One of the magical things about the Earth is seasons. In Kingston, Ontario we have quite unpredictable weather patterns where we can have all 4 seasons in one day! Any time I’ve gone on holiday people will always laugh and say “You’re Canadian aren’t you? All you guys do is talk about the weather!” which is 100% true as its always changing. We suffer about 5 months of solid winter from November to March, with a month or so of spring (April, May) and suddenly summer heat with a vengeance (June through September). Finally we have maybe a few short weeks of fall, which is ultimately only a bit of October before the temperature drops and BOOM we are in winter again.
This also means that if we are basing our wardrobe on the pre-defined seasons a lot of our closet isn’t being utilized to its full potential. My way of thinking is not common. I do not believe in the rules of fashion such as not wearing white after labour day, bright colours are only for summer, dark palettes for winter. I never understood why people would go blond in the summer and brunette in the winter. I am an impulsive dresser and allow my emotions to decide what I wear. The only thing that clearly defines the season for me is how many layers my outfit will have to protect me from the elements. These are things like adding a cardigan or blazer over a sleeveless dress. Perhaps when the warmer temperatures arrive I’ll stop wearing slips and body shapers under my clothing for added warmth! Weather is harsh and unpredictable – so why would I let it tell me what to do?!
As Canadians, spring gives us this boost we have been waiting so long for with more sun, warmer temperatures and finally the stores are showing fun bright colourful displays! Although spring for us is still a rather ugly season – everything is grey, dirty, salty snow banks still too frozen to thaw, our cars are filthy… ultimately everything looks blah! I think the grey-ness of the season makes us even more excited to pull out the florals and pastels! That’s where I am at right now. I’m so done with winter, I survived, now its time for colour, colour and more colour!
Do you start wearing your spring and summer closet early just to give yourself a boost of energy?
I don’t often seek out inspiration for styling outfits. I tried using Pinterest a handful of times and just felt consumed, overwhelmed and more disorganized than ever. Its a great tool for some but it doesn’t work for all of us. I’ve never liked the assumption that we get inspiration from specific sources or that we are trying to copy or imitate someone or something else. While no ideas are new ideas per se, I like to think that its my own creativity and subconscious collection of visual tips that pulls an outfit together.
I found this really cool longer pencil skirt by Alex & Olivia at Cash for Clothes in downtown Kingston on a spontaneous thrifting adventure this past Saturday. While I don’t often stray from my usual thrift stores, this one is a unique gem and not for the faint of heart. Its the thrill of the hunt in this shop! There’s so much to see in a small space but lots of great goodies to be found for just $5 each!
I loved the style of the skirt more than anything and its the same spandex midi style that I am most drawn to. I found myself googling images of striped skirt outfits to see how other people style them for inspiration… Despite spending all this time looking for ideas on how to style it, I found myself retreating to my comfort zone and going with smaller punches of colour and solids. While I love the idea of pairing a bright floral blouse with a striped skirt, I felt overwhelmed with each one I tried at home. Each one just wasn’t quite right. I think pairing stripes with a contrasting pattern such as bright florals is quite challenging, you really have to be confident and bold in your choice. One day I have faith that I will find the perfect pairing, but this sort of style cannot be rushed!
There is a great hesitation in the world of every day fashion when it comes to stripes. We’ve heard the tales time and time again about what makes us look wide or slimming. For as long as I can remember, horizontal stripes have been long labelled as a big ‘no-no’ which is a fashion myth that has no actual merit. In a recent study by Dr. Robert Thompson of the University of York, the results are not surprising to those of us that have no fear of the horizontal stripe. This experiment featured 200 women and almost always, the vertical stripes actually make you look wider than horizontal. Go figure!
This week I found myself on Payless Shoe Source’s website browsing for my favourite pumps that were on clearance for around $15 a pair. While there are great many things I very rarely buy new, these particular pumps are one of few items I would buy new if the price was right. They are what I would call “my shoe” you know, that one style and brand that really fits your foot? Alas I’m just about done browsing, I review my shopping cart and I realize it doesn’t allow me to select Ontario. Sigh, a quick Google search tells me that Payless does not ship to Canada but they invite you to go your local store (which in my case is the smallest selection on the planet and never a style I’m looking for!) Huge let down.
Disheartened, I glanced quickly over a few of the “fast fashion” websites based in China and I just thought: I don’t want to risk this when it comes to shoes. Shoes I cannot alter to make bigger or smaller, they are what they are. I’ve been told many tricks to stretching but that works so rarely considering most of my footwear is not leather and typically thrifted, which means its already stretched as much as it ever will be. Anything I’ve ever ordered online I have to be 100% certain that I can return it to a store locally or the item is priced low enough that I wouldn’t care if I couldn’t return it. When it comes to footwear, I just don’t like to gamble the odds. I bet you’re wondering why I would even consider cheaply made shoes but for me its about far more than price.
Let’s start off with my feet shall we? I am one of those medical enigmas, a rare case when it comes to my feet. I was wearing a 7.5 to an 8 before entering grade 9. Within a few short years my feet began changing, bones compressing and adjusting for wearing pointe shoes in Ballet twice a week. Now this isn’t something that happens to most people or many dancers for that matter, but it happened to me. A doctor had looked at them years ago and said you can see the structure has changed as bones bump where they shouldn’t. Along with the new compressed structure they have become very narrow to the point where there is very poor circulation resulting in my feet almost always being cold. These days I am a size 6 US on a swollen day, a 5.5 US on some occasions and in a perfect universe: a size 6 on the left foot and 5.75 on the right.
Whenever I have attempted to shop the “real stores” for footwear I am always always disappointed in my purchase unless its Payless, like I said earlier as these always fit my feet. Having worked so many years in retail I’ve heard the complaint “its so hard to find my size” regarding every possible size in existence. Its apparent that we all struggle in this hunt for the perfect shoe. You name it 5, 12, 8… I’ve heard it from everyone. Too big, too small, too high an instep, bunions rub too much, too narrow, too wide… I would find the complaints of women with sizes 6.5 to 9 (the most readily available and average shoe size) rather strange – but it just adds to the theory that shoes are very hard to fit. These women are competing with the largest group of consumers for their shared popular size.
I was reading statistics about women’s footwear in the last few decades to see why it feels so much harder to find shoes now compared to before. As I predicted, sizes are changing just like clothing. The natural progression of the human race suggests we have become larger, taller and wider. This also brings to light the challenges within the footwear industry. Sample sizes still tend to be in the size 5-6 US range as they were in the 60’s. While this can be great in some ways for me, I don’t have to wait for an associate to grab me a shoe – but on the other hand can be worse as they may have one pair left, but its the display pair. Inevitably that means one shoe is much larger from being tried on repeatedly than the other.
Fast forward a few decades and small is considered a size 7 and children’s footwear is encroaching with a size 4 being actually a women’s 6. The average shoe size now for women in America is about an 8 or 9 wide. Manufacturers are actually spending more money to produce larger sizes to try to keep up with this growing progression unfortunately, not fast enough for demand. This also means there will become a shortage of size 5-6 footwear in the coming years that isn’t full of rainbow glitter and the Barbie logo on them!
Which brings me to thrift shopping for shoes. You’ll frequently see this on lists of what not to buy second hand for the sake of possible bacteria, fungus, athlete’s foot, warts… Now if I haven’t completely scared you away, did you know you can clean shoes quite easily and remove the threat of any such bacteria finding its way to your feet? Chronologie Vintage has a great post with a list of ways you can sanitize footwear. 90% of my shoes are second hand, already worn in and in my opinion, ten times more comfortable to wear than buying new. I’ve never understood the logic in suffering for days, weeks, months trying to get shoes to feel right. While they may not last forever, spending $10 on a pair of pumps that I might get several years of wear out of is the most efficient way to spend my money. Thrifting shoes is also a great way to discover brands, styles and shapes that may suit your feet. This is how I found my love of Nine West pumps!
January Closet Declutter Inspired by KonMari ❤ TL - YouTube
I’ve been hearing over and over about a new show on Netflix featuring Marie Kondo, the organization and declutter expert but I will admit, I have yet to watch it. Part of me is afraid to watch it, for fear of the desire to flip my entire house and “cleanse”! Thrift stores and consignment shops are being bombarded from coast to coast with donations, everyone is wanting to get rid of the excess. I attempted it two weeks ago and even now I’m still not totally set on my decision. I really wanted to try her technique of dumping all clothing in the house onto the bed, which is great because you can visually see what you have. To say its overwhelming is an understatement. I managed to put together several bags of donations and two that are worthy of trying to sell. But even looking at those massive bags and looking at the garment rack – I feel unresolved.
Its the strangest thing, this feeling of attachment. I have never been one to cling to materialistic things. I’ve done countless closet purges in my day but this one was different. I was looking at the pre-styled outfits and thinking, “I need this for work”, “I need to keep this it goes with that __”… Then I looked back at the footage of this “challenge” and I still don’t feel I was brutal enough. Sure I filled lots of bags, but I still don’t feel that my closet is just right. Ever look at your closet and think: bleh?
Naturally this feeling is temporary, we all go through phases where we feel that our clothing seems boring, unimaginative and that it just hangs there lifelessly in our closet. Even for me with a closet that is literally bursting with prints, patterns and colour! This is when we need to remember that clearing out takes time and it won’t happen in one day, it won’t happen over night and you are in full control of how fast or slow it goes. You don’t want to run into problems where you throw out things that you forget are crucial – such as slips that you wear under a lot of see-through dresses… or the solid colour tank tops that you wear under almost every blouse. These items can seem small and insignificant, but they are items you forget you rely on.
The last thing we want is to be frustrated and stressed because we’ve removed items we actually needed. Of course you could go and replenish but if you already have one that works, maybe pull that back out of the bag. The bottom line is, remember the “wow” factor. If you put it back in the closet and a week later still have no desire to wear it – no matter what the excuse (too hot, too cold, too dark, too exciting) thats still a “no” and you aren’t going to wear it even if the conditions are perfect.
I like to think of this declutter as step one. Step two to be determined.
January. That time of the year when people start panicking when they see the credit card statements arriving, rummaging through their home trying to rid themselves from extra clutter gained over the course of the previous year and wondering what sort of goals they can achieve this time around. I asked Jeff on New Year’s day if he had any resolutions and his response was short and sweet: I’m the same person today as I was yesterday. This has been my philosophy for quite some time, that improvements can and should be made at any time, there’s no reason to wait for the start of a new year. I read an article today talking about fitness goals no longer being a popular resolution, despite the overwhelming dumping of gym promo postcards in my mailbox this week. People have started acknowledging that time is irrelevant, change can be made today it doesn’t have to wait until tomorrow, or next month, or next year.
I found myself doing a lot of reading this afternoon about thrift culture, shopping trend predictions and minimalist lifestyles. While I have been fascinated by minimalism for years, I have not actually attempted to do it myself. At least not to a note-worthy extent. Now that there are two adults in a 1950’s 1,400 SF bungalow, I feel the need to own less “stuff”. This I’m sure sounds totally strange coming from a woman who was on a routine of visiting the thrift store at least once a week. As much as I’d like to do renovations to the home to make it more user-friendly without the tightly enclosed rooms serving little purpose due to their inaccessibility – I just don’t have the funds. This is a conundrum as you might imagine! To my knowledge scientists have not found a way to grow cash-producing plants… until that day, we need to look closely at our income, our spending and stick to a safe budget.
In my adult life I have spent several years using an Excel based budget which has allowed me to visually see where the money is going and how much is actually coming in. We can easily be carried away with the swiping of cards and not actually seeing the money leave our pockets. With changes in employment and big purchases (house, car, furniture…) you need to pay even closer attention to where you are sitting financially. All the regular daily spending (Tim Horton’s breakfast, Starbucks lattes, convenience store chips) can add up when you don’t have a lot of cash coming your way. For argument’s sake, let’s say every single day you stop at a coffee shop and spend $5, that ends up a whopping $1,305 at the end of the year! I’d like to think I haven’t done that, but these are sneaky expenditures that can go easily unnoticed, especially when using your left-over change.
As much as thrifting has been excellent financially for things I’ve needed and providing a great source of entertainment, it can also become an addiction. When I meet someone in “real life” that has followed my accounts they often ask the same questions right up front: “Do you go thrifting every day?” “How much do you spend a month on thrifting?” “How big is your closet?” While a simple answer would be “once a week”, “not that much” and “not that big”… that isn’t exactly true and I would be lying to both of us unknowingly. At the end of the year I look very closely at my Excel sheet budget and start looking at the “totals” for the course of the year. During the year its not all that exciting but at the end when the last piece of data is entered, you can see a clear picture of what your life was like that year. Quite a heavy concept isn’t it?
While I honestly didn’t go thrifting every day, I went regularly on Sundays as a routine, but occasionally during the week out of boredom or to de-stress. I justified my spending on my well being, entertainment value, my ability to create new content to share… but when you see the numbers glaring back at you at the end of the year you realize you’re as crazy as people suspected! The harsh reality of what you spend on something you thoroughly enjoy is that it isn’t always sustainable and you can begin to feel overwhelmed if this hobby of yours involves accumulation. While reading a blog post about a woman’s 1 year study on living minimally on 41% of her income, a lot of her points had great merit. Do we need the excess? Do we need 5 pairs of this and that? Again, while I don’t believe I could be 100% minimalist, it makes me step back and re-evaluate, if nothing else, the size of my closet.
According to ThreadUp’s 2018 Report, 1 in 3 women wear an item 5 times or less (me!), 43% are impulse buys (me!) and 70% of your closet remains unworn (me!). A new year is a time for change, so a big “life” cleanse is in order!
My social media feeds are primarily my office attire and formal wear, simply because I wear it so frequently. This is very rare for most people and many times I’ll receive a message asking what I wear when I’m at home. Do I still wear dresses? Wear makeup? Do my hair in curls? Just like anyone else, the minute I burst into the door at night I’m in fleece pajamas and a bath robe! The bra goes flying in the laundry hamper and my hair gets piled on top of my head with a clip. My boyfriend sees me for maybe a whole of 5 minutes looking “put-together” for work, then like magic: POOF! I’m in cozies.
But when I’m at home and NOT in pjs, I typically go for your standard white tshirt and blue skinny jeans. The last two years I’ve been favouring two different pairs of shoes: caramel brown ankle boots or white sneakers. Both I can easily slip on and run errands in. As I was reflecting on the idea of casual looks, I started compiling images that stand out over the last few years that I consider to be my “casual” clothing. Although many were worn to a casual work environment, some were just things I threw on to buy groceries or attend a birthday lunch.
Scarves are a huge wardrobe staple for me. They’re comfortable, easy to style, fun to wear, fashionable and they keep me warm! There are often situations where I will have a boring dress or shirt that needs some excitement where a necklace just doesn’t work. Scarves are a great fix.
I often wear coloured skinny jeans or khakis. I find that this allows me to have colour present, even though I’m wearing a plain white sweater. I also tend to wear the same pieces of jewellery which is two silver rings, one of which is a very large spoon ring I bought locally off an artist. The other is a small band with a giraffe spot engraving around it. And lastly, simple sparkle studs.
The more I look at these images, the more I realize my weekend outing style is very much the same. Sweater, skinny jeans, boots and a big scarf! I like to layer and keep it simple on the weekend. I think about my outfits less and maybe that’s why this template works well for me.
These two looks were so much fun and were inspired by Instagram looks as you can imagine. I always wanted to try the graphic tee and blazer look but I wanted it to be feminine as well. I wanted to experiment with other styles so it was exciting to test them out on the weekend. One look I wore to an art festival and the other to a pub date with friends.
These two looks are most likely to be recognized as “dressy” looks rather than casual weekend outfits. I sometimes take the weekend as an opportunity to wear less formal looking dresses and skirts, pairing them with denim or boots for a more casual look. Sometimes I have just thrifted a new sun dress and can’t wait for a work day to try it out!
Ahh yes, my beloved mustard yellow. I really like bulky, oversized sweaters with large cable knits. I don’t think either of these are particularly iconic, but they are two of the most highly “liked” images on my Instagram feed. Seems I’m not the only one who crushes on this colour!
Being the honest person that I am, I never imagined I would be scammed online. It seems though, more and more in our world, scammers and hackers have started to reshape society. Mostly I wonder, how can they sleep at night knowing they’re deliberately cheating innocent people out of their money? I follow a lot of American resellers on Instagram and finally I thought, I’m going to try this! I knew it wouldn’t be smooth sailing to start but I was willing to give it a try. The first three items I sold quickly via offers, items I didn’t pay a lot for that were pristine quality and a brand people were after. I didn’t make much but I felt like I was learning a new venue for thrift resale.
Before you ask, why eBay and not Poshmark (or similar) these are based in the US and most do not allow Canadian sellers. Canadian versions of these websites are often very low traffic so there is little incentive to exert the effort. The other side of the coin is the astronomical price of Canadian shipping. You can ship across the USA from Canada for under $10 CAD, but anywhere in Canada – even 1 hour away – is $14 minimum. This is why I tend to only shop where I can get free shipping, to be totally honest.
In September I sold these few items and shipped them off to the US with tracking as it came to just $10 when I was expecting much higher. No problems at all. Next comes the valuable item: the rose gold Salvatore Ferragamos. I snatched them up when I saw them thrifting with the intention of keeping them, only I didn’t find them comfortable after a day at work. If they had been a size smaller perhaps they would have worked out better.
They weren’t mint, they had scratches, toe nail grooves on the inside – but I hadn’t found anything like them online. They were just beautiful. I received an offer for $20, I declined. I received an outright purchase for the full amount of $50 that I was asking. I was delighted! I even added a variety of shipping options with this product, some with tracking and some without but clearly stated. As expected, this international buyer chose the cheapest non-trackable option. I wasn’t about to ship them with tracking as mail carriers have rarely done a satisfactory job tracking my items when they’ve left Canada. For this client I even considered using a tracked option, except Canada Post said $75 to this country. I had never heard of the country in question, although when I mentioned it to my employer in passing – he said its one of the tiniest, wealthiest countries in the world. Who knew? So I packaged it up, shipped it out – I was so delighted with myself and how easy the process had been.
First red flag for me was how much money eBay took in fees including fees on top of my shipping cost. I get it, they have a business to run, employees to pay. Second red flag came just 3 weeks in when the buyer opened a claim that they had not received the package and demanded a refund. Uhh what? Its barely been 3 weeks and its going to the farthest corner of the planet. I’ve ordered plenty from China and it rarely comes within 1 month of purchase, up to 3 months in many cases! However, I realized that day that I am a patient buyer, many are not.
I sent a very professional response indicating that from Canada it could take anywhere from 1 month to 2 months for arrival. I also explained this was also during Canada Post’s strike! One bad thing lead to another very quickly. They waited another week and without a word to me, this morning they filed another claim directly with eBay. Within 10 minutes of me receiving the notification email that the client made a claim – eBay had taken the money from my Paypal account and given it back to the buyer. Poof! Gone!
I was so distraught I started Googling…. ohhh and there’s the rest of the red flags. eBay has turned into a sea of buyer-protected scams that very rarely side with the seller, despite overwhelming proof that they followed the rules exactly. Forums basically said, even with proper mail tracking, scams are happening and eBay will never side with the seller. All around I’ve been reading about veteran sellers abandoning the platform – which now makes perfect sense. It happened to me in the first item of actual value, but never again.
I suppose there is a reason people say, stick to selling locally or through a legitimate consignment business near you. Too many of us honest individuals are being taken advantage of, especially at this time of year… and thats really sad.
I wasn’t crazy about some of the dresses I was trying for my office Christmas Party, I wanted something wow! So I popped onto Rosegal’s website and stumbled across this beautiful rose gold gown. I learned from previous orders that you need to pay very close attention to the sizing details, then round up!
The largest size this dress was available in is the Asian 2XL which they stated is the equivalent of a US size 10. As you can see from the before images, although it wasn’t a US 2X, it was more like a US 14/16. I really liked the quality, its no different than shopping at the local mall stores – except I didn’t have to leave my home AND I paid a fraction of the retail cost. This sequined beauty was everything I could have hoped for, my most favourite colour, sequins covering every square inch and a stylish fringe bottom. Problem of course was that it wasn’t my size but that’s never stopped me. I filmed the entire experience of trying it on, testing out my usual tricks of lifting it up in the shoulders – which was okay but it wasn’t flattering at all on my curves. With an hour glass figure like mine, I like to see a touch of knee and fitted on my waist. This dress on its own was just boring and boxy.
I kept playing with the fabric by seeing what darts would look like in the front which has worked in the past on a few dresses. Simply defining the waist gives the entire dress a whole new shape. The fact that this dress was a much bigger size than I needed, my shoulders were too small for the sleeves – but seemed to fall beautifully down as an off-shoulder look. Bonus for me!
Although unintentional, the geometric design of the dress created the perfect point in the front when I gathered the excess fabric over my rib cage. This helped with the illusion that the dress was made this way and not an alteration. Once I was satisfied with the new design I pinned it while wearing the dress, then proceeded to hand stitch it closed leaving the fabric to drape naturally. I was actually very surprised at how easily the whole dress was to alter, a few minutes of stitching and it was a whole new dress.
To be honest I am just in awe of this gown. Buying online can be risky especially when sizes can be all over the map. My philosophy has always been to order bigger and take it in if necessary after the fact. I received compliments on it all evening as its so unique and such a rare sight. I don’t often blend into the crowd and I wear sequin party dresses proudly! I love the look so much I’m planning to wear it on NYE and a Masquerade Ball in the spring!