Month: June 2012

Vancouver: The Haul (part 2)

Vancouver is a great city for people who, like me, love to walk. The downtown core is laid out in a manner that makes it easy for non-locals to explore, and there is much to see. It’s probably why, in all the years that I have visited regularly, I’ve never ventured too far away from it (unless you count SkyTrain trips to Metrotown mall in Burnaby). This past vacation, my friend Cat showed me the error of my ways by taking me to the shopping mecca that is Main Street. Sadly, we didn’t have a ton of time to fully explore its possibilities, but based on the few boutiques I got to speed-peruse, it’s definitely a place I need to re-visit … soon.

The one place in which we ended up spending a bit of time was Front & Company, a combination retail-consignment store that looks a bit like Urban Outfitters crossed with your favourite vintage/thrift shop. On the consignment end of things, the designer rack was a bit of a bust; however, the “regular” consignment racks yielded a veritable treasure. Front & Company has both contemporary and vintage consignment items, and it was in the latter category that I found my gem. Now, normally, I stay away from vintage pieces because (a) most of the stuff you find in thrift/antique stores are 70s or 80s polyester creations that are simply not my cup of tea, and (b) true bespoke vintage clothes were cut to fit a particular person not a “size”, the way contemporary off-the-rack clothing does. The latter point makes it difficult to find pieces that fit comfortably, because they tend to have much more precise tailoring and less give. So it is truly a special thing to find a vintage piece that fits you to a tee. Against the odds, this is exactly what I found.

Long time readers will know of my obsession with Mad Men, especially its female characters’ attire. I adore that era’s clothes, which remind me of my super-stylish grandmother. Sadly, her bespoke clothing from the 60s is now long gone; most of it wouldn’t have fit me anyway, because I am much taller. I mourn the possibilities that might have been though. My grandmother was a voluptuous beauty in the Joan Holloway/Harris mold, and in my style daydreams, I sashay with the same conviction.

Back to Front & Company. The first thing that drew my eye to this particular rack was a bold floral print on what looked, even from a distance, like silk. Heavy, expensive silk of the kind that holds its shape well, and doesn’t wilt or wrinkle easily. When I pulled the dress out, I immediately saw the possibilities in its shape: the scoop neckline, 3/4 sleeves, the wasp waist, and best of all, the exaggerated hip line. I wasn’t sure if it was going to fit – sleeves are always particularly tricky – but it was definitely worth a trip to the changing room. And, by golly, it did fit!! Just barely – that darn wasp waist! – but fit it did.
I could rave on and on about the incredible workmanship of the dress. [I’m not sure of the dynamics, but the dress supplies its own built-in hips – curvier than mine, for the record – based on which I can only assume its previous owner was more of a Betty type who preferred the green grass on the Joan side. In any case, a marvel of tailoring, for sure.] But instead of my babbling, a few close-ups will have to suffice.

You bet I Googled that name. Wasn’t able to find much, but how cool would it have been if this place was still around?

The best part? It was on sale! I got it for $68, including taxes. I simply cannot wait for the first opportunity to wear my new treasure! 

Vancouver: The Haul (part 1)

Shopping in Vancouver, as in most places, is all about knowing where to go. I spent the first few days of my vacation spinning my wheels, shopping-wise, by going to all the wrong places. First of all, Robson Street and its environs is largely a waste of time for any Alberta-based visitors, since the majority of the stores can be found at home, where you save the PST. There are a few exceptions. There is a JCrew store, a stand-alone Joe Fresh store, and a Topshop outlet in The Bay. [Good news, though: it sounds like Edmontonians will be getting their own JCrew store soon.] And, of course, if you are shopping at the high end of the retail scale, Robson has a ton of options for you, not least of all The Room at The Bay, and a fancy-pants Holt Renfrew.

Second, the consignment stores on south Granville are also a bust for any frugal shoppers; they do carry more designer brands, but the prices are very high. I saw one pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes priced at around $125 – not much cheaper than the $150 I paid for a new pair at Mayfair’s annual BOGO sale. Meanwhile, the consignment stores on West 4th clustered just west of Burrard Street aren’t much better, price-wise. As for thrift stores, pfffft! I made a trek all the way down East Hastings to one of the bigger Value Villages in the city, excited to take advantage of a one day 50% off sale. I should have saved the bus fare, since neither the selection nor the prices were great. The Salvation Army on West 4th was closed on the day I tried to go, and the rest of downtown seemed devoid of other options.

You might be wondering if I did any shopping in Vancouver. While I did succumb to a pretty Zara frock (previously shown) on Robson, things looked bleak at first. Thanks to the lovely Cat, who is our occasional West Coast correspondent, I did manage to turn things around and ended up with a few great new additions to my closet – all without completely busting my travel shopping budget (which, for anyone wondering, was set at $200).

The first place to which Cat took me was, ironically, also on West 4th though much further west. I think the store is called Happy 3 Clothing Co., but to be honest, I was too busy rifling madly through its racks to pay much attention.
A consignment store very much after my heart, it had a great mix of high end designer labels and regular brand names, all at very reasonable prices. I had my heart broken by a stunning, dark navy Balenciaga cocktail dress ($168), which was, sadly, just a smidge too tight on the hips. Sigh! But I did pick up a new dress ($39) and two skirts ($19 and $29 respectively), as well as a cute headband ($3, not pictured).

Stay tuned tomorrow for part two of my Vancouver haul … vintage edition.

Manicure of the week: Holiday

OK, you guys – get ready for a total gushing rave-fest. I love Holiday. No, make that LOVE! First of all, the name; for some reason, my mind goes straight to Breakfast at Tiffany and its unforgettable protagonist, whose full name is actually Holiday Golightly. I adore Breakfast at Tiffany – the book AND the movie (though it’s like comparing apples and oranges) – so this is a total bonus. I’ll get to the other reasons why I love Chanel’s Holiday, but first let me show you what I’m talking about. Part of the current Summertime de Chanel collection, Holiday is a bright – BRIGHT – reddish orange. 
Holiday constitutes the sum total of orange polishes in my stash; orange just doesn’t agree with my skin tone, and as a redhead, I tend to avoid it (even though I love the colour). I bought Holiday because I had heard that it leans towards red quite a bit, and was hopeful that it would prove more wearable. I ended up loving it, even though I think that, on me, it looks tangerine-orange most of the time. If I stare at it for a looooong time, I occasionally start to hallucinate that it looks more tomato-red, but really, it doesn’t. Which is OK. It’s totally awesome anyway.
The application is a DREAM. No, really. Chanel makes polishes with a-MAH-zing formula (particularly cremes) all the time, but they may have topped themselves with Holiday. In all of the photos here, I am wearing one coat. That’s it. No top coat, nothing. Holiday applies like the very best Chanel creme, but it actually looks and feels more like a jelly. On the nail, it has that squishy, candy-like look of a jelly polish, but the opacity of a creme, plus incredible shine. And it dries super fast too. I am not a pro when it comes to applying polish, by any means, but Holiday is dummy-proof.
With the gushiness out of the way, let’s get to the outfit, shall we? I love this polish so much, it was hard to pick an outfit I felt could do it justice. I think I could happily wear Holiday with almost any outfit. But since it’s one of my new favourite polishes, I decided to pair it with two of my favourite things – florals and polka dots. Incidentally, the Tommy Hilfiger blouse I picked has a pattern of one of my favourite flowers: hydrangeas.

This theme also worked out wonderfully colour-wise, since orange and navy are a wonderful combo. I also like how these pieces balance each other, proportion-wise. The jacket has a button detail under the bust, which draws the eye up and balances out the lower waist on this skirt, while the slim lines of the jacket balance out the fullness of the skirt. I was initially going to wear nude pumps with this, but ended up picking these light blue slingbacks as an added colour accent.