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

The Good Stuff

Vintage florals // We So Thrifty

Vintage florals // We So Thrifty

Vintage florals // We So Thrifty

There comes at time in every thrifter’s life where you, ever so briefly, turn on the stores that raised your wardrobe. It may be the lack of hooks in every.single.change room, it may be the snotty college girls that show up looking for “like, vintagey stuff!” but more often than not, it’s a sparkly H&M mini dress priced at $29.99. “What is this madness!?” you say. “Where is the justice!?” you yell. “I rue your very existence, Macklemore!” you decry.

But just as quickly as the rage arrives, it’s turned right around by stumbling upon something like this dress. This dress is a beautiful vintage piece with boning built right in, and a full circle skirt made for dancing. It was only $7 regular price, and just so happened to be -50% the day it came into my life. I didn’t even try this dress on (crappy change rooms, remember?). Instead, I stuffed it in the cart and headed home (I paid first, guys, OF COURSE).

For all the wackadoodle ways thrift stores sometimes price their merchandise, they still occasionally give you the good stuff for little more than a smile. All is forgiven, my dear thrift store, for now.

Vintage florals // We So Thrifty

Vintage florals // We So Thrifty

Dress: Talize | $3.50
Purse: Clothing Swap | $0.50
Flats: Target | $12
Belt: From this Salvation Army dress

 

Ceci n’est pas une post

Neon scarf + leather jacket // We So Thrifty

Neon scarf + leather jacket // We So Thrifty

Neon scarf + bright lace // We So Thrifty

Neon scarf + leather jacket // We So Thrifty

This is one of those posts, you guys. One of those “oh whoops I haven’t blogged in three weeks but I took these photos three weeks ago so I best get ta’ posting” posts.

Once I actually got to posting, though, I had a little trouble framing a coherent piece around these pieces. In fact, there were three aborted angles for this particular post, and they were:

1) A post about my glasses and how I have terrible vision (-7.00!), and I’ve only met one other person in the world with vision as terrible, and then they went and got laser eye surgery, and now I’m all alone in the blind-bat club, and I have all these “girls with glasses can get it” t-shirts that no one wants.
2) There’s a record store behind me! And I look pretty record-store-y! And hey remember High Fidelity? That movie was great! So, who’s your favourite Cusack: John or Joan?
3) I wore this outfit the night Yen and I watched American blogger. Here are my thoughts about that particular piece cinematic cra…ftsmanship.

All three of these ideas didn’t make it passed draft stage for several reasons 1) Nobody likes a complainer; 2) Obviously Joan is the superior Cusack; and 3) There are only so many synonyms for “self-indulgent fluff,” plus Jessica at Blog Her totally nailed it already.

So, I’ll refrain from complaining, the Cusacks, and critiquing. Instead, I’ll skip the whole “post” part entirely and let the outfit do the talking. If any one item can carry a post all on it’s own, it’s a neon scarf, right?

_

Handmade scarf: So Chickadelic | $25
Jacket: Talize | $12
Top: Salvation Army | $5.99 (worn sans slip here)
Booties: Talize | $12.99

 

 

 

 

Black is the New Green

Knotted maxi, leather jacket, ankle boots // We So Thrifty

Maxi dress, leather jacket // We So Thrifty

Knotted maxi, leather jacket // We So Thrifty

Knotted maxi, leather jacket, ankle boots // We So Thrifty

Guys! I’ve been sitting on this post for a few weeks (metaphorically….that probably didn’t need to be clarified). Anyhoo, I awaited the usual burst of pop cultural inspiration to hit, and the best I came up with was “I’m in all black, because I’m mourning the loss of [NOT SAYING HIS NAME BECAUSE YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS SHOW YOURSELF] from The Good Wife.” But if I tried to accurately describe the intense and painful feelings I suffered due to the loss of this fictional TV character, I’d sound “scary-crazy” instead of the usual “entertaining-crazy,” so I’ll save those feelings for my secret shipper Tumblr. It’s up to you to decide if having a secret shipper Tumblr is scary-crazy or entertaining-crazy.

Instead, I’m taking a cue from my pal Merl. Merl’s having an instagram contest right now, asking the populous to share their approach to eco-styling. Eco-styling sounds much scarier than it is. Merl herself spells it out plain and simple here: Don’t waste. Shop smart. Stop buying crap. I can honestly say I’ve managed to do just that with this look. Let’s break it down:

1) The bulk of this outfit is from the thrift store. Thrifting is eco-friendly because it extends the life of what we wear, and stops clothing from being disposable. It’s using tupperware instead of ziplock bags. (Are you now imagining hilarious outfits made from tupperware and ziplock bags? No? Just me?)

2) I thrifted these pieces with an eye on wearability and quality. I’ve had this leather jacket for, like, a month, and I’ve worn it nearly everyday. Make your clothing count. The black maxi is one of my favourite finds ever: A nice, heavy jersey Rachel Pally dress. Rachel Pally started designing precisely because she was exhausted with the cheap/trendy crap from everyone else, and her clothes, while at a higher price tag new, are a level up from anything you’d find in a department store (and they’re made in the USA). She’s one of those designers that I’d buy new clothing from too.

3) I’m supporting the little guys (and girls). I’ve heard from some people that if we all shopped second-hand or eco-conscious, the economy would go bye-bye (to use scientific terms). That’s just silly. I’m simply supporting a more creative economy. The necklace I’m wearing is from Merl herself – she builds new jewellery from salvaged materials.  The money I spent on it goes to Merl. Merl’s money goes to her adorable little shop in Chi-town. Merl’s little shop injects life into that particular neighbourhood. That’s a good chain of events. The same can be said for the boots I’m wearing from The Edit – just replace “Chi-town” with “Hamilton.” (Sidebar: “Chi-town” sounds like a thing only people who don’t live in Chicago say. Is that right, Chi-pals?)

4) I’m making the cheap stuff last. I’ve had the scarf I’m wearing for years. I bought it new, from Costa Blanca. Costa Blanca is certainly a perpetuator of fast-fashion, but as Elizabeth Cline says about these fast-fashion houses: “If you buy something cheap, that doesn’t mean that you have to have a disposable attitude to it … or a disposable relationship to it. I wore an H&M dress that I’ve had for eight years to a wedding this past summer and it’s not the greatest quality but I still like it, and I’m going to keep it in my closet and keep it going for as long as I can.”

Yesterday was Earth Day. As a child, that meant putting on plastic gloves and picking up garbage behind the treeline at school. As an adult, it means putting on clothing I like, and tackling the garbage inside my closet. Less stinky, just as rewarding. Go earth!

Dress: Salvation Army | $3.50
Jacket: Talize | $12
Scarf: Costa Blaca | Don’t recall!
Booties: The Edit | $40
Necklace: Clyde’s Rebirth | $40
Purse: Clothing Swap | $0.50

 

Sissy Fight

Vintage blazer, ripped jeans, leather boots // We So Thrifty

Vintage blazer, leather boots // We So Thrifty

leather ankle boots // We So Thrifty

Vintage blazer, ripped jeans, leather boots // We So Thrifty

I’m from a family of all girls. Those of you who know me in real life know that my three sisters are my best buds. We’re eerily close, get together on the regular, and agree about everything. It’s not normal. Matt will attest to that –  when we’re discussing contentious subjects, it ends up with us shouting “YES I AGREE!” “YES, AGREE LOUDER!” “SO AGREE!” at each other.

But don’t let our creepy-sister-hive-mind fool you – we fought when we were kids, a lot. Scratching, spitting, slapping, journal-reading, name-calling, hair-pulling – we were holy terrors to each other.

Most of the time, the sister fights would be limited to sparing pairs. I’d fight with Laura, since we were the youngins’, and my older sisters would fight with each other. Only very rarely did a four-sister fight occur, and when it did, it was about clothing. While there’s a bit of a gap in between my older sister and my youngest one, for a brief time, we all fell in somewhere in the pre-teen/teenage category. It was in this window that the Battle of the Black Tank Top (like the Battle of Blackwater, but more intense) took place. The stakes were pretty high: I mean, how could I wear my American Eagle hoodie without the GOOD black tank top? While we all had black tank tops of our own, we evenutally lost track of whose was whose, and thusly held different ideas about who laid claim to the GOOD stretchy medium one with adjustable straps. As we yelled and screeched along hallways and across slammed doors, it’s a marvel my dad didn’t just flip over the dinner table Alan Rickman style and say “Nope, I’m done. Sons or bust.”

Despite episodes like this one, I never really wanted brothers. That said, I always assumed I would have fought less with a brother. I mean, sisters steal clothes from each other, but brothers? Naaaah.

…Wrong. The last three shirts I’ve thrifted (included the denim Gap one I’m wearing in these photos) are men’s. My collection of men’s plaid shirts is growing at a steady rate, and Matt has explicitly banned me from wearing any of his clothing. And let’s talk about my new boots: gorgeous, leather, made in Brazil, scored at The Edit for $40 – and, Jentine guesses, likely men’s as welll. If a black tank top brought on a sibling-wide battle, boots like these would have prompted an all-out war.

Geez, just think the carnage! I I think I’ll keep my sisters, thanks.

Sidenote:  Does anyone else remember the game from which this post takes its title? It was SO AWFUL! And I played it SO SO SO MUCH! With the slowest internet connection known to man!  Oh, internet, you leave us so many treasures.

Vintage blazer, ripped jeans, leather boots // We So Thrifty

Blazer: Girl on the Wing // $10
Denim Shirt: Salvation Army // $2
Jeans: American Eagle // $25
Purse: Clothing Swap // $0.50
Boots: The Edit // $40

Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

Vintage touches // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

Without realizing it, my sister Adele‘s wedding perfectly executed this age-mantra. Navy bridesmaid dresses took care of the “blue,” and her perfect wedding dress was all “new”. But in keeping with the second-hand theme that gives this blog it’s bearings, I thought it might be fun to share the “borrowed” and “old” details from her big day. Consigned capes, thrifted shoes, vintage bags – all of them came together to create a mood that was timeless and festive.

Vintage stole // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

-15 weather meant vintage furs all around. Adele found this beauty of a stole from The Way We Were, and wore a bracelet passed down from my Mom’s side of the family.

Vintage beaded bridal bag // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

I scored this beaded handbag  Out of the Past in Hamilton for, like, $10 or something crazy like that.

Thrifted bridal flats // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

I also thrifted the bridal shoes from Talize. Yes, I can be hired out as a personal wedding thrifter.

Lacy winter wedding // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

Adele’s earrings are from Etsy, mine are from Valu Village – thrifted in haste the day before the wedding!

Vintage furs, bridal party // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

OK, it was too cold to actually wear any of the vintage furs we sourced outside, but hotdamn, we worked them inside. From left to right: borrowed from Yen; bought from Valu Village; bought from The Way We Were; rented from Revolving Closet in Hamilton; borrowed from Terri.

Wedding chalkboard // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

My Mom-in-law let us borrow this beautiful repurposed chalkboard frame for the guestbook table. She sells all sorts of refinished vintage over over at About Time Vintage.

View More: http://jennabos.pass.us/gallogly2013

While scouring the region for product for their used book store (White Rabbit Books), my parents came across piles of the cheesiest, prettiest retro romance novels you’ve ever seen. Guests got the couple to kiss by finding a steamy passage, and replacing the characters’ names with the bride and groom. Hilarity ensued!

_

Want more of this wedding? I also blogged about it (with even more photos) on my design blog. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: It’s a good thing I wasn’t a blogger when I got married, because I would have driven you all crazy.  One more very important factoid: All these photos are by the fabulous Jenna Bos! Who should really just add an extra “s” to her name, because she’s a total boss.

Red Heart

Vintage red sweater over a sparkly dress // We So Thrifty

Vintage red sweater over a sparkly dress // We So Thrifty

Vintage red sweater over a sparkly dress // We So Thrifty

I thrifted this sweater at just the right time. A few weekends ago, Matt and I were in Trenton, and tagged along with his parents to an estate sale auction at an old car dealership. I’d never been to an auction before, so I pretended to be as aloof and cool about it as possible. I didn’t intend to bid on anything, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t pretend I might. That was all before I came across a vintage 4-point Hudson’s Bay blanket.

Hudson’s Bay designed this year’s (any many other year’s) Canadian Olympic gear. The collection is gorgeous, tasteful, and iconic – exactly what Canadians expect from the HBC brand (wish could say the same about Ralph Lauren’s offerings for Team USA…). Anyways, I’ve always wanted a 4-point blanket, but the price of a new one is prohibitive, and vintage ones rarely go for less than $250. However, the most recent bout of Olympic fever that has hit me and the rest of my country made that “want” feel more like a patriotic duty. I had to bid on it! FOR OUR ATHLETES!

Prior to the bidding process, I had high hopes I was the only one in that room that knew what I was looking at. The blanket itself was lumped in with a host of other fleecy no-names, and I wishfully thought the auctioneer might let the whole whack of blankets go for a modest sum. That wasn’t the case – once he got to that table, he promptly asked his assistant to pull the 4-point out of the pile, and away we went. I told myself I wouldn’t go higher than $70 ($80, tops), as I wanted to get it for a deal. The bidding began, and I tried to be nonchalant – not bidding until several other people chimed in. I got to raise my clammy hand at least four times before I realized this was a contest between two other ladies who were willing to spend a lot more money than I was.

So, I walked away empty handed. As we were driving home, I told Matt I had to duck out for a bit once we returned to his parents’ place. My defeat left me with the itch to thrift, and, lucky me, the Trenton Bibles for Missions store had a 50% off sale that day. Among a few other scores, I took home this bright red vintage sweater for $2.50. It isn’t Hudson’s Bay, but it IS the perfect shade of red to wear when Team Canada inevitably CRUSHES ITS FOES AND ALL WHO DARE OPPOSE US in the gold medal hockey game on sunday (Look guys! I’m into sports!) It was also the perfect shade of red to wear on Valentine’s Day, as I packed in four entrees and at least that many House of Cards episodes.

While I suffered a defeat at the auction, this was a victory at the thrift store. Let’s keep this streak going, Mr. Crosby. Game faces on.

Vintage red sweater over a sparkly dress // We So Thrifty

Dress: Salvation Army | $12
Sweater: Bibles for Missions | $2.50
Necklace: Gift
Booties: Talize | $13
Clutch: Salvation Army | $5

Hibernation

60s embellished tunic/dress // We So Thrifty

60s embellished tunic/dress // We So Thrifty

60s embellished tunic/dress // We So Thrifty

OH MAN.

It’s been a loooooooooong time since I’ve blogged. The sleuthy among you may notice that, magically, my instagrammed short hair is long again. Sadly, this is not magic. These photos were taken before Christmas, and I’m only now posting them. Yes, that’s precisely how long it’s been since I went outside (and shaved my legs, and wore not-track pants, and interacted with humankind). Winter decided to beat up everyone in the face this year, and I waved the white flag a long time ago. That white flag is now camouflaged amidst the latest batch of snow, though, so it didn’t do me any good.

I know, I know – it’s a big fat cliche to complain about the weather, but this isn’t just weather, you guys – it’s war. It’s a cold war (sorry – just watched Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) In the last few months, temperatures have dipped below -10C FORTY TIMES. You know how many times it did that last year? Ten measley times. I’m now going through entries from last winter and telling past Julie to toughen up and quit her belly aching, because she has NO IDEA how rough it’s going to get (I also realize my American readers don’t know what -10 celsius is, and I’d explain it to you, really, but Canadians have their hands full these days, what with the Biebers and the Fords).

That said, of course there have been bright spots. My sister’s wedding was glorious, I’ve eaten a lot of tasty soup, this season’s Bachelor has been beyond terrible, Yen made me a model, yadda, yadda, but it’s otherwise been quite the slog. One other highlight worth mentioning is this bright, embellished 60s beauty I’m wearing. This dress is a literal and figurative bright spot in the dark of winter, taken home on opening night from The Edit.

I’d like to say that you’ll see me again soon, but the reality is by the time I get ta’ posting, my hair will be long again for real. In the meantime, I’ll make some tea, pet my cat, and stare lovingly at this bright, beautiful dress.

See you in, oh, I dunno – July?

60s embellished tunic/dress // We So Thrifty

Ironic

Trench + ripped jeans + ankle boots // We So Thrifty

White button-up + ripped jeans + ankle boots // We So Thrifty

Layered necklace // We So Thrifty

Trench + ripped jeans + white button-up // We So Thrifty

I’m pretty sure this outfit is ironic. It’s a little ironic because of all the pieces in it, the only new item is the pair of jeans I’m wearing, which are intentionally torn to shreds. The pristine white shirt, snappy trench, new booties and sparkles? All used, resale, or vintage. The piece that looks like it came from the dump outside that sketchy apartment complex down the street? One of my few brand-new buys.

That’s ironic, right? RIGHT? No, seriously, I need affirmation, because ever since Alanis Morrisette ruined it for everyone, I’m always a little nervous to use that word. Way, way back in the fourth grade, my friend Erin and I would belt out that tune on the daily. We knew every lyric, and therefore adopted the Alanis definition of ironic. Which is, of course, totally wrong. Alanis seemed to believe that if something shitty happens, it’s ironic. Rain on your wedding day? Ironic! TEN THOUSAND SPOONS? Excessive – and ironic! A traffic jam when you’re already late? IRONIC! (and the story of my morning).

After Alanis boxed up her bajillion Grammys for that little ditty, she was eventually called out for her misuse of the word. This guy let her have it, and just last year, these two fixed the song for good:

The 90s really had a thing for that word, though. My young mind was forced to ponder it yet again when I finally watched Reality Bites. You know the movie: Diasllusioned gen-x-ers sing My Sharona in a pharmacy, and Ethan Hawke broods. I still remember this exchange around the i-word:

“Can you define ‘irony?'”
It’s when the actual meaning is the complete opposite from the literal meaning.”

MIND. BLOWN. Let’s remember all of this was before I could just Google irony, and had to rely soley on pop-culture to inform my knowledge (so for a summer I assumed that guys only like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch).  Luckily, though, those days are long gone, and I can rely on the internet to think for me! The word wide web offered up this definition of irony, and I think it gives me cause to use that word for this outfit:

IRONY: A state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

Let’s follow that one through: One would expect that if a thrift-blogger is writing about thrifted clothing, the scuffed-up items in her wardrobe would certainly be thrifted. One would expect that if this blogger were to splurge on something new, it would be shiny and new. Any situation to the contrary would be, then, ironic.

…Don’t you think?

Ankle boots // We So Thrifty

Trench // We So Thrifty

London Fog trench: Talize | $12.99
Blouse: Clothing swap | $0.25
Necklace: Gift from Yen
Anthropologie ankle boots: The Edit | $40.00
Jeans: American Eagle | $25

Tradition

Polka dots and pleats // We So Thrifty

Polka dots and pleats // We So Thrifty

Polka dots and pleats // We So Thrifty

In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines,
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.
In two straight lines they broke their bread,
They brushed their teeth, they went to bed.
They left the house at half past nine.
Rain or shine, two straight lines,
The smallest one was Madeline.

_

Those are the first few lines of every Madeline story ever written. No, I didn’t copy those from wikipedia, or reference my Madeline anthology. Those seven lines are stuck in my brain for good. What’s a Madeline story? It’s a story, written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelman, about a little red-headed girl named Madeline, and her adventures in and out of a Parisian boarding school. Though the books were published in the 1940s, they dominated the 90s for me. Every year at Christmas for nearly a decade, I’d recieve a new Madeline doll. Every doll had the same distinctive traits – stringy red hair, a crooked smile, and a little scar on her tummy  (left over from her appendectomy in book one).

For this reason, I was delighted when a co-worker offered this observation on my outfit “You look like Madeline!” Of course, I had to be “that guy” and tell her that Madeline’s trademark outfit was a blue coat with a yellow hat, but I still see what she was saying. I didn’t tell her, though, that while I don’t get a new Madeline doll for Christmas anymore, I do set up my collection like a weirdo in front of the tree every year.

That’s what traditions do: they morph. Tomorrow, even though it’s tradition to celebrate Christmas Eve in Georgetown with my family, we may very well host the gang at my old house, covered in vines (as both my sister and my parents are still without power from the CRAZY-ASS ice storm that skipped downtown Hamilton). While I haven’t really prepared for that, I have set up my Madeline dolls in the back of the living room, just in case my nieces want to play with them while the grown-ups play wine-infused Catchphrase. That would seem a very nice take on tradition, I think.

To borrow a few more words from Madeline: That’s all there is; there isn’t any more.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

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Polka dots and pleats // We So Thrifty

Beaded beanie // We So Thrifty

Polka dots and pleats // We So Thrifty

Angora Hat: Salvation Army | $2.99
Sweater: Salvation Army | $5.99
Blouse: Salvation Army | $1.99
Skirt: Talize | $9.99
Booties: Talize / $12.99