronto, as was the amazing wooden console dresser.

THRIFT FINDS: The Chinese style lamp was a Value Village find and the blue shade was also from the thrift shop; the Indian carpet was found at a junk store along with the head vase on the large console; the large mirror and painting balanced on it were both thrift store finds and so were the wooden oval, silver wrought iron and glass/brass tables.

BOUGHT NEW: The boho cushion on the chair was found in Saskatchewan about a decade ago, and the striped silk pillow on the sofa was part of a pair, also purchased new and splurge items if memory serves. The rest of the pillows were thrifted.

LOVE: The green Star Trek decanter on the console (see pic one up) - a gift from my best friend. It belonged to her folks and came with eight teeny shot glasses that matched.
Sadly, though I managed to sell/donate a lot of the smaller items, most of the larger furniture pieces were left curbside in Toronto when I moved. I tried to to donate the furniture to charity shops but they are so under-resourced they could not pick them up. Hopefully some like-minded folk picked up my stash left in front of my apartment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Purple Queen; two vintage statement pieces

Can you do two vintage statement pieces at once? You bet! This is my absolute fave shawl, both vintage and handmade. The vintage velvet patterned fabric was over-dyed purple on one side, and sewn to a brown velvet fabric on the other side. A vintage fringe was added, which was also dyed purple. It was made by an interior designer in Toronto who does custom drapes and reupholstery for a living. The seller told me Hermes did something like it, la-di-da!!

I'm wearing it with another fave, a vintage 1970s Rafael Alfandary pendant made of brass and a purple "stone", which was given to me (lucky me as these things sell for over $100 in the vintage markets). The purple wool tunic/dress is second-hand, dug up at a Toronto Goodwill, by April Cornell. The booties and leggings are new.

Isn't it just lush? I can wear it like this, long, or wrapped around my neck, tres deshabille chic!

It's a true statement piece and I always get compliments and stares when I wear it. It wasn't cheap, but the money I paid for it was well worth it as I just love it - it was one of those pieces I went home and dreamed of. And I don't think it competes with the necklace, do you?