Category Archives: Uncategorized

a dress a day #4

vintage black shift dress, lace sleeves, empire waist, jewel detailing, 1960s, England
This dress found me at the Custard Factory’s vintage flea market held every Saturday in Birmingham, England ($30).  Its fun details made it stand out.  I adore the silvery bejewelled, empire waist. 

empire waist, shift dress, vintage, jewelled waist, embroidered

It’s label-less and homemade — demanding a trained eye to size it up.  In fact, all vintage dresses do.  I normally wear a US size 8-10, but I own vintage dresses in sizes 4 to 14; obey labels at your peril.   Wiggling into armfuls of musty dresses is key to finding just the right one.

vintage dresses, rack


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Filed under Birmingham, clothes, ethical living, green living, thrifty, Uncategorized, vintage

A dress a day, #1

pink, silver, polyester shift dress, vintage

Sheepish fashion columnists agree wardrobe staples are the white blouse, a good trench coat and a Birkin (yawn).  But real staying power lies in the mighty vintage dress.

Maxi, mini, gown, pinafore, tube, bubble, sun, cocktail, wrap, strapless, sleeveless, shirt, smock, tunic, trapeze, sheath, kaftan, shift, swing, flounce — I dare you not to find one you like.  Best of all the frock constitutes an entire outfit: simple.

Following some of the better advice in Brit fashion writer’s Tamsin Blanchard’s Green is the New Black, I rooted through my wardrobe to pull out all my lovely dresses in a bid to dissuade me from buying more, more, more.

So this week, in a nod to the lovely A Dress A Day blog, I’m putting my vintage frocks on show, beginning with my first purchase.  Pink polyester with silvery thread can feel a bit like sandpaper against skin.  If only it felt like how I imagine Michael Kors’s new — and not dissimilar — pebble brocade dress would.  But I digress, this is one hot number.  The jewel-encrusted collar is especially fun.  A surbanite, GTA teen, I found this shift dress on one of many frequent visits to Kensington Market, for peanuts.

If you’ve got info on this vintage fashion label, please share the love.

felix, portland, vintage fashion label, American


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Filed under clothes, green living, thrifty, Toronto, Uncategorized, vintage

birthday suit – part deux

My friend warned me she thought my new designer dress was a bit over the top for a casual housewarming party – with 70 of our closest friends.  But then, I don’t take her unsolicited advice very often.

 Following on the heels of last year’s vintage wrap dress for my big 3-0, this year was a wrap too, but flea market it wasn’t.  The undisputed first lady of the wrap – Diane von Furstenberg – designed this hot little number:
diane von furstenburg wrap dress, black, sleeveless
Which looks like this on:
diane von furstenburg wrap dress, erin tracy designs jewelry
How can a lowly, unpaid Walrus intern afford such extravagance?  Four words: Holt Renfrew Last Call.  Regular $445, this LBD was marked down to $150 with an extra 50 per cent off.  The deals were so hot, I picked up this maxi dress by L.A.s’ t-bags for $60:
t-bags, jersey dress, maxi holt renfrew last call, vaughan mills
And while Furstenberg isn’t a close, personal friend, I’m blessed to count two young, Toronto designers as my pals, mostly because they’re super awesome, but also because they make me fabulous things.
jessica smith, birthday cake, toronto
Jessica Smith, a French pastry chef, trained at Le Cordon Bleu who spent last year working at Yautcha, Alan Yau’s Michelin-star teahouse and dim sum restaurant in Soho, London – made this cake.  It served 100.
jessica smith, cake, toronto, ontario, party
And Erin Tracy, an established jewelry designer who is taking over the world one bangle at a time, made me the necklace I’m wearing in the top picture, along with matching earrings and Grecian-inspired bangles.
erin tracy, earrings, crystal and silver, toronto, canada

erin tracy, silver and gold bangles, toronto, canada
Armed with designer cake, dress and jewels – there was just one more accessory needed – the perfect stubby holder.
stubby holder, beer holder, beer cooler, grizzly bear
($6 at the Beer Store) grrrr.

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Filed under clothes, thrifty, Toronto, Uncategorized, vintage

this never used to be my playground

Walking home from Kensington market, I found a playground waiting for summer.

The rest of the pics are on my flickr page:

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It’s not the bra – it’s the wrong cup size dingbat

bras on head

At the mere mention of La Senza, the only affordable, large Canadian bra retailer, my big-busted, credit-card maxing lady friends engage in frowns and fits of tsk tsking  “The fit is all wrong,”  “Their bras make my boobs sag,” And “They’re cheap,” are frequent complaints always followed by “I never shop there.”

Being blessed with big ones and particular tastes means they are constantly searching around the world for the best tit slings on the market.  The latest?  Bravissimo, an online retailer in the UK specializing in D, EE, EEE, and yes even the quads.   I see the logic in paying good coin for the right fit, after all one hot bra = one hot broad.  But this thriftygirl just can’t bring herself to shell out $100 plus for an bra. 

Besides, I’m convinced the biggest boulder in finding a great bra isn’t price but size.  Too many ladies are walking around in the wrong sized bra.  Tit rolls, like muffin tops, are completely unnecessary, as are backaches and red strap marks from hiking your kit up too high.  

I speak from experience.   I unknowingly sported the wrong cup size for years.  I thought I was a 38 (inches around) D (cup size) until a middle aged woman in a Marks & Spencers change room sized up my bra and curtly told me that the cup was cutting into my boobage and began pulling DD 36’s or an E 34’s off the rack.  Clingy tops suddenly looked a whole lot better.

Bra shopping is grim.  It’s just you, a dimly-lit changeroom, a bunch of boring bras that no one – except a lucky few – will ever see.  No point in bringing a girlfriend along.  I guess this is how most men feel when clothes shopping: ‘get ‘er done.’

But knowing my proper size helped me haul in a slew of new, well-fitting braziers at La Senza’s winter clearance.  Now under the ownership of Victoria Secret, it carries copies of the Secret’s most popular bras that could previously only be found stateside.  The standard cotton bras are best avoided.  Go for the technolite line – it sounds deliberately space age but it’s pure feathers and light. 

And with prices reduced by up to 70%, and a further 10% savings if you become a $20 member, the sale was ridiculous.  I came home with six bras for $55.  The regular prices were $25 – $40 each.  It was so cheap, it felt wrong.  And the best part?  I won’t have to venture into a bra shop for another year.


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ski off

cross country skiing collingwood 
The thrill of the hill versus the cross-country glide.  After a weekend spent at a friend’s cottage in Collingwood I’ve got the goods.
$: $84.70 (kit rental $28, lift pass $56.70)
calories burned: 1680 (4 hours)
carbon footprint: on the heavy side (chairlift, artificial snow machines, mountain maintenance and destruction of natural ecosystem, buildup of chalet/resort area)

cross country ski, ontario
$: 20.90 (kit rental $12, trail pass $8)
calories burned: 985 (1 hour)
carbon footprint: light (trail maintenance, tiny Parks Canada-style portable chalet, bring-your-own thermos philosophy)

 winter treetops
I’ve been frantic with work lately (hence the non-blog action) and as far as decompressing goes, cross country beats downhill in every way.  Even on a beautiful Sunday there are few people on the quiet tens of kilometres of trails running through old Pine forests.  Better than jostling with busloads of skiers and boarders at Blue Mountain to get on the chairlift, while a local DJ raves about a snowboarding trick on the halfpipe, SUM 41 blasting in the background.  But for a mediocre downhiller like me, the skiing is decent and challenging enough.  And the first sip of beer after a half-day on the moutain tasted like heaven.

If you graduated from university two or more years ago, give the Collingwood apres-ski scene a miss.  Crowds of frat boys chanting “Hip, Hip, Hip!” after the live band cranked out Wheat Kings before going into New Orleans is Sinking was disturbing… but not as much as being hit on by baby-faced dudes eagerly listing off the best universities in Canada to party at on the weekends.
creemore beers on snow

Holing up at my friend’s cottage complete with friends, fire, beers and extreme ski video?  That’s the plan for next time.

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Filed under cheap fun, travel, Uncategorized

Engaging cupcakes

fondant flowers
So what was this single gal doing on Saturday night two weeks ago?  Adorned in frilly apron, white flower splashed effortlessly on cheeks, I was peering carefully at Martha’s recipe for classic vanilla cupcakes – the whir of the Kitchen Aid killing all sound from the “fun baking CDs” I’d carefully chosen.  The night before (yes, it was a Friday), I cut over 250 white flowers from fondant (something I’d only discovered existed the day before).
cupcakes, homeade, martha stewart, fondant flowers
When a good university mate asked me to be her bridesmaid earlier this year, I said, “YES! YES! YES! There’ll be an open bar right? Then YES! YES!” Flashes of a glamorous dress and (just to the left of) centre-of-attention were instant – but there was no forewarning flash of myself, knee-dip in cupcake batter on a Saturday night.

Moaning aside, the whole gig was my idea. I wanted to do something to make Shar’s engagement party special.
cupcakes and small cake, engagement party
Engagement parties these days are like wedding warm-ups, complete with open bar, sit-down meal, speeches and even a cake cutting ceremony (!).  I made a small chocolate cake at to serve the purpose.  My weekend sacrifice paid off as camera’s snapped for the night’s big photo op: bride and groom, clasping knife, slice open (beautiful) cake. 

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Filed under cheap fun, thrifty, Toronto, Uncategorized