I don’t know when I discovered a love of vintage, but I remember it being a long time ago, probably around the time when I was introduced to thrifting at the end of high school. Since then, trips to Value Village and Salvation Army have become frequent, and seeking out obscure thrift and vintage shops when I travel has become one of my favourite activities. Now I especially love it, not only for how it elevates my wardrobe, but because it’s less harmful to the environment and perpetuates recycling and a slow fashion cycle. Buying second hand or vintage clothing is an easy way to reduce your environmental footprint and still express your personal style. However, my tiny closet and trying to maintain a minimalist and sustainable lifestyle forces me to choose my vintage and thrifted pieces very carefully.
So when it came to this leopard coat that a lovely fashionista posted on Instagram, it was a no brainer – a leopard print coat had been on my list for a few years, it’s a classic print that can add life to my minimalist wardrobe, and it’s in pristine condition. Because it’s loud, I wear it mostly with relaxed basics. I like the juxtaposition of ripped denim with is beautiful sheen and texture, and likely won’t wear it with formal pieces because I don’t want it to look costume-y. When it comes to vintage, I always wear it with something current or classic – I think this way it adds a more subtle style statement. If you’re new to shopping and wearing vintage, pick something that you know will work with plenty of pieces in your closet (more on this here) and that is easy to wear – maybe it’s a silk scarf, or a cool belt. Then once you get comfortable with accessories, a leopard coat is in your near future!
So what do you think? Will you try vintage or second hand shopping anytime soon?
Coat: vintage / jeans & shirt: H&M / pumps: four years old, but I’ve had great experience with a similar pair of Schutz / sunnies: Dior at Merivale Vision Care
If you’re like me, your Instagram feed is probably blowing up with pictures of tropical destinations and friends or bloggers frolicking on white sand beaches and turquoise oceans. Finding myself immersed in a summer-like trance made me think that traveling is the perfect opportunity to test drive owning less. While traveling only with a carry-on is appealing, a full-size suitcase still limits your wardrobe choices to only what you need, so why not use your traveling circumstance to live with less?
To get you started, here are some of items I always bring on vacation (not necessarily these, but something similar – however, I’m loving the sustainable options below), along with tips on how to style them to get the most out of each piece. It doesn’t take much; a belt here, a scarf there, swap shoes – a whole new outfit is born.
I NEVER leave for a warm weather vacation without a shirt-dress. Like, EVER. If there is one piece of clothing that you wear on the plane in case of lost luggage, it should be a shirt dress. This neutral print number from H&M is great because it will work with any colour scheme, but the best part is that it works with both a dressy sandal and sneaker. Wear it open and unbuttoned over shorts, over jeans, over trousers, with a sweet cami underneath (bring about three camis so you can repeat this). Then wear this same combo with only the top button done up at the collar – it’s a totally different vibe. Throw it over your swimsuit for a cover up. Wear it closed over jeans or pants if cooler, then belt it and roll up the sleeves for a different look. Wear it as a dress – belted and then not. I hated permutations in math, but I feel like I just listed about 1,685,934 different combinations. Switching out shoes, adding a hat or scarf creates an entirely different ensemble as well.
In real life (ie; when I’m not on vacation), I hardly ever wear dresses. But on vacation, a hard working dress like this Zady number means I don’t have to stress about whether i’m chic enough for a certain venue. Clearly this dress passes any sartorial test because of its simple, minimalist yet feminine design. (It also means you don’t have to worry about being rejected from churches or religious sites because of the below-the-knee hemline and long sleeves – bonus!) Wear it with sneakers and a backpack for day, then swap it with a sandal and cross-body for night. It looks great paired with a denim jacket or scarf but truly stands on its own.
Never underestimate the power of a comfortable shoe when traveling. Lucky for us, the athletic trend is still going strong so we can explore limitless landscapes in stylish footwear. These Veja sneakers are made with Tilapia – yes, you heard correctly, and wild rubber. The simple yet rich design wears well with a dress as well as denim cutoffs. I always travel with a covered shoe/sneaker vs. a sandal, even in warmer climes, because I’ve never loved the feeling of having my feet exposed to city dirt, and I like to know that if I randomly have to climb some rocks, or countless steps (you never know what you’ll run into on adventures!), I don’t want to be limited by my footwear. If your vacation is strictly beach; then opt for a sandal.
The only heel I’ll bring on vacation is one I know i’ll be able to wander for hours in, in case there are some interesting side streets or evening adventures ahead. These Coclico sandals are expertly hand-crafted and can stand plenty of pavement-pounding. I have a pair of their cut-out wedges (approx 4 years old) and can say from experience that the elegant, simple design combined with quality and comfort make these shoes a staple in any wardrobe – the dark neutral tone and chunkier heel adds an edge when worn with a dress, or a pair of light pants.
In order to get the most out of your travel capsule wardrobe, the basics should be neutrals, but this fun silk scarf is where the colour boost comes in. Wear it tied tight around your neck a la neckerchief or choker, wear it loosely tied around our neck, as a bracelet, anklet, as a headband or tied onto your purse or backpack for extra flair. The message behind this Round + Square bandana is great too.
Denim shorts are a summer classic, and since I’m always cold (even in hot weather), I like the texture and traditional look of a great denim cutoff. Wear them with your shirt dress (the long over short silhouette is a great proportion play), simple tee or cami. Sneakers go best, but they would also look killer with a chunky heeled sandal and the shirt dress on top.
A basic tee is so …. basic. But when traveling, it’s a great staple – wear it with shorts and sneakers, add a silk bandana and trouser to dress it up, and don’t forget to tie it at the waist or make a tiny sleeve roll once you’re tired of wearing it like a normal tee. Like the cami, bring about two or three neutral colours to swap between. The options are always endless, it just takes some very minor tweaks to make a basic feel new again.
Because camis take up almost no space at all, you can afford to bring three of your faves; I always recommend neutral colours so they work with everything. They’re great layering pieces – under the shirt dress with shorts or pants, under a denim jacket with silk trousers, or best worn on their own.
I’m not one for purses – in real or vacation life. But a pretty cross body makes you feel grown-up and lady-like when you’ve been living out of a suitcase, and comes in handy when you want to be hands free. It’s also a fun way to add colour and spice up your neutral travel wardrobe.
Ok so right now, this doesn’t look like a backpack, but that’s because it’s both purse AND backpack. Which, when traveling (and in daily life, I haven’t stopped using it since I bought it two years ago) comes in SO handy. I swear, this bag is a fucking miracle when you need to be functional and fashionable and worth EVERY penny. As both purse and backpack, it fits my laptop, ipad, DSLR, travel docs and extra underwear when i’m on the plane. I swear. It’s bananas. Because of the rich quality of leather and slightly edgy hardware, it looks just as good draped over a silk dress, shirt dress, or hanging out with cutoffs and a tee. Best part? It’s made in Canada.
Ok, so officially these are joggers, but with the high quality cotton and modal blend, they pass as trousers on vacation, because it’s 2017 and people wear pyjamas in public. So, you know. I love that you can wear them for day with sneaks, a simple tee, cami, and/or shirt dress (or swap out the shirt dress for a denim jacket if you’re cold), and then throw on a pair of heels and wear all the same combinations for night. Truly, there is no simpler styling trick than swapping out a pair of shoes to elevate a look.
If you don’t want your face to burn off, a hat is key. I prefer a ball cap, but a fedora – like the vintage one I found above on Etsy – makes so much more sense stylistically as it works with everything.
I mentioned that I’m cold all the time, so I always bring a denim or light jacket with me. A denim jacket is the most versatile though, especially given denim’s ubiquity, it’s totally acceptable to wear it out, on the plane, with dresses, or pretty much anything. I would wear this with the silk joggers, over the shirt dress styled any way, and over the silk dress … it’s another great chameleon that will work with anything.
And that’s it! Add underwear, a bathing suit, your toothbrush and passport, and you’re good to go! Relax, enjoy your vacation and get ready to apply the creative styling juices you developed with your small capsule travel wardrobe at home with the rest of your closet. Maybe it will result in a purge of items you realize you don’t really need … either way, bon voyage and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
A few weeks ago, I discovered what Alice must have felt like after she fell down the rabbit hole. If you’ve ever entered Vava Vintage, the brainchild and fashion masterpiece of Karen Oprea, you’ll know the feeling too.
It started on a bright sunny Saturday when I was invited to check out this new vintage spot. Not realizing it was in someone’s home, I wandered up the leafy street in old Ottawa South for a few minutes before confirming with my contact if I was indeed at the right address. After taking a creepy peep through the open door, I saw two women sitting at the kitchen counter drinking coffee. Thinking I must have surely misunderstood, it was confirmed – this was the place, and I tentatively opened the door to “walk on in!” as instructed.
I was immediately greeted by a tall, beautiful woman who was ecstatic at the fact that a stranger she’s never met just entered into her home. This is Karen – Vava’s founder and life-force. She ushered me upstairs, gave me a wicked cool pair of fuzzy slippers (which she now refers to as “my” slippers whenever I make a visit) and I started perusing … Vava Vintage is unlike any vintage store I have ever experienced. And let me tell you; I seek out these places in all parts of the world. Asia, Europe, Central America … my travel companions tolerate the odd places I bring them to, but this is a true dream.
Vava Vintage is located on the second floor of Karen’s beautiful Edwardian home, which – in it’s own right – could be in a magazine, it is so well decorated. The second floor is divided into four sections; Vava Woman, Vava Girl, Vava Sport and Vava Vintage. In each collection, personality vibrates from every rack of colour and texture. Each piece has been carefully selected by Karen over the last 15 years … this isn’t just a haphazard compilation of clothing. Because Karen is attracted to fine things, luxurious fabrics and rich colours run the gamut through a range of designer, high street and vintage garments and accessories. You will find an epic ZARA sweater alongside a Louis Vuitton Sac-Plat for example – both exquisitely merchandised with flair. For the past two years, Karen had been dreaming up this concept of Vava Vintage; using the beautiful items she has been collecting as both showroom and shop. In Vava Vintage; gorgeous dresses, coats and accessories are offered up for styling rentals. If you’ve got an event coming up and want to look out of this world; this is the place to go – Karen will add the right touch of whimsy and combine it with empowerment to culminate in a look that you feel comfortable and completely yourself in. You will also find jewelry and art by local artisans; a strong testament to Karen’s goal of lifting the creativity out of people she meets and sharing their talents with the community.
This is the crux of Vava; giving women the power and confidence to be themselves through style. It’s for everyone – everyone who has the courage (or maybe needs a little nudge) to harness what’s in their heart and own it.
So who is this woman?
Karen Oprea was born in Romania and lived the first 13.5 years of her life there. She attended a German school in Bucharest -Goethe – Institut Bucharest, and has spent many years traveling, creating her persona, moulding her into the woman she is today. As an engineer, she strikes a rare balance between calculated moves and a love of pure artistry. It is a compelling combination, one that she feeds with a fierce dedication to working hard, showing up, and building this vehicle of love and empowerment that is Vava.
It is very clear, after spending time in the space that is part closet part showroom part fashion fantasy land, that Vava Vintage is more than just an assortment of beautiful clothes. There is an energy that permeates throughout, and a huge part of that energy is Karen. After about a half hour admiring the eclectic merchandising, unique garments, locally crafted accessories and all around inspiring space, I’m told to sit down in a small sitting room with a deck of Goddess cards. We spread them out on the ground face down and I’m told to pull one out from the deck. Oddly enough, I chose “transformation” which I was (still am) truly undergoing – in many things; career and life. It was downright uncanny, awe-inducing and energizing to have the universe validate this change in my life in this beautiful way.
In a way, this validates Karen’s vision of Vava too. Yes, it’s about the clothing and using style to develop whatever your inner Vava is; but it’s also about developing our power in whichever way we see fit. According to Karen, women are experiencing a revolution; we are learning how to be in our power, and she’s going to help us do it. In her own words: “Vava is a revolution in the human evolution”.
So what does the future hold in store for Vava Vintage? Karen definitely sees her store applying to both men, women, and the LGBTQ community eventually. Maybe it means a storefront. Maybe it means a publication that serves as a platform for budding artists of all types. Maybe it is monthly workshops. There are many forms Vava may take but Karen understands that things come into focus as she’s driving. I love this analogy. Some ideas, thoughts, people even, get left in the rear view mirror and that’s OK. But let me tell you – if you’re along for the ride, you’d better buckle up.
Find Vava Vintage on Facebook, Instagram @vavaandvintage xx
If you’re interested in trying out the 80/20 closet rule that is propelling the minimalist wardrobe adage to the forefront of sustainable fashion conversations, then mark your calendar for April 10th. As a logical explanation – with its one of a kind gems and uber rare finds, vintage is something that one should splurge on, and the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show is the perfect place to indulge 20% of your clothing budget. Once a season, in Spring and Fall, the best vendors from Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and the surrounding areas congregate to present one massive panoply of beautifully curated and artfully aged vintage, all for the taking by savvy shoppers who appreciate it.
If you want to make sure you get the best out of one of the best vintage and antique shopping days of the year, here are some tips from a seasoned vintage shopper:
1 – Always try garments on. Sizing is not the same as it was decades or even a few years ago, so ignore the size on the label and give it a try. Which brings us to …
2 – Wear layers. It’s busy, and nobody wants to waste time running to the change room at the other end of the crowded hall after every stall.
3 – Bring cash. It’s easiest to negotiate with.
4 – Always double check the garment for rips, tears, stains and holes. These vendors are great, but you always want to make sure you’re coming home with the highest quality item possible.
5 – Look for quality and fabric. Look for natural fabrics like cotton and wool, as these stand the test of time best, rayon and silk shouldn’t be overlooked either as they wear well too. Keep an eye out for testaments of quality to make sure you will actually be able to wear your vintage: covered buttons, linings, reinforced seams and piping are all hints of a solid garment.
6 – I normally don’t go by this adage, but at a vintage show/market: When in doubt, buy. Especially at this show, there are crowds of vintage lovers waiting to pounce on that fab tweed cape the second you put it down (or at least that’s what I tell myself) so this isn’t really the place to go for lunch and have a think about it … worst case if you get home and regret the purchase you will likely be able to sell it for a good price to another vintage or consignment vendor.
Because this is one of my favourite places to acquire amazing new closet additions, I would love for you to be able to experience it too. I’m giving away 2 tickets to the show, valued at $10 each and would love to see what you find. Here’s how to enter and hopefully, win!
So you’ve been working at your office for a while now, and have re-worn your workwear basics to a point where you may not want to see them again. This is where, with caution and tact, your wardrobe can multi-task for you and stealthily incorporate itself into some of your bolder 9-5 looks. Take for example, the (faux) fur vest. Normally relegated to the weekend-brunch-with-the-girls or “chalet chic” section of your closet, give yourself a good “plot twist!” moment and try it in a professional setting.
As always, when making bolder sartorial choices in the workplace, always think of your environment. If you work in a hoodies and jeans tech company, this look may not be for you. But if you’re in PR, marketing, are your own lady boss which translates to wearing whatever you want, or a generally working within a more liberal environment, this could be a fun look to try. For best results, keep all other elements of your outfit crisp and neutral. You want colleagues to listen to what you’re saying rather than try navigating their eyes around your outfit. I’ve paired this faux fur Club Monaco vest (alternative here since I bought this last season – gasp!) with a simple turtleneck (we talked about this last week … maybe that post was premature?) and pair of pleated culottes (vintage, but these are awesome!). Since it’s still not the most pleasant outside, black tights and no-nonsense pumps make this weather appropriate. You probably don’t even need to wear a coat because … faux fur.
BONUS: Do fur vests make you feel bulky? I used this EXPRESS belt to cinch the waist – never underestimate the power of a good belt!
So – would you wear this outfit to the office? I’d love to know! Thank you for reading! XO
Some trends are great fun to look at on other people. For me, these were (and still are); ear cuffs, septum rings, flatform sandals, mom jeans and colourful hair. One trend that I love however, is the culotte. Every time I say that word it brings me back to Grade 1 when my mom came home with a SKORT for me to wear to school. Yes – a SKORT. I think it sounds better capitalized.
The skort and culotte are fairly similar in nature, so stay with me on this one. You trick everyone into thinking you’re wearing an elegant skirt when really – SURPRISE! – you’re wearing shorts! Same as with this season’s culotte, a skort gives you comfort without compromising cartwheels at recess, or whatever you’re into.
I found my culottes at a swap sale, so in my mental archive I consider that as FREE. This J.Crew collection sweater however, was not. I believe in fact, that the purchase and allure of this be-feathered top requires a whole blog post on it’s own, so stay tuned down the road if you’re so inclined.
Back to the culotte: If you want to try the culotte (and of course my advice is yes – give it a whirl! And don’t worry about showing off your underthings because you guessed it – you’re not actually wearing a skirt!), my only advice would be to try it with a great heel. Since I paired mine with a boxy top, the only way to help people remember my gender while wearing this outfit was to rock a heel and add some phenomenal accessories in the way of these H&M Conscious Exclusive earrings.
And now, onto some captions to help make these photos less awkward to look at.
You will try culottes, you WILL try culottes. Camera staring at its best.
Dainty hand holding for an optimal blogger pose.
Doing something with my hands seems to make the photo look better and also camouflages my consistent misuse of bobby pins.
Ah yes, the old “stare at the car across the street to look thoughtful” pose.
I think I was hungry at this point. But hopefully you got a good enough look at the outfit that you’ll want to give culottes a try!
I have a confession to make. After helping people edit closets and weed out wardrobes, I have never been one to pack light. This is normally because I pack at the last minute and end up throwing all of my staples (ie; 80% of my closet) in my bag along with a wide range of shoes because you know, footwear is the spice of life.
But when the big frenchman and I were heading to Montreal for Easter weekend, I actually gave myself time to pack and OH MY – WHAT a difference. There is no better feeling than that of being put together. (Or at least feeling like it anyway, to heck what anyone else thinks) Like one of those light, bright, everything-in-my-life-is-white-and-perfect-and-stays-that-way “lifestyle” bloggers. (Seriously, how DO they keep everything so pristine?!)
So while there are many Pinterest collages that list beautifully laid out clothes and outfits for a weekend getaway or month long jaunt in Europe, my one, tiny (but hopefully huge in your next packing venture) piece of advice is this: If you want to travel light, then dedicate TIME (It could be one hour or three, depending how long your trip is) to pack. Take the time to research the weather, think about what you’ll be doing while away, and build outfits around 1 or 2 key pieces (again, these key pieces will depend how long you’re gone for).
It’s a fun exercise and might get your creative juices flowing a bit. It might even help you build new outfits that you hadn’t thought of before because you’re limited to a certain number of items. For a weekend away, try creating 3 outfits around one main piece, like jeans, or a skirt if you prefer something more feminine. You will find your wardrobe has so many options and hopefully will have fun in the process!
This morning it feels like -19 with the windchill. I literally have no cohesive thoughts about this, except for the ones that make me happy I’ve been a slacker blogger and didn’t have time to post this winter photo before Spring hit. (NB: Being a slacker blogger doesn’t mean I’m not working away – promise!)
So now, after I’ve been planning my Spring wardrobe and have poured over too many Pinterest pictures of floaty dresses and strappy sandals in preparation for warmer weather, I’m going to post what I am predicting to be my Last Winter Outfit. It deserves capitals because I believe this grammatical tactic combined with the Power Of The Internet will make it official and Winter will disappear forever. Or at least until September.
The best thing about my job is that I am rarely sitting down for long. Now that it’s time to start getting back to reality (I hope you are all having an easy transition from holiday spritzers to spreadsheets and whatever else your post-holiday life entails), it’s also a time to transition from tulle and heels to proper, get s*** done pieces. These Palladium boots practically do all my work for me, which is great because i’ve been sick with the flu and I need all the help I can get.
I love their functionality, warmth, and the fact that they’re waterproof. Most of all however, I am grateful that there is a boot out there that can take me through Canadian winters without the heavy bulk that is often a non-negotiable factor in choosing cold-weather attire. The wine colour of these adds the perfect touch of colour to my usual neutral winter ensembles but the tough silhouette gives me the best you-can-conquer-the-world feeling when I put them on.
Like most things I love, Palladium has a pretty cool history behind the brand. Check it out here. If you want to know more, purchase a pair for yourself (trust me, you will be so happy you did!), you can find them on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and my personal fave, Youtube.
A big thank you to my fab friend Kat for taking photos that make me look like I’m going somewhere important, to Agence Zoi for the wonderful opportunity to review such a great product, and of course to Palladium for making footwear that defies the conventional while remaining a true classic.
December the 24th is always one of my favourite days of the year – even more so than the 25th. I appreciate the anticipation of something great more than the event itself. Except in the case of wearing these second-hand culottes I scored at the Closet Collective event a few weeks ago. This was a great initiative hosted by the amazing Carolynn Lacasse over at J’adorethis.com – read more about it on her site!
I arrived late to the event so there wasn’t much left but when I spotted these babies hanging all alone I snatched them up without trying them on. They hold two major trends that can be worn all year round; the new culotte silhouette and pleats. And success! They fit – and are perfect for holiday time as well as frolicking in the South of France which, if you must know, I hope to do very often in the as near as possible future. Because they’re winter white I can wear them now, and the high waist means I can try them out with a crop top, lazily tucked in sweater or tank topped with a vest of any kind.
The anticipation of wearing them so many ways makes me very excited. Almost like it’s Christmas or something.
If you don’t have the time to rummage through thrift stores for a similar pair, I’ve done the work for you: shop the post below!