What I’m Looking For

Vintage denim dress // We So Thrifty

Vintage denim dress // We So Thrifty

Vintage denim dress // We So Thrifty

Leather purse // We So Thrifty

A few weeks ago,Yen, Bekah and I hopped on the highway and headed to a city not too far down the 401. Value Village London was celebrating their grand-reopening, and we were lucky enough to be invited to do some damage in the new store, which was bright, clean, and packed to the brim with freshly-organized thrifted goods. (It was also ALL ABOUT the Halloween life, but I am so so not there yet, even though they had a stinkin’ cute selection of baby costumes. For the love of all that is good and sweaty, let’s not rush summer, okaaaaay?)

Anyhoo, what I loved about going with two serious thrifters was that we, without a parting word, immediately split up, and got to work. We’d occasionally meet in the skirt section, or pass like ships in the night by the change room, but these pros know that thrifting is a solo sport. After an hour or so, we all met up again by the housewares to regroup. We refined our loot, tossed the extras, and headed back to Hamilton.On the drive home, one thing we all remarked on was how attentive the staff were. Not that that’s unusual, but these guys were EXTRA helpful. Around every corner, someone would ask “can I help you find what you’re looking for?” While they certainly meant that question in a general sense, we joked that the thrift store is the only place in which that question almost doesn’t apply. The thrift store is the one place that, most of the time, you have only a vague idea of what you’re looking for. The thrill of the thrift is always in the surprise, and that’s the beauty of it.

I wasn’t looking for a spaghetti strapped medi denim dress, a cheetah print mug, a cozy sweater or a pair of Brazillian sandals, but I headed home with all that an more. So, to the extra-chipper staff at VV London: No, you can’t help me find what I’m looking for, but that’s just the way I like it.

Dress: $12.99 // Value Village
Purse: $3.99 // Value Village (straight-up stolen from Yen’s cart)
Huarache sandals: $30 // The Edit

Past Due

Slouchy gray sweater + toque // We So Thrifty

Slouchy gray sweater + toque // We So Thrifty

Slouchy gray sweater, knitted bag + toque // We So Thrifty

Slouchy gray sweater + toque // We So Thrifty

I’ll be honest: I knew my previous post wouldn’t be my last one before D-Day. I had a real strong feeling this little fella/bella would be kickin’ around for, minimum, a few days after my due date. I’ve long expected to be a long-expectant momma, and that’s actually been incredibly healthy for my mental state. It means I’m less “GET THIS BABY OUTTA ME!” and more “I guess I’ll make brownies?” I’ve been assuming this babe will take it’s sweet time, and that a due date is just a marker to make sure you’ve done all the important laundry. So, here I am, two days after my due date, and still no strong signs of labour. But I’m good with it! Really! I’ve even kicked myself off of the “let’s read about the WORST CASE SCENARIO” message boards. The oddly-comforting reality is that there is nothing I can do about how this baby comes into the world, and anyway/time that gets it here safely is the right way/time. Whoa! Look at me getting all advice-y and evolved. Must be the brownies! (Also, remind of these words when I’m, like, 12 days overdue).

Anyways, seeing as I’ve had some time to kill lately, I’ve made sure to visit all four of the main thrift spots in Hamilton over the past few weeks (Talize, Salvation Army, Valu Village, and Bibles for Missions). The outfit above is 100% Bibles for Missions. I found the sweater for $6, the hat for $2, and the boots for $10. I was immediately pleased with the way the gray sweater and red and white stripes went together, but couldn’t figure out why. When I got home, I figured out why: It’s because I look like those socks, and, by extension, those sock monkeys. You call it a coincidence, I call it the easiest Halloween costume ever!

In this look, I also fit quite nicely into the palette I set for our nursery. “Setting a palette” almost sounds too fussy for how I approached decorating the space. I just wanted it to be FUN, full of primary reds, blues, and yellows. And you know what? Fun it is! Matt, with the help of his Dad, cousin, and a few handy friends, really did all the hard work in prepping this space: He created a brand-new room out of our way-too-large living space  – walls went up, trim went down, and paint went on. All I had to do was fill the room with furniture and the fill the walls warmth and whimsy.

nursery12

The first decorative items I received for the nursery were these beautiful paintings by my sister Laura. Matt, ever the thoughtful one, commissioned some artwork from her for our fifth anniversary in the summer. Laura had heard a few things about my “vision” (again, that sounds too fussy) for the room, and she completely nailed it. I really did use those paintings as a launchpad for everything else in the room: the patterns and stripes, the golden yellows and punchy reds – it’s all there. I was able to take that influence, and fill the rest of the room with gifts from friends and family, items I already had, and new buys from Ikea and Target (I’ll miss you, boo!). OH, and so much Kijiji:

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

Nursery in primary colours // We So Thrifty

 

More pics and such below!
Continue reading “Past Due”

Cool summer, bro

Coral maxi dress + mint necklace // We So Thrifty

Coral maxi dress + mint necklace // We So Thrifty

Coral maxi dress + mint necklace // We So Thrifty

Coral maxi dress + mint necklace // We So Thrifty

Coral maxi dress + mint necklace // We So Thrifty

You know that thing people say about a frog in warm water? That you can slowly boil the sucker before he’ll even realize the water’s getting hot? The gist of that story (in reverse) has summarized summer weather in Ontario. It’s been a cool summer, and I’ll admit, it’s been kind of nice. We’ve hardly had to turn on our AC, my car is pleasantly toasty at the end of the work day, and evening walks are accompanied by a lovely breeze. Since it’s been this way for all of August and most of June and July, it seems like everyone is ready and willing to greet an early Fall with a shrug. “Eh, OK, come on over Autumn. It’s been slowly cooling for months already anyways. Give me a latte and take our leaves and sunshine.”

And so, we stand by while Starbucks pushes up the release date of all things Pumpkin Spice, we don’t bat an eyelash when the Emmys show up in August, and we all start pinning heavy sweaters on our fall inspiration boards. But listen, my frogs – err – friends: it need not be so. Let me kindly remind you that we Ontarians suffered through the worst winter of ALL TIME. We are owed our four solid months of 25 + degree temperatures, and don’t let Starbucks tell you anything else.

I snapped out of my autumnal complacency this past weekend. I hadn’t yet had a chance to wear this most-summery garment: a coral Cynthia Rowley maxi scored at Valu Village for $12.99. Before I put it on, I had a brief moment of hesitation: “this dress looks something worn only at the Copacabana. Maybe it’s too summery…”

NO IT ISN’T.

It’s August, for cryin’ out loud. We should all still be audibly complaining about muggy air and icky sweat droplets creeping down the smalls of our backs. So, I put on my summery maxi and my strappy sandals, and the universe has applauded my boldness. The forecast for tomorrow is a disgusting 29 degrees, with a humidex of 37. Doesn’t that sound wonderfully awful?

Fall won’t trick us into submission so easily, and I’ll stay outta the cauldron for a few more weeks, thank you very much.

Coral maxi dress + mint necklace // We So Thrifty

With that little rant out of the way, I’ll also let you guys know that I’m half-way through my pregnancy! Say whaaaaaaat? My sporadic blogging makes it seem like the first 20 weeks have flown by, but it’s felt like that in real life too. I’ve been crazy lucky and haven’t had to deal with any of the yuckiness that’s usually associated with that first half: my energy has been steady, my appetite is normal, my nausea is non-existent, and, according to this morning’s ultrasound, my baby has all its adorable fingers and toes. Life has been business as usual, and that makes it all the more miraculous that there’s a tiny human in there doing all she/he can to prepare to greet the world in 2015. We can’t wait to meet this baby, but unlike Starbucks, I feel no need to rush its release date. You take your time, tiny one – we’ll wait.

_

Dress: $12.99 | Valu Village
Clutch: $0.25 | Clothing Swap
Necklace: Borrowed from Laura | Salvation Army
Shoes: Inherited from Yen

Dear Dress

Belted t-shirt maxi dress // We So Thrifty

Belted t-shirt maxi dress // We So Thrifty

Belted t-shirt maxi dress // We So Thrifty

Belted t-shirt maxi dress // We So Thrifty

Dear dress,

We’ve only known each other a few days, so this may all seem just a little bit sudden. But I’m a firm believer in saying how you feel – and I feel that I love you. It was only a few days ago – the first day of summer – when our paths crossed and our destinies would forever be intertwined. I found you at the Salvation Army, burried between a very sparkly jumpsuit and a pilling sundress that had seen better days, but you lept off the rack and into my arms just the same.

It’s hard to say precisely why I know we’ll be in love forever, but I think it’s because I could actually wear you every day. And this summer, I just might.

I’ll wear you with birkenstocks around the campfire, and the next day, even though you’ll smell vaguely of hotdogs and I’ll pretend not to like it, I’ll wear to you the farmer’s market and buy flowers simply to stick them in my purse and take an instagram. I’ll wear you to the office on those disgustingly hot days where I really don’t want to wear anything but the Bullwinkle pajama shorts I had when I was 9.

I’ll wear you on the sandy shores of PEI, and you’ll end up covered in salt water because I’ll shout “I’m only going up to my knees!” just as a big  wave comes in and knocks me on my butt.  I’ll wear you to my first-ever lobster dinner, and together we’ll leave food hall covered in melted butter and full of meat that came from a clawed monster of the sea.

I’ll wear you to the grocery store, the coffee shop, and the church. And I know you’ll be up to the task. Why? Because a heather gray t-shrit maxi is the clothing-equivalent of a dependable ol’ workhorse. Giddy up, my dear dress, we’re in for a wonderful ride.

Sweatfully yours,

-Julie

Belted t-shirt maxi dress // We So Thrifty

Belted t-shirt maxi dress // We So Thrifty

Dress: Salvation Army | $12
Belt: Salvation Army | $2
Watch: Salvation Army | $2
Clutch: Clothing Swap | $0.50
Sandals: Spring Shoes – really old

Black, White, and Read All Over

In the third grade, our class held a Show and Tell: Jokes Edition. One of the boys started us off with this classic:

“What’s black, white, and red all over?…A zebra with a sun burn!” Upon hearing this joke, I had two reactions: The first? Confusion, as zebras don’t get sunburns. The second? Panic, as this boy had just used a set-up very similar to my own (hilarious) joke. However, I soon realized that he had actually done me a favour, as he set up my joke in the best possible way. See, I followed his turn with this this head-scratcher:

“What’s black and white and red all over?…A Newspaper!” (Get it? “Red” is a homophone for “read!” Har har har.)

I still think my joke was far superior, and today, I’m dressed as another possible answer. I’m outfitted in black and white, and lately, I’ve been “read” in a few more places that usual. You see, a few Saturdays back, I had my moment in the sun (no sunburns, though) and played cover girl on the Saturday edition of the Hamilton Spectator. Every week, The Spec (my city’s local rag) profiles the style of one local citizen, in the shape of a brief questionnaire and a few photos. They use them as space fillers all across the newspaper, wherever and whenever needed.

Well, lucky for me, there obviously wasn’t a lot goin’ on in Hamilton two weekends ago, so they slapped my silly face on the front page of the GO section (ie: the fun section with all the celebrity gossip and crossword puzzles). This was a great surprise to me, as I had assumed they’d squeeze me in between the classified and obits in a few months from now when their well had run very, very dry. But some congratulatory tweets filled me in on my cover spot, and I set off on a rainy walk to grab the last copy of from the newspaper box down the street.

I was very, very nervous about seeing the feature in print. For one, I now fully appreciate the opportunity to revise, redo, and rehash every sentence on this blog from the comfort of my keyboard. Alternatively, this interview was done in person and recorded on an iPhone, so it was FULL  of “ummms,” “uhhhs,” and “likes.” Quite frankly, I was certain I’d come across as Frankenstein from Beverly Hills. Thankfully, the interviewer kindly edited out my “uhhhs” and I didn’t say anything too embarrassing. (Spanx, though? Really Julie?)

There was, however, one question in the interview that didn’t make it in the final cut. To get the ball rolling, Sheryl asked me to describe my personal style. A wiser woman would have seen this question coming and formulated a nice, succinct response, but I am not she. I, instead, launched into the world’s longest run-on sentence. I described my style as vintage-y, yet modern; that I like colour, but also black; that I’m drawn to clean, minimal styling…and quirky, crazy patterns. I basically piled contradiction on top of contradiction, and called it a personal style.

Well, unsurprisingly, none of that made for a very print-friendly answer. However, while I don’t blame them for omitting it, I’ve come to conclude that it’s the truth.  I don’t have a two or three word answer that describes how I want to look every day. I don’t have a style manifesto that I take with me every where I shop. Instead, I thrift things that I like, and things that I feel good in. Sometimes they’re simple, sometimes they’re bananas, but they’re all me.

The outfit I’m wearing today is not only another punch line to a dorky joke, it’s an example of this oxymoronic approach at work. I like this skirt because it is clean and linear, but I like this cardigan because of the swirly-whirly lines. I like black, but I also I like red, pink, and green. My style isn’t relaxed, tailored, bohemian, or mod— it’s all of those, and whatever else I find at the thrift store. I don’t think I’ll ever confine my style to one snappy little sentence, because I want to continue to pull dresses from the 60s and blazers from the 90s. I want to be both Zooey D. and Michelle O. I want to wear whatever I want, whenever I want. And sometimes I want to wear my cardigan backwards just because I can.

While that doesn’t make for a very good answer in print, it sure makes thrifting much more fun.

Thanks again to the fine folks at the Hamilton Spectator for deeming me interesting enough for the Saturday GO. And thanks to you, readers, who come back to this little blog, whether I’m wearing black, white or something else entirely.

Thrifters, Assemble!

Hey Air Buddies! I just finished a late-night-frantic-packing-fest for a few days of roughing it the wilderness. Okay, by “roughing it” I mean setting up a brand new tent in a campground with running water and lots of junk food. But I have standards, okay?

Since I’ll be MIA for the next few days, I think this is the perfect occasion to share some more entries from my thrift contest a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed sifting though all the entries, and now you can enjoy a few of them in my stead. We’ve got cardigans, night shirts, Coach belts, leather minis, and more. Plus, a handful of these participants have blogs of their own that you should probably follow ASAP. And that’s all the homework I’m assigning today. Have a fantastic weekend!

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My absolute favorite thrifted find has to be the striped vintage sleep shirt I found almost two years ago at a local Salvation Army. I knew the sleep shirt was going to need some work, but for $4 I just couldn’t pass it up! This was actually the first dress I had ever attempted to make over, but I saw so much potential in the chambray stripe and the gorgeous paneling on the front that I knew I had to do my best. After completely removing the sleeves, dramatically taking in the sides, hemming a couple inches off the length and creating ties at the waist, I had the dress of my dreams! It wasn’t name brand, it was better, it was mine. I think that’s what makes this dress my favorite thrift store find: the fact that it isn’t like any other dress in any other thrift store. I had taken an old vintage night shirt that probably no one would have ever worn again and remade it into a custom fitting, totally updated and totally trendy dress. Now, I am definitely addicted to “re-fashioning” vintage and thrifted finds, but my favorite will always be the first one! I hope you like my dress as much as I do! I included a “before and after” picture so you have an idea of what the dress looked like… well, before and after, duh haha!

Kristi | Alligator Toe

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My favourite thrifted find is a red scarf with large white polka dots. It’s nothing large but I absolutely love it because it represents a few things for me. I moved to France last September and my boyfriend and I were out on one of my first night’s here and found this cute little thrift store/bar. My eyes immediately gravitated towards this scarf and it was only 5 Euro! I had to snatch it on my mission to start looking a little more French chic. Now I use that scarf around my neck, around my head and even for background on recipes for my blog!! So versatile!

-Laura | Yummy Laura

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

As an avid thrifter it was hard to narrow it down! Here’s one of my best thrifted finds: A cream silk skirt ($3.49 plus 25% off) with a Chevron zig-zag type design on the front (it even has pockets!). The leather bag pictured is one of my favorite thrifted finds ever, it’s in great condition and so versatile ($5.99 plus 25% off). The belt I’m wearing is also a thrifted Coach belt that I found in the kids section. I found all of these items at a thrift store in the Bronx. It’s my favorite thrift store ever because the workers mark up the brands like Gap and Ann Taylor, but leave the (real) good stuff dirt cheap! I got a DVF shirt for $3 and an authentic Coach for $3.49 (it was all leather and had no “C’s” on the front, so no one knew it was a Coach).

-Lindsey | Girl From Scratch

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My best and favorite thrifted find is my pink dress. I found it at my favorite Goodwill in Gahanna, Ohio for $5.99. Before this year, I never thrifted clothing, only home goods and décor. I’m glad I finally got wise to the unique items you can find for amazing prices! Since I started thrifting clothing, I’ve added lots of skirts to my closet, but the pink dress is the first and only dress I’ve ever thrifted.

I love this dress because it’s fun! It feels so girly! I always have to fight the urge to twirl around in circles like a five year old. I also love it because its lack of a tag makes me think it’s homemade. I have no sewing machine and zero sewing skills, but hope to change all that in the near future. I can’t wait to create something as great as this dress! Maybe by then I’ll be ready to pass this one along for the next lucky lady to enjoy…

Jess | J’s Style

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

So, here’s the story. I am totally a cardigan collector. I have every color of the rainbow and then some. I have stripes and polka dots. Leopard and long. Cropped and cashmere. This little cardigan was found at an estate sale in a heap of clothes in a closet. There were some small stains on it, but after a few rounds of soaking in oxyclean, she came out good as knew. I love the floral rose design on the front. My mother’s maiden name is Rose, so I am always attracted to items with roses (from dishes to dresses to needlepoints). This sweater pretty much will go with anything, and it’s my go-to sweater when I have a fancier dress on. It’s comfortable, it’s vintage, and I think it cost me $3. I wore it to a Mad-Men-Themed party last year along with a faux fur wrap. :) I received a lot of compliments on both the wrap and the cardigan.

-Amanada | Salvaged Strawberry

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Today I am sharing with you one of my favorite thrifted outfits. I have so many loves, that it was hard to pick one. I picked my leather skirt (which I cut off) and a knitted tank. I love this look because it has different textures and lots of sex appeal ;) If you want more information on the outfit, here is the link: http://www.mythriftychic.com/2012/05/little-leather-mini.html or you can ask me.

– Tori | My Thrifty Chic

Breaking Up With the Mall

Note: This post was originally commissioned for Vanagan Champion (www.AmyMorby.com), and published on April, 2012:

Hello my friends! My name is Julie, and I run a little thrift fashion blog called We So Thrifty. In short, thrifting is one of the constants in my life, and so I write about it. For years, my closet has slowly, surely, been drifting away from brand-new mall items to pre-loved, pre-worn thrifted pieces. Well, whether you call it a whim or a resolution, on a January night not so long ago I made a pledge to break up with the mall completely for one whole year. I look an oath, I made some rules, and I even made a button. I was unofficially hovering around this decision for so long it was time to end the relationship completely. My motivations were simple: all my favourite, best-quality pieces came from thrift stores, and all the cheap impulse buys I regretted immediately came from the mall. It was time to cut out bad stuff entirely.

I’m just past the 4-month anniversary of my break-up, and these past few months have not only reaffirmed my decision to try out a year-long mall-fast, it’s made me believe I may never need the mall again. Here are a few of the reasons I have no regrets.

floral1

Discovering a personal style: I’ve always appreciated clothing. I’ve always enjoyed getting dressed. But only since taking this pledge have I really developed a personal style. I can identify one major reason for this: when I thrift shop, it’s 100% up to me to decide what I like and what I don’t. When I went to the mall, so much of what I could choose from was already decided for me. If Aritzia decided stripes were in season, they would cover the store with them. If they didn’t? Too bad. No stripes for you. When I’m thrift shopping, only I decide what’s in style . It’s not about what fashion executives deem on trend, it’s about how I want to look, and what I want to wear. It’s such a freedom! Sure, I have to spend more time contemplating what works and what doesn’t, and I read way more blogs now to glean inspiration, but it’s forced me to be creative, take risks, and have way more fun.

History: In a thrift store, the history of fashion reveals itself one worn-out label at a time. Not only are my choices in dress no longer limited by what’s in this season, I don’t even have to worry about what’s in this decade. I’m given the chance to rock shift dresses from the 60s, shoulder pads from the 80s, and everything else in between. In fact, my shopping adventure isn’t really over until I’ve Googled the label on my latest find. I love discovering my dress came from a pantsuit designer the 70s, or that my Christian Dior jacket is from a defunct line of office attire for the working 80s woman. I’ve learned more about fashion through thrifting than any magazine could tell me. So many stories to discover!

julie_amy2

I don’t know what size I am: I really don’t. When I was mall-crawling, I’d fret over moving from a large to extra large, or a 10 to a 12. When I’m thrifting, I start at the front of the store, and move to the back.  I make my selections by eyeballing the item and determining how it will work on my body. The peachy blouse above is from the plus-size label Lane Bryant. I also own a handful of petite items. So, I’m somewhere between a size 4 and a size 14. When you throw vintage sizes in the mix, things get even crazier. Jen at My Edit has a great post on this: It’s liberating to throw all those numbers right out the window, and just focus on what works for you. I’ve even thrifted maternity clothing before. Baby or no baby: if I like it, it’s coming home.

Stayin’ classy: It really bugs me when people assume thrifters are cheap. That’s honestly not my main motivation. Sure, I like stretching out my pennies. Sure, I brag about my steals. But I also thrift because it offers me quality. Instead of overpriced H&M and Forever 21, I get underpriced Betsey Johnson (like that wicked black dress) and Ralph Lauren. I really don’t think that requires any more explanation. It’s math, people.

julie_amy3

You still have your “Safety Brands”: If you took offense at my digs at F21 and H&M, I meant no harm! I’ve thrifted plenty of those department store brands. That white blouse above is a prime example: Zara, tags attached, $89.99, silk. I just got it for just $7. So, I still wear H&M, Zara and F21, but I get them at clearance rack prices every single time. Zara is so well represented at thrift stores, I now have six Zara items in my closet, pre-breakup I had one. Those six items together cost me less than the one item I bought retail. More math.

At the risk of sounding overly grandiose, this journey has been a life-changer. It’s renewed my passion for fashion (I am aware that sounds like Barbie commercial…), and brought back the joy of getting dressed every morning. If you feel inspired to join me, DO IT. If you’re intimidated by the timeline, start small! Try it for a month and go from there. Or, don’t make any sweeping declarations at all – just get yourself to a thrift store and start exploring. Whatever you do, make sure to tell me about it. That way, if I ever hear the mall callin’ me with her siren song, your successes will keep me motivated to make it through the year, and maybe all the years after that, too. Happy thrifting!