2009-12-31

The Look Back

Many bloggers have been doing their 'Best of' lists for 2009 and I've thouroughly enjoyed looking back at some of their favourite outfits. I do plan on doing such a list but I figured I'd wait until the first anniversary of the blog in Febuary and then do a deep post about the effect of blogging and a light post about my personal favourite outfits. I figured today I would do a post on the clothing workhorses of my closet, the 2009 edition. You know the clothes that do overtime but are never given the respect they deserve?... I'm honouring them with a feature. All these items have been featured on the blog but you have no idea how much I actually wear them in real life(clearly my smalls don't make the list though they do hard work everyday).

1. The faux-fur vest
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Where? Talize
How much? $4.50 (50% off sale)
Why? I bought this vest on a whim in the spring and it has become a favourite. Soft like kittens, warm like toaster ovens and chic like silk stockings. One of the best quality faux fur pieces I have touched... go on pet it on your computer screen...amazing, right?

2. The Ralph Lauren plaid shirt
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Where? Talize
How much? $3.50 (50% off sale)
Why? The colours and linen fabric of this shirt are perfect. So many days I have grabbed this shirt and thrown it over a pair of jeans or tucked it into a skirt and accessorized it to death. Sometimes I iron it (Ok, Matt does) or sometimes I grab it from the never ending laundry pile (the clean one!) and wear it in all its wrinkly glory.

3. The Roots braided belt
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Where? Talize
How much? $4
Why? If you've read my blog for a while, you know I'm a sucker for some nice brown leather. This belt is the perfect colour of brown and the right size to sit in my natural waist. This leather belt earns its keep by holding up countless skirts and dresses. Occasionally, I force myself to grab another belt (there are lots) but mostly I give in and grab my favourite.

Without meaning to (I'm definitely not paid to talk about Talize... but I should be), I realize that the anchors of my wardrobe are all thrifted and cost me a grand total of $12. Which makes me wonder how much I spend on the not so hard working pieces of my wardrobe because I'm... broke... But happy. What are the unsung heroes of your closet?

Finally, I just want to show you a recent and wonderful thrift find.
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It's a handknit, wool, made in U.S.A. Perry Ellis sweater completely adorned with paillettes. It is in perfect condition, probably never worn and of course, freaking fabulous. I have no idea how or when I am going to wear it but this is a special piece. I paid a little more for it than I usually would thrifting but it's worth every penny. When you touch it, you feel quality and suddenly all your h&m and F21 clothing seem... lacking. Don't get me wrong, h&m has contributed to my wardrobe in many ways but this is the real deal. This is fashion.

Wow! Ok! Crazy lady fashion rant is over! I just want to take a moment to once again thank anyone who has ever read or commented on my blog! Seriously, thanks for caring... I feel like I 'know' some of you guys now and I wish we could have a super-fantastic blogger NYE party! It would include laptops, cameras, kitty-cats and hors d'oeuvres made with cranberry sauce left over from the huge batch I made for Christmas. It would be EPIC.
Happy New Years!
See you next year!
xo

2009-12-29

Fuzzy Toasted Marshmellow

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Sweater? thrifted from Deja Vu
Plaid button-up? Winners
High-waisted black jeans? h&m
Boots? Modern Vintage, Winners
Clutch? Hilary Radley, StyleSense
Bangle and cuff? UO and gifted

This sweater might as well have been back-combed as it has so much volume! It will go down as another stellar find in The Epic Year of Thrifting 2009. I only wish it had pockets... but what it lacks in lipgloss carrying abilities, it makes up for in warmth, softness and downright amazingness (especially since it's hand knit!).
The pants I have had for years and have worn sporadically as needed. I've never really loved them because I always felt their high-waistedness drew attention to my hipular (not a word but it will be...one day) area. I must have recently over-dosed on Sal's Already Pretty body positivity because this weekend I decided that I loved these pants and the way they made me look. So, I wore the pants three days in a row. Normally I would not disclose that information but I saw one of my sisters-in-law on all three days and I know she reads my blog (waddup 'L'?) so I just wanted to be forthright with my over-wearing. I must say that body positivity over a holiday season filled with inactivity and overeating is an unusual but nice thing...

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2009-12-26

Festive Sparkle

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Shirt? thrifted
High-waisted black jeans? h&m
Boots? Modern Vintage, Winners
Ring? Winners
Earrings? h&m
I feel pretty guilty over the thrifting haul I have taken home in the last weeks. I was going to categorize it for you guys but when the list grew, I felt even worse over the sheer volume of my hoarding. Let's just say it was good...
I need a new hobby, maybe baking or knitting, anything that will keep me out of thrift stores. Because once I'm in there, I can't help but kick a$$. Take this silk sequined shirt for example... I popped into Talize for 15 minutes before I had be somewhere else (don't remember where but I'm sure it was fabulous, like... the grocery store) and there was this piece of sparkliness hanging at the front of a rack on display! Silk, sequined, six bucks... all mine! It even had silk-covered shoulder pads! I took the shoulder pads out this time because they were only pinned in and kept slipping around. Every time I did something physical (like get off the couch and get myself another chocolate), a shoulder pad would slide down and create a third breast.
Yes, I have some crazier sequin stuff but I love this shirt's classic colour combination and drape. It's pretty, and it made me feel festive... even though it rained all Christmas day! But just in case the shirt wasn't festive enough, I wrapped my little Christmas light strand around me. My movement was restricted by the length of the extension cord but I did my share to put the 'holla' in Holladays...

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2009-12-24

Best Wishes

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Wishing you a very Merry Christmas filled with family and friends!
xoxo
Matt+Yen
B.E.C., Kyle and Stella

2009-12-21

Exposed Skin

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Trousers? Liz Claiborne, thrifted
Sweatshirt? Zara
Shoes? Jeffrey Campbell, StyleSense
Bomber? Danier
Infinity Scarf? Handmade for my fourth year collection
Hat? Heaslip, thrifted
Gloves? Steve Madden
Belt? thrifted

Yup, bare feet in my shoes the week before Christmas... It was a little chilly but I'm glad I could do it because I wanted to keep the details of the outfit simpler, so as not to compete with the hat and scarf... however part of me is longing for a big snowfall. Which is weird because in the winter I plow snow and an epic snowfall will only result in too little sleep and too much Sugar-free Redbull, there really is no time for me to enjoy the picturesque beauty of fresh snow. Maybe I'm jealous because my brother in Holland posted pictures on Facebook of his street covered in snow and it's just not right. I mean, a couple of inches of snow somewhere in Holland puts a city at a standstill and here we wait with our plows, shovels and salters, ready for action and there's been nothing more than a dusting. What's up with that?

Whatever... either way, snow or no snow, my hat is pretty fabulous, no? Thrifted for $7...

And the infinity scarf is another piece from my fourth year collection from years ago. It was supposed to be this wrap thingy that never quite worked out like it was supposed to but wrapped twice around my neck, it sure makes a cosy scarf. The thin knit part of it was made from yarn that was sponsored by Fable knits and the rough knit is actually hand spun alpaca from a local Ontario farm. When I got the order in the mail, they sent a picture of the alpaca that the wool came from. So cute! I paid $150 for three balls of that stuff (sold by weight but I have no idea how much any more)... Oh to be young and foolish again. When you're spending money for a school project it somehow seems justifiable. True story; sometimes when I feel guilty about buying scads of magazines, I tell myself it's for fashion research. Whatever helps me sleep at night, right?

2009-12-19

Keeping Track

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Dress? United colors of Benetton, thrifted
Jacket? Braemar, thrifted
Belt? Roots, thrifted
Tights? Hue, Winners
Purse? Claudia Firenze, Winners
Shoes? Jeffrey Campbell, StyleSense
Bangle? Mama's
Circle Scarf? Handmade and gifted!

Went out for lunch with two lovely ladies and I decided I REALLY wanted to wear this dress (probably because I finally handwashed it after thrifting it 2 (?) months ago). The original hem length hit right below the knee and when I paired the dress with the blazer, the look started to fall over the line to the dowdy side. A needle, some thread and 15 minutes later, the dress was almost a foot shorter and a whole lot sassier. I asked Matt 15 times if the skirt was now too short (not like I don't love a short skirt, check the archives) because people have different ideas of modesty and I didn't want to offend my lunch mates. Matt told me it was fine 13 times (the last two times he stopped listening), so off to lunch I went. When I met up for lunch, the dress was immediately complimented. I totally think that patterned or opaque tights can save many an outfit from crossing into 'too overtly sexy for noon time' territory.... Thank-you tights!

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And... this is my face when someone comes by walking their dog while I am posing like a fool in the cold.

2009-12-17

An Army of Bridesmaids

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If I was smart, I would make the same bridesmaids dress for every member of a wedding party. But I'm not smart, so when the bride said that all she wanted brown dresses with a touch of soft green, I was all gung-ho to make ever dress unique. In general I firmly stand behind having different dresses for the girls in your wedding party...us girls come in all shapes, sizes(pregnant too!), ages and tastes and it's nice to accommodate that. But it's a lot more work... I always feel like I learn so much making a custom dress and if I were to make 7 of those dresses, I would be able to sew the last one in my sleep. But that's the nature of the beast in custom wear, sure you do a muslin and try out your fabrics, but you never know the end result until you are working on the actual dress. So, in essence, you make and fix all your mistakes on the same dress... a steep learning curve.
I'm glad I'm blogging about this... if this was simply a portfolio site, I'd have to sugar coat everything and say the bride was fantastic (she was...), the girls were really sweet and open to ideas (they were) and I was happy with the final result (I was, though it wasn't until I saw this picture that I realized how neat the dresses looked together). But the fabric was a b*tch; cut one way (I forget what way, parallel or perpendicular to the grain?) it pouffed instead of draped and it was mighty slippery. The one skirt I re-did 3 times, once I was unhappy, then she was unhappy and then I think we finally got it right. Of course I feel awful when something doesn't go right but you just have to keep trying and learning (and how's that for your mantra of the day?). Like I said though, I do like how they all came out, every dress worked as a cohesive group but yet each dress had very individual design elements.

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A cute little pintuck is revealed through the 'slashed' bodice of this sweetheart strapless dress.

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One shoulder detailing... I put handmade flowers of fabric and tulle along the back of the one shoulder. I know I have a much better picture of it but I can't find the JPEG, boo... I like this picture anyways because it's of my 'sister' (no relation in blood, just in our hearts...)....

2009-12-14

Dance, Dance

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Brown leather bomber? Danier
Sweater? h&m
Jeans? Paige Premium Denim
Boots? Kenneth Cole, Winners
Scarf? gifted
Purse? Elliot Lucca, Winners
Bangles? Primark
Gloves? Steve Madden, Winners
Another day, another casual outfit... This last weekend Matt took me to go see the top 10 tour for So You Think You Can Dance Canada. He gave me the choice of tickets to So You Think You Can Dance or Professional Bull Riding for my birthday a bit ago. The night of bull riding we already had plans, so by default we went to SYTYCD... I think Matt was originally hoping for bull riding but when I gave him an easy out for SYTYCD he said all like 'No, it's ok, I don't mind going with you'... I don't want to start any drama (well, sometimes I do, not about this though) but rumour has it that the Season 2 Canadian Top 10 are perhaps even better than the American Top 10...just saying... :) Either way, the dancers were A-mazing.
Ok, yes, I was totally planning on dressing up, but we got home from errands late and barely had time to eat our Subway subs (do I talk about Subway a lot? Screw Modcloth... I need a Subway sponsorship...Eat Fresh) before leaving to go see the show. I ended up just wearing what I had on that day and adding a touch of glam with some bold lips. Red lips are totally a challenge for me because I am completely addicted to lipgloss, so it never stays put. That night however, I put on the matte lip colour and went all night without gloss. I'm a big girl!
The sweater I got from the men's sale section at h&m. I wanted Matt to buy it for himself because he would look so handsome in a nice thick knit sweater... but he passed. So I just got the smallest size for me instead. I never tried it on in the store and at home, the fit was a bit different than I wanted but once the coziness was on, I couldn't take it off anymore to return it. And I pretty much wore it all weekend and right now too, as I slack behind the computer....

2009-12-11

Yeah, yeah... It's Cold

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Faux fur vest? Thrifted
Leather bomber? Zara
Striped turtleneck? thrifted
Stretchy pants? Liz Claiborne, thrifted
Boots? Stuart Weitzman, Winners
Purse? Elliot Lucca, Winners
Slouchy hat? Calvin Klein, Winners
Gloves? Steve Madden
Chain necklace? thrifted

I really love scouting out good locations and taking pictures outside... but sometimes that can't happen. I'm surprised I actually have a decent picture location in my house because slanted ceilings and tons of stuff everywhere make it hard to pose. it. out.
I know this sentiment has been echoed by many bloggers but it's officially freaking cold. No longer is it 'a bit chilly, I think I'll wrap this chic little scarf around my neck', it's almost 'I'll cut a hole in a sleeping bag for my head and wear that' kind of cold. Besides, my photographer spent the evening drinking beer and putting in a new bathroom floor (which looks great!), so I thought I would go easy on him.
I like this look. It's all layered and warm (I wore tights under my pants too) but still chic. Honestly, it was far below the freezing point and so windy that it even knocked out power for a bit, so I could have easily busted out one of my true winter jackets. But I know it will get even colder and I feel like I have to acclimatize myself. If I bust out the big guns now, what will I wear when it gets even colder? I really don't know if my reasoning makes any sense or not but I'm sticking with it.

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And how funny is this picture? Matt caught me dusting the shelves before he took outfit pictures. That's my scandalous secret... I have a dusty house.

2009-12-08

Captain Yen

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Vest? Taile, Winners
Black pants? h&m
Dress worn as top? h&m
Boots? Stuart Weitzman, Winners
Snake belt? thrifted
Clutch? thrifted
Ring? gifted

If I were a superhero, this is what I would wear. It's the perfect outfit for saving the world. When I think about it though, I doubt superheroes have control over their own wardrobes... just a guess, but would Peter Parker have worn a blue and red one-piece with footsies as his Spiderman outfit if he had the choice?

My friend made fun of this vest when she first saw it in the store and said she didn't get it. But I knew secretly I wanted it. I let it sit for a while and when I went back weeks later it was still there and further reduced to $15. Then I knew it was meant to be. The key to wearing so much volume is to keep the rest of the outfit super slim. I wish I had pulled a Adored Austin and wore this newly acquired snake belt as a necklace. Next time... How awesome is the belt though? I cleaned up at Talize again last week... I know I sound like a broken record but that place is too good. The belt is but a small sampling of the goodness that I thrifted last week...

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And my new boots... we're going to call them my practical purchase. OK, let's not be too technical because I actually need winter work boots and good running shoes more than the boots but in the situation I was in, these were the practical purchase. Yes, there was some shopping last week as I exited my shopping ban. I really wanted new shoes and it came down to a pair of brown Frye open-toe booties and these classic black Stuart Weitzman boots (for the record, both were deeply discounted). I am such a sucker for brown leather (shoes,belts, purses...) and so clearly the Frye boots stole my heart. But I always buy impractical things and then I am left without the daily stuff (I don't really even own a pair of black flats...) and a nice pair of dressy black boots would go with lots of outfits and fill the holes in my closet more than another pair of brown shoes. So, I got the tall boots and I do love them, they are surprising comfy and the leather is excellent. But sometimes, I catch myself thinking of the Frye shoes still... the affairs of my heart are so complicated. One more markdown and I may crack on those and buy them too (if you live in my area and have big feet like me... stay away from my babies!)

2009-12-07

An Imperfect Marriage

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Headpiece? Ophelie Hats
Plaid shirt? Simon's
Leather bomber? Zara
Wide-leg jeans? Karl Lagerfeld
Shoes? Maxstudio, Winners
Earrings? free with purchase someplace...

I'm pretty sure that a plaid shirt and a hydrangea inspired headpiece were not meant as bedfellows but for some reason I think it works just perfectly. I just bought the headpiece and I love the fact that it looked so vintage and the colour is perfect. And then I just NEEDED to wear it right away. Do you ever get that? The perfect setting for such a headband is probably a tea party in an English garden (regular events really...) but the weekend called for drinks out for a friend's birthday and so that was the big debut of the headband.
WARNING: landscape tangent ahead... Did you know a lot of Hydrangeas have difficulties blossoming in Southern Ontario? Apparently it's too cold in the winter and the buds that contain next years flowers die back... They are the bane of my existence, I always feel like a landscape failure when they don't blossom (though the leaves are pretty by themselves too). This year, after plenty of research, I decided to mulch the bases and burlap the stalks of the stupid things... so much extra attention, I might as well read them bedtime stories too as I clearly tucked them in for the winter. Maybe next summer they will reward me with countless blossoms. If not, this headband will have to do...

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Yes, finding enough light for outdoor outfit shots is difficult. I thought I'd take advantage of the 'natural' lighting in the tennis courts and I kinda love how some of the shots look a bit spooky. Boo!
P.S. Thanks for all your kind words on my 'Therapy' post. Even though it took me a long time to talk about, I'm glad I shared with you. xo

2009-12-04

Therapy

Sit down a while, take some notes in your little notebook and let me lie on the couch and pour my soul out...

So, I've had this blog going for a good nine months now (it really is my baby!), and I have yet to really talk about my designing and dressmaking. This is because it is one of the hardest things for me to open up about. I'm pretty open about my life, there is nothing that exciting to hide and I love sharing with my family, friends and co-workers... But there is such anxiety talking about my sewing that I'd rather go bathing suit shopping at Winners (Winners, you know I love you but sometimes your lighting is particularly unflattering). I think it's such a difficult thing to talk about because it is a love/hate relationship and I myself don't really know where I stand.
I graduated a few years ago from Fashion Design at a Canadian University with lofty plans of one day opening my own custom wedding gown boutique. I even quit my job at one point to take on custom design full time. It never quite worked out like that...

I didn't love working inside, by myself...
I didn't love people asking me to make a dress only because as a starting out designer, I would be the cheapest option...
I didn't love my lack of confidence in sewing... actually, though I have done it quite a bit and still do it, I really don't love sewing that much either....
I didn't love that the process would stress me out so bad that I would be a real bitchy wife (Ok, for you funny kids who know me in real life, I'll take your punch line away... I would be an even bitchier wife than usual)....

But...
I did love that people trusted me enough to be such an integral part of their big day.
I did love to design.
I did love the dresses I've made. I can be very critical but after the build-up to the big day, I can look at pictures and think...'hmmm... not bad'. Yes, it helps that I've had gorgeous brides.

Nowadays, I'm back to landscaping full time and I just take on dresses out of love or interest. And I'm pretty happy. I understand that people ask me all the time what I'm doing with my fashion degree (to which I often smartly reply 'shopping')... it isn't the most common field of study around here, but I do feel like it's disappointing to people when I tell them I landscape. There used to have real anxiety about what my career direction would be when I 'grew up', I felt like I had to live up to people's expectations. I have a lot more peace with that now. Quite frankly, I love landscaping... work is good... I'm driving big trucks, working with amazing people, getting a natural workout (I do eat mostly healthy but if I want I'll have that bowl of ice cream and than I'll just get the carton and finish that too...) and best of all, I'm really good at landscaping and I never feel like I have to defend what I am worth and how much I make.

I do not regret getting my degree in fashion... I have no idea what the future will hold, but there are big dreams. Am I ready to give up landscaping completely? hmmm.... the job would have to be pretty awesome. Will I landscape forever? Haha, no, sometimes my muscles are so sore already...:) Will I ever have my own line? At this point no, but I am totally a believer in 'never say never'...
Sorry for rambling my heart out and oversharing my feelings, I usually try to curb that. Hopefully you didn't miss Ghost Whisperer because you were enthralled by my long post. That would be a pity... It's just, you are cheaper than therapy. Once again, I am so glad I started this fashion blog. It lets me participate in fashion in a completely new way and I love it.
I'm going to start a sporadic series of posts on dresses I have made. People always ask to see my portfolio and it's embarrassing to say I don't have one. If there was a portfolio, it would mean that my designing was a business and I definitely do it for the passion, not the payment, at this point. So, this is step #1 for coming to terms with designing and the role it plays in my life.

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This is my beautiful friend 'L' who got married 4 years ago already. This was the second wedding dress I ever made, and I love that 'L' trusted me enough to go for a completely look than what was popular at the time. She was a vision in freshwater pearls and silk charmeuse. It's completely true that simple dresses are more difficult to make... if it's an ornate dress and you screw up, you can just sew on a patch of sequins and call it fabulous. With a simple dress, you better do everything right!

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I love this candid shot... first of all, I look so young (maybe just to me) but it totally shows the stress I feel about the dress until the walk down the aisle is complete. After that, if you step on bird poo and stain the thing, too bad... I'm already partaking of your dinner wine...

2009-12-01

You Can Do It

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Denim cut-offs? AE, Winners
Sweater? Permanently borrowed from my Mama, circa 1970?
Boots? Nine West
OTK socks? Gap
Purse? Kate Spade, thrifted
Earrings? farmer's market
Bangle? My Mama's too... hopefully permanently borrowed as well...Love you Mom!
Belt? gifted from my brother in Holland!

I feel like this outfit is one step away from being all hipster... if only I replaced the socks with some patterned tights. But I am not hipster. I have listened to far too much Backstreet Boys in my youth for that... Besides, I'm not sure I can pull off that look. I've said that before though and have had to eat my words. Time will tell.
Yup. I wore this to my work holiday party. Don't worry, it was a super casual affair. Everyone still made fun of me for wearing shorts at the end of November in Southern Ontario. I don't care. We have had nary a snow flake all November long and I'm just being appreciative of the nicer weather. I love the contrast of the cosy sweater against bare legs and if December turns out as pleasant as November was, you can expect to find me in shorts on Christmas Eve eating the Oreos and milk that Matt will leave out for Santa.

But blah, blah, blah...shorts in November... The more important news of this post is that I successfully completed my shopping ban until Dec. 1st. I did not buy any clothes, accessories, or shoes for myself for over a month, I didn't even cheat a little bit. This is probably the part where I should say something inspirational, like... 'If you put your mind to it, you can do it.' That line is bad television but in this case, it's true. Seriously, when we had all the plumbing issues last week, I just wanted to run and hide among racks of new clothing. But I didn't. I even threw in the ultimate test on the last night of the challenge; I went to Winners to buy Linda a birthday present. So cruel, throwing myself into my favourite place of temptation. I did fine, I stayed focused, though I didn't find anything for Linda either because she's so darn picky... Now I'm free to shop whenever I want and to unlearn all those good self-control habits I've picked up in the last month... too bad I have no time...