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?