2014-02-27

Beating the Blues

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Coat? Vintage (given to me by a friend) Hat? Step Cat Leather pants? Vince Necklace? Vintage 
Top? Mexx, thrifted Loafers? Land's End (on sale here)

Oh February, you are bringing me down. Just in a little funk over here. Annoyingly long story short, things are not happening exactly how I want them to happen, exactly when I want them to happen. What is up with that? Oh wait, I believe that might just be life.
And yet, despite the fact that I got some whine in my system, I am shockingly smiley in these pictures. That's probably because I was spending the day with my Mama and she was given me some sass while she was taking my picture. And probably because I knew I had the most amazing sequin dress in the back of my car right at that moment. You know I love sequins and this dress (just wait... I hope to have an occasion to wear it sometime soon, or I shall have to wear it for no occasion...) mayyyy even top this skirt or my pailette sweater...

My mama and sequins, turning my frown upside down since 1983 and 1996 respectively... 



2014-02-24

Winter White

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Dress? c/o Dream-ers (made in the US,here) Jacket? Costa Blanca Belt? Vintage
Purse? Vintage Boots? Nine West

When Dream-ers sent me this dress last summer, I was all heart-eyed emoticons over it. I thought it was a dress worthy of getting married in but it arrived a few years late for that, so I did the next best thing and wore it running through fields with my crocs on, avoiding ticks. Shooting those pics with Julie was such a fun evening and it resulted in my most shamefully picture heavy post ever. Also one of my favourite posts...  
A few months later I carefully cut the tulle over-layer off and I wore the dress for my last minute 30th birthday party in October. I cancelled my big birthday party plans in favour for a low key get together because it ended up being such a busy time but I decided to still dress up like it was a big party. It was my party and I'll cry if I want to. And dress up if I want to.
And then this weekend I wore it again with my trusty leather jacket and two pairs of black tights. I like the frothy white of the dress against the opacity of the double tights. There's something fun about wearing a bright white dress on a bright winter day. Also fun? Skating in heels across the  completely ice covered parking lot...
Thank you Matt for the pictures and for the arm you offered in assistance to make it to my purple wall of choice.

2014-02-20

Seasons

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Shoes? Land's End (here on sale) Jeans? Old Navy (similar but cuter here)Pea Coat? Vintage 
Scarf? h&m 60's Clutch? Vintage (at The Edit) Hair elastic? Shoppers Drugmart

Retail is kind of ridiculous. Despite my kinda shaky footwear choice (I did a lot of internet research on the perfect animal print loafer and settled on these. They arrived last week and are great quality, have quite good foot support and they were on sale so I was excited to wear them ok?), it definitely is still winter. 
I have dinner waiting for me in the slow cooker at home and I look out the front window of the shop and I see big fat flakes falling from the sky. Again... And yet, though it is as wintery as a bear hibernating, I've switched over the store to put out a lot of spring merchandise. Because people are over spending money on winter. Never mind the fact that an investment on winter boots or a winter coat is never an unwise thing because indeed, winter will appear again next year... 
But I get it, spending any more money on winter at this point just feels like admitting defeat. So sweet floral dresses sit in the window display as snow gently falls all around again*.
All that to say, I took my most wintery stuff out of the shop last weekend, saw this coat and thought 'Huh, this wool navy peacoat with gold buttons is adorable and it never sold. I'm just going to go ahead and wear this today'. And then I did. Because I can. And that's still a novel feeling...;)



*As I am writing this, the snow has just started and everything looks so serene and pretty and I can't even hate. But I will hate in a few hours again. 

2014-02-18

Sewn Up

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Sequin jacket? Vintage Coat? Vintage Collar? Vintage Pants? Joe Fresh Boots? Modern Vintage 
Necklace? Clyde's Rebirth (here plus I have one left at The Edit) Clutch? h&m

A lady shared with me this week that she wore her pants so tight that she used to sew herself into her skinny jeans on the bus on the way to school (back in the 70's or 80's?... I don't know and I knew better than to ask). At some point she decided the sewing was too much work and used double sided tape to keep her pants in place instead. Basically she lived life on the edge. She made me pause for a moment to appreciate the 3% lycra in all my skinny jeans. 
I can't imagine a scarier feeling than going about your day with your pants kept in place by some tape. 

Errrr, on second thought and after watching some Olympic updates, I definitely think luge looks scarier than potential public pants splitting... Pretty much any winter sport actually. Hence, I've been playing it safe in my trackpants, watching as much as I can of the Olympics (which is not enough...boo) from the safety of my couch. You as well? 

2014-02-13

Petal Potential

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These 'seeing potential in the thrift store' posts are fast becoming my favourite things to put up on the blog. And not because while we are in a deep freeze it's nice to take pictures inside and also not because since I started taking pics for my fledgling Etsy store, I have gotten pretty efficient at self snaps. It is just too fun to give something a second chance and make it work...
I got a little carried away with this dress and before I even did the 'before' shot, I took out the rather substantial shoulder pads. It's not even that bad of a 'before' item, it's that between the shoulder pads and the polka dot (hard to see but it's there) and floral pattern, it had a really strong 80's vibe.

But let's first talk about why I picked up the dress...
Mostly because it's silk. Ha. I am such a sucker for a good fabric, a high end material will always get a second look from me. The dress feels amazing and the perfect godets of fabric added to the skirt (which I remember from 1st year university take great skill to sew in so perfectly... not that I sewed them in perfectly, I was happy to get a passing mark) make it so full and swingey. The watercolour-esque floral print is cheery and pretty and I knew this dress deserved a chance.
It doesn't take that much to make this dress work anyway. The removal of the shoulder pads left a bit of excess material under the arms so I could either do an alteration to the under arm or I could just roll up the sleeve to give  it a slouchy look.
I love long sleeves on a dress but if that dress has a lot going on, the easiest way to simplify and update the look, is to push up the sleeves. A glimpse of wrist is a beautiful thing;) I know I've mentioned this before and it's hard to explain exactly why it works but it just does. The same thing can be applied to bulky boyfriend blazers, a turned up cuff changes everything.
I finished the look with a big flashy vintage belt. It breaks up the pattern on the dress, defines the waist and acts as a fun contrast to all that floral sweetness. 

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Not going to lie, I love how this turned out (vintage belt and thrifted Nine West shoes). It is only appropriate that I now start to wax on about the long awaited arrival of spring. 
If only so I can wear this out of the house...


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2014-02-11

We're Online Baby

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Ohhhh.... look who finally has an online shop. I know, hold the applause, setting up an Etsy shop is a little like graduating kindergarten as a vintage seller. I think I did it backwards, opening a bricks and mortar first but that's just what I know. I don't shop online that much because I'm a hands on kinda gal and I do enough damage in real life shopping. So, yes, online shopping, which is so old news for so many people, makes me all clammy and nervous with its listings, pictures and shipping... Ugh, especially with shipping. Canada, for its many wonderful qualities, is not the cheapest for shipping.  Figuring out shipping is tricky business but I'm sure these things fall into place. I am more than willing to do overseas shipping but for now I don't have shipping quotes posted on Etsy for purchases outside Canada or US. However, if you are interested in something, just email?message me with your location on earth;) so I can do a fair quote for you.

I have big plans of having an independent online shop and doing really cohesive collection and making monthly lookbooks and having a high end division and breathe Yen... All in due time. For now, it's just important I get online, get a handle on this new fangled way of shopping;) and that I offer up some great vintage pieces to put the spice in your wardrobe. 
It's just a small start, a test batch so to speak, I shall certainly be adding a whole whackadoodle more, I just gotta see how I manage this and the store front. But I am super pumped to be able to do this... Thanks for your support and for repeatedly asking me to get online in some capacity. It's flattering and the kick in the pants this kid needed. 

-xo-


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2014-02-08

Weekend Thoughts

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Jacket? 60's vintage, Out of the Past Leather pants? Vince, Winners (very similar here)  
Tee? c/o Russell Gibbs Boots? MaxMara (gift) 

Some things to discuss...
1. I'm actually wearing this outfit as I type. This is a novelty for me. Basically if you read this post today and then come down to the store right after you will see me exactly like this but probably with bags under my eyes. 
I don't usually post on Saturdays because the weekend is an Internet slump but I had a talk with myself and decided who cares? I have time now (slow day in the retail world, thanks cruel winter) so I might as well post when I can. Especially since I have been having problems getting consistent posts up this last while...
2. Ignorance really is bliss. I have always (always as in, for two years...) wanted a pair of slim leather pants but figured they were a little out of my price range... And then an evil friend texted me that she saw these Vince leather pants with their $1150 original price tag at Winners for the cost of a high end pair of jeans*. I could not get them out of my head. Considering I spend almost every day in some sort of black pants dreaming of summer days, these seemed like a good investment. And as I said, ignorance is bliss because I could have continued my life with nary a leather pant in them. But once I tried them on it was game over. Don't text me good sales if you love me, leave me alone!
3. Someone gave me these MaxMara booties as a hand-me-down and that's a pretty decent hand-me-down if I do say so myself. I love the elongated toe because I think it makes the booties more dramatic and editorial. However, they are so pointy that I have to get used to them. I'm good in a tricky shoe but until I get used to the toe, I'm a tripping hazard.
4. That is all. Have a great weekend. 


*I think it's one of the last weeks of winter final clearance at Winners. It's usually a mess and there's a lot of junk but there are great treasures to be found too... I left an Elizabeth and James blazer there that was $55. Because I'm generous... I think. 

2014-02-05

Memory Lane

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Skirt? Alice and Olivia Top? Vintage Over-the-knee boots? Holt Renfrew Clutch? Hilary Radley 
Coat? Vintage Scarf? h&m

I was sorting through some of my old jewellery and knick knacks the other day and I had to laugh. Mostly at myself because I hold on to the most random things for emotional reasons. Like tiny bobby pins with flowers on them from Ardene's. Back in the day, my friends and I would hang at the mall almost every Saturday and sometimes (money permitting) we would split the '10 items for $10' deal at Claire's or Ardene's so we could get maximum glittery stuff for minimum cost. But these particular bobby pins I loved enough to pay full price for. I had forgotten about those bobby pins long ago but seeing them again, reminded me of how proud I would be to wear them and how I would carefully put them back on their cardboard holder so as not to lose a single one. 
I also found these slightly tacky gold plated dangly earrings I got as a hand-me-down from a friend; at the time I thought they were just so grown up... My dad told me I couldn't wear big dangly earrings until I was 16 and by that time of course, I wasn't really into them any more. But I kept them because the memory of me pining away to be 16 just makes me chuckle..
What also made me laugh is that the little journey down memory lane as I sorted my stuff could now almost be considered a vintage hunt. If the technical definition of vintage is something that is over 20 years (though some people define it as older and that's totally fine...) that means that any jewellery I got before I was 10 is now vintage. Basically past Yen was not a sentimental fool with emotional attachments to everything, she was simply thinking ahead for future Yen who would have a vintage store.
Though I doubt the flower bobby pin market is booming. But you never know what will come back... 

2014-02-03

2 Months Young

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(My nephew who came to visit from Holland making himself very comfortable at the shop.)

I've had the shop open for two months now. This makes me qualified to now give out small business advice and write a memoir on shop life.
Or not. I think the wiser thing to do would be to wait a year or two and look back with some of that good stuff called perspective and write from there. And probably when I look back in a year, I will laugh at some things I wrote here but I think it's kinda cool to just write some things down as they are happening. Because it's interesting and because I suspect some others have felt this way before or will feel this way sometime in the future...
Alrighty, here are some lessons and thoughts, edited back because this post was becoming a novel...

1. It costs more than you think it will. Though that could just be a general life lesson. When I first thought about the shop seriously, I threw out a number to Matt and I have easily doubled that figure since. Mind you, that figure was a very quick break down and before we ended up signing anything official, I wrote up a much more accurate and detailed budget. It's just that everything, everything costs money. And I have a small shop so I imagine the financial stress and lack of sleep that accompanies it just goes up by the square foot... Unless you are an excellent budgeter (and Gail Vox-Oxlade salutes you) or the space you have is ready to go just as you rented it, there are always things that you totally forget about. The two weeks before I opened the shop just felt like I was leaving a trail of cash-money with every step I took. And it's the cost of business, of getting a space ready and of stocking merchandise but it is an overwhelming feeling.

2. Two months into running a shop, I find that one of the hardest things is settling into the happy medium between the great days and terrible days. I've had some great days where the sales are stacked up on the counter and where people come in and 'get' what I am trying to do and are just so excited by the shop. On those days I feel like a straight up baller, like I am actually doing it and making good decisions and I should buy everyone a shot at the bar because it's actually happening!!!! Drinks on me.
And then there are days where it is dead as a door nail. And an amazing vintage dress you were so excited to put on the floor had a rip you didn't notice and it's hardly salvageable and the guy who cleans the windows comes by (p.s. he's amazing and works so hard!) and you pay him and you realize being open that day is costing you... Those days you have too much time to think and question and even though you know it's January and it is completely frozen outside, you freak out and think you just took out a loan and lost sleep over the worst idea you have ever had. Your merchandise is all wrong and what are you even doing?
It's funny because so many people warned me of the January blues and you know it will be OK, but on that day, you just want to whine. And so I mope to Matt, he tells me it will be OK, I probably eat something and then indeed, I wake up the next day with excitement and energy again. Sleep and the dawn of a new day are beautiful things.

3. Get business cards. I need to do this still. I thought everyone did everything online and that a quick google search was a necessary step of planning a day out, but I was wrong. Business cards, still very relevant.

4. Classical music is the music you get least sick of. It's not my favourite music, I much prefer to wail along to a pop song but if you are sitting in the shop, classical music is very soothing background music and will not mess with your mind like hearing Lorde for the 439th time... Sometimes though, I need a pick me up and then I do crank SkyScraper and perform a little lyrical dance in the back of the shop and hope no one walks by.

5. Having a blog kinda finally makes sense. I have almost always enjoyed having a blog. Dressing up, writing, interacting; it's a lot of fun. That said, sometimes I would wonder why I was posting pictures of myself on the internet. I realized a long time ago that being a professional blogger would never work for me, so sometimes it felt a little like blogging was a really just a fabulous waste of time. Now I can see the path more clearly, that having the blog gave me chance to explore fashion on a new level and gave me a huge boost when I started the store. If I never had this blog, I would still be working up the courage to go out in a sequin coat... I would also probably have the dishes done;)

6. I need to get online in some capacity with the shop. I know this and I'm working on it... see?

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7. I realize, once again, that the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know. I felt the same way when I did night school for landscape design. I thought I had a decent handle on plants because I'd been landscaping for years but it turns out every new Latin name I learned was the gateway to a whole other level of information I had never even considered. Dealing with vintage involves dealing with history. I obviously want to be as accurate as I can with my stock, both for my customers's sake and for pricing things in a fair way. That is a lot of work. I've recently started collecting some cool vintage silver pieces for the shop and researching their origin, date and value is like unravelling a mystery.  There are entire books written on silver marks for just one country and I need to try to make sense of some obscure silver stamp and place it within a time period and a country? And then there are the pieces without stamps and clothes without tags. My life is like a Coldcase episode for clothes and jewelry some days...

8. People are so enthusiastic for you and it is the coolest and the most humbling thing ever. For real.
It starts with the people who don't know you and are just so excited to see a new shop open on Ottawa St. Ottawa St. has a a strong history in Hamilton. It used to be 'the street' to go shopping on and then it had a real dip before starting to turn around these last few years. I can't tell you how many people come in and tell me they remember shopping on Ottawa St when they were younger and they are just thrilled to see the area have a resurgence. Then there are the people of Hamilton who are just generally happy to support a new, local business.
And within your own social circles you expect your mom and your best friends to support you when you start something new, in fact, I'm pretty sure it is a clause in our relationship contracts but the support from others is so overwhelming. Family, friends, blog readers... the mom of your husband's second cousin's friend... so many people have dropped by, done some shopping and got all social media supportive on me... It's like people are really just genuinely excited about the shop, my shop.
I'm kind of babbling right now. I guess what I am trying to say is that having so many people care about your little project is the craziest thing. And I am so beyond appreciative of that support. And when I want to let myself wallow in some good old fashioned fear and worry I remember all the support I have already had from people who really don't have to care.
I am really excited to grow this; I have ideas bursting in my brain (and keeping me up at night... evil) and there are just so many steps I can't wait to take, one at a time. I figure if I start each day with a little pinch of thankfulness for all the support I have already had, it will make each step in this journey a little lighter.